Quantcast

Blogs

China Steps Up Provocations

Chinese incursions along its southern and eastern peripheries this month suggest an increase in the pace of territorial provocations.

On June 15, one of China’s intelligence-gathering ships entered Japan’s territorial waters in the wee hours of the morning. The Dongdiao-class vessel sailed near Kuchinoerabu Island and the larger Yakushima Island as it shadowed two Indian warships participating in the Malabar exercise with the US and Japan. The intrusion was the first since 2004, when a Chinese submarine entered Japan’s waters, and only the second by China since the end of the Second World War. Japan filed a protest, but China countered that it was transiting in compliance with international freedom of navigation rules. China's ship lingered for some 90 minutes, possibly in violation of international transit norms.

Barack Obama, Donald Trump and Radical Islam

Americans have been arguing about Islam since 9/11. It was perhaps inevitable that our presidential candidates would bicker about it eventually.

It finally happened last week when Donald Trump slammed Hillary Clinton for refusing to say the words “radical Islamism.” Clinton responded by saying the words “radical Islamism.”

President Barack Obama is a little more stubborn about it. He even insists that ISIS, or ISIL as he and other government officials call it, “is not Islamic” at all.

Of course ISIS is Islamic. The first letter in ISIS stands for “Islamic.”

Every literate person who knows what letters and words mean must at the absolute minimum recognize that ISIS claims to be Islamic. It sure as hell isn’t Christian, nor is it Jewish. It is not Buddhist, Hindu or Zoroastrian. No human being on this planet thinks ISIS is atheist.

Obama comes off like he’s living in an airy fairy fantasy land. “Unless,” Trump said last week, “you're willing to discuss and talk about the real nature of the problem and the name of the problem radical Islamic terrorism, you're never going to solve the problem.”

“What exactly would using this label accomplish?” Obama angrily said in response. “Calling a threat by a different name does not make it go away…Not once has an advisor of mine said, man, if we use that phrase, we’re going to turn this whole thing around. If someone seriously thinks we don’t know who we’re fighting, if there’s anyone out there who thinks we’re confused about who our enemies are, that would come as a surprise to the thousands of terrorists who we’ve taken off the battlefield.”

Of course Obama knows who we’re fighting and why. He’s been bombing ISIS in Syria and Iraq for more than a year now. He’s been doing it half-assedly, sure, but he’s not bombing the Middle East’s Christians, Jews, Druze, Yezidis or Alawites.

And he’s quite right that we aren’t losing because he doesn’t use the phrase “radical Islam.” He could change his mind and use the phrase every day for the rest of his term and it wouldn’t make the slightest bit of difference on the battlefield.

What he’s doing here is picking up where former President George W. Bush left off when he repeatedly called Islam “a religion of peace.”

Trump says this is political correctness and that it’s killing us, but this is something else. It’s diplomatic correctness.

“There are good reasons why Obama—and President George W. Bush before him—did not describe jihadists in explicitly Islamic terms,” Eli Lake writes in Bloomberg. “It was not because they are cowed by political correctness. Rather it was because the wider war on radical Islamic terrorism requires the tacit and at times active support of many radical Muslims.”

Lake’s case in point is the Anbar Awakening during General David Petraeus’ counterinsurgency strategy in Iraq, when every tribal leader in the western Anbar Province aligned themselves with American soldiers and Marines against Al Qaeda.

“These sheiks were pious Muslims,” Lake writes. “Many believed that apostates should be punished by the state and that fathers had an obligation to arrange marriages for their daughters.”

He’s right. I spent more time than was good for my health in the Iraqi cities of Fallujah and Ramadi. These places are painfully, even brutally, backward. Not every Muslim who lives there is a fanatic, but virtually none can be described as liberal or cosmopolitan with a straight face.

Then there is Saudi Arabia. The United States has had a transactional alliance with the House of Saud since the 1930s. The Saudis provide the world with oil in exchange for American security. Since then, Washington and Riyadh have drawn closer together for other reasons. We share many of the same geopolitical interests, especially when it comes to Iran.

The Saudis are kinda sorta allies, yet they preside over and promote the most puritanical sect of Sunni Islam in the world—that of the Wahhabis, founded by Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab in the 18th century. The Saudis spend enormous amounts of money spreading this noxious and dangerous brand of Islam all over the world. It’s a serious problem, and it’s long past time for the United States to demand they halt it or else, but the Saudis are nevertheless helpful in other ways and have been for almost a hundred years. 

