Could the US Resolve the Ukrainian Crisis By Doing Less?

Back on February 8, 2014, twelve days before the Kiev massacre which led to President Yanukovych fleeing to Russia, Jack Matlock who served as Ronald Reagan’s Ambassador to Moscow wrote very presciently, “Ukraine’s most serious problems are internal, not external. They must be solved by Ukrainians, not by outsiders. … I believe it has been a very big strategic mistake – by Russia, by the EU and most of all by the U.S. – to convert Ukrainian political and economic reform into an East-West struggle.” A recent poll  confirms Ambassador Matlock’s perspective. Continue reading

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Putin and the Siege of Leningrad

Two days ago, I had a post in honor of VE Day that had a few quotes from a Russian language article by Russian President Vladimir Putin. I did not yet have a complete translation, and promised to post again when I did. Well, it’s now available online. Here are some key excerpts that provide some insight into Putin’s world view: Continue reading

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How to Truly Celebrate Defeating Nazism

Yesterday, May 8, marked our 70th celebration of VE Day – Victory in Europe over Nazism – while today, May 9, is celebrated as Victory Day in Russia. The difference of one day is due to time in Moscow being eight hours later than in Washington, but the difference in perception goes much deeper. If more Americans tried to understand the Russian perspective, it would be an excellent first step toward “defusing the nuclear threat” (as this blog is called) because, out of such seemingly small disagreements, nuclear threats can grow. Read on to find out why. Continue reading

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Charlie Wilson’s War: An Attempt at Version 2.0

Today’s Wall Street Journal has an article noting that former Senator Gordon Humphrey, who played a key role in arming the mujahideen in Afghanistan in the 1980s, is now working on what can be described as an attempt at version 2.0 of Charlie Wilson’s War by lobbying Congress to send weapons to the current Ukrainian government in its fight with Russian-backed separatists in the east. Continue reading

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Pentagon Wrongly Accuses Iran?

Today’s New York Times has an article  which reinforces Iran’s image as a “rogue nation.” The article describes its seizure of a cargo ship, quotes a Pentagon official as stating that “Iranian forces fired shots across the ship’s bow,” and ends with a former State Department official calling Iran’s actions “surprisingly incendiary.” However, KGS NightWatch, a highly respected private intelligence newsletter, has a very different take:

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Saber Rattling Works, But Which Way?

We hear repeated assurances that appearing strong and belligerent will get our adversaries to back down and behave. A 1995 USSTRACOM report even argued that we should cultivate a national persona that is “irrational and vindictive” in order to induce fear in our opponents. But the historical evidence indicates that such behavior sometimes has the opposite effect from what was intended. Plus, in hindsight, our perception of “bad behavior” was sometimes far off the mark.

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Putin’s Surprising Comparison of Nazism and Stalinism

Yesterday’s Moscow Times had an article by one of my favorite Russian commentators, Fyodor Lukyanov, which highlighted a very surprising moment in Putin’s four-hour address to the nation. In Lukyanov’s words: Continue reading

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