ashthomas//blog: March 2005


Thursday, March 31, 2005

McEwan's Visa Woes

About a year ago, I wrote about the trouble that Ian McEwan had getting into the United States. Apparently the problem has persisted, with McEwan again having difficulties with his most recent attempt to enter the U.S., this time to promote his magnificent novel Saturday. His application took nine months to be approved, leaving the Booker Prize-winning author to question his chances of ever returning: "I only got in this time by the skin of my teeth. This could well be the very last time I ever get in.... I am now in their machine and a persona non grata."

In other McEwan news, Ron Hogan on the Beatrix website has a round-up of reviews of Saturday.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Failed Palace Coup at The National Interest leads to Self-Exile

According to this New York Times report, The National Interest is in the midst of a shake-up that could threaten its further existence.

Ten members, led by Francis Fukuyama, of the twelve member advisory board have resigned after the Nixon Centre, the owner of The National Interest, started to push very strongly their realist foreign policy line, which is in philosophical conflict with many of the board's neoconservative opinions:
In leading the defections from The National Interest, however, Mr. Fukuyama is aiming in the other direction: he is accusing its publishers of squeezing out liberal or neoconservative arguments about the universal appeal of democracy and the importance of spreading democracy to America's self-interest.

"What we liked about the old National Interest was the variety of viewpoints that it published," Mr. Fukuyama wrote in a letter signed by all 10 departing board members. "We do not have confidence that this kind of editorial policy can long be retained by a magazine with a mandate to represent the interests of the Nixon Center."

The publisher of the magazine seems happy to see them go, and has implied that the resignations followed a failed attempt by Fukuyama to take editorial control of the magazine:

Mr. Simes accused Mr. Fukuyama of self-aggrandizement, saying he had previously offered to bring new financing to the journal if he could take control. "To me, it looks like a failed takeover," Mr. Simes said.

Luckily, Fukuyama is starting up his own journal to counter the increasingly realist position of The National Interest:

In an interview, Mr. Fukuyama said that, to carry on the debate about the war in Iraq and American foreign policy, he now planned to start another journal, The American Interest, with three others from the National Interest board: Zbigniew Brzezinski, a liberal and President Carter's former national security adviser; Eliot A. Cohen, a military scholar and neoconservative, and Josef Joffe, a leading German editor.

"In the wake of Iraq, I think there is going to be this fight over what a certain conservative foreign policy is, and I personally don't want to see the realists walking about with a lot of moral authority at this point," Mr. Fukuyama said.

But he said the new journal would not hew to any ideological line; instead, it will try to look at American actions in a global context. "It's about America in the world, how it ought to behave and what the consequences of its actions are," he said. "Everyone in the world is preoccupied with the United States, and they feel they don't understand it, and we want to help them with that."

He said the new journal, which will initially be financed by a Boston venture capitalist, will also publish perspectives on American policies from foreigners who may feel the effects of American actions.

Personally, I am glad that there will continue to be a venue for the open discussion of conservative/neoconsertive/liberal foreign policy issues, and although it would have been nice for The National Interest to continue to be that venue, The American Interest sounds like a decent replacement.