The Great Debate

Building Berlin’s Wall helped avoid a nuclear confrontation

By Nina Khrushcheva
November 7, 2014

West Berliners walk in front of the Berlin wall at the Allied checkpoint Charlie in Berlin

Twenty-five years ago Sunday, Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev refused to use force when thousands of people from East and West converged to pull down the Berlin Wall. He taught us all a great lesson: No wall can hold back democracy. Since then, however, Russian President Vladimir Putin has taught another lesson: If a country’s people don’t want democracy enough, no Berlin Wall is needed to keep it out.

from Nicholas Wapshott:

U.S. power: Waging cold wars without end

By Nicholas Wapshott
June 26, 2014

U.S. President Barack Obama addresses troops at Bagram Air Base in Kabul

Suddenly, it seems, the world is at war.

In Iraq, armed and angry militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) are at the gates of Baghdad. In Pakistan, government forces are mounting a ferocious campaign against the Taliban in North Waziristan. In Syria, the civil war drags on. These are “hot wars” involving the clashing of troops and weapons. Having escaped such “hot” conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, these are the sort of war Americans have made it plain they are not prepared to fight.

Post Iraq, U.S. must rely on covert action

By Jack Devine
June 13, 2014

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Covert actions are now crucial to U.S. foreign policy. After the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, Washington should rely more on CIA-driven covert operations and less on military force in the world’s hotspots.

Brown v. Board of Ed: Key Cold War weapon

By Aryeh Neier
May 14, 2014

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The U.S. Supreme Court’s unanimous decision in Brown v. Board of Education, issued on May 17, 1954, is probably the most important judicial decision in American history.

Cold War warmed over

By Bill Schneider
March 7, 2014

Can we have a new Cold War without a communist threat?  Some important political players seem to think so.

Ukraine: Obama must escape the ‘Cold War syndrome’

By Elizabeth Cobbs Hoffman
February 21, 2014

When it comes to the mounting crisis in Ukraine, President Barack Obama is stuck playing an old role. Since World War Two, U.S. presidents have steadfastly held to the same course when it comes to Russia.

America’s long search for Mr. Right

By Elizabeth Cobbs Hoffman
February 12, 2014

What’s wrong with central casting? It’s a virtual truism: The United States always seems to pick the wrong guy to star as George Washington in some faraway civil war. We sell him weapons for self-defense against his despicable foes — and then, sometimes before the end of the first battle, we find we are committed to a bad actor who bears an uncanny resemblance to Genghis Khan.

Is there a ‘right’ path for the U.S. in Syria?

By Anja Manuel
January 21, 2014

Key parties to the conflict in Syria are meeting in Switzerland on Wednesday. The participants have been downplaying expectations that the “Geneva II” peace conference — which will bring together for the first time representatives from the Assad government and various rebel groups along with major international players — will resolve the conflict, or even bring about a ceasefire.

The communist on J. Edgar Hoover’s payroll

By Tim Weiner
March 1, 2012

This is an excerpt from Enemies: A History of the FBI, published this month by Random House.