Degrees in History, Politics and Iranian Studies. Wrote in the past for http://Fivethirtyeight.com. https://twitter.com/DanielBerman2
The EU Gives the UK a Final Chance to Determine its Fate
The results of the EU Summit on March 21-22 were a major humiliation to Theresa May, as the EU bypassed her to issue an ultimatum directly to the UK Parliament. But they did so with little hope it would be taken up.
The EU Contemplates Letting the UK Fall Off the Cliff
While I still believe the UK is headed for a long Article 50 extension, I increasingly feel the EU is contemplating the prospect of a "Temporary No Deal" to remove the threat of an A50 revocation and teach a lesson
Vice: A 120 Minute Trip Into An Alternate History Mytopia
Someone, someday, should try to make a biopic about Richard Cheney. Vice, by contrast, is a satircal film about how its director and intended see American politics. Conspiratorial, incomprehensible, and tainted.
Brexit Endgame December: A Choice of Poison
The decision to pull the vote on her proposed agreement with the EU may have saved Theresa May a defeat in the Commons, but it may have forfeited a chance to force a confronation with the bankrupcy of almost all options
Brexit Endgame November
With a "deal" imminant, Theresa May faces the likihood of defeat in the Commons as MPs of all stripes vote for Schrodinger's rejection. But Jeremy Corbyn, not Remainers or Leavers, , holds almost all the card
What does the EU think it is doing on the Kosovo-Serbian border agreement?
Germany has a long tradition of adopting stubborn stands in the Balkans out of misplaced principle leading to disaster, from 1914 to 1991. But the opposition to a land swap between Kosovo and Serbia is truly absurd
Merkel, and the avoidable migration political crisis within the EU
Critics are right to suggest that the current fight over migration is motivated as much by political ambitions as security threats. But Angela Merkel has done more than anyone else to make it that way
Why the US Congress is Headed to a Shutdown over DACA
It is an article of faith among the American political elite that the DACA program is universally popular and a political winner for Democrats. That premise is being put to the test this week.
Polling, Media Narratives and the Virginia Governor's race
The temptation for journalists to focus on the "horse race" of campaigns has always existed, but few have seen their coverage as totally determined by the results of questionable polls than today's Virginia elections
How to lose a constitutional struggle 101
The inexplicable inaction of the Catalonian government following the referendum vote shifted the political initiatative back to the Spanish government, and has left seccesionists divided and demoralized
"Both Sides are in the Wrong" Seccesionist Gamesmanship in Spain and the Myth of Excessive Force
The Spanish government was in a no situation with regards to the Catalan referendum. Precedent showed that allowing it to proceed would have established its legitimacy, whereas enforcing the law was a PR disaster
European Elections 2017: The Far-Right recedes?
Upcoming elections in Austria, Germany, and Norway appear likely to be dissapointments for the far-right. But with the exception of Norway, this owes more to a resurgence of the center-right than a leftward swing
The cult of Robert E. Lee and may have served its purpose, but we need an alternative not erasure
The criticisms of the cult of the Confederacy in the South, that it excludes African Americans and minimizes the crimes of slavery are beyond a doubt true. But critics seem more interested in destroying idols than unity.
Interesting Numbers in Venezuala
Venezuela's recent Constituent Assembly elections were a mockery, but so is every other aspect of governance in the country at this point. The struggle is no longer about ideology, but rather power.
The Overdue Decision to Cut America's Losses in Syria
US aid to the Syrian opposition never had a political objective, and therefore lacked any viable military goals as well. The decision of the Trump Adminstration to terminate it will be spun as Pro-Russian, but is overdue
The "Soft Brexit" myth: If "Hard Brexit" is off the table, the UK should withdraw Article 50
It is now clear that on Brexit there is no "deal" to be made. If British voters truly value immigration control more than economics they need to be prepared to walk. And if they value economics, "Soft Brexit" is a fraud
Thoughts on the 2017 UK General Election
The implications of the Conservative government of Theresa May losing its majority in the House of Commons on June 9th, 2017 have dominated media discourse. Momentous enough, exageration has taken the place of analysis
Iran's Other Elections
For all the focus on Rouhani's reelection as President, the real shift in Iran happened downballot a delayed effect of how important the transfer of the Presidency in 2013 actually was despite the limitations.
