In Moscow, Russian President Vladimir Putin is proposing a new constitution. Meanwhile, in Washington, U.S. President Donald Trump is disposing of the old constitution. The first is a demonstration of power meant to showcase the unity of the Russian political system behind a strong leader. The second is an act of desperation that reveals the… Continue reading Putin Proposes, Trump Disposes
The Berlin Wall fell 30 years ago. It was one of the few unambiguously joyous moments in modern history. This popular, nonviolent explosion of dissent effectively toppled East Germany’s despotic regime. And it signaled, if only symbolically, the end of the Cold War that had divided Europe for nearly half a century. Thirty years later,… Continue reading Did the Fall of the Berlin Wall Produce Trump?
If you’re in the market for a troika of tyranny, Donald Trump, John Bolton, and Mike Pompeo certainly fit the bill. Or, if you’d rather focus on countries not individuals, you might single out Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Egypt as the three most likely candidates. Perhaps, if you’re in a confessional mood,… Continue reading Bolton and the Troika of Tyranny
Remarkable changes are taking place on the Korean peninsula. The two Koreas are actually starting to demilitarize the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). Just in the last couple weeks, they have taken down 22 guard posts, demined the Joint Security Area, and established a no-fly-zone about the peninsula’s dividing line. They’ve pulled back from confrontation along their… Continue reading Is Korea’s Cold War About to End?
When an epoch ends, as the Cold War did between 1989 and 1991, it takes some time to come up with a name for the new order. For some years, the world lived in a “post-Cold War” era. That phrase was supposed to capture the optimism of a new beginning as well as the uncertainty… Continue reading The New New Cold War
When the historian Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., published his bestseller The Disuniting of America in 1991, he didn’t seriously entertain the worst-case scenario suggested by the title. At the time, the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia were imploding, while separatist movements in Quebec, East Timor, Spain’s Basque country, and elsewhere were already clamoring for their own states. But when… Continue reading Donald Trump and the Fourth Great Shattering
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has staked out a foreign policy position quite distinct from his opponent, Hillary Clinton. It is not, however, “isolationist” (contra Jeb Bush and many others) or “less aggressively militaristic” (economist Mark Weisbrot in The Hill) or “a jolt of realpolitik” (journalist Simon Jenkins in The Guardian). With all due respect to… Continue reading The Myth of Trump’s Alternative Worldview
Cuba and North Korea share a great deal in common. They are both led by dynastic rulers. They retain their nominal affiliation to revolutionary Communism. They suffer under U.S. embargoes that have been in place for decades. And although they registered significant economic and social progress in the 1960s, they have become increasingly impoverished as… Continue reading Carrots for Cuba, Sticks for North Korea
We who live in the industrialized world have put up a large retaining wall to safeguard us from the horrors that have plagued humanity throughout history. We no longer worry on a daily basis about some Genghis Khan figure sweeping through our towns and leaving great piles of skulls in his wake. We don’t obsess… Continue reading The Sum of Our Fears
In ’89, it looked as though the war had finally ended. For five decades the conflict had ground on, and both sides had grown weary of it all. There had been previous pauses in the hostilities, even a détente or two, but this truce looked permanent. Sure, there were still tensions after ’89, and a… Continue reading The Cold War Never Died