So yes, we have fanatical as well as moderate and liberal Muslim allies, and Obama, like Bush before him, is reluctant to alienate them. American presidents have to weigh the diplomatic consequences of their words. Journalists, intellectuals, activists and historians don’t.

The downside is that people don’t like or trust leaders who appear disconnected from reality. And Obama is far more worried about this than he needs to be. All he needs to do is be honest and reasonable. He just needs to make it clear, as former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld did when he was bombing the Taliban in Afghanistan, that “the war against terrorism is not a war against a religion.”

Middle Easterners are among the least “politically correct” people in the entire world. The very idea of Western-style “political correctness” in the Middle East is absurd. They are far less “sensitive,” in the progressive sense of that word, than virtually anyone in the United States. And they know damn well that ISIS is Islamic. We’re not earning any points with our allies in the Muslim world by denying this, nor would we alienate any of them by acknowledging it.

The United States government surely would alienate our friends and allies over there if we had a bombastic bigoted blowhard in the White House, but calling the Islamic State “Islamic” isn’t even in the same time zone as bigoted or bombastic.

Whatever Obama and Trump say, the rest of us need to get something straight. At one end of the American spectrum is the notion that Islam is a religion of peace while the other end insists that it’s a religion of war and jihad. They’re both right, and they’re both wrong. Islam is not a single monolithic thing any more than Christianity is.

Former Muslim and Somalia-native Ayaan Hirsi Ali explains this better than almost anyone in her latest book, Heretic: Why Islam Needs a Reformation Now, which I reviewed last year for Commentary.

She divides Muslims into three groups, ignoring the theological and cultural distinctions between Sunnis and Shias and smaller sects like Wahhabis and Sufis. She also sets aside national differences between countries like Kosovo and Azerbaijan, where almost everybody is secular, and ultraconservative realms like Saudi Arabia where almost nobody is.

First there are those she calls Mecca Muslims, traditional and largely peaceful people inspired by Mohammad’s benign example during the religion’s early years when he lived in Mecca and politely invited others to follow him. The majority of the world’s Muslims fall into this camp.

Then there are the Medina Muslims, the often violent minority that follows Mohammad’s example when he lived in Medina and assaulted those who refused to convert. Medina Muslims include the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, ISIS, and the ayatollahs in Iran.

Both types of people are authentic Muslims. Both can cite the Koran to back up their beliefs and behavior. Both can say they’re following Mohammad’s example. 

Hirsi Ali’s third group are the dissidents like herself. Some are ex-Muslims while others are reformers—including imams and respected scholars—who are doing everything they can to modernize the religion and discredit the Medina Muslims.

Insisting that the Medina Muslims aren’t Muslims is as pointless as it is wrong. It may be defensible as a diplomatic fiction, but it’s also unnecessary. The dissidents and the reformers know damn well who and what they’re up against. They wouldn’t need to reform the religion if it did not need reforming. They also know perfectly well that the Islamic State is Islamic. These people are our best friends in the Islamic world, and they won’t be the least bit offended if Obama or anyone else calls a radical Islamic terrorist a radical Islamic terrorist. 

The Saudis wouldn’t sever the alliance either if the White House calls a spade a spade. They need us more than we need them, after all. People like the sheikhs of Iraq’s Anbar Province wouldn’t refuse to work with an American president for using phrases like “radical Islam” either as long as the White House made it clear we’re not at war with an entire religion.  

Obama is far more worried about this than he needs to be, and Trump isn’t worried enough. A commander-in-chief who bares his teeth at 1.2 billion Muslims in the world would be a catastrophe for a reason that ought to be obvious: winning wars against radical Muslims without enlisting the help of friendly moderate Muslims is impossible.

Inaugural Nemtsov Prize Awarded to Lev Shlosberg

On June 12—Russia’s national day that has its origins in a 1990 parliamentary declaration that asserted Russia’s sovereignty over the Soviet government and promised its citizens political rights and liberties—the Boris Nemtsov Foundation for Freedom held its inaugural ceremony to award the Nemtsov Prize. The event took place in Bonn, Germany, where the foundation is based and where its founder, Zhanna Nemtsova, resides after fleeing Russia last year following her father’s assassination on the Bolshoi Moskvoretsky Bridge, in plain sight of the Kremlin.

