Tim Fernholz

Tim Fernholz is a former staff writer for the Prospect. His work has been published by Newsweek, The New Republic, The Nation, The Guardian, and The Daily Beast. He is also a Research Fellow at the New America Foundation.

Recent Articles

SMARTER, NOT HARDER.

Both this poll of American military officers and Nick Kristof 's latest column suggest that we need to focus much more on development in Afghanistan and Iraq. Of course, the U.S. has devoted a decent amount of money allready to rebuilding in both Afghanistan and Iraq, but not enough to prove decisive in changing facts on the ground. Kristof's column is a bit over-the-top, but his key insight is the importance of the local buy-in. However, he does not acknowledge that it can be harder for locals to welcome working with U.S. troops occupying their countries than it is to for them to welcome some random U.S. do-gooder. Obama has talked extensively about this kind of work, McCain not so much . --Tim Fernholz

CLEAR ENOUGH?

Obama's Iraq op-ed is all the news today, and it clearly establishes that he's not changing his position. John Judis doesn't buy it , but his argument isn't there. Contra Judis, Obama does acknowledge the drop in violence caused by the surge, but continues to make the correct argument that it has had little effect on Iraq's political situation. Oddly, I know this thanks to a McCain campaign e-mail publicizing an Obama interview with Larry King in March '07: "[E]ven those who support the escalation have acknowledged that 20,000, 30,000, even 40,000 more troops placed temporarily in places like Baghdad are not going to make a long-term difference." There's no evidence that the surge has done that, but if it does Obama's plan is even more appropriate. Obama again mentions the 16 month timetable in the op-ed, something Judis claims Obama is moving away from. Further, it seems that in order to construe Obama's position as a flip-flop, you are required to assume he makes the withdrawal...

GREAT MOMENTS IN IRONIC NEWSWRITING.

The latest entry in the Obama -moves-to-the-center ledger comes from the Times , quoting a woman who switched her Green party registration to support the senator in the Oregon primary: “I’m disgusted with him,” said Ms. Shade , an artist. “I can’t even listen to him anymore. He had such an opportunity, but all this ‘audacity of hope’ stuff, it’s blah, blah, blah. For all the independents he’s going to gain, he’s going to lose a lot of progressives.” But Obama isn't really moving to the center . The article goes on to quote folks on the left (including a surprisingly temperate David Sirota ) who understand that his fundamentally liberal philosophy isn't changing. Those worried that this meme, pushed as much by conservatives as progressives, would undermine Obama's support with his base can probably rest easy. And though the Times cites liberal bloggers as chief critics of the Senator, it's important to remember that this is the same netroots that has made pragmatism and a winning...

HISTORY NEVER RELENTS.

The International Criminal Court plans to indict Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir for genocide. It's damn good news, especially coming after a week in which his government was likely complicit in an attack that killed seven peacekeepers. Although the ICC's decision to call al-Bashir out could negatively affect diplomatic negotiations, the peacekeeping mission has never been strong enough to stop violence in Darfur and doesn't look likely to improve. Moving to officially identify al-Bashir as someone with no interest in real solutions will hopefully force the international community to realize that stopping the violence and protecting the millions of refugees is entirely in their hands. It's sad that it's taken this long to call the situation in darfur what it is -- genocide. Now, how about some helicopters ? --Tim Fernholz

REALLY JEALOUS?

Steve Clemons has a post about his envy of China's super fast MagLev train. I've been seeing a lot of these "boy-foreign-infrastructure-is-so-nice" posts around and, while I sympathize, it's worth wondering if the glitz of the MagLev is really the right model. What we need isn't the fastest monorail in the world, it's simply an affordable rail system. Consider instead subsidizing AMTRAK's Acela Express, which is prohibitively expensive for most people, but gets you from D.C. to NYC in just a few hours. And it's built on infrastructure we already have, and that people are already using . Not as impressive, but more useful. Gotta run before you can walk, or in this case, Acela before you can MagLev. Let's leave the grandstanding to Dubai. --Tim Fernholz

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