David A. Andelman

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Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas, left, and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen attend a European Council summit in October. Dursun Aydemir/Anadolu/Getty Images

Madeline Albright famously called America the “indispensable nation”. Is former President Donald Trump making America the irrelevant nation?

Trump finally broke days of silence on Russian opposition figure Alexey Navalny’s death but failed to mention Russia or condemn Russian President Vladimir Putin in his first public comments. Meanwhile, congressional Republicans have continued to follow his lead, stalemating assistance for Ukraine, the one nation standing up to Putin’s armies.

House Speaker Mike Johnson has resisted calls to bring a Senate-passed aid package for Ukraine up for a quick vote, instead allowing the House to adjourn for a nearly two-week recess.

There may be majority support for Ukraine aid in the chamber as whole, but  Johnson faces stiff opposition from his right flank over additional aid, with Trump urging Republicans to reject it.…  Seguir leyendo »

Parisians have voted to triple parking fees for SUVs on Sundays in their city. Benoit Tessier/Reuters

Imagine this: no new gas-powered cars for sale 11 years from now. Zero carbon emissions 15 years after that. That’s not news from another planet. That’s what Europeans are facing as of this moment, chiseled into law by European Union countries.

On Sunday, Parisians voted underwhelmingly (barely 78,000 out of 1 million eligible residents cast their ballots) to triple parking fees on gas guzzling SUVs on Sundays in their beloved city.

It’s one small step on a continent that’s poised to turn a very different kind of corner compared to that of the US.

The fact is that gas cars aren’t being weaponized on most of the continent the way they are in America.…  Seguir leyendo »

Brace yourself. The elections of 2024 could shock the world

Voters have administered some profound shocks to the world’s stability this past year — but nothing like what we can expect in 2024.

Next year, countries with more than half the world’s population will hold elections, as The Economist noted. More than 4 billion people live in the countries that will be voting.

As I’ve seen over the past two years chronicling the world’s elections, patterns, at times chilling, have emerged. Across every continent it has become all too easy for electorates simply to reject long-standing liberal philosophies for shiny brass promises held out by extremes – often from the populist far right.…  Seguir leyendo »

To put it simply, the United States cannot readily support two major wars while preparing for the possibility of a third. That’s a hard, indeed ineluctable reality — one that is becoming increasingly and painfully evident by the hour.

America’s military industrial base is already stretched by the ongoing war in Ukraine that Russia appears prepared to carry on to an indefinite future. Even before the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which is now 20 months old and counting, questions were being raised about whether America was overextended as a superpower.

Now Israel is at war, a close ally that the Biden administration has pledged to support.…  Seguir leyendo »

My wife and I live in a tiny garret apartment in Paris — our French friends call it our “La Bohème retreat” in the fashionable 7th arrondissement, around the corner from the Musée d’Orsay. We are just up the block from the Maison of the Legion of Honor and across the street from the longtime headquarters of the once-ruling French Socialist Party, now a headquarters of the French perfume industry.

There was a moment a couple of months ago when we thought we might have bedbugs. And why not? Everyone else in Paris seems utterly preoccupied by them. First it was the rats.…  Seguir leyendo »

Smer party leader and Slovakia's former Primer Minister Robert Fico (second from left) celebrates his victory in the general elections alongside party members in Bratislava on Sunday, October 1. Tomas Benedikovic/AFP/Getty Images

Supporters of Russian President Vladimir Putin got a big boost this weekend from the US Congress and from voters in the nation of Slovakia, once among Kyiv’s most fervent European backers.

Both appear to have thrown Ukraine and its war with Russia under the bus.

Robert Fico, leader of the pro-Russian Smer party, cruised to a win in a national parliamentary vote, election results showed on Sunday, and will immediately seek to form a coalition government in the critical, frontline nation of Slovakia.

Fico based much of his campaign on ending all military support to Ukraine and promoting an early ceasefire alongside peace talks with Russia.…  Seguir leyendo »

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addresses the UN General Assembly last week in New York City. Bryan R. Smith/AFP/Getty Images

The vast store of goodwill accumulated among the forces of democracy for Ukraine and its courageous and utterly unorthodox president may be running dry.

That is the clearest and most present danger to the security of Europe and the entire Western alliance. It is surely also the fervent hope on which Russian President Vladimir Putin continues to pursue his carnage and the reason he has chanced his whole presidency on what once seemed like a sure bet, and is instead turning into a morass of quicksand and violence with no easy exit.

