This Week’s Top 5 Picks in International History and Diplomacy

(Image: FT montage)

US global role at stake in this election

Martin Wolf

Financial Times

This US election is the most important since 1932, when Franklin Delano Roosevelt became president in the depths of the Depression. With much trial and error, FDR saved democracy, at home and abroad. The re-election of Donald Trump would undo much, if not all, of that legacy. Yet his defeat would not end the danger. If that is to happen, American politics has to be transformed.

This election is so important, because the US plays a unique role in the world. It has long been the paramount model of a functioning liberal democracy, leader of the countries that share these values and an essential player in resolving any big global challenge. The re-election of Mr Trump would signify a rejection of all three roles by the American people. No other country or group of countries is able to take its place. The world would be transformed — and not at all for the better. (Read more)

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The Long Shadow of Racial Fascism

Alberto Toscano

Boston Review

In the wake of the 2016 election, public intellectuals latched onto the new administration’s organic and ideological links with the alt- and far right. But a mass civic insurgency against racial terror—and the federal government’s authoritarian response—has pushed hitherto cloistered academic debates about fascism into the mainstream, with Peter E. Gordon, Samuel Moyn, and Sarah Churchwell taking to the pages of the New York Review of Books to hash out whether it is historically apt or politically useful to call Trump a fascist. The F-word has also been making unusual forays into CNN, the New York Times, and mainstream discourse. The increasing prospect that any transfer of power will be fraught—Trump has hinted he will not accept the results if he loses—has further intensified the stakes, with even the dependable neoliberal cheerleader Thomas Friedman conjuring up specters of civil war. (Read more)

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Palestinian petitions: activism in exile

Anne Ifran

Refugee History

In April 2020, a group of Palestinian NGOs from Shufat refugee camp joined in a petition to the Israeli Supreme Court. The petition demanded that the Israeli Ministry of Health open COVID-19 testing centres for Palestinian communities in East Jerusalem, including those living in the densely-populated Shufat camp. Media coverage largely discussed the petition’s ultimate success in the context of Israel’s pandemic policies for Palestinians. Yet the latter’s decision to contest the government in this way speaks to another story as well: Palestinian refugees’ use of petitions to demand their rights. (Read more)

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Macron isn’t Islamophobic

Alex Massie

Spectator

Sometimes a story does not receive the attention you think it should. Sometimes the news is too familiar or too far away to warrant a real response. There is, in any case, so much else going on and the bandwidth of our attention is limited. And so the decapitation of the teacher Samuel Paty in a small town to the north of Paris has not commanded quite the attention in this country that you might have expected.

Paty, you will recall, was targeted by a Chechen-born terrorist who had developed a murderous obsession with the teacher. His ‘crime’ had been to show his pupils a depiction of the prophet Mohammed during a lesson exploring the concepts of liberty and freedom of expression. This had provoked complaints from some Muslim parents and sparked a campaign, online and off, to have Paty sacked. (Read more)

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Labour and antisemitism: once again, it’s all about Jeremy Corbyn

Jonathan Freedland

Guardian

The catharsis lasted all of three hours. From 10am on Thursday morning until lunchtime, British Jews were allowed to feel a small measure of relief: after nearly five years of being dismissed as liars and dissemblers, deceitfully engaged in an elaborate smear campaign, a neutral legal arbiter had ruled that those who had sounded the alarm about antisemitism in Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party were, after all, telling the truth.

Yet the pause for reflection that so many had hoped for expired before it had really begun. It was overtaken by word that Labour had suspended Corbyn for suggesting that the whole business had been “dramatically overstated”. The planned period of introspection was postponed, as the focus switched instead to the relative strengths of the new leader against the old and the prospect of a Labour civil war. The party’s treatment of Jews was no longer the issue of the moment. (Read more)

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