Obama's Russia Opportunity
August 18, 2008

Let's be honest--with the possible exception of that Saddleback forum (on which I hold the minority view), last week was not a good one for Obama. McCain looked engaged and authoritative on the Georgia crisis, despite the tawdriness of his pronouncements, while Obama seemed AWOL. Mike was exactly right on this--though it wasn't necessarily Obama's fault (I mostly blame an unfortunate coincidence of vacation timing), the atmospherics were lousy for a candidate who still has to clear the commander-in-chief threshold. One hopes Team Obama is well-prepared for the Musharraf resignation...

Russia's Own "We Bought It, We Paid For It, It's Ours"
August 16, 2008

While a few foreign policy watchers were sounding the alarm about the Caucasus months in advance, Russia's invasion of Georgia sent most of the public and the commentariat running to their world maps. To avoid a repeat, we should probably keep an eye on the next likely flashpoint: Ukraine. The IHT has an update on developments there, which turn on the status of Russia's naval base in Crimea: Ukraine, bigger than France and traditionally seen by Russians as integral to their heritage and dominion, has been conspicuously quiet over the past week.

Beyond Georgia: The Ripple Effects Of Russia's Attack
August 11, 2008

As the world watches Russian troops gather on its border with Georgia, we asked Central Asia expert Martha Brill Olcott to look at the broader implications of the recent fighting: Senators McCain and Obama are both trying to demonstrate their leadership capacities in their strong statements on the conflict between Russia and Georgia. But the man who takes power as president of the United States in January will have to confront circumstances quite unlike those upon which he is now commenting on.

The Georgia Crisis: What You Need To Know
August 11, 2008

On August 8, Russia sent troops into Georgia, spurring violence that has spread beyond two disputed breakaway regions and resulted in the deaths of thousands. The conflict was not unexpected; relations between the two countries have been seething for years. Here is a summary of the conflict's history, major actors, core issues, and consequences. WHAT HAPPENED -- Georgia, a small state that sits just north of Turkey, wedged between the Black and Caspian Seas, became independent in 1991 with the fall of the USSR.

The End of the End of History
April 23, 2008

  I. In the early 1990s, optimism was understandable. The collapse of the communist empire and the apparent embrace of democracy by Russia seemed to augur a new era of global convergence. The great adversaries of the Cold War suddenly shared many common goals, including a desire for economic and political integration. Even after the political crackdown that began in Tiananmen Square in 1989 and the disturbing signs of instability that appeared in Russia after 1993, most Americans and Europeans believed that China and Russia were on a path toward liberalism.

The Hibernation
April 23, 2008

Minutes after the polls closed on March 2 in the westernmost Russian city of Kaliningrad--certifying a blowout victory by presidential candidate Dmitri Anatolyevich Medvedev, handpicked heir to Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin--the men of the hour made an appearance at a massive concert underway in Red Square. As broadcast by NTV, a television channel owned by Gazprom (where Medvedev chairs the board of directors), the scene looked like something out of Mission: Impossible.

How to Talk to Iran
March 13, 2008

When President Bush assumed office, Iran was not a nuclear power. When his successor takes the oath of office next year, however, Iran will have achieved (or be on the verge of achieving) that status. Nothing the Bush Administration or the international community is doing now is likely to alter Iran's behavior over the coming year.

Discipline and Decline
March 12, 2008

Iron Kingdom: The Rise and Downfall of Prussia, 1600-1947 By Christopher Clark (Harvard University Press, 776 pp., $35) On his way back from self-imposed exile in Paris, in 1844, Heinrich Heine caught a first glimpse of Prussian soldiers in Aachen, a city in the far west corner of Germany: I wandered about in this dull little nest For about an hour or more Saw Prussian military once again They looked much the same as before. [ ...

The Pity Party: Russia's Nonexistent Opposition
March 03, 2008

  Here's the latest dispatch from Michael Idov, our man in Moscow. You can also find his most recent video report here. (For more election coverage from Russia, check yesterday's post and video.)  Yesterday in the New York Times Magazine, Andrew Meier profiled one of the perennially thwarted Russian opposition leaders, Eduard Limonov. “[President-elect] Dmitri Medvedev … is little more than a proxy,” Meier writes, but “there remains one genuine opposition force, the Other Russia.” To be blunt about it, no there doesn’t.

Moscow Dispatch: Election Day In Russia
March 02, 2008

  Today, Russia votes for its next president.