Latvia’s Push for a NATO Naval Base

NATO’s member states have agreed to base 4,000 troops in the Baltic states and Poland. That is extremely welcome news in these Baltic Sea countries, whose governments have long been lobbying for exactly such a presence.

But, while NATO allies regularly conduct naval exercises in this tiny ocean, the alliance doesn’t have a permanent naval presence there. Now Latvia is proposing a novel arrangement: a NATO presence in an old Soviet port.

Until Latvia‘s occupation ended in 1991, its port city of Liepaja housed an immense Soviet naval base. Large parts of the Soviet Union’s Baltic fleet including submarines were based there, as was nuclear weapons storage. With 26,000 military staff working for the naval base, which took up one third of the city, it was perhaps not surprising that the Soviet authorities designated the port area a closed city that did not appear on any maps.

Though Progress is Genuine, Reform Must Accelerate in Ukraine

The following is an interview with Myroslav Senyk, former head of the Lviv Province Council and current Vice Rector for Administration and Development of the Ukrainian Catholic University in Lviv.

MOTYL: Most people in the West, as well as most Ukrainians in Ukraine, are persuaded that corruption in Ukraine has either remained unchanged or gotten worse in the last two years. Do you agree with either of these views?

China Likely Cheating, Again, on North Korea Sanctions

“We are both determined to fully enforce the UN Security Council Resolution 2270,” said Secretary of State John Kerry on Tuesday, referring to China and the US. As hundreds of American and Chinese officials wrapped up this year’s installment of the Strategic and Economic Dialogue in China’s capital, America’s top diplomat wanted the world to believe Beijing was complying with international sanctions on North Korea.

Resolution 2270 is the fifth set of coercive measures imposed by the Security Council on Pyongyang for its weapons programs.

So is Kerry telling us what is in fact the case or what he would like to be true? Unfortunately, it’s the latter. 

Beijing has been making the right noises about compliance. President Xi Jinping, for instance, pledged China would “completely and fully” enforce the UN’s coercive measures. 

Banning Guns and Muslims Isn’t the Answer to Orlando

The United States suffered the worst act of terrorism since 9/11 over the weekend when ISIS supporter Omar Seddique Mateen killed 50 people and wounded another 53 with a handgun and a .223 rifle at a gay nightclub in Orlando.

Americans are good at solving problems. We’ve put men on the moon, cured countless diseases, and invented nearly all modern technology from televisions and telephones to microchips and the Internet. We created a durable democracy that has lasted more than 200 years, ended slavery, destroyed Hitler’s Nazi regime, and bested the Soviet Union during the Cold War.

Surely, then, we can solve terrorism, or at least drastically reduce it, but let’s get one thing clear. There is no such thing as The Answer. There is no silver bullet, no magic wand, no perfectly calibrated piece of legislation that Congress can pass to make terrorists leave us alone.

Even if there were such a thing, a government ban wouldn’t be it. If it were so easy, we’d just ban terrorism and be done with it. Yet a large swath of the left wants to solve this with a gun ban, and a large swath of the right wants to ban Muslims.

We’ve never solved any of our great problems with bans. Bans always backfire. Remember Prohibition? How’s the drug war coming along? What does the underground sex industry look like?

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton says she wants stricter gun laws after Orlando. Reasonable people can disagree about the particulars of this or that piece of proposed gun regulation, but Clinton is kidding herself or pulling a fast one on voters by suggesting that better background checks, closing the loopholes at gun shows, or an “assault” rifle ban will prevent terrorists from getting guns.

The Orlando shooter worked as a security guard. He passed all kinds of background checks. He didn’t need to exploit any loopholes at gun shows. If the rifle he used had not been available in stores, he could have bought one on the black market.

France has strict gun laws. France has some of the strictest gun laws in the world. That didn’t stop ISIS from getting its hands on automatic Kalashnikovs seven months ago in Paris and tripling the Orlando shooter’s body count.

Ban guns in stores and at gun shows all you want—it will affect law-abiding citizens, not terrorists. Anything and everything banned by governments just moves to the black market, from guns and drugs to prostitution. According to the National Observatory for Delinquency, the number of illegal weapons in France has been increasing by double-digit percentages for years. Criminals and terrorists don’t need to pass background checks, nor do they need Wal-mart. They buy their guns on the street.

Even a draconian absolute gun ban wouldn’t work. Under what theory would a war on guns work any better than the war on drugs? Does anyone seriously believe that the government could ever take so many weapons away from so many people that terrorists would have to resort to running around with butter knives? Come on.

