The Great Debate

In 2015, Vladimir Putin may witness his empire’s death knell

By Strobe Talbott
December 16, 2014

Russia's President Putin chairs a meeting at the Bocharov Ruchei state residence in Sochi

The year ahead could see the outbreak of the third Chechen war, which, in turn, could be the death knell of the Russian Federation in its current borders. 

Which past is prologue for Putin’s Russia?

By Hannah Thoburn
November 30, 2014

People attend a rally called "We are together" to support the annexation of Ukraine's Crimea to Russia in Red Square in central Moscow

As Russia moved into Crimea in March, annexed it and then began to create, promote and support separatist movements in eastern Ukraine, commentators and citizens alike worried about a “new Cold War.” Others compared Russian President Vladimir Putin’s land grab to Nazi Germany’s 1938 annexation of Czechoslovakia’s Sudetenland.

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.

Ukraine fight shows how far Russia’s star has fallen from Soviet ‘glory’

By Jason Fields
August 24, 2014


How far the Soviet star has fallen A statue of Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space, stands near Sputnik in the first gallery of the Memorial Museum of Cosmonautics in Moscow. REUTERS/Jason Fields Russia's just not the same under President Vladimir Putin. It wasn't long ago that Russia didn’t need to paint its military convoys a pale white to cross international boundaries. The trucks and tanks were green and boldly emblazoned with red stars — not crosses — on their sides and turrets. And when they …

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Putin’s already paying dearly for Ukraine – and looks willing to sacrifice much more

By William E. Pomeranz
August 12, 2014

Russia's President Vladimir Putin chairs a government meeting at the Novo-Ogaryovo state residence outside Moscow

Russian President Vladimir Putin has adopted a “go it alone” approach throughout the Ukraine crisis and regularly describes his country as “independent” and nonaligned. But Moscow is not as isolated as Putin makes out. The fact that he cannot see this reality — or chooses to ignore it — has produced a series of decisions that has seriously undermined Russia’s global role.

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.

Brown v. Board of Ed: Key Cold War weapon

By Aryeh Neier
May 14, 2014

neier top -- better!!

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.

Nuclear terrorism prevention at a crossroads

By Kenneth N. Luongo and Kenneth C. Brill
March 24, 2014

The crisis in Ukraine underscores the prescience of the international efforts to eliminate all nuclear weapons and weapon-grade material there after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Their success lowered the danger of deadly nuclear assets falling into the wrong hands.

Putin’s imperial hangover

By William E. Pomeranz
March 18, 2014

President Vladimir Putin’s impulsive incursion into Ukrainian territory has left Russia more isolated than at any time since the Cold War. Predictably, the European Union and the United States have loudly objected. More to the point, however, no country has rallied to Russia’s defense.

Putin projects Russia’s unreal reality

By Nina Khrushcheva
March 12, 2014

In the summer of 1787, Catherine the Great of Russia set out to inspect the recent additions to her far-flung czardom, including the Crimean peninsula, annexed from the Ottoman Empire four years earlier.