During the height of Stalin’s purges, the great Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich kept a packed suitcase near the door of his apartment. The Black Marias, the vehicle of choice for the secret police, would traditionally arrive in the middle of the night to ferry “undesirables” to interrogation cells. Shostakovich wanted to be ready at any… Continue reading Trump’s Send-Them-Back Doctrine
Trump has two tools at his disposal as president. The first is his mouth: the insults and threats that he issues verbally or by Twitter. The second is the tariff. Trump has imposed trade restrictions left and right, on allies and adversaries, for economic and political reasons, as part of a long-term offensive and out… Continue reading The Misadventures of Tariff Man
Geopolitics, like thermodynamics, has its laws of conservation. If a wall comes down in one place, you can bet that it will go up somewhere else. It wasn’t long after the Berlin Wall fell that different kinds of walls went up in Eastern Europe. New borders separated the Czech Republic from Slovakia, and then, after… Continue reading The Psychology of the Wall
It’s embarrassing enough to have Donald Trump as president. But now American citizens have to endure the additional pain of the sanctions that other countries are imposing on the United States. Doesn’t the world realize that we’re suffering enough as it is? That seems so grossly unfair. Oh, but wait: that’s how sanctions work. Iraqis… Continue reading Wait, You’re Sanctioning Us?
Right-wing populists are all the rage these days. Donald Trump and his spleen control the White House, while his counterparts have taken over in Italy, Hungary, Poland, Colombia, India, and elsewhere. Steve Bannon, Trump’s former Svengali, hopes to inspire a worldwide revolution of nationalism-inflected right-wing extremism. But what about left-wing populists? Bernie Sanders made an epic run… Continue reading Bernies of the World, Unite!
It was 1972. The flamboyant rock star Alice Cooper, not quite a household name at that point in England, was booked to play London’s Wembley Stadium. Shortly before the concert date, only a couple hundred of the 7,000 available tickets had been sold. Facing an epic failure, the redoubtable rock music promoter Shep Gordon emblazoned… Continue reading Trump Takes on the World
In bidding farewell to 2014, most of us gave the year a swift kick in the rear end as it exited the calendar. On foreign policy in particular, few people had nice things to say about the recently departed. After all, it was a banner year for all manner of evils. The Ebola outbreak in… Continue reading Why 2014 Wasn’t So Terrible
When it comes to people expressing trust in others, Hungary ranks rather low. In 2011, the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) published a ranking that put Hungary 24th out of 30 countries. Hungary’s ranking – 47 percent of the population expressed high trust in others – put it at nearly half the rate… Continue reading Cultivating Empathy in Hungary