Tag: Cold War Era

Historians Find Another Spy in the U.S. Atomic Bomb Project

The world’s first atomic bomb was detonated on July 16, 1945, in the New Mexican desert — a result of a highly secretive effort code-named the Manhattan Project, whose nerve center lay nearby in Los Alamos. Just 49 months later, the Soviets detonated a nearly identical device in Central Asia, and Washington’s monopoly on nuclear […]

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The Fall of the Berlin Wall in Photos: An Accident of History That Changed The World

The Communist regime was prepared for everything “except candles and prayers.” East Germany’s peaceful 1989 revolution showed that societies that don’t reform, die. ImageEast German police sprayed water on West Germans as they broke through the wall at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin on Nov. 11, 1989.Credit…Anthony Suau BERLIN — When Werner Krätschell, an East […]

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President Reagan Returns to Berlin, This Time in Bronze

BERLIN — When Germans mark the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall on Saturday, a figure of an American man who was intertwined with the events of that day will be looking on, figuratively at least. A towering sculpture of Ronald Reagan, clutching the cards inscribed with his 1987 speech challenging Mikhail […]

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In One Afghan District, the Same Promises of Victory, 32 Years Apart

[At War is a newsletter about the experiences and costs of war. Sign up here to get it delivered to your inbox every Friday.] In the spring of 1987, Artyom Borovik, a Russian journalist covering the Soviet war in Afghanistan, bumped along the Kunduz-to-Baghlan road in the back of an armored personnel carrier. As Borovik […]

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From Russia, With Admiration and Despair

The United States has often played a pivotal role in my political life, beginning 50 years ago when I was a student of international relations at a Moscow university. At that time, Soviet propaganda was well-practiced at denouncing Richard Nixon for rejecting the Kremlin’s dogma that in politics, the ends justify the means. Mr. Nixon […]

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America’s Great Betrayal

The sudden decision to pull about 1,000 American troops out of northern Syria, and leave Kurdish allies in the lurch after they did so much to fight off the Islamic State, has already had terrible consequences. The Kurds have been forced to make a deal with the murderous regime of President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, […]

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A Healthy Fear of China

“I have seen the future, and it works,” the left-wing journalist Lincoln Steffens famously declared, after observing Bolshevik Russia in its infancy. What was intended as a utopian boast soon read as a dystopian prediction — but then eventually, as Stalinist ambition gave way to Brezhnevian decay, it curdled into a sour sort of joke. […]

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Tinker, Tailor, Writer, Spy

When John le Carré was running agents for the British secret intelligence service MI6 in the early 1960s, there were certain qualities he looked for in a candidate. Gregariousness, cocktail party charm, the ability to hold one’s drink — all of that mattered, of course. But above all, what le Carré wanted was “a sense […]

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Is There Freedom of Speech in Germany?

HAMBURG, Germany — Germany doesn’t have a problem with free speech. It has two — or rather, it is caught between two very different conceptions of free speech, each of which has significant shortcomings and each of which is rooted in our inability to close the chasm that remains between eastern and western Germany, 30 […]

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Syrian Children Saved a German Village. And a Village Saved Itself.

ImageThe family of Bourhan Ahmad, center, was invited to move to Golzow, Germany, in 2015 by the town’s mayor, who was desperate to repopulate the local school.CreditLaetitia Vancon for The New York Times GOLZOW, Germany — The invitation was risky, and Mayor Frank Schütz knew it. Bringing Syrian immigrants to his remote German village, where […]

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Margaret Atwood’s Dystopia, and Ours

After Donald Trump’s election, sales of “The Handmaid’s Tale,” Margaret Atwood’s canonical 1985 novel of theocratic totalitarianism, spiked, along with other dystopian classics like George Orwell’s “1984.” Atwood’s book takes place in a world where a clique of Christian fundamentalists have overthrown the United States government and instituted the rigidly patriarchal Republic of Gilead. Environmental […]

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Around the World With Mao Zedong

In recent years, China has spent a small fortune trying to influence the world through “soft power” — relying on language, cuisine and culture, rather than the conventional hard tools of aircraft carriers, spies and satellites. It has done this mainly through hundreds of Confucius Institutes that extol the wonders of traditional Chinese civilization, in […]

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Toxic Nostalgia Breeds Derangement

In 2014, Peter Pomerantsev, a British journalist born in the Soviet Union, published “Nothing Is True and Everything Is Possible,” which drew on his years working in Russian television to describe a society in giddy, hysterical flight from enlightenment empiricism. He wrote of how state-controlled Russian broadcasting “became ever more twisted, the need to incite […]

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Putin’s Fancy Weapons? Everything Old Is New Again

Vladimir Putin’s Russia has openly embarked on an aggressive rearmament. The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty is dead (broken by Russia, then canceled by President Trump), the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty is near death, and scarcely a month goes by without the Russian Ministry of Defense or President Putin himself boasting of a new game-changing miracle […]

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30 Years After the Fall of the Berlin Wall, East German Art Gets Its Due

LEIPZIG, Germany — A young woman and man are submerged in dry, cracked earth. Only their hands and faces are visible; they seem to be trying to pull themselves out. That 1990 painting by Norbert Wagenbrett, called “Aufbruch” (“Awakening”), is part of a sweeping new exhibition staged for the 30th anniversary of the peaceful uprising […]

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The Almost Moon Man

Listen and subscribe to our podcast from your mobile device: Via Apple Podcasts | Via RadioPublic | Via Stitcher There are two stories from the 1960s that America likes to tell about itself — the civil rights movement and the space race. We look at the brief moment when the two collided. [For an exclusive […]

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A New Red Scare Is Reshaping Washington

WASHINGTON — In a ballroom across from the Capitol building, an unlikely group of military hawks, populist crusaders, Chinese Muslim freedom fighters and followers of the Falun Gong has been meeting to warn anyone who will listen that China poses an existential threat to the United States that will not end until the Communist Party […]

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