History is the object of a construction whose place is formed not in homogenous and empty time, but in that which is fulfilled by the here-and-now. –Walter Benjamin
While the focus of this blog is meant to be international affairs, occasionally domestic events in America prompt a change of topic; the shootings in Arizona this weekend qualifies as one of those events. By now you've heard about the work of gunman Jared Loughner, which left Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords gravely wounded, killed six others – including a nine-year old child – and wounded 12 others. Once the immediacy of the shooting faded, talk inevitably turned to the why of the event. The theory being pushed by many conservative, right-wing pundits is that Loughner was simply a “lone nut”, his action
One of the truths of human history is that mankind has a tendency to go to war for some pretty stupid reasons; my personal favorite was the 17th century's War of Jenkins' Ear, though in the 19th century the United States and Canada nearly went to war over a pig, which probably would have trumped the unfortunate Mr.
Terror returned to Moscow last Monday morning when a pair of female suicide bombers blew themselves up in the city’s subway system (the second busiest in the world) during the morning rush, killing 40 people and wounding 90 others. The cable news channels in the United States began coverage of the attacks soon after they occurred and almost immediately began pointing to “Chechen separatists” as the likely culprits - which would have been a fine assumption to make, say ten years ago.Suicide bombings have been occurring with disturbing frequency lately in Russia’s Ca
One of my earliest memories of foreign affairs from my childhood was the brief war between Argentina and Great Britain over the small, wind-swept Falkland Islands in 1982. In response to the Argentine seizure of the islands, which they call Islas Malvinas and claim as their own, the British sent a naval flotilla halfway around the world to retake them. Without GPS, YouTube, broadband satellite uplinks or any of the other tools of modern journalism, I remember watching the progress of the British fleet on the nightly news as a red dot on a map slowly, very slowly, making its way down the length of the Atlantic Ocean towards the Falklands.
It’s been just over a week since an earthquake unleashed an epic wave of destruction across Haiti. And even as bodies of both the living and the dead continue to be pulled from the rubble of Port-au-Prince, conservative commentators are already using the tragedy to launch into an attack on foreign development aid programs.
It could have been a powerful image – America’s first multicultural president promoting the benefits of an ethnically-diverse society to the Chinese – but during his trip to China this week, Barack Obama chose to steer clear of comments that could be perceived as lecturing the Chinese on their (poor) human rights record, and that included any reference to their treatment of their Tibetan and Uyghur ethnic minorities.
The media in Russia won a rare victory on Tuesday when a judge in a Moscow courtroom struck down the claim of Josef Stalin’s grandson, Yevgeny Dzhugashvili, that the newspaper Novaya Gazeta had damaged Stalin's “honor and dignity” by claiming in April that the former Soviet leader was, among other things, “a bloodthirsty cannibal” for ordering numerous purges of his enemies, both real and imagined (“Stalin” by the way, was the nom de guerre of Iosef Dzhugashvili, and means “steel” in Russian). Grandson Yevgeny was suing Novaya Gazeta for libel on behalf of the memory of his grandfather.
Expect to see Afghanistan in the headlines a lot during the next few weeks as President Obama meets with Congressional and military leaders to plot the next step of America’s Afghan strategy. That means you’ll also likely hear your fair share of pundits weighing in on the topic and more than a few of them are sure to refer to Afghanistan, perhaps in ominous tones, as “the graveyard of empires.”