Pundit Wire

Ukraine/Russia: Self-indulgent Speechwriting Pretending to be Policy

Russia Ukraine Let’s hop back to 7 July 2009. President Obama is addressing New Economic School students in Moscow, his first major speech to a Russian audience since his election. Vice President Biden will soon be in Ukraine to spell out the new Administration’s policies there too.

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Animal, Vegetable, Mineral: Is West ‘Provoking’ Russia?

russiaFascinating question: if X responds badly to your action and cites your action as a reason for behaving badly, how far are you responsible for what X does?

Three scenarios…

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Gas Exports and Liberty

DSCF1077 On my last visit to Budapest about a year ago, I was treated to a dramatic illustration of the power that Vladimir Putin’s Russia exercises over its former satellites through their dependency on imports of Russian natural gas.

Near Hungary’s parliament building is a park called Liberty Square. The park was created to honor the Hungarian patriots who died in an unsuccessful rising against Habsburg rule in 1848-49. But the park also has two other monuments to Hungary’s liberators.

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Vladimir Putin, Crimea and ‘Double Standards’

putin On 18 March Russia’s President Vladimir Putin delivered a major speech to Russia’s political elite aimed at explaining Russia’s policy towards Crimea and Ukraine. Plenty of commentators have analysed it (and attacked it mercilessly) on points of substance. See for example this brisk piece for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty…

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Iran No-Spoiler Alert

iranSo where are we in the Iran narrative?

I mean no disrespect to the victims of Iran’s terrorist clients, or the existential fears of Israelis and world Jewry, or U.S. security interests in the Middle East by calling it a narrative. Real events do happen in the real world, but people can’t help trying to fit them into larger stories.  We love to connect the dots.  Storytelling isn’t some atavistic remnant of our pre-scientific past; it’s how our brains are hardwired.

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Will Enough Ever Be Enough?

guns There are too damned many guns in America. We have an estimated 310 million privately-owned firearms in a country with a total population of approximately 315-million. The three real problems:

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Syria: The Shrek/Onion Paradigm

syria speechAny speechwriter’s toughest assignment: what words to use when the policy is in utter disarray? President Obama’s team last night made the best of a dismal job.

Syria is a classic example of what I call TSOP: The Shrek/Onion Paradigm. Issues are like onions are like ogres: they have layers. Look at some of Syria’s layers, in ascending order of abstractness.

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Syria: What Would Neville Do?

Munich PactAdvocates of American military action in Syria have – with a predictable lack of both creativity and historic relevance – invoked the memory of Neville Chamberlain, the British prime minister who announced the achievement of “peace in our time” after negotiating a deal that gave Hitler a piece of Czechoslovakia.  Chamberlain is regularly cited by hawks thirsty for action.

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