National Security Podcast: Great power competition with Ali Wyne – Policy Forum

In this episode of the National Security Podcast, Katherine Mansted speaks to Ali Wyne about why great powers compete, how China, Russia, and the United States are shaping the global system, and whether their behaviour is making the post-COVID-19 world more dangerous. Is competition between great powers destined to be fraught with the risk of [...]

How the geometry of ancient habitats may have influenced human brain evolution | Ars Technica

There's a pivotal scene in the 2012 film The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey when Gandalf, Bilbo Baggins, and a company of dwarves are chased by orcs through a classic New Zealand landscape. For Northwestern University neuroscientist and engineer Malcolm MacIver, the scene is an excellent example of the kind of patchy landscape—dotted with trees, bushes, [...]

Armenian-Azerbaijani Border Clashes: The Russian Dimension and Beyond – Jamestown

Following the outbreak of deadly Armenian-Azerbaijani border clashes on July 12 (see EDM, July 14, 16, 20 [1][2]), Russia’s state energy giant Gazprom reported that its local natural gas pipelines in Armenia were damaged, due to the shelling (TASS, RBC, July 14). Furthermore, the Moscow-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) announced a meeting, at the [...]

Disentangling the security traffic jam in the Sahel: constitutive effects of contemporary interventionism | International Affairs | Oxford Academic

Despite years of ongoing interventions by multiple external and regional actors, the security situation in west Africa's Sahel region is dramatically deteriorating. In this introduction to the special section of the July 2020 issue of International Affairs, we zoom in on four major external international intervention actors (France, the United States, the European Union and [...]

History Book Club

Inventing Russia: Russia is a country with no natural borders, no single ethnic group, no true central identity. It has been subject to invasion by outsiders, from Vikings to Hitler’s Germans. In order to forge an identity, it has mythologized its past to unite its people and to signal strength to outsiders. In this fascinating [...]

The king of Haiti and the dilemmas of freedom in a colonised world | Aeon Essays

In the early 19th century, Haiti was the only example in the Americas of a nation populated primarily by former enslaved Africans who had become free and independent. Other nations, including Haiti’s trading partners, were determined to prevent abolition and their colonies from becoming free, so they refused to recognise Haitian sovereignty. When France finally [...]

Native Americans and Polynesians Met in 1200 AD | Science | Smithsonian Magazine

The Pacific Ocean covers almost one-third of the Earth's surface, yet centuries ago, Polynesian navigators were skilled enough to find and populate most of the habitable islands scattered between Oceana and the Americas. Now a new genetic analysis is revealing more about their incredible journeys—and the people they met along the way. A provocative new [...]

Coronavirus in the Caucasus and Central Asia – Steady State: Russian Foreign Policy After Coronavirus – Carnegie Moscow Center – Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

The vast region that stretches from Europe’s east to China’s west is no exception in that it will not escape the consequences—societal, economic, and political—of the coronavirus pandemic. Some countries, however, appear to be handling it better than others. — Read on carnegie.ru/2020/07/08/coronavirus-in-caucasus-and-central-asia-pub-81898

The Kerguelen Islands in the Indian Ocean • Earth.com

Image of the Day from NASA Earth Observatory features an astronaut view of the Kerguelen Islands in the southern Indian Ocean. On the western side of the islands, winds were pushing low-lying clouds against the shore. At the same time, ship wave clouds appear rippling over  smaller outlying islands.  In the bottom if the image, [...]