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Europe is seeing a East-West clash of values

May 30th, 2014


By any measure, it was a landmark, landslide victory — for Europe. On May 25, Petro Poroshenko declared victory in the first round of the Ukrainian presidential election. He had won more than 55 percent of the vote — and Ukrainians knew exactly what they were getting. Poroshenko campaigned on integrating his country into European institutions. After his victory, he repeated that goal. Ukraine is on the brink of financial catastrophe and is fighting a de facto invasion: Well-armed Chechen soldiers have now arrived to assist the Russian-made insurgency in the east. Yet in his victory speech, Poroshenko declared he wanted not only to “put an end to war, to put an end to chaos,” but also to “bring in European values” to his country. Read on »

Developing nations could benefit from trying Southern democracy

May 16th, 2014


At a highly orchestrated “election rally” in Cairo last weekend, supporters of Abdel Fatah al-Sissi sang, danced and waited in vain for him to show up. Unsurprised, most assumed that Sissi — the military leader who ousted and jailed Egypt’s previous president — didn’t come for “security” reasons. Since taking power last summer, Sissi has overseen the murder of hundreds of members of the Muslim Brotherhood and the arrest of some 16,000 others. He has declared he will eliminate the organization “just like that.” And so he has enemies: Two assassination attempts have been foiled already, and clearly he’s expecting more. Read on »

Finding the energy to deter Russia

May 1st, 2014


Seven Russians were added this week to the U.S. sanctions list, along with 17 Russian companies. In Brussels, the European Union also lengthened its sanctions list from 33 to 48. Once again, analysts are looking at the names, the assets, the influence of the people targeted. Once again, some ask whether any sanctions can ever work, at least well enough to change anyone’s behavior. Read on »

A fearful new world, imperiled by Russia’s subterfuge

April 16th, 2014


In the Western imagination, the words “war” and “invasion” carry clear connotations. From books, movies and television, we know that such events involve tanks, airplanes and artillery, as well as soldiers in uniform, advanced weaponry, sophisticated communications. They look like the invasion of Iraq or, to go back in time, D-Day. Read on »

Russia’s anti-Western ideology has global consequences

March 28th, 2014

TBILISI, Georgia

Halfway through an otherwise coherent conversation with a Georgian lawyer here — the topics included judges, the court system, the police — I was startled by a comment he made about his country’s former government, led by then-president Mikheil Saakashvili. “They were LGBT,” he said, conspiratorially. Read on »

A need to contain Russia

March 21st, 2014


There have been high moments: Bill Clinton and Boris Yeltsin, locked in a bear hug; George W. Bush looking into Vladimir Putin’s eyes and seeing “a sense of his soul”; Hillary Clinton pressing the “reset button.” There have been some very low moments, too. But for more than 20 years of Russian independence, a single narrative about Russia in the West has nevertheless prevailed. Read on »

Russia’s Western enablers

March 5th, 2014

Back in 2006, an energy company called Rosneft floated itself on the London Stock Exchange. Even for a Russian company, its prospectus, as I noted at the time, contained some unusual warnings. “Crime and corruption could create a difficult business climate in Russia,” the document noted; some directors’ interests “may cause Rosneft to engage in business practices that do not maximize shareholder value.” Read on »

The pressure is on Ukraine

February 27th, 2014

The editor of a publication that will remain unnamed called me the other day wanting to know what I thought: Would Russia invade Ukraine before midnight? She needed to know before her deadline. I didn’t have any inside information, but I guessed: No, I told her, I didn’t think Russia would invade Ukraine ­— because it doesn’t need to. Read on »

Ukrainian smears and stereotypes

February 21st, 2014

For those who are new to the subject — indeed, for those who have been following it for many years — the Ukrainian crisis can seem murky. The Ukrainians have a president, Viktor Yanukovych, who granted himself dictatorial powers and then repealed some of them; announced a truce and then broke it; claims to enforce the law but employs thugs who haul journalists out of cars and shoot them. The Ukrainian opposition, meanwhile, has three separate leaders who may or may not actually control the Ukrainian protest movement at any given moment. Read on »

Assad’s low-tech WMD: Starvation

February 6th, 2014

To the modern imagination, there is nothing so terrifying as a high-tech weapon. Our horror movies are filled with crashing planes, engineered viruses and rogue computers that have taken charge of spaceships. Our security nightmares have long been focused on nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. The phrase we use to describe these contemporary horrors, “weapons of mass destruction,” implies something diabolically modern, something so innovative that it can kill thousands in an instant. Read on »

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