Korea

The Future of Korean Democracy

The German government recently arrested 25 members of a conspiratorial right-wing group plotting to overthrow the government. One of those arrested was a member of a defunct German royal family that the group hoped to install as Germany’s new leader. In the United States, the Republican Party did well enough in the mid-term elections to… Continue reading The Future of Korean Democracy

Russia and Eastern Europe

Changing My Mind on Ukraine

In the early 1990s, as the war in Yugoslavia spread to Bosnia, I took what I considered to be a principled position. I backed the UN-imposed arms embargo to the region. I urged friends and colleagues not to support actions to escalate the war. I believed that I was in the pro-peace camp. I hoped… Continue reading Changing My Mind on Ukraine

Russia and Eastern Europe

No Time for a Ceasefire in Ukraine

Vladimir Putin is playing the long game. The Russian leader believes that he can outwait all of his adversaries. Since he has ruled over Russia for more than two decades, he obviously has sound political instincts (as well as a well-deserved reputation for ruthlessness). He is gambling that the Ukrainians, the Europeans, and the Americans… Continue reading No Time for a Ceasefire in Ukraine

Russia and Eastern Europe, Security

Is Ukraine Going Too Far?

In the last couple months, Ukraine has successfully pushed back against Russia’s invading forces. It retook a large chunk of territory around the northeastern city of Kharkiv. It is on the verge of recapturing the only major city—Kherson in the south—that Russia has occupied since February. Ukrainian forces have also targeted airfields in Crimea and… Continue reading Is Ukraine Going Too Far?

Human Rights

Iran: A Winter-Spring Anti-Romance

The young people who took to the streets in 1979 as part of the Iranian revolution are now in their sixties. They haven’t quite aged out of politics, but they’re getting close. It’s a dangerous time for any revolution when the generation that transformed society prepares to exit the stage. The rising generation often has… Continue reading Iran: A Winter-Spring Anti-Romance

Security

So, What About Those Other Wars?

The war in Ukraine has dominated the headlines in U.S. and European newspapers, not to mention outlets in other parts of the world. The explosion this weekend that destroyed part of the bridge connecting Crimea to the Russian mainland, along with Russia’s retaliatory missile attacks on Ukrainian cities and infrastructure, are only the latest and… Continue reading So, What About Those Other Wars?

Europe, Latin America

Fascism: Hello, Goodbye

The telegenic star of Europe’s far right, Giorgia Meloni, released a video last August that was designed to dispel all the fears that Europeans were voicing about the potential “return of fascism” to Italy. Meloni’s short speech was a triumph of misdirection. Meloni’s party, the Brothers of Italy, had previously not been much of a… Continue reading Fascism: Hello, Goodbye

Environment

United in Climate Suffering, Divided in Climate Solutions

There’s nothing like a climate crisis to make everyone realize that they are living on the same planet. Wars, even international conflicts, are generally confined to one region. Economic downturns are sometimes so confined within national borders that they don’t even affect neighbors: consider North Korea’s “arduous march” of the 1990s and its lack of… Continue reading United in Climate Suffering, Divided in Climate Solutions

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