Foreign Policy Blogs

Russia & Central Asia

Shadow of Afghanistan (2012)

Shadow of Afghanistan (2012)

This documentary is all over the place. It is in part a history of modern Afghanistan and also a film about independent journalists – some of whom were killed – trying to report on the situation on the ground. Afghanistan is called “The Graveyard of Empires” for good reason: Every country or empire that has […]

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Exit Surkov: The end of postmodern Putinism?

Exit Surkov: The end of postmodern Putinism?

Speculation swirls around today’s sudden resignation of Vladislav Surkov, the Kremlin’s chief ideologue who had thought up “sovereign democracy” and invented the Nashi youth groups. He name-dropped Lacan and Derrida and even allegedly wrote a novel called Almost Zero. And now he might have become just that. Did he jump, or was he pushed? What […]

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Prisoner of the Mountains (1996)

Prisoner of the Mountains (1996)

The conflict between Russia and the territory of Chechnya is the backdrop for this film. In it two Russian soldiers are taken away to a Chechen village after their group is ambushed. The reason they are captured is so that a villager can use them as a trade for his son, who is being held […]

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As NATO Draws Down, Feuding Neighbors’ Elections May Heat Up

As NATO Draws Down, Feuding Neighbors’ Elections May Heat Up

  As NATO troops leave, Afghanistan and two of its northern neighbors will undergo national elections. Should we be worried? While some observers expect an uptick in Afghan border infiltration after the upcoming NATO drawdown, others feel that instability in neighboring states Tajikistan and Uzbekistan have long been homegrown. These countries are the main routes […]

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Boston Bombers: Is America’s Skewed Asylum System to Blame?

Boston Bombers: Is America’s Skewed Asylum System to Blame?

As a Russian who first came to America as a small child and later spent his university years in Cambridge, Mass., I felt particularly gripped by the ongoing Boston bomber saga. There remain so many questions about why these two brothers, to whom the U.S. had given shelter, passports, schooling and acceptance, turned so violently […]

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The Iraq Endgame and the Lessons for Afghanistan: An Update

The Iraq Endgame and the Lessons for Afghanistan: An Update

Washington is in a rush and everyone knows it The U.S. commentariat spent much of last month ruminating over the lessons of the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq.  Left unexamined were the important lessons relating to the U.S. endgame in that country and how they should be applied to the accelerating withdrawal from Afghanistan.*  I […]

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End of an era as Berezovsky dies

End of an era as Berezovsky dies

He was the original oligarch: a talented mathematician who had used his smarts and ruthlessness to amass an enormous fortune in the wreckage of the Soviet Union. Eventually, he became one of Russia’s most powerful men, a courtier to former president Boris Yeltsin. Boris Berezovsky went on to survive assassination attempts and even the wrath […]

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What their reaction to the Cyprus bank tax says about Russia’s government – and the opposition

What their reaction to the Cyprus bank tax says about Russia’s government – and the opposition

They said it couldn’t be done. But at last, the Kremlin and some of its fiercest liberal critics have found themselves on the same team. The fact that the issue in question is their opposition to the proposed Cypriot bank levies says as much about the regime as the opposition. Try to guess who said […]

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Nine Pictures About The U.S. in Afghanistan

Nine Pictures About The U.S. in Afghanistan

A picture of an Afghan soldier; A picture of U.S Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel after touching down in Afghanistan; a picture of Afghan president Hamid Karzai; a picture of members of the Taliban (as represented in their own promotional video); a picture of Secretary of Defense Hagel in Afghanistan before his meeting with President […]

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Obama’s Afghan Dysfunctions

Obama’s Afghan Dysfunctions

Earlier posts have commented on the Obama administration’s defective foreign policy apparatus as well as its highly dysfunctional management of the war in Afghanistan (here and here).  Both problems are conjoined, a point that is amply underscored in Vali Nasr’s forthcoming book, The Dispensable Nation.  Nasr served as a key adviser to the embattled Richard […]

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Stalin who?

Stalin who?

Today is 60 years since the death of Joseph Stalin. How do we know this? Well, it’s on the front page of the BBC, there’s an article in the Telegraph, Reuters, the Atlantic and pretty much everywhere else. Except Russia itself, that is, where the event hardly attracted any attention whatsoever. It was not on […]

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Putin’s (grey) Heir Apparent?

Putin’s (grey) Heir Apparent?

Is this the face of Russia’s next president? According to a report quoted in today’s Moscow Times, Moscow mayor Sergey Sobyanin has become the favorite to succeed Putin in 2018. Sobyanin? “Sobyanin is a figure who could please both the main tycoons in the energy industry and those who took part in dividing the spoils inherited from [former Mayor Yury] Luzhkov’s Moscow,” […]

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Is Russia Becoming a Theocracy?

Is Russia Becoming a Theocracy?

This weekend the Russian Orthodox Church held its Bishops Council at Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow. In his speech to the assembly, president Putin said that, of course, Russia is not a theocracy but: “We are a secular state of course, and cannot allow state life and church life to merge” he continued, “but at the same […]

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Hagel on Russia: Engagement, not Isolation

Hagel on Russia: Engagement, not Isolation

“The worst thing we can do, the most dangerous thing we can do is continue to isolate nations, is to continue to not engage nations. Great powers engage.” Foreign Policy compiled a list of “Ten Hagel Quotes You Need to Know,” including the above quote from a keynote speech at the Israel Policy Forum in New […]

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Depardieu, Depardon’t

Depardieu, Depardon’t

Okay, I know everyone has had enough of the Depardieu story by now, but that’s no reason to pass up an opportunity for blatant self promotion! In today’s International Herald Tribune, I ask whether the fat Frenchman may not simply be the corporeal embodiment of modern neoliberal capitalism. And now to feel less bad about […]

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