Closing the Gap? The UK Elections 14 Days Out
Even before last nights YouGov and Survation polls the gap was already closing between Labour and the Tories. The dynamics of the campaign made this inevitable, just as they ensure the tough part lies ahead for Corbyn
28 Days out: The UK 2017 Elections
The first of several looks at the polling, campaigns, and dynamics of the UK 2017 election..
General Jackson is Dead Sir
Recent comments about the Civil War have reopened a debate that wrongly focuses on "what the Civil War was about?" rather than the more interesting question of why it had to be fought.
The Worst of Timing: Why Scotland's Second Bid for Independence Will Earn a Cold Shoulder From the EU
The decision of the Scottish Government to seek a second referendum is a gamble that the panic surrounding Brexit will disguise the fact that the prospects for an independent Scotland are worse than in 2014
A Feature, Not a Bug: Why May is using the status of EU Nationals to tempt her enemies into destruction
Theresa May's stubborness on the right of EU nationals to remain in the UK will force hard choices on many MPs. That is precisely why the Prime Minister is so insistent on doing it.
Why not break up Bosnia?
Twenty years after it successfully ended a war, the Dayton structure has failed miserably at building a stable and united Bosnia in peace. Why not allow the state to split up?
Germany's Boring Election: Is Merkel's Reserve of Political Lives Growing Short?
As Germans prepare to go to the polls, the greatest threat to Angela Merkel is neither anger over her asylum policy, nor populism of the right or left. Nor even is it new SPD leader Martin Schulz. It is boredom itself
Symbiotic Polarization: How Intersectionality Birthed the Alt-Right
For all the venom directed at "Facists" by leftwing activists throughout history, the truly revolutionary forces on the right have always taken their inspirationn from the example set by their leftwing counterparts
The Politics of TPP and Mexico City
By connecting killing TPP and the reinstatement of the Mexico City Policy on abortion, the Trump Adminstration handed orginized labor their greatest politican win in decades while ensuring foes would only talk abortion
When did Obama abandon the Syrian opposition? And why did he never let his UN Ambassador know it?
For all the talk of an Obama-doctrine giving way to a Pro-Russian Trump policy, the shift back to realism already occured during the Syrian conflict.
Old Statesman Merely Fade Away: Ali Akbar Rafsanjani 1934-2017
The dominant figure in Iran following Khomeini's death in 1989, Rafsanjani tried to build a political order on personality rather than ideology or policy and found himself adrift and distrusted by all sides.
In defense of the choice of David Friedman as Ambassador to Israel and Trump's new policy
It needs to be accepted that the Peace Process in Israel is currently comotose and will remain so until it is recognized that any settlement will have to be on Israel's terms or the result of military force.
The events in Aleppo are tragic, but they are also the inevitible result of a policy based on moral outrage rather than strategic calculation, or even an effort to limit human suffering.
2016: The Year History Ended
A decade ago it was common for neoconservative thinkers to claim that 9/11 marked the end of the "End of History" that began with the end of the Cold War. With hindsight, it merely marked the midpoint.
Where Predictions went wrong
It is easy to blame this election on the polls, but looking back, everyone took for granted that voters who supported John Kerry and then Obama twice would never vote for Donald Trump. And no evidence could shake that.
Initial Thoughts on the Brexit Rulling
The High Court ruling is a defeat for the May government, but it is a defeat that if they did not actually court, nevertheless serves their interests very well.
The Problem With Debates About Russian Expansionism: A Historical Consideration of Empire and Russian Foriegn Policy
What the West sees as Russian expansionism into Europe in fact represents a dillema no Russian leader mas managed to solve in three centuries. How ensure that its neghbors are not anti-Russian absent occupation.
Hitting Trump on Russia cannot disguise the fact that Clinton does not have a Russia policy.
The attempt to turn the leak of emails from the Democratic National Committee into a debate over whether Trump is "soft" on Russia or Putin is exactly the sort of inflexible thinking that has ruined US policy in Syria.
More July 20th 1944 than Reichstag Fire: Thoughts on the seriousness of the Turkish coup
The complexity of Friday's has led to a focus on whether or not the coup was somehow "staged".That is to miss the importance of how politics in Turkey has become about one man, and effective opposition about killing him.
