Features

Snapshots

Snapshot,
Mark Galeotti

The conflict in eastern Ukraine has an invisible but pivotal dimension: intelligence. On this front, both Ukraine and the West are scrambling to counter Russia's vast advantage.

Snapshot,
Joshua R. Itzkowitz Shifrinson

Russian leaders often claim the United States reneged on a promise not to expand NATO after the Cold War. They aren't lying: although Washington never put a pledge in writing, U.S. officials worked hard to convince Moscow that NATO wouldn't move east. And in international politics, informal commitments count.

Snapshot,
Gilbert Rozman

Moscow and Beijing have disagreements about the future order they envision for their regions. But they agree that the geopolitical order of the East should be in opposition to that of the West—and that has led to significantly closer bilateral relations.

Letters From

Letter From,
Alina Polyakova

A militant nationalist and a crook walk into a bar. It might sound like the beginning of a clichéd joke, but in Ukraine’s parliamentary elections, the characters are all too real, and the “bar” is Electoral District 217 in the country’s capital, Kiev.

Letter From,
Theresa Bond

A series of paradoxes, problems, and outright persecution, has turned life in Crimea -- a formerly popular vacation spot by the sea -- into a Kafkaesque nightmare.

Letter From,
Balazs Jarabik

Residents of Ukraine are frustrated and anxious. Facing increasing economic hardship, they have little hope that things will get better. Indeed, things couldn’t get much worse.

Postscripts

Postscript,
Joshua Yaffa

Late last week in Minsk, negotiators representing Ukraine, the separatist forces, and Russia agreed to a ceasefire. If this deal holds -- plenty of earlier ceasefires have fallen apart as soon as they were signed -- then the active phase of fighting in eastern Ukraine will have come to end on terms favorable to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Postscript,
Carter Roberts

Earth Overshoot Day is the date on which humanity’s demand for natural resources exceeds the earth’s ability to renew them in a year. Last year, we hit that mark on August 20. This year, it comes one day earlier. For the remainder of 2014, in other words, we will be living beyond our planet’s means.

Postscript,
Jan-Werner Müller

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban recently announced his government’s decisive break with liberal democracy. If EU leaders do not address this problem, they could soon lose Hungary for good.

Reading Lists

Reading List,
Joel D. Barkan

An annotated Foreign Affairs syllabus on Kenya.

Reading List,
Charles King

An annotated Foreign Affairs syllabus on the Caucasus.

Reading List,
Cynthia McClintock

An annotated Foreign Affairs syllabus on Peruvian politics.

Comments

Comment, Nov/Dec 2014
Richard K. Betts

After a decade-plus of war, the lessons for the United States are clear: fight fewer, more traditional wars and fight them more decisively. Above all, avoid getting entangled in the politics of chaotic countries.

Comment, Nov/Dec 2014
Peter Tomsen

More than 13 years after 9/11, the Afghan war is far from over, even if Washington insists that the U.S. role in it will soon come to an end. Three recent books help explain why, and what Washington needs to do next to protect the gains that have been made.

Comment, Nov/Dec 2014
Daniel Byman and Jeremy Shapiro

ISIS' army has attracted a stream of Western volunteers, but there is no reason to panic about their return home. Some may come back as terrorists, but the danger has been exaggerated, and the United States and the EU know how to handle such problems.

Essays

Essay, Nov/Dec 2014
Andrei Shleifer and Daniel Treisman

Twenty-five years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, critics say postcommunist reforms have failed. But the evidence says otherwise. Transition states in Europe and Eurasia have become normal countries -- no worse, and sometimes better, than other states at comparable levels of development.

Essay, Nov/Dec 2014
Elizabeth C. Economy

Xi Jinping’s reforms are designed to produce a corruption-free, politically cohesive, and economically powerful one-party state with global reach: a Singapore on steroids. But there is no guarantee the reforms will be as transformative as the Chinese leader hopes.

Essay, Nov/Dec 2014
Richard N. Haass

With U.S. hegemony waning and no successor waiting to pick up the baton, the current international system will likely give way to a larger number of power centers acting with increasing autonomy. The post–Cold War order is unraveling, and it will be missed.

Responses

Response, Nov/Dec 2014
John Delury and Chung-in Moon; Sue Mi Terry

Contrary to what Terry claims, write Delury and Moon, the collapse of North Korea is a frightening prospect, and the sudden reunification of the Korean Peninsula would be disastrous. Terry replies.

Response, Nov/Dec 2014
Michael McFaul; Stephen Sestanovich; John J. Mearsheimer

Responding to Mearsheimer's controversial essay blaming the West for the Ukraine crisis, McFaul and Sestanovich put the blame back on Putin and his ideological extremism, denying that NATO expansion provoked him. Mearsheimer replies.

Response,
Agio Pereira

Over the years, more than a few armchair critics have prognosticated the demise of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste, also known as East Timor. But the nation builders themselves can't indulge notions of failure.