The Putin Problem

By on 5.7.14 | 3:53PM

Today Vladimir Putin announced he will pull back Russian troops from the Ukrainian border. However, The White House stated that it has yet to see these words produce any meaningful action:

A White House spokesman, Josh Earnest, told reporters traveling with President Obama aboard Air Force One that while the United States would welcome a Russian military pullback from the Ukraine border region, “there has been no evidence that such a withdrawal has taken place.”

Regardless, this message from Putin has to be a relief for the Obama administration, as the options to respond to Russia's aggressive maneuvers were limited at best. Narrow sanctions against high-profile individuals close to Putin had already been levied, and any wider sanctions would have risked economic damage not only to Russia, but all nations dependent on Gazprom exports. Any military options are fraught with peril at best.


A Lonely Visionary

By From the December 1987 issue

“Sorry to bother you, but haven’t we met before? Aren’t you…what’s his name?”

“I doubt you’d know my name,” he said. “Nobody does these days.”

There was a trace of bitterness in his voice, just enough to prod my curiosity. On the whole, he was quite an ordinary looking old man, around seventy-five I would guess, with a flabby face and a bald head. But there, right on the top of his forehead, was the painfully familiar huge purple mark resembling the outlines of some exotic land on the globe. Perhaps South America, or even India…. I could swear I’d seen him before.

We were sitting in a bar on Fisherman’s Wharf, the most crowded spot in San Francisco, where you can run across anybody from this or the next world. California, as you know, has the reputation of a weird planet: if there are ghosts, this is their homeland. There is no way of knowing who you might see across the table. Was this fellow one of Hollywood’s old faces, a character from a great but unjustly forgotten movie? He looked a bit like Edward G. Robinson, or someone from The Untouchables.

“Have I seen you on television?”

Letter From Paris

Mugging the Family

By From the April 2014 issue

France’s pseudo-bolshevikian government has discovered a new problem in urgent need of a socialist solution: what to do about women. In the land where influential dames, if not dames,have for centuries dominated their menfolk beyond the wildest dreams of American feminists, where medieval knights were on their knees before their lady-loves while kings doted on their maîtress en titre, where today’s president, François Hollande, compromises his country’s reputation and his own authority by succumbing to an irresistible yen for a new mistress, this may seem paradoxical to say the least. Surely in France, of all places, woman’s role has been defined to the satisfaction of all, and especially the femmes themselves. 

A Further Perspective

America’s Bad Optics Invite Adventurism

By 4.16.14

The remaining two and a half years of the Obama Administration are a dangerous period for the world. There is a window of opportunity for rogue nations and adversaries to take advantage of an administration that has yielded on the world stage and put our foreign policy, if you can find it, into disrepair. Further, the president seems disengaged from foreign affairs, narcissistically absorbed with himself, and inciting class warfare and social unrest to cover for lack of success elsewhere.

Special Report

Regrets Over Rwanda

By 4.11.14

On April 6, 1994, a plane was hit by a missile over the Rwandan capital of Kigali. Everyone onboard was killed, including Rwanda’s president, Juvénal Habyarimana.

Even twenty years later, it remains uncertain who shot down the plane. But what happened immediately afterwards is very much known, seared into the minds of those who bore witness and branded forever on Rwanda’s soul. Hutu extremists blamed the Tutsi ethnic minority for the president’s killing and began a program of mass extermination. By the time they were finished, 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were dead, most of them hacked apart with medieval weapons like machetes and axes.

Celebrity, Social Media, and War

By on 4.3.14 | 1:30PM

It’s finally happened. Kim Kardashian weighed in on the situation in Syria. Spoiler alert: She gets it all wrong. It shouldn’t come as a shock that silly people have stupid opinions about important issues that confound them. Still, let's investigate. It all speaks to a bigger point about celebrities, social media, and war.

Tweets Kardashian:

Please let's not let history repeat itself!!!!!! Let's get this trending!!!!



Moments later:

If you don't know what's going on in Kessab please google it, its heart breaking! As an Armenian, I grew up hearing so many painful stories!

Crimes in Crimea

By on 3.18.14 | 4:55PM

In 1853, Russia invaded the Danubian Principalities, just west of its empire on the Black Sea. Britain and France responded by allying with the Ottoman Empire and declaring war on Russia. Much of the fighting over the next three years would take place in Crimea, as allied forces tried to break Russia’s grip on the city of Sevastopol. The Crimean War would leave about 375,000 allied troops and anywhere from 143,000 to 522,000 Russian troops dead—mostly from disease—and devastate the Crimean Peninsula.

During the Russian Civil War, Crimea would become a stronghold for the anti-Bolshevik White Army and its sympathizers. But by 1920, the White Army was evacuating and the Bolsheviks stormed the peninsula. The communists distributed questionnaires and, foreshadowing Nazi tactics that would one day be used against them, used the answers to divide the population into those to be killed, imprisoned, or saved. More than 50,000 people, most of them civilians, were slaughtered over about six weeks.

Another Perspective

An Airborne Hunt for Red October?

By 3.18.14

Is Zaharie Ahmad Shah a real-life Marko Ramius? Is the mystery of Malaysia flight 370 lifted straight from a famous bestselling thriller-turned-Hollywood-blockbuster? Recall: A brand new high tech Soviet nuclear submarine vanishes with officers and full crew aboard. A frantic search begins, though the alarmed Kremlin is silent about the fact that it has been notified by the captain that he intends to defect and hand the sub over to the Americans. The officers — but not the crew — are in on the plan.

At Large

Pain in the India Partnership

By 3.7.14

Of late, the news from India has been dismaying. Economic growth according to the International Monetary Fund has declined to 4.6 per cent for fiscal 2014, nowhere near the high single digits achieved in recent years that delivered tens of millions out of poverty. Inflation estimated at almost 10 percent for 2013 is a major challenge for the Reserve Bank of India, the nation’s central bank. Aggressive deregulation of massive government bureaucracy which had come to be known as License Raj has stalled, as has privatization of state-owned enterprises with the decline of the Rupee and investor confidence. Foreign direct investment has also been a disappointment, reflecting unease about tax policies, political risk, and governance. Agriculture, which employs over half the work force but represents only 17 percent of GDP, has not received the emphasis of the Green Revolution which started in the late 1960s.

Dictator Watch

Putin’s Sudetenland

By 3.4.14

Vladimir Putin wants Ukraine back. In fact, the ex-Lieutenant Colonel of the Soviet Union’s KGB is on record with his view of the fall of the U.S.S.R. “First and foremost it is worth acknowledging that the demise of the Soviet Union was the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century,” he said in 2005. In a foretaste of things to come, Putin added “Tens of millions of our fellow citizens and countrymen found themselves beyond the fringes of Russian territory.” 

Secretary of State John Kerry went before ABC’s cameras on Sunday and said: “If [Russia has] legitimate concerns about Russian-speaking people in Ukraine, there are plenty of ways to deal with that without invading the country.”