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Exclusive: Reporters, We Know You Have Sources!

I keep wondering why I see headlines like this:

Exclusive: Libya asks chemical weapons watchdog to remove stockpile: sources

We know that reporters have sources. This is not headline news.

If the sources were not anonymous, they would be identified, say, as “The Libyan president asked today…” So the headline is proudly proclaiming another story based on unevaluatable, unknown sources who don’t want to put their names to their claims. Is this, then, a warning that the article is probably not worth reading and I can skip it?

I suspect that the headline writer feels a [...]

Nuclear Disarmament: Ain’t Gonna Happen Soon!

William Broad and David Sanger at the New York Times paint President Obama as a hypocrite or worse in an article about refurbishing nuclear weapons. They present an either/or choice: if the president is in favor of nuclear disarmament, as in his speech in Prague in 2009, then all his actions must move in one direction toward that goal.

Of course, that speech did not simplistically say that that was his only goal in office, and he called out qualifications, some of which are noted in the Broad and Sanger article. Obama talked about national security requirements and [...]

Links – September 21, 2014

A confusing variety of opinions on the Russian far right.

Ukrainian officials have claimed, and Russian officials have denied, that Russia used tactical nuclear weapons on the Lugansk airport. If nuclear weapons were used, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization’s International Monitoring System would pick up both seismic signals and radioisotopes in the air. They’ve said nothing, so the Ukrainian officials are wrong here.

Timothy Garton Ash on what Europe needs to do in response to Russia’s aggression in Ukraine.

Vladimir Putin’s officemate in Dresden tells all!

Sunday Comics


Artist: Jimmy Marguiles

Artist: Brian Duffy

Artist: Paresh Nath

Artist: Patrick Chappatte

Artist: Mike Smith

Artist: Marshall Ramsey



A Long And Painful Slog

There is a ceasefire in eastern Ukraine that seems to be accompanied by a fair amount of artillery bombardment, although an improvement over a few weeks back. Talks are more or less in progress toward some sort of settlement. It’s hard to get through the spin on both sides, but here are some interesting developments from more or less reliable sources.

Ukraine has passed legislation that is being subjected to the horse-race test of American journalism, which finds it a win for Putin, so we can all go home. Ukraine president Petro Poroshenko would beg to differ [...]

Alternative History – NATO Never Expands

320Swedish bombe

A number of foreign policy realists (Stephen Walt, John Mearsheimer, Henry Kissinger) have accused NATO of provoking Russia’s attack on Ukraine by expanding into former Soviet satellites and republics. It’s fair enough to ask what might have happened had NATO not expanded.

A realist dictum is that power vacuums will be filled. Had NATO not expanded, there would have been a power vacuum along the swath of countries from the Gulf of Finland to the Black Sea. In the real world, NATO filled that vacuum, as those countries recovered from Soviet domination. Here’s a possible [...]

Sunday Comics


Recent editorial cartoons.

Artist: Adam Zyglis

Artist: Payam Boromand

Artist: Roger Dahl

Artist: Mike Luckovich Asher S

Artist: Dave Granlund Jack Ohman

Artist: Bob Englehart Farley Katz

George Kennan, The Long Telegram, And Russia in 2014 – Part 4

160CP 1919

George Kennan’s Long Telegram is surprisingly relevant to today’s Russia.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Most of Kennan’s Part 4,

Following May Be Said as to What We May Expect by Way of Implementation of Basic Soviet Policies on Unofficial, or Subterranean Plane, i.e. on Plane for Which Soviet Government Accepts no Responsibility,

is conditioned by the time in which he wrote it and the particulars of Communist Party operationand is therefore less directly relevant to today’s situation. Kennan believed that the system of European colonies would [...]

Molotov-Ribbentrop And The Baltic Way

320Molotov Ribbentrop

This past weekend saw the anniversaries of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact and one very effective response to it.

Saturday, August 23, was the 75th anniversary of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. The M-R Pact consisted of two parts, one open and one secret. The open part was a nonaggression agreement between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union not to attack each other. The secret part was how they intended to divide up the part of Europe that lay between them after they conquered it. Germany broke the open part by invading the Soviet Union over a year later, on June 22, [...]