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The Retreatniks

The new talking point for the Republican Party — actually, it’s an old talking point in expensive new clothing — is “America is in retreat.” That’s the title of a recent book by Bret Stephens, a Wall Street Journal columnist who believes that he’s discovered a virus of “neo-isolationism” infecting the White House. His book is a full-throated defense of maintaining U.S. global...
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North Korea, Iran, and a Congress that Says No

Negotiators are rushing to meet an end-of-March deadline to reach a nuclear framework deal with Iran. The Obama administration and its P5+1 partners (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany) are willing to lift economic sanctions as long as Iran agrees to substantially curb its nuclear program for at least 10 years. A few significant gaps—notably on proposed caps on...
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Full Interview List

In 2012-13, as part of an Open Society Foundation fellowship, I re-interviewed many of the people I talked to in 1990 when I traveled for seven months through East-Central Europe. Twenty-three years later, I also interviewed a wide range of additional people in order to get as broad a picture as possible of what has changed (and not changed) in the region since the transformations of 1989. I send...
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The Future of Social Movements

Throughout East-Central Europe during the Communist period, social movements were on the margins, repressed by the governments, declared illegal. The exception was Yugoslavia in the 1980s where the women’s movement, the peace movement, and other groups not only operated in the open but had some impact on public policy. This was particularly the case in Slovenia. In 1990, for instance, I was...
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The 47 Republican Ronin

In traditional Japanese culture, a samurai without a master is known as a ronin. The most popular tale featuring these leaderless samurai is the 18th-century Chusingura. It tells of a feudal lord who must commit ritual suicide after assaulting the court official who had insulted him. Of the lord’s several hundred retainers, 47 loyal samurai plot their revenge on the haughty court official....
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