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Must Reads of the Week: Putin, the Future of Ukraine, U.S.-Israel Relations, and More

Author: CFR.org Editors
March 7, 2014

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"Putin Goes to War"
By David Remnick
New Yorker

"Putin's reaction exceeded our worst expectations. These next days and weeks in Ukraine are bound to be frightening, and worse. There is not only the threat of widening Russian military force. The new Ukrainian leadership is worse than weak. It is unstable. It faces the burden of legitimacy."

Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a Russian government meeting in the Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow.Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a Russian government meeting in the Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow. (Photo:Alexei Druzhinin/RIA Novosti/Kremlin/Courtesy Reuters)
"If Russia Swallows Ukraine, the European System Is Finished"
By Timothy Snyder
CNN

"In Vienna, where I live, one also hears constant mentions of 1938. Austrians and other citizens of European Union countries are beginning to consider what the end of Ukraine might mean for their own European system. The point is not that Putin is like Hitler; the point is that the removal of a state from Europe has consequences for the continent."

"Ukraine, Putin, and the West"
n+1 magazine

"What role has the American intellectual community played in this saga, if any? Certainly we failed to prevent it. But there is more. For the past two years, since Putin re-assigned himself to the Russian presidency, we have indulged ourselves in a bacchanalia of anti-Putinism, shading over into anti-Russianism."

"Who Will Protect the Crimean Tatars?"
By Natalia Antelava
New Yorker

"There are about three hundred thousand Crimean Tatars on the peninsula, and although they constitute only fifteen per cent of its population they have great political significance. If they do not back the upcoming referendum, it will be far more difficult for the pro-Moscow government in Crimea to legitimize what is in effect a Russian annexation of the peninsula."

"Boarding Up Windows of Opportunity in Ukraine"
By Andrew Kydd
Political Violence at a Glance

"Eventually the new regime will consolidate power and increase its ties to the West, possibly joining the EU or even NATO. At that point, intervention would be prohibitively risky and Russia would simply have to live with the loss of Ukraine. …This seems to leave Putin no choice but to intervene now and press his advantage to the point of peaceful partition, if the Ukrainians do not resist, or civil/international war if they do. Windows of opportunity are powerful things. When you combine demonstrated hostility, present weakness and future strength, the incentive to act can be overwhelming."

"Governing the Oceans"
The Economist

"[T]he state of the high seas is deteriorating. Arctic ice now melts away in summer. Dead zones are spreading. Two-thirds of the fish stocks in the high seas are over-exploited, even more than in the parts of the oceans under national control. And strange things are happening at a microbiological level. The oceans produce half the planet's supply of oxygen, mostly thanks to chlorophyll in aquatic algae. Concentrations of that chlorophyll are falling. That does not mean life will suffocate. But it could further damage the climate, since less oxygen means more carbon dioxide."

"Obama to Israel: Time Is Running Out"
By Jeffrey Goldberg
Bloomberg

"Obama told me that the U.S.'s friendship with Israel is undying, but he also issued what I took to be a veiled threat: The U.S., though willing to defend an isolated Israel at the United Nations and in other international bodies, might soon be unable to do so effectively."

"The Inside Story of Mt. Gox, Bitcoin's $460 Million Disaster"
By Robert McMillan
Wired

"[Bitcoin] is clearly an amazing and potentially world-changing technology ... [b]ut it's also a technology that was pushed forward by a community of people who were unprepared or unwilling to deal with even the basics of everyday business."

"What's Gone Wrong With Democracy"
The Economist

"Democracy is going through a difficult time. Where autocrats have been driven out of office, their opponents have mostly failed to create viable democratic regimes. Even in established democracies, flaws in the system have become worryingly visible and disillusion with politics is rife. Yet just a few years ago democracy looked as though it would dominate the world."

"Interview: Karzai Says Twelve-Year Afghanistan War Has Left Him Angry at U.S. Government"
By Kevin Sieff
Washington Post

"In a unusually emotional interview, the departing Afghan president sought to explain why he has been such a harsh critic of the twelve-year-old U.S. war effort here. He said he's deeply troubled by all the casualties he has seen, including those in U.S. military operations. He feels betrayed by what he calls an insufficient U.S. focus on targeting Taliban sanctuaries in Pakistan. And he insists that public criticism was the only way to guarantee an American response to his concerns."

"After 3/1: The Dangers of China's Ethnic Divide"
By Evan Osnos
New Yorker

"For a generation of senior Community Party members, the attack is a sensational confirmation of what has become the most neuralgic issue of their time: the sense that the greatest threat to the country as they know it is the loss of territory."

"Could a 'Third Front' Win?"
By Ram Mashru
The Diplomat

"With no major party likely to win an outright majority of 272 and with Congress's vote-share likely to crumble, if the BJP underperform or fail to woo coalition partners a third front government may just steal a victory."


Must Reads sample analyses, reporting, and inquiries on foreign policy from around the web selected each week by CFR Editors. See more Must Reads here.

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