4th Annual Articles of the Year
Hello folks, as the articles I included grew from a couple, to a dozen, to now more than twenty, Facebook no longer felt like the right platform to tell you what I read. Also, I want to issue a mea culpa for publishing this so late. I’ll be on time for the 5th one, I promise! Doing this list has been one of my favorite things. It’s made me a more knowledgeable and thoughtful person. I hope people like it.
Anyways, as always, read what you want and ignore the rest. The articles tend to be long and complex in nature. Some of them may be behind a paywall. The only subscription I actually have is for Foreign Affairs. If you’re interested in that content, I highly recommend it, but I’ve gone to some lengths to make sure these are accessible. I’ve also gone a step further this year, and included some of my opinions after reading these. Please recommend me anything I might have missed, and feel free to message me about something you read here, even if we rarely talk. Without further ado, here they are:
Summary: One of the best solutions to the geopolitical issue that is North Korea having nuclear weapons might just be to encourage our typical adversaries, Russia and China, to station their troops there.
My Take: This idea is clever and important. The largest risk of nuclear war in the world right now is North Korea launching missiles due to some mistake, misinterpretation, or act of US aggression (justified or not). Beinart convincingly argues with historical lens that a country takes to nuclear weapons if and when they feel least secure. The US is strong, but it still doesn’t want to go to war with either Russia or China, and it would take great pains to avoid a conflict. Troops from those countries will provide a modicum of cover and security to the North Korean leadership. (Btw, since the article, North Korea can now reach the US with a warhead.)
Summary: The article takes you step-by-step through some of Facebook’s greatest failures, and its turn from a well regarded tech icon to one treated with suspicion and apprehension.
My Take: This is a long complex look at the story of Facebook. It’s both sad and funny that because it was released in February it didn’t account for the further tumult the company suffered when this blockbuster NYT piece about their hiring of Definers, a firm who engaged in antisemitic tactics. Or even the pushback it received about its misrepresented data that pushed news organizations to “pivot to video”, a strategy which ended up crushing them. Anyways, here’s to hoping for a better future for Facebook.
Summary: David talks about his personal relationship to gun culture with specific emphasis on what his political voice has meant for the the safety of his family.
Summary: Obama tried to open up Myanmar, but did his administration miss the obvious signs and show willful ignorance that has led to one of the worst moral and geopolitical disasters of the modern era the Rohingya refugee crisis? The article goes into some of the decision making that affected foreign policy decisions.
Summary: The US has actively constructed a global order that champions liberalism in the form of free trade and the rule of law. Our leadership of that order has been extremely beneficial to us. Posen talks about how that order is under threat because of Trump’s isolationist moves.
My Take: Trump’s attacks on NATO and other global organizations is one of his worst tendencies. It’s a truism that US leadership post Cold War has led to one of the biggest periods of peace, prosperity, and progress for the global population. The US has directly benefited from this order. It is a grave mistake for us to disparage our allies. We have to be the Avengers, not Tony Stark. The symbolism *is* the point, even if the reality is much more complex and messy.
(I’m sorry if this isn’t allowed Foreign Affairs / Medium, but Imma embed a pdf of the article. Btw, if any of you know how much I dislike LinkedIn… I had to make an account to share this. I hope you appreciate it.)
Summary: Civility became a flash-point in political debate. David French writes about his take on it, admitting his own faults, and calling out both sides.
My Take: For me, this entrance of the concept of civility into the political sphere was strange. My home, the Democratic party, began to scoff at the right saying civility is important in debate, something I had been encouraging previously. A couple incidents stand out (as much as they can in this lawless political time wherein people probably have forgotten this entire debate happened) harassing Ted Cruz at dinner, harassing Sarah Sanders at dinner, and protesting Tucker Carlson’s homes. Regardless, of the context of the debate, this is not how you persuade. This is not how you would change minds on Kavanaugh, nativisim, or whatever else that day demanded.
Daryl Davis is a hero for his work. I think of him often when I think of how to persuade. Even in the face of blatant horror, kindness and empathy are often the most effective tools. I will never agree with French’s social positions. Nevertheless, his kindness and humility expressed through his writing, has made me understand them more.
Article 7: Extensive Data Shows Punishing Reach of Racism for Black Boys
Authors: Emily Badger, Claire Cain Miller, Adam Pearce, and Kevin Quealy
Date of Publication: Match 19th, 2018
Summary: Black boys have a much harder time holding on to wealth in comparison to other groups. It examines the role that absent fathers have in hampering the lives & potentials of young men, while at the same time showcasing how important present fathers are to those that succeed. Well worth a read.
