Russia and Eastern Europe

Is Putin in a Corner?

When a country starts casting around for 60-year-old veterans to send to the front, you know that something’s wrong. All hands don’t go on deck unless the ship is foundering. It’s not yet clear whether the Russian ship of state is taking on water. But its military effort in Ukraine is obviously at the SOS… Continue reading Is Putin in a Corner?

Exceptionalism Goes Global

Here’s a nightmare scenario: Unable to recruit enough soldiers from the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin takes North Korean leader Kim Jong-un up on his recent offer to send 100,000 North Koreans to join the Russian president’s ill-fated attempt to seize Ukraine. Kim has also promised to send North Korean workers to help rebuild that country’s… Continue reading Exceptionalism Goes Global

Russia and Eastern Europe

Learning from Gorbachev’s Failures

Last year in Moscow, at a performance of the play Gorbachev, the audience gave a standing ovation to the two remarkable performers who played Mikhail Gorbachev and his wife Raisa Gorbacheva. The applause became even more thunderous when the performers identified the frail old man in a box seat. A spotlight illuminated Gorbachev as he… Continue reading Learning from Gorbachev’s Failures

Environment

The Green New Deal Goes Local

Ithaca, a city of 30,000 people in the Southern Tier of New York state, has pledged to be carbon-neutral by 2030. The city government is leading the way by implementing a strategy to achieve full decarbonization, including all areas of the economy. That means vehicles, buildings, the electric grid, waste, and land use. “It’s a… Continue reading The Green New Deal Goes Local

Economics

Turning People into Corporations?!

You’ve heard about corporations being treated like people. It’s one of the outrages of the Citizens United decision some years back by the Supreme Court, that corporations have a right to free speech just like individuals and therefore can contribute unlimited money to candidates running for office. Bye-bye, democracy. Now there’s a movement afoot to… Continue reading Turning People into Corporations?!

Russia and Eastern Europe

The Weaponization of Food

When Russia bombed the port in Odesa last week, it was not an auspicious beginning to the new deal on grain exports. If anyone believed that this agreement between Moscow and Kyiv would have some positive spillover effect on the war grinding on elsewhere in Ukraine, the Russian military surely destroyed that wishful thinking. International… Continue reading The Weaponization of Food

Human Rights, Security

The Fateful Fist Bump

The fist bump has been the default method of person-to-person contact in the COVID era. Shaking hands is too intimate and bumping elbows is too awkward. But the brief collision of fists has been deemed just about right to avoid the risks of both mutual contamination and mutual embarrassment. Perhaps Joe Biden’s advisors thought that… Continue reading The Fateful Fist Bump

US Domestic Policy

White Riot

The first single that the English punk band The Clash released in 1979 was controversial. Entitled “White Riot,” the song seemed to call on White kids to launch a race-based uprising. The song begins: White riot, I wanna riot White riot, a riot of my own The Clash’s lead singer Joe Strummer strenuously denied charges… Continue reading White Riot

Korea

The Plot Against America

In the 2005 film The President’s Last Bang, Korean audiences were able to glimpse the behind-the-scenes events surrounding the assassination of strong-arm ruler Park Chung-hee. The movie is something of a satire, given the baroque murder plot and the incompetence of the perpetrators. Back in 1979, however, Koreans were shocked by the “10-26 incident” and… Continue reading The Plot Against America

Environment, Latin America

Latin America’s New New Left

Perhaps the most radical statement from Gustavo Petro, the newly elected president of Colombia, has been his promise to keep fossil fuels in the ground. Petro has said that he will not issue any new licenses for hydrocarbon exploration, will stop fracking pilot projects, and will end the development of offshore drilling. Petro has called… Continue reading Latin America’s New New Left

Russia and Eastern Europe

Vladimir Putin: Global Gunman

On one side are the dead: 10 people in a Buffalo grocery store. On the other side is the mass murderer who shot them. Why is the media so focused on the survivors of the Buffalo shooting and the stories of the victims? Why haven’t journalists given the gunman an opportunity to tell his story?… Continue reading Vladimir Putin: Global Gunman