America — and its allies — must under no circumstances allow that to happen.…  Seguir leyendo »

Why a G20 without Putin and Xi could be a fantastic opportunity

This might have been an opportunity for world leaders to bridge a host of chasms that are opening up, as G20 conferences have in the past. But now, this upcoming weekend’s G20 gathering in New Delhi seems more likely to widen the gulf between the blocs — east and west, north and south — than at any other point since the Cold War.

With Russian President Vladimir Putin skipping the meeting and sending his Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov instead, and China’s Xi Jinping sending Premier Li Qiang in his place, this could be an opportunity for greater unity on key issues for those world leaders still attending.…  Seguir leyendo »

The United States needs to get way more proactive way more quickly in what is rapidly morphing into a huge crisis in the heart of Africa. Two weeks ago, a military junta suddenly deposed Niger’s pro-American, democratically elected president. The outcome of this coup could set the direction for years to come in a region that is home to critical raw materials, a base for jihadists driven from the Middle East and a source of strategic benefits for Russia.

This latest challenge to democracy in Africa presents an opportunity for Russia to expand its control over the region via its Wagner mercenary group.…  Seguir leyendo »

Back in the 1980s, when I first began living in Paris, I once had to clamber onto the tiny exterior staircase that surrounds the Eiffel Tower and is used to paint or repair it.

There, hanging out over the city some thousand feet up, I filmed my on-camera segment for CBS about engineering work on the tower. A nightmare assignment for a journalist with acrophobia.

Still, at that time, nothing could have impelled me to risk a swim in that other iconic Parisian sight — the Seine River — not without a full biohazard suit.

And nothing now could get me into the river that has all the romance of One Thousand and One Nights as it winds its magical eight miles through Paris and off into the countryside.…  Seguir leyendo »

For hours, as Friday morphed into Saturday and then into Sunday in Russia, the world seemed to be holding its collective breath, to be bracing for the next shoe to drop.

Then suddenly it was over. Or was it? I think not — at all.

The stunning announcement that Yevgeny Prigozhin, head of the Wagner paramilitary group, was halting what seemed to be an inevitable confrontation with the forces of Russian President Vladimir Putin — some called it a coup d’état, others a civil war — did indeed remove the prospects of a bloody battle at the gates of the Kremlin.…  Seguir leyendo »

Ukrainian Ambassador to the United States Oksana Markarova, first lady of Ukraine Olena Zelenska, US President Joe Biden and US first lady Jill Biden, meet at the White House in July last year. Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Almost 15 months in, there is an intensifying drumbeat of suggestions that negotiations will be essential to any denouement in Russia’s war on Ukraine — and what’s more, that China could play a key role in bringing an end to the conflict.

Indeed, China this week dispatched its envoy and former ambassador to Russia, Li Hui, to Ukraine, as well as Poland, France, Germany and Russia in an effort to move toward Beijing-mediated “peace talks”.

But Oksana Markarova, Ukraine’s indomitable ambassador to the United States, has been largely impervious to any such suggestion of negotiations without one clear end point: liberation of all Ukraine.…  Seguir leyendo »

Yana with niece Albina, 11, and nephew Danilo, 9. She spoke with writer David A. Andelman about the remarkable mission to bring the Ukrainian children home. Courtesy Yana

Albina is 11, her little brother Danilo 9, and until recently they lived with their mother Ina and baby brother Kolya, aged 3, in a Ukrainian village barely five miles from the Russian border.

In May, the young family’s lives were ripped apart. Albina and Danilo were forcibly deported to Russia, leaving behind their mother and youngest brother.

In all, Ukrainian officials estimate roughly 20,000 children have been forcibly removed from their families in Ukraine and taken to Russia or Russian-occupied territories since the full-scale invasion began a little over a year ago.

Some have been subjected to horrific conditions in their captivity.…  Seguir leyendo »

Journalist Nicholas Daniloff with his family and President Ronald Reagan after being freed from a KGB prison in 1986. Cynthia Johnson/Getty

One evening in September 1978, I was standing by the telex machine in the Belgrade news bureau of The New York Times, where I was East European bureau chief, when it suddenly sprang to life and a message began clattering across the page from David K. Shipler, my counterpart in the Times bureau in Moscow.

