Defrosting the Cold War with China

Chinese leader Xi Jinping arrived in the United States this week to participate in the annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting. He also met one-on-one with President Joe Biden. But it hasn’t been exactly a red-carpet kind of visit. For one thing, because the two leaders will be talking in San Francisco, their confab will… Continue reading Defrosting the Cold War with China

US Domestic Policy, US Foreign Policy

How Long Can America Maintain a War Economy?

The U.S. economy is in reasonably good shape, according to conventional measurements. The official unemployment rate is below 4 percent, and the productivity of U.S. workers is surging. In the last quarter, economic growth was nearly 5 percent, and Inflation has been levelling off. Americans are buying things, throwing parties, and going on vacations. Last… Continue reading How Long Can America Maintain a War Economy?

Russia and Eastern Europe, Security

Congress Divided on Funding Wars

Inside the halls of power and outside on the campaign trail, U.S. politics is a mess. The leading Republican candidate for the 2024 presidential race, Donald Trump, faces four criminal indictments. The leading Democratic candidate, President Joe Biden, has dismal favorability ratings. The presidential race has so far generated as much positive enthusiasm as a… Continue reading Congress Divided on Funding Wars

US Foreign Policy

The Enduring Limits of U.S. Power

The United States is the most powerful country on the earth. If you add together its nuclear arsenal, its unmatched array of conventional weaponry, and its global economic reach, America might be the mightiest country in the history of the planet. The United States has been responsible for destroying countries (Germany, Japan) and raising them… Continue reading The Enduring Limits of U.S. Power

US Foreign Policy

Cooling the Guns in the Middle East

The Palestinian people have never really figured prominently in the calculations of U.S. administrations. The Middle East is a locus of power politics, and Palestinians have very little power. Tragically, Arab states have all too often treated Palestinians like pawns as well. In Israel, as second-class citizens and residents of occupied territory, Palestinians hardly merit… Continue reading Cooling the Guns in the Middle East

US Domestic Policy

Trump World 2025

It’s possible that he’ll be in prison. Or perhaps, because of poll numbers that fall as trial dates approach, the Republican Party won’t end up nominating the current frontrunner as their presidential candidate in 2024. And, of course, in the general election, despite its lukewarm attitude toward Joe Biden, the American electorate could still unite… Continue reading Trump World 2025

Korea, Russia and Eastern Europe

Korean Armistice, Ukrainian Ceasefire

In his famous essay about democracy, the British novelist E.M. Forster celebrated the political system’s encouragement of diversity and its tolerance of criticism. However, he only gave two cheers for democracy, rather than three, because democratic systems tend toward inefficiency and mediocrity. Forster believed that democracy, although better than the alternatives, deserves only qualified praise.… Continue reading Korean Armistice, Ukrainian Ceasefire

Russia and Eastern Europe

Peace in Their Time

A powerful state was threatening to protect its compatriots over the border by intervening in the neighboring country. The neighbor had a well-equipped army but could not have beaten back the powerful state all by itself. The world stood on the brink of another world war. But thanks to the intercession of diplomats, a hastily… Continue reading Peace in Their Time

Food, Russia and Eastern Europe

Russia’s Agricultural Warfare

Saudi Arabia is pissed off at Russia. It’s not as if the Gulf state has released any angry statements to the press. Rather, Riyadh has made clear its displeasure in an indirect way. It has offered to host a “peace summit” next week that Ukraine will organize. Brazil, India, South Africa, and China are among… Continue reading Russia’s Agricultural Warfare

Europe, Russia and Eastern Europe

Ukraine and the World Order

As the Cold War began to wane, multipolarism became a rallying cry for everyone sick and tired of superpower politics, nuclear standoffs, and the banal bipolarism of Soviet misinformation and American propaganda. This “rise of the rest” was prefigured in the Non-Aligned Movement that began in 1961, the New International Economic Order that the United… Continue reading Ukraine and the World Order

US Domestic Policy

America vs. the Supreme Court

After last year’s NATO summit, Joe Biden talked to reporters about the war in Ukraine, U.S. military assistance to the government in Kyiv, the invitations to Sweden and Finland to join NATO, and the global economy. The message that the U.S. president emphasized, on all of these issues, was that “America is back.” After the… Continue reading America vs. the Supreme Court

Russia and Eastern Europe

The Beginning of the End for Putin?

The former hotdog salesman rose about as high as he could. He became a caterer to the Russian elite and a confidante of the president. He led his country’s premier paramilitary force. He was one of Russia’s wealthiest oligarchs. And then he overreached. Yevgeny Prigozhin now says that he had no intention of overthrowing Russian… Continue reading The Beginning of the End for Putin?

Russia and Eastern Europe

A Tale of Two Missions

It was a peace mission that basically fell to pieces. South African President Cyril Ramaphosa tried to line up a number of African leaders to travel to Russia and Ukraine in an effort to persuade the two countries to stop fighting. He was joined on the trip by the leaders of Senegal, Comoros, and Zambia.… Continue reading A Tale of Two Missions

Environment, Europe

Greening Transatlantic Relations

From a foreign policy perspective, transatlantic relations appear to have reached new heights. The United States and European Union both support Ukraine’s efforts to expel Russian troops from its territory. On the military front, NATO is enjoying boom times thanks to the reemergence of a ‘common enemy’ and the addition of new members like Finland.… Continue reading Greening Transatlantic Relations

China, Economics, Environment, Korea

The Mineral Rush

Entrepreneurs and adventurers have long traveled the world in search of gold. European empires looted Latin America for its silver and tin. Diamonds attracted the rapacious to Africa. Oil has built enormous empires of wealth in the Gulf states. Today, an entirely different scramble for natural resources is taking place. These “critical raw materials” play… Continue reading The Mineral Rush

Environment, Russia and Eastern Europe

How Russia’s War in Ukraine Threatens the Planet

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022 has resulted in the deaths so far of more than 8,700 Ukrainian civilians, including more than 500 children. It has caused a massive drop in the country’s economic output, with GDP declining by 29.1 percent. And it has had widespread consequences for the environment: inside Ukraine, in surrounding countries,… Continue reading How Russia’s War in Ukraine Threatens the Planet

Economics, Environment

How to Rapidly Reduce Fossil Fuel Use

The burning of fossil fuels—oil, coal, natural gas—is responsible for nearly 90 percent of global carbon emissions. Despite almost-universal recognition of the need to reduce the use of those fossil fuels, the industrialized world is having the hardest time breaking its addiction. The economic rebound from the COVID-19 shutdowns generated the largest ever increase in… Continue reading How to Rapidly Reduce Fossil Fuel Use


The Trouble with Taiwan

Taiwan is a country, but not many other states recognize it as such. Only 13 countries maintain diplomatic relations with the island nation. These are small or poor or both, like Haiti, Paraguay, and Tuvalu. Honduras switched its diplomatic allegiance from Taipei to Beijing just one month ago. Taiwan doesn’t have a seat at the… Continue reading The Trouble with Taiwan

Russia and Eastern Europe, US Foreign Policy

U.S. and Ukraine: Sending Arms or Twisting Arms?

After Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, the United States quickly moved to support the government in Kyiv. With Joe Biden in the White House, having replaced someone who made no effort to conceal his admiration for Russian President Vladimir Putin, this U.S. support was no surprise. Prior to the invasion, the Biden administration had… Continue reading U.S. and Ukraine: Sending Arms or Twisting Arms?