Quote of the day

"Incompetence is the origin of adventure "
— Roald Amundsen

We Think Of Nemtsov

Useful take on Boris Nemtsov’s murder, which must have been staged to send a specific message. “They have a rule to not touch former members of the government”, Nemtsov himself had said two years earlier; kill not, that you be not killed in turn. But times change. “Nemtsov’s death thus means that the Russian authorities are no longer afraid of anything — and have no plans to relinquish power any time soon” (1,220 words)

Ukraine Becomes A Gateway for Jihad

The partial collapse of the Ukrainian state makes the country a valuable staging point for Islamic extremists, including Chechens who want to fight Russia. “For $15,000 a fighter receives a legal document attesting to Ukrainian citizenship. Ukraine doesn’t belong to the EU, but Ukrainians have few difficulties obtaining visas to neighbouring Poland. You can acquire unregistered weapons and export them” (2,570 words)

The Merchants Of Europe

Shakespeare’s Merchant Of Venice as a moral compass in the Greek debt crisis. “What about that deep and disturbing realm of affect, of personal motives and destructive driving factors that operate beneath Shylock’s aggressive behavior? Is there not something else that underlies the bureaucrats’ demand that Greece hand over its pound of flesh — even if that may end up killing the debtor? Is there no appealing to mercy?” (880 words)

The Ukrainian School Of War

“Putin remains involved in Ukraine for reasons that seem largely pedagogical. For the West, the message is that Russia will not tolerate meddling in its backyard. For Ukraine the message is that the country cannot survive without Russia’s support. Putin also wants to show Ukrainians that, in the end, the West does not really care about them. Americans will not fight, and Europeans will not provide the money” (800 words)

The Road From Westphalia

Discussion of two new books about America in the world: World Order, by Henry Kissinger; and America In Retreat, by Bret Stephens. The Stephens book can be ignored: “To my knowledge, he is the only serious analyst ever to have explicitly advocated that the US act as the world’s policeman”. Kissinger is far more intelligent, but his thinking is stuck inside an outdated framework of nation-state diplomacy (3,930 words)

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