Fiasco: How the Brexit Coup Failed
If Brexit was a coup, then it must stand alongside the August 1991 effort in Moscow as one of worst fiascos in history. In the end, it entrenched those already in power, and left their enemies prostrate before them.
What if there was an election, and it was about nothing at all? The issue free Labour leadership contest.
Not since the 2004 Democratic Presidential Primaries has there been an election as devoid of issues as the Labour Leadership contest. The result has been to present an image of a party wracked by personal feuds.
One of Them: Why the "Remainer" Theresa May is winning the Conservative leadership
Seeing Conservative leadership race in terms of Leavers v. Remainers misses the point. Theresa May might have backed Remain, but on a tribal level Leavers know she is one of them in a way Gove or Johnson never could be.
Politics is not a drama: Michael Gove's failed bid
Michael Gove may have acted out a real life episode of House of Cards, but the net effect of his manuevers is likely to the eclipse of his own career.
Labour's Leadership Election
In the circumstances that currently prevail, it strikes me aas a deeply unwise move for Jeremy Corbyn's foes to force a battle to the death over an issue, the EU referendum, regarding which they themselves lack a policy
American Brexit - Putting the Referendum in American Context
To understand how the British electorate could disregard the advice of the entire politicana and economic elite to vote to leave the EU, imagine if Donald Trump's immigration proposals were put up for a vote in America.
Sovereignty, Spite and Timing: Why someone who agrees with many of the arguments for Leave, would still vote to Remain
Brexit would be a disaster. Which is why it is sad that the Remain has done everything in its power to make me root for British voters to cast their ballots for Leave.
Venezuela's problems are as much political as they are economic, and the opposition has unwisely accepted the government's narrative that politics is a struggle to the death.
On Demonization, "Elites", and Jo Cox
Jo Cox's murder takes place within the environment of a bitter referendum campaign, but also needs to be placed within a wider context of demonization of entire classes of individuals.
The United States and the EU Referendum
Regardless of what the proper American policy should be, Barack Obama's intervention in the EU referendum campaign was almost certainly a mistake. For him, for David Cameron, and for both countries.
Why Attacks on Trump's Foriegn Policy Views Backfire
Donald Trump's foes have repeatedly tried to make light of his ideological heresies. Nowhere has this been more blatent than with regard to his foriegn policy views, and nowhere have such efforts been less successful.
David Cameron's Dangerous Few Months
The first weeks of the EU referendum campaign have not gone according to plan from the perspective of Prime Minister David Cameron. What was intended to undermine his rivals has instead strengthened them, dangerously so.
The Slow, extended death throws of America's Syria policy
The death of another Syrian rebel "leader" highlights the extent to which Western policy towards Syria increasingly running on sheer inertia with not clear objectives or end goals.
Transitions are Hard: Zimbabwe and Venezuala
The recent victory of the opposition alliance in elections for Venezuala's National Assembly provides both the possibility of change, and the danger that politics will now move into a struggle to the death.
Russian intervention just highlights how the West still lacks a Syria Policy
The confused reaction to the clash between Moscow and Ankara is a testement to how the West's goals in Syria have become so confused that contradictory policies are being pursued simultanously.
You should not fear Corbyn because he opposes Trident Now, but because he did so in the 1980s
Viewing the renewel of the Trident system as a waste of money should not be disqualifying for Corbyn. What should be is his opposition to Britain's independent deterent in the 1980s when there was good reason for it
Left-Wing Economic Views are not Jeremy Corbyn's Real Problem
It his seeming associations with enemies of the United Kingdom and eccentric views on migration, rather than his fetish for nationalization, which are likely to pose the most problems for Labour under Corbyn's leadership
The Eurogroup and SYRIZA's Cowardly Referendum
When looking back at the handling of Greece since 2008, it is unlikely anyone will emerge covered in glory. But when measured by such standards, the behavior of everyone involved in Greece's referendum is abominable
Bernie Sanders' Demographic Challenge
Whatever his success in winning over online activists, Bernie Sanders faces the same obstacle as any left-wing insurgent in the Democratic party; winning over non-white voters who care more about winning in November.
Labour's Strategic Problem
Labour supporters may be right to blame fears of a possible coalition with the SNP for costing them power in May. But with the SNP dominant in Scotland, it is not a problem likely to go away anytime soon.
