Sam Rosenfeld

Sam Rosenfeld is a Ph.D. candidate in history at Harvard University and a former web editor at the Prospect.

Recent Articles

Learning The Right Lessons

We'd like to thank George Packer for his response to our " Incompetence Dodge " article. We should also take this opportunity to say that there's an invaluable trove of reporting in The Assassins' Gate , and, clearly, on-the-ground experience yields insights that can't be adduced from an office in Washington. That said, the future of liberal foreign policy is an issue in which we all have a stake, and in a democracy we can't say that the only people entitled to an opinion on the Iraq War are those who've covered it in person. One of our main goals was to provoke some debate and discussion on this issue; we seem to be succeeding. Of course, when you aim to provoke you run the risk of over-personalizing things, and reading Packer's reply we're afraid this discussion may be going down that road. Our desire isn't to cast blame for past events. We simply think that, faced with an enterprise in Iraq that just about everyone in the progressive family recognizes has gone awry somehow or other...

The Incompetence Dodge

The liberal hawks now say the idea of the war wasn't bad, just its execution. This saves face -- and serves a more dangerous function.

Victory, as John F. Kennedy observed, has a thousand fathers, while defeat is an orphan. Abandoning the orphan that is the Iraq War has clearly been a protracted, painful process for the liberal hawks, those intellectuals and pundits so celebrated back in 2003 for their courage in coming forward to smash liberal expectations and support the war. Long criticized by fellow liberals for failing, amid much hand-wringing and navel-gazing, to express clear regret over their original support for the war, these hawks have started to become a bit more vocal about their second thoughts. The nature of their regret, however, is noteworthy -- and has tremendous significance for the debate over U.S. foreign policy after Iraq. Most liberal hawks are willing to admit only that they made a mistake in trusting the president and his team to administer the invasion and occupation competently. An August 29 New York Observer article featured a litany of semi-chastened hawks articulating this sentiment...

Beware of Watchdog

Melanie Sloan is at a loss. “I would never have thought that the Democrats would be so … I just need more words for ‘spineless.' I don't have enough,” she says. “She turns around and grabs a thesaurus from her desk. “‘Wimpy,'” she reads, “‘irresolute,' ‘chicken,' ‘weak-willed,' ‘timid,' ‘lily-livered' -- I like that one -- ‘without backbone,' ‘gutless.'” At last she's satisfied. “‘Gutless' is good.” Sloan, 39, is executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), a 3-year-old watchdog outfit that Republican congressional flacks commonly describe as a “Democratic front group.” With front groups like these, who needs moles? Democrats say that they will mount a major drive on ethics heading into next year's elections. Given that, you might think that CREW, an unabashedly liberal organization founded as a progressive answer to the notorious Clinton-baiting outfit Judicial Watch, would count among the Democrats' closest allies in that fight. That it isn't...

The Incompetence Dodge

Victory, as John F. Kennedy observed, has a thousand fathers, while defeat is an orphan. Abandoning the orphan that is the Iraq War has clearly been a protracted, painful process for the liberal hawks, those intellectuals and pundits so celebrated back in 2003 for their courage in coming forward to smash liberal expectations and support the war. Long criticized by fellow liberals for failing, amid much hand-wringing and navel-gazing, to express clear regret over their original support for the war, these hawks have started to become a bit more vocal about their second thoughts. The nature of their regret, however, is noteworthy -- and has tremendous significance for the debate over U.S. foreign policy after Iraq. Most liberal hawks are willing to admit only that they made a mistake in trusting the president and his team to administer the invasion and occupation competently. An August 29 New York Observer article featured a litany of semi-chastened hawks articulating this sentiment. “...

Lost Continent

In his mammoth new history of Africa since the era of independence, The Fate of Africa: From the Hopes of Freedom to the Heart of Despair , journalist Martin Meredith traces the modern political and economic roots of the continent's current predicament. He spoke to The American Prospect 's Sam Rosenfeld from England. Why the heavy focus on political history in the book? Well, if you're looking at a 50-year period of history and choosing 50 countries, you've got to be fairly selective about what it is you're trying to do. In a way, one of the motives for writing the book sprung from the tendency of Western governments to look at Africa in terms of snapshots. There isn't any real institutional memory in Western governments anymore, nor is there really in the international financial institutions. What I wanted to do was to look at the whole trajectory of Africa's experience over 50 years, and that means that you just have to narrow your field down to what is important. And in a sense...

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