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Putin’s Russia, Part III: Western Encroachment

Putin’s Russia, Part III: Western Encroachment

So Russia is sliding into economic decline, but why does political support for Putin remain high amidst the economic downturn? To truly understand the average Russian’s mindset, we have to examine the historical, political, and social frameworks that have shaped their way of life and observing the world. ———————————————————————————————————– NATO Expansion In 1990, during the negotiations between the US and USSR over German reunification, USSR President Mikhail Gorbachev and US Secretary of State James Baker discussed NATO expansion in the context of a reunified Germany. Baker told Gorbachev that “if the US maintained its military presence in Germany within the NATO framework,...

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Putin’s Russia, Part II: Ukraine

Putin’s Russia, Part II: Ukraine

So Russia is sliding into economic decline, but why does political support for Putin remain high amidst the economic downturn? To truly understand the average Russian’s mindset, we have to examine the historical,  political, and social frameworks that have shaped the their way of life and observing the world. ———————————————————————————————————– Ukraine Historically, Russia has viewed—and continues to view—Ukraine as “Little Russia” because the two regions share deep ties. Prior to gaining independence in 1991, Ukraine was a territory of Soviet and Tsarist Russia. During the Middle Ages, Ukraine became divided along its Dnieper River. All land that lay on the Dnieper River’s...

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Putin’s Russia, Part I: Economic Woes

Putin’s Russia, Part I: Economic Woes

Today, I’m going to elaborate on a post that got a lot of attention recently on our Facebook page: Russia has been in an economic recession due to Western sanctions and the decline in oil prices–however, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s approval rating has reached an all-time high, with 9 out of 10 Russians approving of him. Why is there such strong support for the brusque authoritative president when economic performance has been steadily decreasing? To learn more, read here: http://nationalinterest.org/feature/5-things-you-need-know-about-putins-popularity-russia-13380?page=2 Russia’s role in propagating the Ukraine Crisis has caused the United States and the European Union to slap it with crippling...

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Brazil

Brazil

On July 1, 2013, the Brazilian National Soccer team ousted the Spanish National team in the finals of the FIFA Confederations Cup in front of their home fans in Rio de Janeiro. The night that followed was a night of nationalistic pride to say the least, but not in the way that President Dilma Rousseff might have hoped.  Amidst the preparations to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, the people have decided to speak out. Bus fares have increased throughout the nation, taxes have been slightly increased, and living spaces of the poor have been cleared in order to make...

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Meet our new Intern!

Meet our new Intern!

            Nishil Thakkar Hello everyone! My name is Nishil and I am so excited about my upcoming internship with the World Affairs Council of the Greater Richmond Area!  As a graduate from the IB program at Henrico High School, as well as a future attendee of the School of International Service at American University, there is no summer job or internship in the state that could match up to what WAC is offering me. My passions include world politics, languages, and diplomacy, especially in regards to the United Nations and other peacekeeping organizations. In my first few days here...

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What is Wrong With France?

                When discussing  the Eurozone crisis, most news stations spend most of their time focusing on the PIGS (Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain).  These are the countries that have faced the most economic turmoil and pose some of the greatest risk to the future of the Euro.  However, another problem seems to be looming from the second largest Economy in the European Union.  This is the problem of France and its loss of competitiveness in the world market.                 When France elected François Hollande in May, he spoke of reviving the country’s stalling economy...

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Syria, Part 7: What Now?

Having examined the Assad regime, the anatomy of the opposition, the goals of the opposition, the international reaction, Syria’s relations with its neighbors, and the chronology of the conflict, all that is left to consider is the future of Syriaand its 16-month revolution. With Assad still claiming popular support and refusing to step down, the possibility of a rapid and peaceful solution seems unlikely. UN former Secretary General Kofi Annan is currently engaged in attempting to make peace in Syria, though his efforts seem futile, likely because the end result is unclear (New York Times). Though peace talks have not...

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Syria, Part 6: Syria and Its Neighbors

Syria, like any other nation, has a complex system of alliances and enmities with its neighbors, all of which have influenced, and in turn, been influenced by the ongoing revolution. Those relationships can determine the effect of the revolution on the countries that border Syria. This blog aims to explore the profound effect of Syria’s revolution on its neighboring countries and their relationships with Syria. Lebanon’s relationship with the Assad regime is one of the most complex of those in the Middle East. Because of its shared border with Syria, it has seen a large number of refugees from the...

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Syria, Part 5: The Goals

Ever since its publication in 1532, Niccolo Machiavelli’s The Princehas caused many debates over one of its most famous lines- “the ends justify the means.” This thesis has been embraced and rejected alike by a wide variety of monarchs, politicians, and leaders, and it can still be applied and utilized today. As one looks at Syria, one wonders if the ends the Syrian opposition is pursuing justify the horrid road it is currently travelling. A closer look at those ends and their progress towards being accomplished is below. Though the opposition is extremely diverse in their demands and philosophies, they...

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Syria, Part 4: The Opposition

The protests in Syria have gripped the nation for the past year. The spark from the revolutions of Egypt and Tunisiacaught in Syria, and quickly escalated into a full scale fire. Which groups are leading the protesters? Who are their members? Are they united in their efforts or are there many groups vying for power? How long have these groups existed? This blog aims to answer all of these questions and more. Before the protests began, there was a government ban on party gatherings which eliminated the possibility of the formation of these groups. The protests began spontaneously without one...

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Syria, Part 3: The International Reaction

The Arab Spring has caused a diverse response among a variety of nations and international bodies, inspiring sanctions or military reaction against dictators for some nations and steadfast support for the current leaders in others. While largely dependent upon the conflicted nation, some sort of reaction has always been provoked. Syria is no exception to this rule, and while the reaction has not been as pronounced as that for Libya, the international community has not remained silent. Which nations continue to support the Assad regime, and why? Why have the UN and NATO not taken as decisive of an action...

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Syria, Part 2: The Fighting

The Syrian Revolution began on March 18, 2011 in the city of Daraa, where schoolchildren had been arrested for writing slogans inspired by the Egyptian and Tunisian Revolutions on the walls of their school. Security forces shot on the crowd that was peacefully protesting their arrest and killed four, which triggered more widespread protests (Al Jazeera). These included the “Day of Dignity” in Damascuswhere protestors demanded the release of political prisoners, where no blood was spilled, but there were 35 arrests (Washington Post). In response to these protests, Assad blamed conspirators such as al-Qaeda, but lifted the 48-year-old state of...

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