All posts tagged: cold war

What Is To Be Done After 10 Days of Trump?

Ten days after an inauguration Trump christened a “National Day of Patriotic Devotion,” in a definite nod to the antics of the worst Kremlin puppets everywhere that came before him, it is a good time to look back and reflect on the horrors of the first ten days and envision a path forward. Nominally and historically, such questions about the type of administration in the past emerge after 100 days, an arbitrary marker to be sure, but thinking people everywhere observing America’s homegrown terror in the form of a poorly dressed, wildly insecure, overly bronzed lunatic are settling into the reality that we might not have the luxury of so much time. World War III has already begun but most are still sleeping and do not see the danger, the mushroom clouds lingering on the horizon.   Let us begin by asking a question that is inspired by the demagogue Lenin, lifted from the title of a mediocre novel by Nikolai Chernychevsky as the first rumblings of dissatisfaction within Imperial Russia’s aristocracy stirred: what is …

The Sources of Russian Conduct: Russian Reading List

RUSSIAN READING LIST by Amanda Rivkin Note: In light of the election of 2016 and the unprecedented interference in the American electoral process, it became clear that a generation that fought the global war on terror is woefully unfamiliar with what a much earlier generation of American scholars, diplomats and spies would call “the sources of Soviet conduct,” after former U.S. Ambassador to Moscow George F. Kennan’s now infamous article published in Foreign Affairs in 1947. This reading list is an attempt to plug holes, it is by no means comprehensive nor does it claim to be. It is an attempt to provide a brief selection of readings following key themes of the last century of Russian/Soviet history as it is still relevant today given the Russian leader’s training as a KGB spy and deep background in the Russian state and rise in the wake of a period of profound national humiliation of the 1990s. Usual academic caveats, any errors or oversights are mine and mine alone. BACK IN THE USSR: Ideology + Revolution: Leninist-Marxism …

Le Parisien Magazine: Mehmet Ali Agca, the Man Who Tried to Kill Pope John Paul II

On March 6, I was summoned to a far outer district of Istanbul, Büyükçekmece, to meet a most famous man who had very famously inserted himself into 20th century history when he tried and failed to kill Pope John Paul II. It was a crime for which he eventually spent 19 years in a Rome jail, learning Italian, and eventually walking free from only to declare, “I am Jesus Christ.” He now claims Ayatollah Khomeini put him up to the doomed assassination plot that has alleged ties to Bulgarian intelligence and a web of international Cold War intrigue. I was fascinated the minute I set foot in the hotel, the Eser Premium, a fairly gaudy Turkish honeymoon palace complete with balconies that had a laser light that continuously changed from various shades of neon red, purple, green and blue. Out of nowhere, just when the reporter Anne-Cécile Julliet appeared, so did he, right behind me, startling me with his small frame, delicate head and protruding eyes. He was very kind and perhaps rather medicated. He …

From the Archive: Europop Diplomacy

Two weeks from today, on May 14, the Eurovision Song Contest will take place in Dusseldorf, Germany after last year’s German contestant, Lena, won in Oslo, Norway with her song “Satellite“. More than just a Eurotrash version of American idol, a kitsch showcase, and an evening of Europe at its most fabulous, Eurovision embodies all the finer qualities of true geopolitics: ambition, scale, scope, grandeur, and the embrace of the superficial and culturally symbolic. Quite simply, Eurovision is that Saturday night a cultural kitsch observer waits year round for. While English is the unofficial language of the contest, many contestants still choose to sing in their native languages risking the ire of other competing countries – possibly with competing nationalisms. There is a “Slavic bloc” to speak of when the text message voting comes around at the final stage of the competition. With most Balkan countries putting forth respectably kitschy enough candidates to make it to the finals, usually under the tutelage of grand masters such as Goran Bregovic, the old fault lines of tensions …