President Trump used to call the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, “rocket man.” But over time, Mr. Trump has changed his tune.
For a taste of real Turkish meatballs, here’s a kofte recipe from this reporter’s grandmother Fikriye, who spent her life in Turkey:
Time: 35-40 minutes
• 8 oz. each ground beef and lamb
• 3 slices of stale bread (of your choice), crusts removed
• 1/2 cup finely chopped mint
• 3 cloves garlic, minced
• 1 medium onion, grated
• 1 teaspoon ground cumin
• 1 bunch of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
• 1/4 teaspoon red chili powder
• Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
• 3 tablespoons olive oil
• A dash of love
• Soak the stale bread in water and then squeeze it dry. Break it into bread crumbs.
• In a large bowl, combine the bread crumbs, onion, garlic, parsley, and chopped mint and knead for 3-5 minutes.
• Add the meat and seasoning, including salt, pepper, cumin, chili powder (or flakes).
• Knead with your hands for another 3-5 minutes or until all the ingredients are mixed together.
• Leave the ingredients to rest for 15 minutes.
• Wet your hands with water and take a small portion of the mixture and start rolling it into a ball. Then flatten each side with your hand.
• Cook in a frying pan, skillet or griddle in a little olive oil. Cook until the meatballs are brown on both sides.
The government’s plan to transform Belgrade into a playground for the rich involves using foreign money and removing residents from their homes. Critics say strong-arm tactics are also being used.
Gaddis writes as he presumably teaches, informally mixing literary and historical analyses with the observations of his students, reminiscing in a personal voice about long-ago conversations or sharing conclusions that came to him over the years of the seminar. The book is as much personal remembrance as strategic reflection, and is chock-full of aphorisms and enigmatic adages.
Credit Palazzo Della Signoria, via Getty Images
Gaddis believes the best way to hone strategic thinking is not just by mastering the advice of Machiavelli or Clausewitz (who both figure prominently in the class), much less contemporary high-tech wizardry, but also by understanding the interplay of history, literature and philosophy over 2,500 years of Western civilization — with occasional insights from Sun Tzu and other non-Western thinkers. In some sense “On Grand Strategy” is a traditional argument for the value of classical education in the broadest sense.
The student of strategy learns to balance a grasp of detail with proper humility: It is, of course, wise to have a plan and contingencies. But how will these prompt rival counter-responses? Do such agendas have the means adequate for their ends? Or are they more dreams, warped by ego and emotion (“And the heat of emotions requires only an instant to melt abstractions drawn from years of cool reflection. Decades devoid of reflection may follow”)? The better way is to be Isaiah Berlin’s versatile fox, not a single-minded obsessed hedgehog, or to embrace Machiavelli’s virtues of imitation, adaptation and approximation.
A recurrent theme is the danger of omnipresent hubris. Even a great power cannot master the unexpected and uncontrollable — from the great plague at Athens, to the harsh Russian winter, to I.E.D.s and tribal factionalism in Iraq. Why in the world, during a breathing spell in their war against Sparta, did democratic Athenians attack neutral and democratic Syracuse, 500 miles away? The answer is the same blinkered arrogance that sent Philip II’s huge but poorly led Spanish Armada into the British northern seas. Understanding the underappreciated role of irony is essential for a leader, and might have prevented the disasters of both 415 B.C. and 1588. Tolstoy and Clausewitz appreciated that bad things can come from good intentions and vice versa. The best generals live with and react to paradoxes, Gaddis argues. The worst ignore or seek to undo them.
Gaddis sees these more successful global strategists as rope-a-dope pragmatists who remain elastic and patient enough to capitalize on events and opportunities as they unfold, rather than forcing them to fit preconceived schemes. Caesar tries to force a Roman republic into a global hegemony without full cognizance of the inevitable blowback from centuries of republican government, and so predictably is assassinated by a dying generation of dreamy senators. His savvier adopted son, Augustus, like the later Otto von Bismarck, builds coalitions, finds pre-existing seams to exploit at home and abroad, and waits to take advantage when enemies — or friends — stumble. Stalin’s prewar Bolshevik nightmare was responsible for 20 million dead, but apparently was not so loathsome that the Soviet Union could not prove temporarily useful for Churchill and Roosevelt in bleeding out the Nazi Wehrmacht.
