Today in European history: the Battle of the Kalka River (1223)

The astute reader might remember this battle from such blog posts as “Today in European history: the Mongols sack Kiev (1240).” Or not, I wouldn’t blame you. The 1240 siege of Kiev occurred on the Mongols’ second incursion into the eastern European steppe, the one that was intended to conquer territory. The first incursion amounted… Continue reading Today in European history: the Battle of the Kalka River (1223)

Sometimes it’s OK to take the other guy (or lady) at his (or her) word

At Arms Control Wonk, Michael Krepon has written a great piece comparing the skepticism over Hasan Rouhani’s outreach to the West with the skepticism that greeted Mikhail Gorbachev’s similar overtures in the 1980s: The Reagan and Bush administrations were initially caught off-guard by Gorbachev’s rhetorical flourishes and diplomatic initiatives. US intelligence community assessments, shaped by… Continue reading Sometimes it’s OK to take the other guy (or lady) at his (or her) word

I’m just a poor boy, I need no sympathy

One of the interesting though not highly emphasized political stories this weekend was the revelation in the LA Times that Young Paul Ryan’s rise to Great Intellectual Titan wasn’t so bootstrapy as he likes to let on. I didn’t realize this was even in question, because one of the first things I heard about the… Continue reading I’m just a poor boy, I need no sympathy