April 27, 2010
Below are this year’s winners of the Husband of the Year Award.
This years Third Place Winner:
The Second Place Award Winner:
Finally, the moment you’ve been waiting for: This year’s Grand Prize winner of the Husband of the Year Award goes to man not afraid of PDA’s (public displays of affection)…
The Honorable Mentions up included a man who would rather sleep with bicycle…
And the guy for whom stability means everything…
April 27, 2010
April 27, 2010
It is not clear what French President Nicolas Sarkozy had in mind when he invited a contingent of 400 Indian troops to march down the Champs-Élysées for the Bastille Day parade in 2009. But Paris might be on to something that Washington has missed, in spite of its more intensive military engagement with India in recent years. Although Paris does not have the power to engineer international structural changes in New Delhi’s favor, it has often been ahead of Washington in strategizing about India. In its effort to build a partnership with India, ongoing since the mid-1990s, France has helped India renegotiate its position in the global nuclear order: It provided diplomatic cover
when India defied the world with nuclear tests in May 1998, promoted the idea of changing the global non-proliferation rules to facilitate civilian nuclear cooperation with India, and worked with the Bush Administration to get the international community to endorse India’s nuclear exceptionalism.
Of course, Sarkozy’s motives might have been merely tactical: a move to butter up Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who was among the honored guests at the parade, or to raise its share of India’s rapidly expanding market for advanced arms. But Paris is capable of more than tactics: It may sense the prospects of a fundamental change in India’s defense orientation and its potential to contribute significantly to international security politics in the 21st century. It may see that a rising India, which runs one of the world’s major economies and fields a large armed force, will eventually bear some of the military burdens of maintaining the global order.
If so, it would not be the first time that India has done so. Western analysts, some British excepted, seem not to appreciate two historical facts: that the Indian armed forces contributed significantly to Allied efforts in the 20th century’s two world wars; and that India’s British Raj was the main peacekeeper in the Indian Ocean littoral and beyond. And it is not just the West that is ignorant of the security legacy of the British Raj; India’s own post-colonial political class deliberately induced a collective national amnesia about the country’s rich pre-independence military traditions. Its foreign policy establishment still pretends that India’s engagement with the world began on August 15, 1947.
The image of Indian troops marching in Paris should remind the world that India’s military past could be a useful guide to its strategic future. If the United States and India can together rediscover and revive the Indian military’s expeditionary tradition, they will have a solid basis for strategic cooperation not only between themselves but also with the rest of the world’s democracies. The Bush Administration showed an instinctive sense of this possibility when it committed itself to assisting India’s rise and boosting its defense capabilities. President Barack Obama does seem to have a fund of goodwill toward India, which was reflected in his decision to receive Prime Minister Singh in November 2009 as the first state guest at the White House. But it is not clear if the Obama Administration has a larger strategic conception of the prospects for military and security cooperation with India.
In general, the Democratic administrations of recent times have tended to define engagement with India in terms of global issues and multilateralism rather than converging bilateral interests. Rather than frame the relationship with India using such ambitious but unrealizable multilateral goals, or drag Delhi further than it wishes to go into the Af-Pak mess, the Obama Administration needs to elevate the bilateral military engagement with India to a strategic level. While the U.S. debate on military burden-sharing has traditionally taken place in the context of Washington’s alliances with Western Europe and Japan, a rising India may well be a more credible and sustainable partner than these two in coping with new international security challenges. If both sides can shake off the remaining historical baggage that has kept them at arm’s length for most of the past sixty years, we may see something remotely like the return of the Raj.
A good deal of that old baggage has already been discarded. More Americans than ever now see beyond India’s third-worldish rhetoric and appreciate its quiet affection for power and realpolitik. Ever more Indians appreciate the genuine opportunities for strategic, economic and political partnership with the United States and the West in general. This appreciation accelerated dramatically during the tenure of the Bush Administration, having just come off a stretch of poor relations during the Clinton years.
Although Indian opposition to the “liberal wars” of the 1990s was couched in terms of sovereignty and non-intervention, the real problem for India was the potential threat of American meddling on the Kashmir question. India faced an intense insurgency in Jammu and Kashmir supported from across the border beginning in the late 1980s, a serious effort by Pakistan to “internationalize” the dispute, and the Clinton Administration’s constant hectoring on India’s nuclear efforts and human rights. Unsurprisingly, India resolved to resist these new “Wilsonians” in the security debates following the Cold War.
Eventually, Washington figured this out. The Clinton Administration in its final year, and the Bush Administration throughout its tenure, sought to make amends and develop a new level of political understanding between the two nations. Clinton stepped back from linking improved ties to progress on Kashmir and non-proliferation. The Bush Administration fell almost completely silent on Kashmir and put an end to nearly four decades of Indo-U.S. quarreling over nuclear issues. It also exerted itself to prevent an Indo-Pak war in the winter of 2001–02. Taken together, all of this opened the way for constructing a new security partnership.
