The Need for Iranian Oil and Gas

Deliberations about imposing costs on Russia for undesirable behavior in Ukraine quickly run into several snags, among which is that any sanctions that would significantly hurt Russia would also hurt countries that impose them. Potential sanctions that immediately come to mind involve energy, given that exports of oil and gas provide Russia with nearly two-thirds of its export earnings and about one-half of its government revenues.

Aleppo: Syria's Stalingrad?

The battle for Syria’s biggest city has entered a new phase. In the last few weeks, the situation in Aleppo has rapidly changed. Under a newly unified command, a new alliance of rebel groups now threatens to cut off the half the city that the Assad regime controls. This fight won’t be over soon, but for the first time since the start of the battle for this city in July 2012, one side may be gaining a clear upper hand.

Twists of History and Interests in Ukraine

Imagine that the collapse of Soviet communism more than two decades ago had taken a different form than it did. It might have done so, if the dramatic and fast-moving events of 1991and key people who participated in them had taken a few different turns. Today we associate the collapse with the dissolution of the U.S.S.R. and its replacement by fifteen independent republics. But the break-up of that union did not need to be part of the failure and demise of the Leninist method of organizing politics, economics, and society that we came to know as Soviet communism.

The Prize for Fencing Stolen Goods

Prize-awarding committees sometimes use their decisions to make some sort of political or policy statement. The committee that bestows the Nobel Peace Prize seems to have done so with increasing frequency in recent years, giving the prize to recipients who represent current aspirations more than past accomplishments. One risk of this practice, beyond any controversial or questionable aspects of the particular statement being made, is that it debases the award itself by moving it farther from any connection with actual accomplishment.