Russia and Eastern Europe

A Just Ceasefire or Just a Ceasefire

The United States was not the first major power to dream up the idea of destroying a country to “save” it. But in the Vietnam War, President Richard Nixon and his tiny brain trust of one—policy henchman Henry Kissinger—elevated this brutally cynical approach to the status of all-encompassing strategy. What began as the destruction of… Continue reading A Just Ceasefire or Just a Ceasefire

Environment, Russia and Eastern Europe

No Victory Day

Imagine an Olympic final in basketball, not unlike the one last summer between the United States and France. The score is tied in the final minutes, and tension is mounting among the flag-waving partisans in the stands. France is in possession of the ball when something strange happens. A sudden fog descends upon the play.… Continue reading No Victory Day

Korea

North Korea’s Real Threat

A recent military parade in Pyongyang showcased the country’s intercontinental ballistic missile. Kim Jong Un used the opportunity of the spectacle to promise that he would push the country’s nuclear program forward at maximum speed. To top it off, North Korea has been improving its tactical nuclear weapons, which means that it may soon be… Continue reading North Korea’s Real Threat

Europe, Russia and Eastern Europe

The Universality of Ukraine

The Russian war in Ukraine has dominated headlines in the United States and Europe. It has been presented as a generation-defining event and as a pivot in geopolitics that will cleave world history into a before and an after just like September 11. Much of the world, however, is not transfixed by developments in central… Continue reading The Universality of Ukraine

Europe

When the Left Is Right…Far Right

In the twentieth century, the left defined itself as anti-fascist. It was against Franco in Spain, Hitler in Germany, and Mussolini in Italy. During the Cold War, progressive opposed far-right dictators like Augusto Pinochet in Chile and Ferdinand Marcos in the Philippines. It mobilized against neo-Nazis in Germany, right-wing militias in the United States, and… Continue reading When the Left Is Right…Far Right

Russia and Eastern Europe

After Putin

A failed military intervention. The genocidal killing of citizens. Economic isolation by the international community. The arrests of anti-war protestors at home and the shuttering of independent media. Any one of these factors could mark the end of an ordinary political leader. Yet Russian President Vladimir Putin has not only weathered these challenges, his popularity… Continue reading After Putin

China, Korea

South Korea’s New Foreign Policy of Two Nos and One Yes

South Koreans are still sorting out the implications of the recent presidential elections. Victorious conservative candidate Yoon Suk-yeol rose to prominence on an anti-corruption agenda and has various plans to shake up the way government functions. He has also pledged to reduce government intervention in the economy, boost incentives for business, increase the role of… Continue reading South Korea’s New Foreign Policy of Two Nos and One Yes

Environment, Russia and Eastern Europe

The Five Plagues Testing Humanity

Once upon a time, the tutelary gods of nationalism and internationalism met for a chat. They had a superb perch above the clouds. From there, they could see everything happening on the Earth below and they set to arguing, as they so often did. Sophia, the goddess of internationalism, began by proudly pointing to the… Continue reading The Five Plagues Testing Humanity

Russia and Eastern Europe

Ending the War in Ukraine

Vladimir Putin has a very clear strategy for ending his war in Ukraine. He intends to wipe the country off the map. Initially, he’d hoped to do so by seizing Kyiv, replacing the government, and absorbing as much of Ukrainian territory into Russia as he thought feasible. Now, after the resistance of the Ukrainians, he… Continue reading Ending the War in Ukraine

Europe, Russia and Eastern Europe

Why Ukraine Matters

War has been pretty much a constant in human affairs. If you’ve managed to avoid direct contact with war for your entire life, you are extraordinarily lucky in world-historical terms. The Cold War that kept the peace across most of the Global North was accompanied by nearly non-stop proxy wars between Moscow and Washington throughout… Continue reading Why Ukraine Matters