Articles by Richard Lourie

Russia's 21st Century Began in 1991

As the year 2000 approached, two of the main topics of conversation were: Could the world's computers handle the switchover, the so-called Y2K problem, and when did the 21st century actually begin, in 2000 or 2001?

Kazakhstan May Be the Next Ukraine

Seizing their "rightful" portion of Kazakhstan would bring Russia great riches and enormous geopolitical advantages.

Obama Should Push Putin Back

Better than disengaged containment, a harder line toward Putin will surely get his attention Ч and his respect.

Caliphate for an Hour

The Chechen insurgence has already morphed from a national independence movement into one seeking a caliphate for the entire North Caucasus.

Not One Inch West

Putin's invasion of the Crimea has been criticized for "not being 21st century enough," but even the 21st century itself hasn't been very 21st century lately with a Malaysian passenger jet simply vanishing. Now it turns out that we are not oversurveilled, but undersurveilled, at least where it can matter most Ч over the open seas.

The Reddest Line

Political crises are all alike, as Leo Tolstoy might have written had he been a columnist instead of a novelist. At least they are alike in their early stages.

Evaluating Russia After Sochi and McFaul

U.S.-Russian relations have come to a small moment of opportunity. U.S. Ambassador Michael McFaul is stepping aside just as Russia is flush with pride over the success of the Sochi Olympics.

10 Good Things About Putin's Russia

Customer service has improved, there is less anti-Semitism and Russians are free to pray and leave the country if they want.

St. Kalashnikov

Shortly before his death in December at 94, Mikhail Kalashnikov, inventor of the AK-47, began to be wracked by spiritual doubts.

Vengeance in Sochi

The closing ceremony for the Sochi Olympics will be Feb. 23, the day that marks the 70th anniversary of the deportation of Chechens, Ingush and others from their homelands in the North Caucasus. That choice was either an act of colossal ignorance or colossal arrogance.

New Strains of Terrorism

Islamists may be fanatics, but they are not fools. They learn from past mistakes and work constantly to create new means of eluding existing security measures.

The Hitler Prize

It is time to establish a Hitler Prize for acts of great political evil. Officials and terrorists would both be eligible.

Made in Russia

Vacationing recently in the high Mojave desert with family and friends, we all drank a lot of water to stay hydrated. "Look!" said a vivacious French woman, pointing into her glass.

Russia's Pivot North

The first shots in the "Arctic Wars" were fired on Sept. 18. Eleven warning shots were fired by the Russian border guard at Greenpeace activists intent on placing a Save The Arctic banner on Russia's first offshore oil rig in the Arctic.

Sakharov Prize for Snowden?

The Middle East in general and Syria in particular have provided such riveting political drama recently that even the whereabouts and actions of U.S. intelligence leaker Edward Snowden were knocked from the headlines.

The Skies Above Damascus

When U.S. President Barack Obama dispatched his national security adviser, Tom Donilon, in March 2012 to confer with the newly re-elected President Vladimir Putin, Putin's first question was: "When are you going to start bombing Syria?"

The Military Wild Card

The concept of "failed states" must now be supplemented with the concept of "failed democracies." Russia and Egypt are examples of countries where democratic elections led to undemocratic governments.

Hiding the Real Story

We rarely get the real story. The reasons range from deception to mere distraction.

Tsarnaev, Snowden and Navalny

Three young men, all connected to Russia, have changed the world we live in. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is a villainous figure, Edward Snowden ambiguous and Alexei Navalny plainly heroic.

The Road to Hell

By offering Snowden asylum, Putin wanted to stick it to the U.S., while at the same time trying not to overly aggravate a country that is 10 times bigger.

Days of the Condor

We are all part of Edward Snowden's movie now. Although his story is as real as the prison cell he'll probably end up in, it still seems like a new form of entertainment, a mix of sci-fi and spy with the requisite exotic locales.

Divorce a la Russe

Sometime in the late '70s I was with a group of Soviet dissidents watching a doddering Leonid Brezhnev speak on television. Suddenly, one of them, a woman who had not fared well under his regime, exclaimed: "The poor man!"

The Lessons of Boston

After Boston, for some prospective terrorists the attraction and glory of a wild shoot-out and car-chase coupled with jihadist martyrdom will be irresistible.

A Recipe for Floating Arctic Chernobyls

When the Russians are building nuclear power stations in the middle of the Arctic, it causes a lot of concern — particularly considering the fact that they have historically equated caution with cowardice.

China's Greatest Fears

Two fears keeping China awake at night are a possible U.S. cyber counter-attack and the country's two restless minorities, the Tibetans and the Muslim Uighurs, who are struggling for autonomy or even independence.

China's Secret Foreign Policy

Everyone is afraid of China. One reason is an instinctive reflex to avoid anything enormous moving at great speed. But even more important is that China's true intent can't be gauged.

A 3-Pronged Russia Policy

The U.S. should seize the moral high ground in U.S.-Russian relations, engage Russia on Iran and Syria and develop a smart policy toward China and the Arctic.

America's Poor Grasp of Putinology

Every self-respecting intelligence agency should have a full-time Putinologist. One reason is that President Vladimir Putin alone rules Russia. What he says goes.

Putin's Colossal Anti-Magnitsky Blunder

President Vladimir Putin's initial response to the Magnitsky Act was right on the money: to accuse the U.S. government of monumental hypocrisy by focusing attention on Washington's record of torture and illegal rendition of terrorism suspects. That reaction also had the tit-for-tat structural symmetry that is standard in such cases.

Rethink Before You Reset

The United States' best foreign policy is its own example. Millions around the world watched in admiration as the U.S. voted without strife or a whiff of corruption in the recent presidential election, with the loser conceding graciously.