“Did you send me a package here in Moscow” read the message to me in what was then Yugoslavia. “No”, I replied, “not at all”. Shipler replied: “I think I’ve just avoided a trip to Lefortovo”, the prison fortress of the KGB.

Someone had anonymously phoned Shipler in the bureau and said he had a package for him “from Andelman in Belgrade.…  Seguir leyendo »

An American visitor to Paris emailed me after her stroll Thursday night: “I was walking home from dinner in rue du Cirque when I saw the cars on fire. At Rue Royale, they were hurling tear gas. To get to my hotel in the Rue des Capucines, the street was on fire from both ends! Is Paris burning? In my street YES!! Now in my room I can smell smoke”.

France is burning — Paris particularly, the city that is already gearing up to host next year’s Summer Olympics. And the nation’s hitherto Teflon president appears caught in the middle of a host of competing political currents and the nation’s fiscal realities.…  Seguir leyendo »

It was the handshake heard round the world. Indeed, the agreement between long-time foes Saudi Arabia and Iran to bury the hatchet and re-establish diplomatic relations after years of confrontation and religious hostility, must inevitably take a back seat to the venue and the peacemaker who brokered this landmark pact.

Suddenly, Chinese President Xi Jinping, in his first major initiative just hours after claiming an unprecedented third term in office, has shown his ability to play peacemaker for one of the most toxic relationships in a strategically critical and often unstable region. The mediator role is one that Xi has clearly lusted after for some time, most recently in his offer to broker a peace deal between Russia and Ukraine, viewed with the deepest skepticism by Ukraine and most of its western allies.…  Seguir leyendo »

On May 1, 1960, an American pilot, Francis Gary Powers, took off from a military airbase in Peshawar, Pakistan, in a top-secret U-2 spy plane to fly 3,000 miles across the Soviet Union, and take high resolution photos of military facilities.

His specially-designed plane, flying higher than any other, out of the range of Soviet interceptors, was thought to be impervious to identification or attack. Wrong.

The Soviets knew it was coming, and fighter jets shadowed it from below as soon as it entered their airspace. Eventually, as it passed over an advanced air defense location, a Soviet S-75 surface-to-air missile shot it out of the skies.…  Seguir leyendo »

Satellite images show the long Russian convoy of tanks and armored vehicles that stalled on the outskirts of Kyiv, in the early days of the invasion in February last year. Satellite image ©2022 Maxar Technologies

Going into the war in Ukraine a year ago, conventional wisdom suggested that tanks had seen the best of their days – outflanked and vulnerable to drones or fire-and-forget missiles.

Conventional wisdom is clearly wrong. It’s becoming quite apparent that armored dominance on a battlefield like Ukraine could turn the tide, dramatically.

After weeks of tense deliberation, Germany on Wednesday announced it would be sending Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine – a move matched by the US, which is providing its own M1 Abrams. Other European nations have indicated they will follow suit.

But the West needs to get the latest generation of tanks in place quickly.…  Seguir leyendo »

Workers assemble cookstove parts at a manufacturing plant in Nashik, India, in November. Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg/Getty Images/FILE

Asia is hurtling toward a tectonic power shift headlined by ever more rapid changes in population growth. The West, especially the United States, better be prepared.

A dramatic demographic shift is underway after China’s population shrank in 2022 for the first time in six decades. Meanwhile, India, with its continued population growth, is projected to surpass China as the world’s most populous country by UN estimates as soon as April.

The latest statistics show that China is increasingly coming face-to-face with its one-child policy, which officially ended in 2016 after more than three decades. The policy introduced a number of challenges; perhaps the most paramount is the 4-2-1 problem, where one working individual, by virtue of being an only child, ends up having to support four grandparents and two parents — a huge drain on the working population.…  Seguir leyendo »

France's President Emmanuel Macron plans to raise the official retirement age from 62 to 64. Ludovic Marin/AFP/Getty Images

The last time President Emmanuel Macron tried to drag France’s antiquated pension and retirement system from the 17th century into the 21st century with one long pull, mobs coursed through the streets of Paris, flaming barricades went up on the Champs Elysées and Macron’s entire presidency nearly floundered in the face of the “gilets jaunes” (yellow vests).

Now, four years later, trying again with a few tweaks of appeasement, Macron doesn’t seem very likely to escape a much different fate. On Tuesday, the French government announced plans to raise the official retirement age from 62 to 64 to qualify for a full pension.…  Seguir leyendo »