On Echo Chambers and Politics: Labour picks the wrong fight over the EU referendum
The decision to champion the cause of EU citizens resident in the UK to vote in any referendum on EU membership illustrates the challenges Labour has in culturally connecting with voters within its own heartlands.
Labour's Cultural Obliviousness: Responding to Public Concerns on Immigration and the EU
Rather than figuring out why the voters did not want to hire them, the Labour party seems determined to complain about the fantasy of hiriing a different set of voters.
Slavery and the Origins of the American Civil War: A Rebuttle to Libertarian Revisionism
There have been repeated efforts to recast the Civil War as a conflict over the constitutional relationship between states and the federal government. Ultimately, however, those issues all related to slavery.
The Amazing Shrinking Palestinian National Issue
The recent Israeli elections are a testement to the degree to which the Palestinian issue has become an afterthought even for Israelis. And that is worrysome for Israel's relations with Europe.
Despite Cease-Fire Failures, American Weapons are not a Solution
Whatever policy is the right one to adopt regarding the Russo-Ukrainian conflict, the assumption that arming the Ukrainian military is either a simple task, or an alternative to direct interevention is absurd.
Let's Talk Oil Prices: Rebutting Myths about the Price Collaspe
There is no grand Saudi "conspiracy" against shale production behind the fall in oil prices. Ultimately, the commodity collaspe is a byproduct of the Chinese slowdown along with short-sighted decisions by producers.
Comrade Bob's Final Victory: Mugabe's Succession and Zimbabwe
The recent struggle for succession in Zimbabwe is a remainder that informal networks of power will almost always prevail over formal constitutional procedure in non-democratic states.
Hagel and the Return of the End of Realism
The resignation of Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel marks the final eclipse within the Obama Adminstration of those realist Republicans who defected during the last decade through disatisfaction with the Iraq war.
Combined 2014 Senate Rankings and Guide
A complete, state by state guide to the 2014 US Midterm elections.
Thoughts on the Scottish Referendum Part 1: Polling
There are serious reasons to doubt the validity of the recent Yougov poll showing the Yes side ahead in Scotland's upcoming referendum on independence, not least as the lead appears to be a proudct of weighting.
Repeating the Mistakes of 1936, Europe Risks Marginalizing Itself on the World Stage
International policy is about making choices about different priorities. In 1936, European powers failed to weigh the relative importance of Italy's alliance against Hitler with Ethiopia's independence and lost both.
Free Gaza? What on Earth Does That Even Mean?
Poltical activism against Israeli actions in Gaza has begun to mirror those actions, falling into a pattern of almost pro forma, generic demands that bear little resemblence to the reality of the conflict.
War, Democracy, and Gaza: Lashing Out is not a Strategy
The Israeli campaign in Gaza serves no strategic or political purpose and is being carried out, much like Hamas' own rocket attacks, in service to sheer inertia.
The Futility of the Israeli-Palestinian "Peace Process"
It is apparent that as often as politicians speak of the Middle East "Peace Process" no such process exists, or can exist until every party recognizes the truism that settlements must reflect the facts on the ground
Iran and America are not on the same side in Iraq
Despite both sharing an enmity with ISIS, the US and Iran have very different goals in Iraq, and the methods being used are often in direct conflict.
Enough about Sykes-Picot Already!
It has become a cliche to blame the international borders imposed by European powers for the problems of the Middle East. The Syrian/Iraqi border actually represents divisions thousands of years old.
Some More Thoughts on Young Voters, Inequality, and the Republican Party
Millenial frustration with the job market is not merely a product of entitlement. With employers completing the hiring process ever earlier, many young Americans have already "missed the boat" by age 23
Brazil, History and "Imperial" States
The political crisis in Brazil points to larger structural weaknesses in the Brazilian state that have always made it unlikely that the ascent to global power would go smoothly for the Latin American giant.
The Obama-ization of British Politics: Why Labour Should be Wary of David Axelrod
In the rush to take advantage of the tactics that allowed Barack Obama to win the 2012 election, the Labour party may be forgetting how very different the two countries are, and setting itself up for a major defeat.
