The North CaucasusA Patchwork PuzzleSergey MarkedonovBoston focused our minds on the security challenges posed by the situation in the North Caucasus. Too bad people still use events from over twenty years ago to understand a region that's far too complicated for simple generalizations.
RussiaThe Values TrapNicolai N. PetroU.S. Russia policy is indeed caught in a trap—two traps, in fact, both of American rather than Russian design. The first is a cultural trap, in which America insists on seeing Russia as foreign to Western civilization rather than a contributor to it. The second, the values trap, causes U.S. foreign policy to bounce endlessly between alternating cycles of moralism and détente.
LibyaBenghazigate: Missing the PointAdam GarfinkleThe real lesson we should draw from the murder of a U.S. Ambassador and several other Americans in Benghazi last year is that the Libya war was a completely predictable and avoidable mistake. Why aren’t Republicans making this argument? Why can’t they connect these obvious dots? Because they are in the main cheap hawks.
The Boston Marathon BombingsBeware Blank ChecksMichael CecireGiving Russia a free pass on human rights wouldn't have stopped the Tsarnaev brothers, and it won't help with counterterrorism.
GeorgiaThe Rose Revolution Through a Funhouse Mirror Lincoln MitchellWestern democracy assistance programs played an important role in Eastern Europe's "color revolutions", but they've since fallen into bureaucratic sclerosis. Now they unwittingly serve the interests of non-democratic regimes and no longer seem credible or objective. Case in point: the 2012 Georgian election.
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Editors' Choices from Previous Issues
July/August 2009The Essential ItalianMichael McDonaldGiulio Andreotti, who served as Prime Minister of Italy seven times, is dead at 94. The inscrutable Andreotti must bedevil any would-be obituary writer, but one young filmmaker came close to capturing the essence of the man in a 2008 film, Il Divo. With flamboyant, almost surrealistic style, the film is also a searing portrait of Italian politics.
March/April 2008Bombs AwayZachary S. DavisIn his State of the Union Address, President Obama pledged to "continue leading the global effort to secure nuclear materials that could fall into the wrong hands." Stopping proliferation has become vastly more difficult over the years, but strategic interdiction is perhaps the most powerful—and underutilized—tool at his disposal.
Books, Film, Music & Other Cultural Artifacts
BooksThe Apple Pie of BoozeHannah Dean Bourbon is the spirit America makes better than anyone—its distinctive flavor comes from our native corn, water and oak barrels. It's patriotism in a glass. But its rise as the all-American spirit was by no means assured. A motley assortment of distillers, hucksters, politicians and partisan drunks paved the way to the hard stuff we enjoy today.
BooksThe Boy From BombayBrian StewartSalman Rushdie's memoir Joseph Anton recounts the aftermath of Satanic Verses and the fatwa that targeted him for death. Years of isolation and anxiety brought a deep appreciation of western freedoms, and of the forces that threaten it from within.
FilmDancer in the DarkMatt CohenKathryn Bigelow's Zero Dark Thirty takes us into the shadows of the decade-long manhunt for Osama bin Laden. The film is less about the enemy and more about America's stubborn determination to drag him into the light.
BooksThe Achilles Heel within the BootPaul DeRosaBill Emmott’s Good Italy, Bad Italy spins an anecdotal narrative of Italy’s recent history from the early 1990s Mani Pulite scandals to the ongoing euro crisis, successfully carrying readers up to the decision the country faces about its future. Wisely, Emmott avoids predicting which path Italy will choose.
TelevisionWhy Republicans Should Watch More TVPeter Augustine LawlerWith their party in disarray, Republican politicians and strategists should put down the poll results and data sets and turn on the television for a change. What they find may provide a better picture of social reality—and the electorate they've so long failed to win over.