The Wilson Quarterly

Articles from Vol. 30, No. 4, Autumn

A Haven for Thought
ONE OF MY FAVORITE COMMENTS MADE BY A departing Wilson Center scholar was that the Center is like "a university without faculty meetings." Just as students are the driving force within colleges and universities, our scholars and fellows are the Center's...
A Novel Approach to History
THE SOURCE: "In Praise of the Novel" by Carlos Fuentes, in Critical Inquiry, Summer 2006. WHAT THE WORLD NEEDS NOW is novels. Mexican writer Carlos Fuentes--himself the author of numerous works of fiction--points to the impact of Miguel Cervantes's...
China's College Revolution: Students Are Flocking to China's Campuses, but Educating Them and Finding Them Jobs Are Bigger Challenges Than the Government Reckoned. as China's Leaders Rush to Change an Old, Ungainly System, They Are Learning That Shaking Up Is Hard to Do
WHEN A GROUP OF NEPALESE TEACHERS VISITED Beijing in 1964 to learn from the Chinese education model, Chairman Mao Zedong offered them this blunt warning: "The school years are too long, courses too many, and the method of teaching is by injection instead...
Compared to What?
A cynic, it's said, is a disappointed romantic, so I suppose I qualify as a cynic about the American university. From the show trials of political correctness to the mundane rites of academic guildsman-ship, it's been one heartbreak after another....
Cooking Up America
THE SOURCE: "Cuisine and National Identity in the Early Republic" by James E. McWilliams, in Historically Speaking, May-June, 2006. THE FIRST CONSUMER REVOLUTION in America probably occurred around 1730, when the settlers began to make real money...
Covering Corruption
THE SOURCE: "The Corruption Eruption in East-Central Europe: The Increased Salience of Corruption and the Role of Intergovernmental Organizations" by Alexandru Grigoreseu, in East European Politics and Societies, Summer 2006. CORRUPTION IS DRAWING...
David and Goliath in Africa
THE SOURCE: "West Africa Versus the United States on Cotton Subsidies: How, Why, and What Next?" by Elinor Lynn Heinisch, in The Journal of Modern African Studies, June 2006. WHEN THREE IMPOVERISHED African countries took on American cotton producers...
Dying for Taxes
THE SOURCE: "Toying With Death and Taxes: Some Lessons From Down Under" by Joshua Gans and Andrew Leigh, in The Economists' Voice, June 2006. A CURIOUS THING HAPPENED IN 1979 as Australia prepared to repeal its estate tax. During the final week...
If Found Innocent, Try, Try Again
THE SOURCES: "Trust In Public Institutions in Russia: The Lowest in the World" by Vladimir Shlapentokh, in Communist and Post-Communist Studies, June 2006, and "Not Guilty Until the Supreme Court Finds You Guilty: A Reflection on Jury Trials in Russia"...
In Praise of Competence
THE SOURCE: "Shop Class as Soulcraft" by Matthew B. Crawford, in The New Atlantis, Summer 2006. THE 21ST-CENTURY RAT RACE requires every warm body to go to college and from there to the cubicles where workers begin their career-long glide through...
Iraq's Disappearing Oil
THE SOURCE: "How Iraqi Oil Smuggling Greases Violence" by Bilal A. Wahab, in Middle East Quarterly, Fall 2006. IN LATE AUGUST, A BATTLE BETWEEN the Iraqi Army and the militant Shia Mahdi Army diverted the attention of pipeline guards in Diwaniya,...
Mao Now: China's Transformation in the 30 Years since the Death of Mao Zedong Has Been Breathtaking. but It Will Not Be Complete until the Nation Comes to Terms with Mao's Complete Legacy
IN THE EARLY 1990s, A STORY CIRCULATED among Chinese taxi drivers about an eight-car traffic accident in Guangzhou that resulted in injuries to seven of the drivers involved; the eighth, unscathed, had a Mao portrait attached to his windshield as a...
Middle-Oxford: Tolkien's World-Hoard
Those looking for more lighthearted memories of the last century may recall that the British public, asked to vote for the century's greatest hook, bypassed works by the likes of Virginia Woolf and Joseph Conrad to choose J. R. R. Tolkien's beloved...
Not-So-Great Guns
THE SOURCE: "Coming Full Circle: Replacing the 9mm with the .45 Caliber Pistol" by Maj. Craig R. Wonson, in Marine Corps Gazette, July 2006. IN 1985, WHEN THE U.S. MILITARY changed its standard sidearm from the Colt .45 pistol to the Beretta M9...
Nuclear Power: Both Sides
AFTER THE ACCIDENT AT THREE MILE ISLAND IN 1979, THE UNITED STATES WROTE off THE expansion of civilian nuclear power as a dead issue. Now, with oil prices and anxiety about global warming on the rise, this energy source is getting a long second look....
Religious Dysfunction
THE SOURCE: "Is Faith Good for Us?" by Phil Zuckerman, in Free Inquiry, Aug-Sept. 2006. WHEN JERRY FALWELL blamed the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington on Americans' lack of piety, he spoke for many religious conservatives who believe...
R.I.P., Iron John
THE SOURCE: "Remembering Iron John" by Jess Row, in Slate, Aug. 8, 2006. A LACK OF IRONY IS WHAT killed Iron John, poet Robert Bly's call to arms for a men's movement published in 1990. It's been largely reduced to a joke, and that's too bad, says...