The French gun ban accomplished a grand total of jack squat last year when ISIS hit Paris. And Mohammad Atta’s crew killed thousands of people on 9/11 armed with nothing but box cutters.

Donald Trump’s proposal to ban Muslims from entering the United States is even more ludicrous. The vast majority of guns are never used in mass shootings, and the vast majority of Muslims never commit acts of terrorism.

Almost three million Muslims live in the United States. The percentage who have blown up or shot anyone is only slightly more than one in a million.

The Muslim world is enormous and varied. A ban on all Muslims would be a de-facto ban on the Kurds, and the Kurds are America’s best friends in the entire Middle East. They’re more militantly anti-ISIS than anyone else in the world, and they’ve supplied most of the ground troops against ISIS.

Here’s what my Kurdish friend Ejder Memis wrote on Facebook today. “Let me offer my commiserations to the LGBT community for the savage murder of 50 and the maiming of as many in [an] Orlando gay club by an Islamofascist terrorist.” After getting that out of the way, he goes after the Orlando shooter’s father who said that what his son did had nothing to do with religion. “Where were you when ISIS killed, raped and pillaged their way across Iraq, Syria and Kurdistan? Where were you when they attempted a genocide on Yazidis, enslaved 'infidel' girls and women, cut off heads and burnt prisoners? Where were you when they blew up worshipers in churches and peaceful protesters in Suruc and Ankara? Where were you when they threw gays off the roof tops? Pray tell you were not at a 'No to Islamophobia' march rubbing shoulders with those who would rather see you dead.”

Raise your hand if you think America will be safer if the man who wrote that can’t come here.

Should the United States be more careful about who it lets in? Absolutely. But here’s a not-so secret secret about Middle Easterners—many of them are more clear-eyed than Westerners are about the likes of ISIS.

Banning all of them with a blind and blunt instrument probably wouldn’t directly help ISIS recruitment as much as Clinton alleges. Psychopathic totalitarians are not provoked by Western illiberalism. They are, on the contrary, provoked by Western liberalism. Who thinks the Orlando shooter just randomly chose a gay night club?

Banning all Muslims would, however, sour America’s good relationships with moderate Muslims and their governments from Morocco and Tunisia to Jordan and Azerbaijan. And it would profoundly alienate the Muslims who already live here, which could make them more susceptible to radicalization down the road.

In any case, the Orlando shooter was born in America. Trump’s proposed Muslim ban wouldn’t have touched him. 

So what’s the answer? The answer is that The Answer doesn’t exist.

We can start, though, by destroying the Islamic State. That would do a lot more good than preventing me from buying a gun, and it would do even more good than preventing my Kurdish friends from visiting Washington. ISIS can recruit and inspire people far more easily if it looks like it’s winning rather than losing. Even if it isn’t winning per se, if it simply looks durable and permanent, it can and does recruit and inspire people.

Destroying the ISIS “state” in Syria and Iraq won’t kill the ideology, obviously. The ideology will live on, almost certainly for the rest of our lives. Nazis and Communists still exist, after all. They are, however, a lot less dangerous now that Hitler’s Germany and the Soviet Union are buried.

When Downsizing is a Good Thing for a State

The following is and interview with Ian Lustick, a Professor of Political Science at the
University of Pennsylvania.

MOTYL: Professor Lustick, let’s begin the conversation with your provocative theory of “right-sizing” states. What’s the gist?

Ukraine's United Future Depends on Leaving Donbas in Its Divided Past

Before Ukraine can disengage from the occupied Donbas, it has to know just what disengagement means. Consider disengagement's opposite—engagement. If we are engaged, we are psychologically concerned about, ideologically committed to, and politically involved in some issue. Disengagement entails psychological indifference, ideological withdrawal, and political non-involvement with respect to that issue. 

Disengagement is especially useful with respect to issues that lie beyond the powers of the actor concerned. The war in the Donbas will continue as long as Vladimir Putin wants it to continue, and Ukraine—and the West—must accept that fact. Nothing, short of Ukraine's capitulation or collapse, will assuage Putin. Ukrainians will continue to die as long as he wants them to die.

US Pressures Kim Regime in North Korea

On Saturday, Pyongyang reacted to the Wednesday designation, by the US Treasury Department, of North Korea as a “primary money laundering concern” pursuant to Section 311 of the Patriot Act.