Summary: A Francophile goes to Paris, and perfectly captures what it means to be Asian American abroad. It’s a uniqueness of identity issues that exemplify what a unique experiment America truly is.
My Take: Read it, if only for the very poignant & piercing bit about her wondering if Korean people drink wine.
Summary: Zach discusses Chinese kidnappings and repatriation of people the government considers to be theirs in Foreign Policy. He delves into how many Chinese nationals may have been taken from US soil.
Summary: Gerson takes the reader through a detailed history of evangelicalism in this piece for the Atlantic. What has become for all intents and purposes a political term is reexamined for its religious core.
My Take: Read it. It’s permanently changed my relationship to a word that I intrinsically & erroneously tied to “backwards”. Blanket statements do no one any good.
Summary: Kevin Williamson talks about his firing from the Atlantic promptly after people discovered his prior comments on abortion.
(Note: Apparently you can get past paywalls by typing outline.com/<insert original link here>. That’s the second link, but give the WSJ money if you can. Also I don’t think he has a twitter? Sacrilegious. I’ll post author profiles from here onwards for people who don’t.)
Summary: Inglehart talks about democracy taking a beating right now from authoritarian impulses. He contrasts it with other forms of government like in China, and also talks about how inequality might be a root cause of this.
Summary: Fallows talks about how America is rapidly improving itself on a local level even as national outlook sometimes looks poor. A narrative busting piece.
My Take: The impulse to view America as having taken a step back is enticing, and perhaps necessarily so because of the idiot-in-chief, the opioid epidemic, etc, but this country is improving on itself every day. Complexity helpfully colors everything, including overall outlook. There’s much to be optimistic about.
Summary: A detailed look at the massive failure of the USMNT to qualify for the world cup in 2018 (yes that was last year… it’s been a long one). This quality piece talks about coaching failures of Klinsmann and other failures that racked up along the way.
My Take: I’m not a huge soccer fan. I don’t follow the premier league, la liga, bundesliga, MLS, etc. I am a pretty big world cup fan. I follow both the far more successful women’s team and the men’s team. Not making this world cup was a gut punch. This article is a wonderful look at some of the problems inside. The saddest moment is that everyone who was a part of that final match recognizes the lost opportunity for Pulisic. Let’s make sure we make the next MNT World Cup.
Summary: A wonderful profile about a community, a family, and a school all trying their best to prevent a school shooting. The incredible complexity and depth shown in the portrait shows how difficult particulars can make a situation.
Summary: Hughes, a black man, argues that a large part of the racial wealth gap is due to black culture far more than systemic oppression. He goes into a lot of detail, & lists examples such as prevalence of flashier purchases among black people. He also dismisses the notion that the current wealth gap is due to depression era land and housing regulations.
My Take: There’s a lot to say about this, and if you want to start a conversation with on it, I’ll happily indulge. Quillette is an up-and-coming conservative publication, and Coleman Hughes is an up-and-coming writer. My prediction is that he will probably have an impact on covering black lives a la Ta-Nehisi Coates, but from the right. I don’t necessarily buy his premises, but this article and this man are worth your time, consideration, and serious thought. I think it’s worth including some of his recent tweets to get a sense of the man:
Summary: As the threat and reality of illiberalism rises throughout the world, these authors contend that the solution to the problems of liberalism is uniquely more liberalism. They contend that the order will endure.
My Take: This is one of the best articles I have ever read that captures how the world and global politics work on a macro scale. It’s incredible in its analysis, and I particularly appreciate the unironic optimism of how democracy and liberalism have fight left in them. The key characteristic that I find compelling is how they tie in both the strengths and the necessity of interdependence in the modern world into their arguments. Incredible work.
Summary: Donald Trump has pursued a policy of combating China’s belt and road initiative with foreign aid.
My Take: I love this article because for all the monumentally bad moves that Trump has made regarding foreign policy- North Korea summit(s), scuttling the Iran Deal, withdrawing troops from Syria, supporting a war in Yemen with Saudi Arabia, etc.-this is the best foreign policy move made by an administration in a long, long time. This is my dream foreign policy. The USIDFC is a place to build from. I believe in incrementalism & this office could end up being the most significant peace making force in America. Though, I am typically a proponent of interventionism in crisis situations, foreign aid and robust diplomacy should be the first option to exerting our influence and protecting the world order. Carrots before sticks.
Summary: Kanye West got hammered in the media and by his fans in 2018 for his comments on slavery and entrance into politics. This extremely knowledgeable critic takes a look at what Kanye is saying, what he means, and more.