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uring the summer of 2021, I was travelling to see old friends and make up for time lost to COVID when it became clear that a disaster was unfolding 7,000 miles away. Somewhere on the interstate as I scanned from one NPR station to the next, I had to face the fact that the cause I had devoted years of my life to was unraveling, and that Afghanistan would again come under Taliban control.
any global strategists are concerned that China might strike against Taiwan in the coming years. Beijing may seek to bring the island under its full control in a similar fashion to the way it has acted to strictly limit Hong Kong’s autonomy over the last few years. Whether this could occur through political pressure, military intimidation, a blockade, or even an all-out invasion is a matter of intense analytical debate among experts. While still a low probability, thankfully, the latter option of an amphibious invasion still merits close scrutiny since the risks for global stability and of catastrophic destruction are immense.
n his last piece for Voices on Peace and War, Dmitry Belyakov analyzes the stability of Putin’s regime, which has embarked on a radical confrontation with the entire Western community and launched a self-destructive war against its neighboring sovereign country of Ukraine. Despite Western military and political support for Ukraine, and against all predictions by defense experts and political analysts, Putin’s power has not only withstood several painful defeats on the Ukrainian front but has grown stronger and gained even more support at home. It must be admitted that the political downfall of the mad Kremlin leader is not perceptible even in the long term. So why hasn’t Putin lost, and what did we miss?
n July 23rd, 2023, a Russian missile barrage aimed at the Ukrainian port city of Odesa seriously damaged the Cathedral of the Transfiguration, Odesa’s largest church and a UNESCO World Heritage site, along with other historic buildings in the center of the city. It remains to be determined if anything can be salvaged of the cathedral’s beautiful polychrome marble interior and the famous carillon bells in the tower, as well as the precious art and religious icons that hung on the cathedral’s walls.
he morning of July 22, 2011, was typically bright and warm in Las Vegas. Nine time zones away in Eastern Norway, an unseasonably cold summer was the backdrop for one of the bleakest days in living Norwegian memory. My first indication that something was wrong came when I got online and noticed a Facebook post from a former junior high classmate. Although a native of West Michigan, I had grown up near Oslo as a child of American missionaries commissioned to found Baptist churches in traditionally Lutheran Scandinavia. My classmate’s post expressed surprise at Norway becoming the victim of a terrorist attack. At that moment, I encountered a strange paradox: as a 26-year-old lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force tasked with supporting what we then called the Global War on Terrorism, I had to grapple with the emergence of terrorism in a place I knew well and deeply loved. It forced me to contemplate what it means for democracies to keep faith with their most cherished values in the face of unspeakable atrocities. And I believe Norway’s example still has lessons for us today.
n July 4, 2023, while Americans were celebrating Independence Day, a night flight to the capital of Chechnya took off from Vnukovo International Airport in Moscow. Among other passengers it carried to Grozny were an attorney named Alexander Nemov and Lena Milashina, a reporter for Novaya Gazeta. They were going to work – Milashina was preparing a report from the court session, where Mr. Nemov represented the interests of Zarema Musayeva – the mother of the fugitive Chechen activists, the Yangulbayev brothers. Musayeva’s defense considered the case, in which a woman was accused of resisting arrest and assaulting a government official, fabricated. In fact, they considered it retaliation for the opposition and human rights work of Zarema’s sons. At the airport in Grozny, the reporter and attorney got in a taxi. It was a very early, sleepy morning and Milashina had a paper cup of coffee in her hand.
rones have become pervasive in modern warfare, as the last two decades have powerfully demonstrated. Ukraine’s brazen surprise attack on Russia’s Black Sea Fleet headquarters at Sevastopol in late October 2022, implies that the scope for such weaponry to be employed in the naval domain is wide already and likely expanding with the pace of technology development.
n May 21, a constellation of international classical music stars came together to play at Carnegie Hall. These luminaries included the pianists Evgeny Kissin and Lera Auerbach; the Emerson String Quartet; and cellist Steven Isserlis, with violinists Maxim Vengerov and Gidon Kremer. Nearly three hours of great music-making from these ten musicians, performing works by six composers, were followed by a gorgeous gala dinner in the spacious Rohatyn banquet room in the Hall.
o time is a good time for a banking or financial crisis. But symbolically, and possibly in practical reality, the failure of the financial institution of choice for the crown jewel of the US innovation system, Silicon Valley Bank (SVB), could not have come at a worse moment for the United States, domestically or in its international relations.
he unrest in Iran, which started in September 2022, has declined. Yet, it is only a matter of time until the next outburst occurs. Based on the lessons learned from the previous round in Iran, the United States has to support the Iranian opposition.
nton Chekhov, one of the greatest playwrights of the nineteenth century, explored the degeneration of the Russian intelligentsia in one of his most important plays, Uncle Vanya. The titular Ivan Voynitsky (Uncle Vanya) exists in a world of wealthy yet petty parasites, not interested in anyone but themselves. Uncle Vanya is unhappily adaptive, bending under circumstances and living aimlessly.