Morality matters, if defined less as self-righteous ardor and more as self-awareness of a leader’s effect on those around him and an appreciation of paradox. A pragmatic St. Augustine has no problem with war — if it is a last resort to save civilization, without which there can be neither calm nor organized religion.
Still, courting calculated risk is essential. The gambler Winston Churchill took chances in 1940, albeit rational ones backed by educated guesses that, for all Hitler’s bluster, the Third Reich had neither the air nor sea power to destroy the Anglosphere. Risk is not always risk when it is the natural expression of national advantages and a mixture of caution and audacity.
Gaddis’s American heroes are Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt, who he thinks “rescued democracy and capitalism.” Roosevelt somehow was cognizant early on of how the singular military and economic potential of America might save Europe and Asia, but only if he first prepared reluctant Americans materially and psychologically for the inevitable war to come. Woodrow Wilson, among others, was not so successful in creating a postwar peace because he forced conditions to preconceived realities that bore little resemblance to emerging ironies at Versailles — and was without a sellable idea of an American role after World War I.
Gaddis concludes with an invaluable warning that true morality embraces neither messianic interventionism nor the quest for utopianism — indeed that is how millions become deluded, endangered or doomed. Instead, ethical leadership pursues the art of the possible for the greater (not the greatest) good. Augustine did not demand the city of God absolutely over the city of man. Augustus did not self-righteously return the Principate to the strife of the late republic. Lincoln did not start the Civil War as a crusade to eradicate slavery everywhere.
With regard to the American 21st century, Gaddis’s favorite novelists and philosophers perhaps argue against both optional intercessions abroad and moralistic lead-from-behind recessionals. The better course is to marshal American power to prepare for the often unavoidable existential crises on the horizon, with the full expectation that we do not have to be perfect to be good.
“On Grand Strategy” is many things — a thoughtful validation of the liberal arts, an argument for literature over social science, an engaging reflection on university education and some timely advice to Americans that lasting victory comes from winning what you can rather than all that you want.
The Trump administration placed 25 percent tariffs on a large number of Chinese goods Tuesday; the next day, China fought back.
The Battle of Maqdala in 1868 was a British military expedition led by Gen. Robert Napier to release British hostages held in what is now Ethiopia by Emperor Tewodros II. After British troops destroyed the emperor’s fortress, religious artifacts were ransacked; the items have since been acquired by several institutions, including the V&A and the British Museum, as well as by private collectors.
The V&A website describes the museum’s collection of Ethiopian treasures as an “unsettling reminder of the imperial processes which enabled British museums to acquire the cultural assets of others.”
“This is a very well-known case where there is a serious claim for the return of cultural objects,” said Alexander Herman, assistant director of the Institute of Art and Law, an educational organization based in London. “A major British institution has at least agreed in principle to be open to some form of sharing arrangement or loan.”
Ethiopia’s previous requests to the British government for the restitution of the objects have been denied. According to the Association For the Return of the Maqdala Ethiopian Treasures, only 10 of the 468 items known to have been seized at Maqdala have been returned.
Around 80 of the items seized are in the British Museum’s collection. A spokeswoman for the museum said its trustees would consider a loan request by Ethiopia. She added, “There is a great public benefit to material from Ethiopia being represented within the context of the British Museum’s world collection where it is accessible to millions of international visitors a year.”
The complex issue of repatriating looted objects has rumbled on in Europe and the United States for years. President Emmanuel Macron of France said in November that the return of African artifacts was “a top priority” for his country. At a speech in Burkina Faso, he said, “African heritage can’t just be in European private collections and museums.”
Mr. Herman described Mr. Macron’s statement and the Victoria and Albert Museum’s gesture as an “important moment.” “We’re starting to see an openness on the part of at least some major Western museums to engage with communities of origin,” he said.
“The loan is a powerful method of bringing people together,” he added “It is an instrument that allows for an ongoing dialogue.”
The public sign of discord is highly unusual for the two Communist neighbors, and it comes as Beijing seeks to expand its influence in the South China Sea.