Poland’s Uncivil Society

During the 1980s, Poland had perhaps the strongest civil society in the world. The Solidarity trade union movement, created in August 1980, eventually counted 10 million members, a quarter of Poland’s population. And when the government cracked down on Solidarity, declaring Martial Law in December 1981, the opposition was strong enough to survive underground under considerably adverse...
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Women’s Delegation to Cross the DMZ

In June 1998, the business tycoon Chung Ju-Yung drove 500 cattle across the Demilitarized Zone separating North and South Korea. Then, leaning on a cane, the frail founder of the Hyundai conglomerate hobbled across the border himself. He was the first civilian to make the crossing without government escort in over half a century. The symbolic delivery of food to a starving country that was...
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Robot-in-Chief

To: John Brennan, Langley HQ From: Operative 650, McMurdo Sound Re: Politics 2.0 Greetings from Antarctica. It’s not so bad here, as long as you like tinned peas and snow blindness. But seriously, thanks to several months of sunless winter, I’ve been able to learn Urdu, top my previous high score in Spider Solitaire, and catch up on my Netflix queue. I’m the only spook here among the...
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Strange News from Another Star

NORTH KOREA IS NOT the information black hole it’s so often made out to be. It’s more like Alpha Centauri, a star several light years from Earth. We can remotely acquire a wealth of information about this distant location, even though there’s always a frustrating time lag. It’s not the speed of light, but the speed of processing defectors that prevents us from getting information about...
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Poland on the Economic Periphery

Poland is in the center of Europe. Poles often stress that their country is in Central Europe, not Eastern Europe. The title of Norman Davies’ immense study of Poland is The Heart of Europe. Indeed, throughout history Poland has been central to the European experience, from the medieval curriculum at Jagiellonian University in Krakow and the scientific theories of Copernicus to the agonies of...
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Obama’s Triple Crown

It was only a couple years ago that I was bemoaning Obama’s failure to fulfill his promise to resolve major confrontations in the world diplomatically. “Smart power,” in the Obama lexicon, had largely been window dressing on the same old exercise of hard power — the widespread drone strikes, the surge in Afghanistan, the intervention in Libya, the Special Forces operations in Africa and...
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