Peace, Conflict, and Human Rights


What a Failed Soviet Coup Can Teach Us About 21st-Century Populism

Author: Stephen Sestanovich
Washington Post

Twenty-five years ago this week, a group of Politburo hard-liners launched a coup against Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. The effort to depose him provoked a gigantic popular protest and collapsed in just three days. With the failure of the coup, the communist system itself began to unravel. “The 20th century” — so claimed Boris Yeltsin, Gorbachev’s rival, rescuer and eventual successor — had “essentially ended.” People power had defeated the Soviet state.

See more in Russian Federation; Conflict Assessment; Diplomacy and Statecraft

Policy Innovation Memorandum No. 57

Reconfiguring USAID for State-Building

Authors: Max Boot and Michael Miklaucic

The United States needs a civilian capacity to foster better-functioning institutions in chaotic countries, and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) should lead that effort. To embrace a state-building mission, however, USAID will have to be transformed. Max Boot and Michael Miklaucic argue that the agency will need to do less but do it better, and limit its efforts to strategically important states while enhancing its focus on building core state functions. 

See more in United States; Foreign Aid; Nation Building

Foreign Affairs Article

How Putin Silences Dissent

Author: Maria Lipman

In December 2015, the Russian antigraft activist Alexey Navalny released adocumentary in which he exposed the corrupt business dealings of the children of Yuri Chaika, Russia’s prosecutor general—the top law enforcement official in the country. In the film, Navalny accuses Chaika’s son Artem of “continuously exploit[ing] the protection that his father, the prosecutor general of the Russian Federation, gives him to extort from and steal other people’s companies.”

See more in Russia and Central Asia; Censorship and Freedom of Speech

Foreign Affairs Article

Fight or Flight

Author: Kenneth M. Pollack

The modern Middle East has rarely been tranquil, but it has never been this bad. Full-blown civil wars rage in Iraq, Libya, Syria, and Yemen. Nascent conflicts simmer in Egypt, South Sudan, and Turkey. Various forms of spillover from these civil wars threaten the stability of Algeria, Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and Tunisia. Tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia have risen to new heights, raising the specter of a regionwide religious war. 

See more in United States; Middle East and North Africa; Conflict Prevention

Foreign Affairs Article

What Rome Can Teach Us Today

Author: Michael Fontaine

Ancient Rome was a village that grew into a world empire. At the peak of its territorial reach, AD 117, it stretched from the British Isles to Mesopotamia and from the Rhine to the Sahara. Its history spans more than a millennium. Before the Western Roman Empire collapsed in the late fifth century, Romans enjoyed a standard of living not seen again in the West until the mid-nineteenth century. 

See more in Italy; Nation Building