HIR Blog Articles

The Syria question facing President Obama is not, as many believe, whether or not we should attack Syria, or what the shape of that attack should be. Instead, there is a much larger question that must be answered, a question that is at the center of most real foreign policy dilemmas, and a question that Obama has frustratingly failed to answer as of yet. What guides American foreign policy: interests or values? Although I reject a strict dichotomy between the two, there are scenarios where one must be emphasized over the other, and perhaps Syria is just such a case. By not intervening in Syria, there are myriad ways of serving our interests – preventing regional instability – and America would not run the risk of entangling itself in a regional conflict.

By Isaac Inkeles  |  August 30, 2013

Perhaps we refrain from clichés too much. After all, how does something become a cliché? It must, if it is to attain that oft derided and oft praised status, contain enough wisdom that it is used, and used widely, throughout the ages. Yes, I think clichés capture a great deal of truth, and express it simply and succinctly. Therefore, I like to embrace clichés. For example, if we do not learn from history, we are doomed to repeat it. Although I object to the fatalist/determinist undertones of the phrase – something to be discussed another time – I think it is generally true, and also remarkably ignored.

By Isaac Inkeles  |  August 25, 2013

It would be a waste of time to outline how bad things are in Egypt. By now the reader is most likely familiar with the growing body count, the aggressive and despotic nature of the military’s interim rule, and the breakdown of democratic channels and outlets. The rule of the Egyptian military, if it continues, is very likely to be worse – more radical and repressive – than Mubarak’s: whereas Mubarak tolerated a certain degree of dissent, allowing the Muslim Brotherhood to operate and have seats in the parliament, it is quickly becoming apparent that the military is completely rejecting the Muslim Brotherhood, at least in the context of establishing a new government.

By Isaac Inkeles  |  August 16, 2013

Last week, Robert Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party once again stole an election from the Zimbabwean people. The news stories of electoral fraud and corruption only scratch the surface of the nation’s woes: for the cheated citizenry, this means more than continued just corruption; it means that perpetual oppression, poverty, and both political and economic turmoil will continue.

By James Watkins  |  August 14, 2013

There has been much debate in America about its security apparatus: the public debate following the revelations about PRISM and other NSA programs, the back and forth between high profile Republicans, and the nearly successful House vote to limit how the NSA can collect domestic meta-data. Edward Snowden, the infamous NSA leaker, is a if not the symbol of the nascent movement to limit the government’s ability to spy in the name of security.

By Isaac Inkeles  |  August 9, 2013

As Zimbabwe awaits the results of its most recent election, we look back at its tumultuous history and wonder whether there is any hope for the future.

By James Watkins  |  August 3, 2013

As much as we may wish, some things that we want to change stay the same, and some things that we want to stay the same change. There is a special irony when two such events coincide. One of France’s greatest cultural institutions, the baguette, is on the decline, or so says a New York Times article released this week. One hundred years ago, the average Frenchman ate three baguettes a day, and forty years ago, one. Today: half a baguette. The youth are eating thirty percent fewer baguettes than they did ten years ago. The French’s consumption habits are one thing I wish would not change.

By Isaac Inkeles  |  August 2, 2013

Fourteen days and 237 years before the birth of George Alexander Louis Windsor, who will eventually wear the British crown, the American Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence, separating the thirteen colonies from Great Britain and triggering the American Revolution. However, given the obsequious amount of attention my countrymen are paying to the eventual heir-apparent, one could forget about that document we wrote and that war we fought exactly so that we could ignore the British monarchs. If I can be indulged for a moment, I would like to scold my fellow Americans for this and past moments of toryism. What would our revolutionary forefathers say of their republican children obsessing ad nauseam over the personal happenings of British royals?

By Isaac Inkeles  |  July 26, 2013

The reader may be interested to learn that by following the Pope on Twitter you might earn yourself indulgences. Last month it was announced that if anyone was unable to attend the Pope’s World Youth Day Event in Rio due to “legitimate impediment[s]” they could follow it via the Pope’s social media accounts. If one was genuinely moved by the events and had a real spiritual experience, they could obtain an indulgence as if they had attended the event in person. I am sure that there are cynics reading this who believe this is just a gimmick to boost the Pope’s social media presence.

By Isaac Inkeles  |  July 19, 2013

Walking with a friend across town yesterday toward my apartment on the West Side of Manhattan, two moments caught me off guard. Between 5th and Madison Avenues on 96th street, a middle-aged man walking in the opposite direction muttered a homophobic slur under his breath as he passed us. A little later, waiting for the light to change on Amsterdam Avenue, a young man to my right pointed at another man and said, “You’re so ridiculous, you’re like a f**king Jew.” Startled, I turned around, and they looked back, laughing. You may be wondering what this could possibly have to do with international relations—but the way that different groups interact with and speak about one another is at the core of any success or failure of global politics.

By Jacob Moscona-S...  |  July 15, 2013