Having initially raised fears that it might undo the good work of the Bush Administration, the Obama Administration has since signaled that it will avoid destabilizing activism on the Kashmir question, will not let the deepening U.S. engagement with Pakistan undermine possibilities with India, and will elevate the relationship with Delhi to what Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has called “India-U.S. 3.0.”1 But although Secretary Clinton has spoken of cooperation on global security as one of the pillars of the U.S.-India relationship envisaged under the Obama Administration, she has been hesitant thus far to construct a case for a defense partnership.
April 27, 2010
New York’s original Pennsylvania Railroad Station opened its doors in November 1910, with its towering Doric columns and a 150-foot-high waiting room based on the Baths of Caracalla in Rome. “As the crowd passed through the doors into the vast concourse,” the New York Times reported, “on every hand were heard exclamations of wonder, for none had any idea of the architectural beauty of the new structure.” But in the mid-1960s, the Pennsylvania Railroad tried to make up for falling revenues by razing the Beaux Arts structure—over the protests of architects and editorial boards—and replacing it with today’s drab station, the new Madison Square Garden, and rent-bearing office towers.
The beloved old station became a martyr for the preservationist cause. In 1965, Mayor Robert Wagner signed the law establishing the Landmarks Preservation Commission. Initially, the move seemed like a harmless sop to the activist architects. But the commission’s power soon grew, partly because it was charged not only with protecting beautiful old structures but also with establishing large historic districts. Today, New York City contains just 1,200 individually landmarked buildings, far fewer than the 25,000 buildings within its 100 historic districts. And in these districts—1,300 acres’ worth in Manhattan alone—almost every action that affects a building’s exterior must pass muster with the commission, from installing air conditioners in windows to mounting intercom boxes next to front doors. A tree can grow in Brooklyn, but not in SoHo, unless the commission decides that its leaves are no affront to that neighborhood.
It is wise and good to protect the most cherished parts of a city’s architectural history. But New York’s vast historic districts, which include thousands of utterly undistinguished structures, don’t accomplish that goal. Worse, they impede new construction, keeping real estate in New York City enormously expensive (despite a housing crash), especially in its most desirable, historically protected areas. It’s time to ask whether New York’s big historic districts make sense.
According to a law passed in 1965, to bestow historic-district status on a neighborhood, the Landmarks Preservation Commission must hold public hearings, vote, and then submit its proposal to the city council, which must approve the designation. Once that happens, the commission has enormous powers over the new district: it may “specify the nature of any construction, reconstruction, alteration or demolition of any landscape feature which may be performed” within that district. The commission began landmarking speedily after the law was passed. From 1966 to 1981, it created 20 historic districts in southern Manhattan, at a rate of about 38 acres per year. (By “southern Manhattan,” I mean the island below 96th Street—the most expensive land in the city and some of the most expensive in the world.)
In 1978, the U.S. Supreme Court allowed governments to landmark commercial areas without compensating the owners, giving the Landmarks Preservation Commission a green light to expand farther into areas that had many nonresidential properties. The largest of these was the Upper East Side. Once again, effective organizers, like New Yorker drama critic Brendan Gill, rallied a sophisticated community behind the districting plan. Opponents of the Upper East Side Historic District mounted a spirited defense, challenging the notion that this large swath of Manhattan had any kind of architectural unity, but they were overwhelmed. Paul Goldberger, writing in the Times, noted that the decision put the Koch administration “squarely on the side of preservation, rather than development, of some of the city’s most expensive real estate…”
Nevertheless, the damage has been done. Not counting parks, southern Manhattan contains about 7,700 acres of potentially buildable area. Today, nearly 16 percent of that land is in historic districts and therefore subject to the commission’s authority. This preservation is freezing large tracts of land, rendering them unable to accommodate the thousands of people who would like to live in Manhattan but can’t afford to.
To get an idea of the way that historic districts can freeze a city, consider two recent episodes. In 1999, Citibank sold a one-story branch bank on the corner of 91st and Madison Avenue to a developer who planned a 17-story tower for the site. But the corner was within the prestigious Carnegie Hill Historic District, whose distinguished residents didn’t like the idea of another tower in their neighborhood. Woody Allen made a short video protesting the plan. Kevin Kline recited Richard II: “How sour sweet music is, / When time is broke and no proportion kept!” No New Yorker who grew up hearing Kline play Henry V in Central Park can fault the commission for being swayed by his eloquence. It told the developer to limit the building to nine stories—even though one of the few limits to the commission’s power, explicitly stated in the New York City Administrative Code, is that “nothing contained in this chapter shall be construed as authorizing the commission, in acting with respect to any historic district or improvement therein, . . . to regulate or limit the height and bulk of buildings.”