Saving Sanctions
THE SOURCE: "Making Sanctions Humane and Effective" by Uli Cremer, in Internationale Politik, Summer 2006. TODAY'S LIBERALS EXPRESS far less confidence in the efficacy of international sanctions than did Woodrow Wilson, who said in 1919 that "a...
Speak with Forked Tongue, Memory: A Unified Theory of Gunter Grass
Journalists, politicians, and literati in Germany and elsewhere piled on gleefully when the famed novelist and national moralist Gunter Grass admitted this summer that he, so insistent that others be completely honest about their pasts, had concealed...
The Global Race for Knowledge
GLOBALIZATION STIRS ONE GREAT UNIVERSAL ANXIETY: ARE WE FALLING BEHIND? Now that question is being asked about the American university, the very foundation of U.S. strength in the global knowledge economy. Dire warnings are pouring forth from corporations,...
The Guggenheim Effect
THE SOURCE: "The Return on Investment of the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao" by Beatriz Plaza, in international Journal of Urban and Regional Research, June 2006. WHEN A DECAYING INDUSTRIAL city in the Basque country decided in the 1990s to spend the...
The Humboldt Illusion: The German University, Once Considered the Model for the World, Has Been Stirred from Years of Slumber. but as Long as It Remains Solely a Creature of the State, It Will Not Escape Its Middling Status
While the war in Iraq is laying bare the limitations of American power and political will in military and foreign affairs, in higher education and research, America's long-established supremacy remains unquestioned. Now, Europe is moving forcefully...
The Limits of Architecture
THE SOURCE: "Goodbye Columbus" by Philip Nobel, in Metropolis, July 2006, and "Columbus Explored" by John King, in Dwell, July-Aug. 2006. J. IRWIN MILLER OF CUMMINS Engine Company was a civic-minded industrialist who believed that uplifting architecture...
The Lonelier Crowd
THE SOURCE: "Social Isolation in America: Changes in Core Discussion Networks Over Two Decades" by Miller McPherson, Lynn Smith-Lovin, and Matthew E. Brashears, and "Trends in Civic Association Activity in Four Democracies: The Special Case of Women...
The Music of the Spheres
THE SOURCE: "The Geometry of Musical Chords" by Dmitri Tymoczko, and "Exploring Musical Space" by Julian Hook, in Science, July 7, 2006. DISCOVERIES BY THE ANCIENT Greek philosopher Pythagoras (c. 569-c. 475 BC) forged an unbreakable link between...
The New Ivory Tower: America's Higher Education Complex Is a Behemoth of Mass Production. but What, Exactly, Is Coming off the Assembly Line? A Veteran Professor and Administrator Looks Inside the New Ivory Tower
WHEN I FINISHED MY PH.D. AND BEGAN WORKING at a large southern state university in the early 1970s, the grunts who taught freshman English had in their possession a handsome athletic-style trophy of which they were extremely proud. Instead of a football...
The Poverty Conundrum
THE SOURCE: "The Mismeasure of Poverty" by Nicholas Eberstadt, in Policy Review, Aug.-Sept. 2006. WHEN THE CENSUS BUREAU reported in August that the U.S. poverty rate essentially held steady at 12.6 percent of the population in 2005 instead of rising,...
The Revenge of the Shia: Every Increase in the Violence between Sunni and Shia Muslims in Iraq Raises the Threat of a Wider Sectarian Upheaval That Could Vault Iran to Dominance in the Middle East
IN DECEMBER 2004, AS THE UNITED NATIONS Security Council began to grapple with the challenge of Iran's nuclear ambitions and as Iraq started its slow topple into civil war, one of the closest and most trusted American allies in the Middle East began...
Tiny at the Top: India Has Surprised the World by Suddenly Jumping into the Front Ranks of Emerging Economies, but Its Colleges and Universities Remain Mired in the Past, and May Be Moving Backward
MUMBAI'S VENERABLE ELPHINSTONE COLLEGE SITS stolidly in a city transformed by India's economic boom. Though Mumbai's legendary poverty remains painfully apparent, it is home to the thriving Indian stock market, the Bollywood film industry, and a burgeoning...
Trading in Dreams
THE SOURCE: "Contemplating Delivery: Futures Trading and the Problem of Commodity Exchange in the United States, 1875-1905" by Jonathan Ira Levy, in American Historical Review, April 2006. NOTHING EPITOMIZES GLOBAL capitalism more than the world's...
Virtual Elephants: Not Exactly on Parade
Zoo animals don't engage in polities, as far as we know, but the people who look after them certainly do. In The Politics of Zoos: Exotic Animals and Their Protectors (Northern Illinois Univ. Press), political scientists Jess Donahue and Erik Trump...
Why Be Reasonable?
THE SOURCE: "The Morality of Human Rights: A Problem for Nonbelievers?" by Michael J. Perry, in Commonweal, July 14, 2006. THOUGH THE 20TH CENTURY witnessed some of the worst instances of man's inhumanity to man, it also saw the birth of the human...
Why the Liberal Arts Still Matter: Never Has a Broad Liberal Education Been More Necessary Than It Is Today, and Never Have Colleges and Universities Done Such a Poor Job of Delivering It. Radical Measures Are Needed
EVERYONE IS IN SAVOR OF LIBERAL EDUCATION. Praise of its benefits is found in countless university commencement addresses and reports by commissions on higher education. But it seems that nobody can agree on what liberal education is. For some,...