“North Korea is not frightened in the least by the US’s stereotypical method of labeling us as ‘money launders,’ not being content with already branding us as ‘nuclear proliferators,’ ‘human rights abusers,’ etc.,” said a spokesperson for the North Korean National Coordination Committee.

Pyongyang, despite the bravado of the statement, is undoubtedly concerned. The practical effect of the move is that banks and other financial institutions, both American and foreign, will not handle dollar transactions for Pyongyang’s entities and fronts. In all probability, these institutions will also shun dealings in other currencies for these customers.

A Donbas Strategy Going Forward

The following is an interview with George Woloshyn. George Woloshyn is a frequent commentator on Ukrainian affairs. He was the head of the National Preparedness Directorate at the Federal Emergency Management Agency and previously the Associate Director at the Office of Personnel Management during the Reagan Administration. He also served in the Navy Reserves as an Intelligence Officer. 

MOTYL: How would you assess Vladimir Putin’s goals and strategies vis-à-vis Ukraine?

The Third Battle of Fallujah

The third battle of Fallujah is on.

The assault began in the early hours on Monday when the Iraqi Army and Iranian-backed Shia militias stormed the city in Iraq’s Anbar Province under British and American air cover to expel ISIS once and for all.

Brace yourself for atrocities.

More than 300,000 people live there. The vast majority have fled, but roughly 50,000 are still trapped inside. ISIS is holding hundreds of families and using them as human shields.

Human shields can work against Western armies that hold their fire when possible to avoid killing civilians. The Iraqi Army doesn’t care about killing civilians, and the Iranian-backed militias care even less.

ISIS is also deploying suicide bombers, including suicide car bombers.

Organizations and diverse as Human Rights Watch and the US Department of Defense are worried about war crimes, not only from ISIS—which commits war crimes as a matter of course and of policy—but also from “our” side.

Last year, Iraqi and Iranian-backed forces took back the ISIS-held city of Tikrit, and they’ve been under investigation for war crimes ever since. Allegations include the massacring of civilians, torturing and summarily executing captives, and displaying human heads.

The US and Britain are in a terrible spot here. There is no getting around this: we’re militarily assisting gangs of vicious murderous bastards. The only reason it’s even remotely defensible is because the guys on the other side are even more vicious—the most vicious, in fact, in all of the world.

It’s safe to say at this point that ISIS-held territory in Syria and Iraq is the most oppressive place on the face of the earth. Cities like Fallujah and Raqqa make even North Korea seem mild.

People have been eating grass to survive.Executions of civilians for “crimes” as minor as shaving and smoking cigarettes is rampant, and residents are forced to watch. One resident says ISIS videotapes the executions and personally delivers DVDs to every house in the city.

ISIS is even forcing men to commit domestic violence. “Our husbands and fathers were pushed to discipline us,” an Iraqi woman told Al Jazeera. “Husbands would be forced to hit their wives for not wearing the niqab properly. If our men did not obey the orders of ISIL, they would face punishment.”

“Our biggest fear was to be caught by ISIL fighters,” she added. “They have no mercy; they will execute anyone whom they catch or even suspect of trying to flee.”

This is the third time in twelve years Fallujah has faced all out war. It was relatively quiet for a brief period after the US invaded in 2003. There wasn’t much looting. The mayor was pro-American. Resentment simmered, though, and then exploded in 2004 when a mob murdered and mutilated four Blackwater security contractors and strung their bodies up on a bridge.

The US military went in to clear the city the following month, but for political reasons they pulled back before finishing the job. Al Qaeda in Iraq, led by the psychopathic Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, gained total control of the city and imposed Taliban-style rule on the populace.

If something like this was going to happen in only one place in Iraq, Fallujah be it. “Fallujah is strange, sullen, wild-eyed, badass, and just plain mean,” Bing West wrote in his book, No True Glory. “Fallujans don’t like strangers, which includes anyone not homebred. Wear lipstick or Western-style long hair, sip a beer or listen to an American CD, and you risk the whip or a beating.”

Fallujah has been Iraq’s no-go zone since at least the time of the British in Mesopotamia. Even back then, everyone was warned to stay out, and it’s where Saddam Hussein recruited many of his regime’s most brutal enforcers.

I spent a month there during the war, and the only thing I can say in its favor is that it’s only the second-most broken and hopeless place I’ve ever seen. (The first-most is Baghdad, which is better educated and more open to the world, but it’s also where adjacent Sunni and Shia neighborhoods can hardly stop car-bombing each other even when they’re separated by walls.)

