Russia

Not Since Never Have the Palestinians Had a More Sympathetic American President
October 15, 2009

No, not Dwight Eisenhower (and his secretary of state, John Foster Dulles), who thought of his Arabs as the Egyptians. Frankly, in 1956, nobody thought of Palestinians, including especially the Palestinians. And, no, not even Jimmy Carter, who, while now especially entranced with the Palestinians, including Hamas, was beginning his macabre infatuation with Hafez Assad. Then there was George Herbert Walker Bush and his sidekick James Baker, who didn't much like the Jews but wanted especially to please the Saudis. The U.S.

"Russia Disses Iran Sanctions"
October 13, 2009

Well, that’s the way I read the headline in The Washington Post. “Russia Dismisses Iran Sanctions” was how it was actually written, followed by “Russian Foreign Minister: Threats of Iran Sanctions Won’t Work.” The dispatch is from Mary Beth Sheridan, a savvy reporter to whom I’m becoming attached. There are slight differences between the Post piece and the report in the Times, “Russia Resists U.S. Position on Sanctions for Iran,” by Mark Landler and Clifford J. Levy. Then there was “US, Russia: Iran No sanctions yet” in The Jerusalem Post.

Hillary in Moscow: Will the New START Treaty Cripple Conventional U.S. Military Power?
October 13, 2009

The news surrounding today's meeting between Hillary Clinton and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is pretty bad. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has taken the opportunity to dump cold water on our hopes for more Iran sanctions and to trumpet a Sino-Russian gas pipeline deal that would weaken our hand in Central Asia. But, despite all that, it's worth keeping in mind that the "New START" treaty that Hillary is in Moscow to negotiate is a solid one. The deal would supplant both START I, the arms-control treaty signed by George H.W.

Bombs Away
October 13, 2009

At the Non-Proliferation Treaty meeting beginning today in New York, Iran will try to shift the discussion to Israel’s nuclear weapons by proposing that the Middle East become nuclear-free. As historian Jeffrey Herf wrote at TNR Online last October, this is similar to a ploy the Soviets used in the 1980s: Our negotiations with Iran are not off to a good start. After the initial meeting in Geneva on October 1--with Iran on one side and Britain, France, Germany, Russia, China, and the United States on the other--Iranian representatives said they had agreed to send processed uranium to Russia.

Ironed Curtain
October 08, 2009

After the Russo-Georgian War in August 2008, the European Union found itself in a difficult position. Moscow had not only invaded a neighbor for the first time since the Soviet assault on Afghanistan in 1979. In recognizing Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states, it had also broken the cardinal rule of post-cold war European security: that borders in Europe would never again be changed by force of arms. Yet Georgia, too, had clearly made mistakes, not the least in embroiling itself in a military conflict with Russia that Georgia's own allies had repeatedly warned against.

Opposite Directions
October 03, 2009

The Iranian regime has made headlines this week with its announcement that it will allow inspections into its recently discovered enrichment site in Qom, and its agreement, albeit ambiguously, to allow enrichment to be handled by Russia or France.

Awakenings
October 01, 2009

Jewish history in the 20th century is full of might-have-beens, most of them too sorrowful to bear thinking about. The brief cultural moment that Kenneth B. Moss resurrects in Jewish Renaissance in the Russian Revolution (Harvard University Press) is one of the least known and most fascinating of those aborted futures: a two-year period when writers, artists, and activists in Russia and Ukraine believed they were midwiving the birth of a new Jewish culture.

Are Fossil-Fuel Subsidies On The Way Out?
September 22, 2009

In other big U.N. news, Barack Obama gave a lofty climate speech today that was... well, mostly barren of specifics. Let's see: Global warming's a real crisis, it's a generational challenge, our security and prosperity's in jeopardy, the House passed a climate bill, it'd be swell if the Senate did too (he didn't exactly tighten the vise on the dawdling Senate)... All the usual fare. Except for one little newsy bit. Obama also said he'd "work with my colleagues at the G20 to phase out fossil-fuel subsidies." Now there's a concept!

Time For The President To Press "The Reset Button" Between His Administration And The C.I.A.
September 18, 2009

  The FT yesterday used President Obama's own metaphor from Washington's relations with Moscow.  He has, that is, resolved to press "the reset button" with Vladimir Putin's Russia  But, of course, he can do so only from our side.  Putin has sent him a big mazal tov but no reciprocal gift.     Quite to the contrary.  As the Financial Times points out, Russia has embarked on an aggressive foreign policy in Latin America, partnering with Hugo Chavez, the wild man of the region.   Russia is also now doing military exercises with Belarus.

What You Need to Know About the State of Our Financial System
September 14, 2009

Financial markets have stabilized--people believe that the U.S. and West European governments will not allow big financial institutions to fail. We have effectively nationalized any banking system losses, but we’ll let bank executives enjoy the full benefits of the upside. How much shareholders participate remains to be seen; there will be no effective reining in of insider compensation (my version; Joe Nocera’s view). Small and medium-sized banks, however, will continue to fail as problems in commercial real estate continue to mount.

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