The Panic in Red Square

Do I look worried? I do?

The one emotion most of us who study Russia never associate with the men of the Kremlin is panic. They’re not the type. They’re more like mobsters, prone to say “we have a problem,” rather than to freak out. They think everything has a solution, although sometimes that solution might mean someone has to take nine grams of lead behind the ear. They do not raise their voices — my experience is that most Russian tough-guys are mumblers, not yellers — and they get things done, even if the final outcome might lack a certain, say, elegance.

That’s why it’s unusual to see the government of Vladimir Putin, and maybe even Putin himself, panicking over the downing of Malaysian Airline Flight 17. For the first time in a long time, maybe even since Putin’s first election to power, the Russian regime has a problem it cannot solve, one that will cost the Kremlin in both money and reputation. Continue reading →

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Discussing the Malaysian Airlines MH17 downing in Ukraine

I once again visited with John Siegenthaler at Al Jazeera America to talk about Ukraine.  As you’ll see, I have a pretty definite idea of who shot down the Malaysian airliner, and who should bear the responsibility for the deaths of those people in the sky over the Ukraine-Russia border.


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This is the one where the Soviet Union wins the Cold War

scaled.reddawn1984In the movie Men In Black 3, there’s creature who sees across dimensions, and sees all possibilities of everything, including the 1969 miracle Mets. (He even mentions that the ball in the game is made in my hometown of Chicopee, MA.) Anyway, each future is “the one where…”

Well, these are the five where the USSR wins the Cold War. I was talking about topics with the managing editor of The National Interest, and he said: How about five ways for the Soviets to win the Cold War? And we were off and running.

The short version looks like this:

1938: Stalin doesn’t kill all the smart Communists

1947: Truman loses his nerve

1976: Operation RED DAWN

1979: Lenin stays out of the jungles

1988: The China Syndrome

To find out the details, you’ll have to read the whole thing here at The National Interest.

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America’s hollow foreign policy debate


I took this picture in June at Park Street station in Boston. This is about as sophisticated as most people get when it comes to foreign policy.

Summertime, and the livin’ is easy, unless you’re completely fed up with the mendacious bullshit questionable arguments of America’s political partisans. The National Interest’s editors are always a little more tolerant of me than I deserve; they ask for a few thousand words on intervention, and I explode for several pages about how no one is honest anymore.

Here’s one of my comments from the piece:

Our national debates on intervention and the use of force have become exercises in mendacity and partisanship, characterized at their core by a desolate moral hollowness.

The disingenuousness of all sides when it comes to the exercise of American power is disheartening, even shocking. People who once cheered the immense risks of marching on Baghdad now pretend to cold-eyed pragmatism and caution. People who once denounced American warmongering now gleefully revel in the killing of terrorists. People who once decried the expansion of presidential power (including then-Senator Barack Obama) now defend almost unlimited war-making prerogatives, while others who once would brook no boundaries on the discretion of the executive have now found a new fascination with the War Powers Resolution and the role of Congress. The words “national interest,” once a source of legitimate and intelligent debate, no longer have content and are now used to denote things of which the speaker does, or does not, happen to approve.


If you want to read the rest, you can find it at The National Interest here.

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