All posts filed under: Russia

Trump’s Warsaw Speech: Defending the West or Defending Illiberalism?

The reaction to Donald Trump’s first major speech in Europe reminds me of the old Jewish joke in which two men ask a rabbi to resolve a dispute. After listening to the first one, the rabbi says, “You’re absolutely right!” Then the second man makes his case, and the rabbi replies, “Yes, you’re quite right!” The rabbi’s wife chimes in: “That makes no sense—how can they both be right?” The rabbi ponders her words and says, “You know what? You’re right, too!” Responses to Trump’s Thursday speech in Warsaw, Poland, which focused on the need to preserve and defend Western civilization and its values, have been sharply polarized along partisan lines. On the liberal side, Sarah Wildman in Vox, Peter Beinart and James Fallows in The Atlantic, and Jeet Heer in The New Republic have argued that it was at best an appeal to tribalism and at worst practically an alt-right manifesto, full of dog-whistles for white nationalists. Conservatives, even Trump’s harshest critics such as Jonah Goldberg, David French, and William Kristol, have mostly praised …

America’s Real Pivot

Trump’s Warsaw speech marks an era defining the rebalancing of Euro-American relations Donald Trump’s speech in Poland, for lack of better words, marks the beginning of a new era in global politics. Speeches change history. Speeches mark the direction a great power is going, a pivot, if you will. That word has become a catchphrase in the last decade, but it can be used for Trump’s Warsaw speech, which marked the solidifying ideological lines of our times. Trump is no great orator. He isn’t linguistically gifted, either due to age, or due to his New York-ish snappy rhetorical style. Notwithstanding those limitations, this speech will possibly go down in history as one of the most important speeches of his presidency. Here’s the full speech in text, for the more academically minded. Everything about the speech was planned pitch perfect. The choice of the venue is Poland, a central European civilizational powerhouse, with immense historical importance. Poland has made cultural contributions and has a scientific legacy that can put any other European country to shame. In …

Anti-Russian Hysteria, American Hypocrisy, and the Risk of Nuclear Confrontation

Marx’s statement that “history repeats itself, first as tragedy, then as farce,” must now be reworded, in light of the new Cold War developing with Russia and that country’s alleged interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential elections: “history repeats itself, first as tragedy, then as farcical, potentially catastrophic, tragedy.” We are witnessing the unfolding of a drama with an undeniably Rabelaisian protagonist – President Donald Trump – a character so monstrously flawed as to be scarcely imaginable as anything other than a real-life, modern-day scion of the fictional Pantagruel, the grotesquely cruel King of the Dipsodes. Surrounding Trump are many courtiers of varying degrees of fatuity and mendacity. And since Trump’s decision to batter an airfield in Syria, a Russian ally, with Tomahawk missiles, an array of print-media pundits and cable-channel panjandrums slaving away after mammon and ratings has cheered him on. Finally, they say, he’s showing he’s not “Putin’s puppet” and is acting presidential! Though Trump himself has recently tweeted, “Things will work out fine between the U.S.A. and Russia. At the right time …

The Deal Trump Should Strike with Putin

The standoff between NATO and Russia is increasingly perilous, but there is a way out. On January 26th of this year, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists reset the Doomsday Clock from 11:57 to 11:58:30 — thirty seconds closer to midnight (a metaphor for planetary catastrophe), indicating a degree of peril for humanity unseen since 1953 and the testing of the first hydrogen bomb by the United States in November of the previous year. In a statement accompanying the move, the Bulletin declared that “The United States and Russia . . . remain at odds in a variety of theaters, from Syria to Ukraine to the borders of NATO” and cited, as another reason (of several more) for the clock’s adjustment, President Trump’s “disturbing comments, made on the campaign trail, about “the use and proliferation of nuclear weapons.” A prominent former Democratic senator would certainly concur with the first point. Sam Nunn, leader of the nonpartisan group Nuclear Threat Initiative, warned that “Russia and the West are at a dangerous crossroads,” and in “a state of …