The just-published A New Textbook of Americanism: The Politics of Ayn Rand presents Rand’s little-known 1946 essay “Textbook of Americanism” and never-before-seen commentary on issues in political philosophy. Building on Rand’s philosophic thought, the book also features new essays from Objectivist scholars and writers exploring further aspects of the actual nature of Americanism.
Seventeen years, 2,351 Americans dead, 20,094 wounded. These grim numbers scarcely begin tell the story of the Afghanistan war, which marked its 17th anniversary on Sunday, Oct. 7. It’s been a tragic failure, but for reasons few people understand.
By allying with Saudi Arabia’s Islamist monarchy, American policy betrays our own ideal of political freedom and sells out the regime’s victims — thus continuing a wider pattern in America’s Mideast policy. The essay spotlights the fate of Raif Badawi and the subjugation of Saudi women.
The range of Ayn Rand’s commentary on cultural-political issues was sweeping. You can see that, for example, in some of the topics she explored in her public lectures at the Ford Hall Forum: from the philosophic meaning of Woodstock and the moon landing, to the ecology movement and the moral significance of the Catholic Church’s views on contraception; from the nature of laissez-faire capitalism and freedom of speech, to the military draft and the Vietnam war.
I’ve often revisited her commentary on foreign policy and international relations, partly because — just as in her analysis of economic, political and cultural issues — there are enduring philosophical lessons with application today. It’s an area of her thought that I hope scholars will delve into.
So I was pleased to read a recent article, “Fostering liberty in international relations theory: the case of Ayn Rand,” by Edwin van de Haar in the academic journal International Politics. It’s encouraging to see academic work on Rand that takes her seriously.
Twenty five years ago, Israel and the Palestinians signed the fateful Oslo peace accord. What has been the legacy of this acclaimed venture in peacemaking?
Elan Journo writes:
There’s a well-established pattern among political and intellectual leaders of underrating the aims, morale, and capability of the Islamist movement. And it costs us dearly. Take, for example, the following assessment of various Al Qaeda factions in Iraq. At the time, Al Qaeda was supposed to have been “decimated,” even as the group’s flag was flying in some Iraqi cities.
The analogy we use around here sometimes, and I think is accurate, is if a jayvee team puts on Lakers uniforms that doesn’t make them Kobe Bryant. . . . I think there is a distinction between the capacity and reach of a bin Laden and a network that is actively planning major terrorist plots against the homeland versus jihadists who are engaged in various local power struggles and disputes, often sectarian.
These were Barack Obama’s words in a New Yorker interview published January 2014. Six months later, one Al Qaeda affiliate conquered large areas of Iraq and Syria. That group, which became widely known as the Islamic State, or ISIS, then declared itself a “caliphate.”
Continue reading: Inside the Caliphate: Understanding ISIS
In The Federalist, Elan Journo writes:
For his new Showtime series, Sacha Baron Cohen, the satirist who created and starred in the film “Borat,” carried out a prank laden with political significance. While the prank’s main focus is a commentary on gun control, it can also be taken as a critique of some Americans’ reflexive, unthinking attitude toward Israel.
So contends Alan Elsner in the Washington Post, who calls instead for a critical, balanced, thoughtful policy toward Israel. That seemingly reasonable path, however, rests on its own kind of reflexive, unthinking mindset.
Continue reading: Sacha Baron Cohen Reveals Need To Think More Deeply About Israel
In my new book, What Justice Demands: America and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, I offer an argument about the essential nature of the conflict, what has fueled it for so long, and America’s stake in it. It’s a vast, complex subject, and naturally there are many aspects, issues, and questions that I could deal with only partly, or that I had to put to one side. What’s more, in analyzing the issue, I adopt a secular, individualist moral framework, a framework informed by Ayn Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism. Consequently, the argument I present in the book pushes back against prevailing views of the conflict and America’s approach to it.
So, from the outset, I expected objections, questions, and disagreement. And I welcome such engagement.In this essay, I take up five challenges to What Justice Demands and my approach in it—but without assuming that you’ve read the book. Clearly, you’ll gain more if you’ve already engaged with the book, but if you have yet to pick up a copy, this article will give you a flavor of the book’s distinctive perspective and value.
Continue reading: Tackling Top 5 Objections to “What Justice Demands”