Happy New Year: Revving up TWN in 2014


2014 is upon us, and I’m using this semicolon between years to rev up The Washington Note again. As editor in chief of The Atlantic‘s events division as well as Washington Editor at Large of The Atlantic, I just have not had the time I had hoped to offer the regular commentary here I would have liked.  My longer thought pieces went to The Atlantic itself — but it’s clear to me that I have a lot to say about things that just don’t…

Biden Maneuvers Through High Stakes Nuances in Asia Trip


Earlier this week, Vice President Joe Biden spent five and a half hours with Chinese President Xi Xinping.  They met in three formats — one a restricted meeting with a small handful of advisers, the second a larger meeting with many more advisers, and the third a small working dinner.  All of this on the heels of spending the day before a good chunk of time meeting and dining with Japan’s Prime Minister Shintaro Abe. Tensions have been growing in…

Romney Code Name for Chris Christie: Pufferfish


A juicy TIME staff-written teaser from Mark Halperin’s and John Heilemann’s new book, Double Down: Game Change 2012, on the elections fiascos last round: Codenamed “Pufferfish,” in the aquatic-themed parlance of the campaign’s vetting team, Christie was a constant  thorn in the side of the Romney campaign, going back to a 2011 demand that the eventual Republican nominee refrain from fundraising in the Garden State until Christie bestowed his endorsement.  The New Jersey Governor’s tardiness to joint fundraising events peeved…

Remembering When Power Was Unconstrained


As I witness from the far-off vantage point of India this week the collapse of American authority and gravitas around the world because of the debt ceiling debacle still in play in Washington, I ran across a clip about the one-hundred year rise to global power and ferocity of the Mongol tribes at a great blog called Delancey Place.  DP promises to send you an eclectic clip once a day.  I can attest to its eclecticism and have been a…

Sergeant Hagel Still: Talking with the Secretary of Defense


Recently, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel sent a 904-page book to Egyptian Army Commander-in-Chief Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi, with whom he has had over twenty conversations since assuming his Pentagon role.  The book, Washington: A Life, won for its author Ron Chernow the Pulitzer Prize.  Rather than suggesting he read it all, Hagel emphasized to General Al-Sisi the chapter on Washington giving up his power at the end of his presidential term thus securing for the young nation one of the key pillars…

US-Iran Initiative: Big Consequences if it Fails



My quote in today’s Financial Times article by Geoff Dyer on the latest in US-Iran relations: It is not getting carried away to say this is an extraordinary moment because rapprochement with Iran would be the biggest positive shift in global affairs since the end of the Cold War and the normalisation of relations with China,” says Steve Clemons, a senior fellow at the New America Foundation. “But if the US does not take this opportunity, it would be the…

When Everyone Knew the Horror of Chemical Weapons



In these times, it may be useful to some to go back and read the poems of Rupert Brooke, Ezra Pound, Wilfred Owen and others who captured and froze in time the horrors of chemical weapons in the world’s first great war. Wilfred Owen died in November 1918, the last week of World War I. While the world seems to have developed a substantial degree of amnesia about gas attacks, poems such as the one that follows by Owen are…

‘We Were Bored … So We Decided to Kill Somebody’



Christopher Lane, an Australian who was on a baseball scholarship at East Central University in Ada, Okla., was shot and killed in the nearby town of Duncan on August 16, 2013 (AP/East Central University) I have been greatly affected by sad news from Oklahoma today, another case of a victim of gun violence that deserves as much attention and public concern as the more grisly mass slayings we have heard so much about and which still have not produced progress…

Bezos Might Also Like. . .



My Atlantic colleague Marc Ambinder tweeted an Amazon like set of options for Jeff Bezos, who is making a wow wow wow purchase of the Washington Post: Marc Ambinder ‏@marcambinder Based on your previous purchases, Jeff Bezos, you might also like: — The Los Angeles Times — The Orlando Sentinel — Newsweek Based on your interest in this post, you might also like to check out at Amazon Marc Ambinder’s Deep State: Inside the Government Secrecy Industry.

Why Would the Muslim Brotherhood Believe in Voting Now?



Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) are heading to Egypt, apparently as symbols of democratic magnanimity that losers in political contests should not be rounded up and thrown in prison. Graham told CNN that President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry believed it would be useful to send Obama’s presidential opponent to Egypt to reinforce to Egypt’s military a message of political inclusiveness. Senator Graham said: I think it really does demonstrate how democracy works. They didn’t…