After losing the first battle of Fallujah, American soldiers and Marines went back in and fought the massive epic battle known as Al-Fajr, or Dawn.

Al Qaeda in Iraq proved itself so monstrous that the residents of Fallujah, who surely ranked among the most anti-American people in the world, forged an alliance with the hated enemy superpower to vomit the terrorists out.

The Iraqis claim they are not going to stop until they expel ISIS completely. If they manage to pull it off—and at this point that’s still a big if—they’d better learn from their earlier mistakes. ISIS would never have managed to take over that city two years ago if residents didn’t initially see its fighters as lesser evils compared with Baghdad’s central government. That’s extraordinary in and of itself since Fallujans had plenty of experience already with Al Qaeda in Iraq, which was just ISIS under a different name and different management.

Fallujah is a Sunni Arab city in a country where Sunni Arabs makes up only around 20 percent the population. The previous Shia prime minister Nouri al-Maliki ruled Iraq like an Iranian-backed warlord hell-bent on subjugating the minority. Incredibly, compared to him, ISIS looked sort of okay and tribal leaders opened the door.

It was the worst decision in the long history of deplorable decisions in that city. Only in the feverish dreams of insanely bigoted anti-Shia reactionaries was Nouri al-Maliki even as remotely bad as ISIS, let alone worse.

Maliki governed badly. No question about it. He purged Sunnis from the government, jailed dissidents, spuriously accused his political opponents of being terrorist supporters, and aligned himself with Iranian-backed militias. We should all be glad he’s out of power. But more oppressive than ISIS? Please.

It’s not clear that any Shia-led government will ever seem legitimate in the eyes of many of Iraq’s Sunnis—especially not if Baghdad re-takes Fallujah with Iranian backing. What drives Sunni sectarianism more than anything else is the perception that Iraq’s Shias are in cahoots with Tehran.

On the other hand, ISIS is so unspeakably awful that the residents of Fallujah and other Sunni cities in Iraq may see how wrong they were when they thought they’d be better off oppressed by “their own” than by the other.

On the third hand, they should have known better already. The Sunnis of Anbar Province suffered under ISIS before, and apparently they learned nothing from the experience. 

So who knows where this is heading? I certainly don’t.

I will say this, though. If Baghdad and its Iranian friends manage to purge ISIS in Western Iraq, they’d better get the hell out and stay out when they’re finished or a fourth battle of Fallujah is all but inevitable.

Hiroshima, Japan, and the US

“We can tell our children a different story,” said President Obama on Friday, after detailing the horrors of the day, 71 years ago, in which a “flash of light and a wall of fire” led to the deaths of some 140,000 in Hiroshima.  

At the site of the first use of an atomic device in war, in Hiroshima, the American leader came to the Peace Memorial with messages for the future, one of them of disarmament. In the backdrop, was the Flame of Peace, first lit in 1964, which is supposed to remain burning until the world is free of nuclear weapons. While there, the president urged nations to give up their most destructive instruments of war.

American Hopes to Return to Prison Camp in North Korea

Since the Korean War, no American has spent longer in confinement in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea than Kenneth Bae. Yet Bae, released in 2014, wants to go back to see the guards who kept an eye on him in prison. As he told Seattle radio station KUOW on the 19th of this month, “I consider some of them as friends.” 

So is this a particularly bad case of Stockholm Syndrome? 

It’s not. Bae, a missionary, is out to educate the North Korean people, starting with those who kept him under lock and key in particularly harsh conditions.

During his confinement, Bae, a Southern Baptist minister, learned just how isolated North Korea has remained. Jesus Christ? One of his guards had never heard of him before. “Where does Jesus live?” his captor asked. “In China or North Korea?”

Answering the Critics: Donbas Disengagement

What should Ukraine do about the occupied Donbas enclave?

As readers of this blog know, I have long been arguing for disengagement. Critics of my view generally emphasize some or all of the following three points:

First, won’t disengagement help promote Vladimir Putin’s strategic goal of destroying Ukraine?

Second, doesn’t Ukraine have a moral obligation to reannex this territory and its citizens?

Third, what exactly does disengagement entail and how would it be brought about??

All three are serious questions that deserve serious answers. I’ll address the first two questions in this blog and the third in the next one.

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - blogs