Turkey after the Local Elections
The focus by the international media on the integrity of the results in Turkey's recent local elections detracts from the important lesson that while the AKP is politically mortal, the opposition remains fragmented.
A Look Back: Thoughts About Yugoslavia, Sovereignty, and Western Inaction
The prerequisite for any sort of effective action within the Ukraine is to decide whether Kiev is facing a domestic rebellion for an outside invasion. Failing to do so means confusing the lines about the use of force
How Turkey's Elections This Weekend are Tomorrow's Geopolitical Crisis
Turkey's local elections this weekend are the first occasion on which the ruling AKP party faces the prospect of a substantial loss of support. How they respond will determine the future of democracy in Turkey.
Will Politicking in Tehran Make for a Difficult 2014 in American-Iranian Relations?
With politicking already begining for Iran's 2016 elections, will Iranian-American talks fall victim to the need of politicians in both nations to grandstand.
Putin's Verdun: While the Crimea Burns, Russia Prepares a Trap for the West in Estonia
Putin's strategic objectives likely have less to do with territorial ambitions in regions that are economically worthless, and more to do with endeavoring to discredit NATO as a viable protector of neghboring states.
The Ghosts of Munich: Barack Obama and the Wrong Lessons of History
It is common for historians to invoke the spectre of the Munich crisis of 1938 to suggest we should not "forget it's lessons." But what precisely were they, and are the right ones being invoked?
Ukraine, the European Union, Economic Cycles and Political Weakness
The dynamics of the European response to Russian actions in the Ukraine are being driven by economic factors which leave EU leaders vulnerable domestically in the event of any policies which impose ecnomic costs
Ukraine Thoughts Part 1: On the Side of the Angels, Vladimir Putin's view of America and the World
In the eyes of Vladimir Putin, Russia has spent two decades on a policy of appeasement towards the United States, only to be met with duplicity and betrayal. Combined with a personal aversion to Obama it explains much.
Syria, Congress, and Obama: The changing partisan contours of American foreign policy
The debate over intervention in Syria marks a watershed in US politics. For the first time since the Iraq War, Barack Obama has clearly positioned the Democrats as the interventionist, pro-war party in American politics
A strike called denial: The costs of intervention in Syria
Intervention in Syria is something that the entire Western elite insist is neccisary, but at the same time are determined to do everything in their power to avoid.
Cameron, UKIP, and the Lessons of Stanley Baldwin
In its appeal to populism, and relience on the support of press barons, the challenge UKIP poses to the Conservative party resembles earlier insurgency in which tight knit ideological groups sought to take over the party
Majority rule: Turkey’s Taksim Gezi Park protestors must join the electoral process or perish
Turkey's opposition has to abandon fantasies of military coups and delusions that the AKP will implode while they do nothing in order to recognize that only broadening their appeal can they challenge Erdogan for power.
The education of Ali Khamenei: a political biography of Iran’s Supreme Leader
Ali Khamenei may be widely considered the most powerful man in Iran, but when he was selected as Faqih(Supreme Leader) in 1989 he was cipher, widely considered a figurehead. How did he become what he is today?
Khamenei’s game: understanding the supreme leader’s role in Iran’s politics
The office of Faqih, or Surpreme Leader to the Western media, is simultanousnly the most important and least understood in the Iranian system. It is Supreme not in the Stalin sense, but rather in that of Japan's Emperor.
A preview of Iran’s 2013 presidential election: candidates, mullahs and unknowns
An overview of the contenders to suceed Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Ukraine Thoughts Part 2: When You Play the Game of Princes You Win or You Die
Authoritarian states struggle to manage successions. Absent the ability to submit them to the electorate, they are fought informally at all levels of the state, and even the most loyal heir given time will become a theat
Five Thoughts About the Recent US Elections
Five reflections on the results of the 2012 elections.
Brexit Endgame: Why a Longterm Extension is More Likely than a No Deal Crashout
With the March 29th deadline set out in Article 50 approaching, all eyes in the UK press are on London. But the Westminster centered focus of the UK media ignores that British politicians are increasingly irrelevent
Minorities, the Politics of Proximity and Seccession
The "American" experience has often been cited as a successful counterpoint to unsuccessful efforts at assimilation elsewhere. But America's success may owe less to culture, and more to distance than is commonly assumed.