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Kissinger as a Thinker

I failed to mention one of Kissinger’s greatest achievements yestereday: détente. It is characteristic of Kissinger’s approach to foreign policy in that it was intended as a practical way of improving the U.S. international position. It resulted in strengthening the Soviets through grain sales, and the positive effect it was supposed to have on human …

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Sabbatai Zevi

We generally associate 1492 with Columbus’s voyage to the Americas, but it was a remarkably eventful year in other respect. Even without leaving the confines of Spain, it was the year that the Reconquista was completed and the year that Ferdinand and Isabella expelled the Jews. Similarly, 1648 is known to the West primarily as …

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Osnabrück Linen

Today I learned that Osnabrück, one of the two cities where the Peace of Westphalia was negotiated, is noted for its linen cloth. It is not a fine cloth but a very course weave, known generically in the English-speaking world as “Osnaburg” (and elsewhere under similar names). It is noted for having been commonly used …

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Mediation and Russia-Ukraine

In spite of some recent talk of resuming negotiations, there doesn’t appear to be any serious attempt to mediate peace at present. Zelenskyy declared negotiations impossible after the Russian annexations in September, while Putin refuses to negotiate until the U.S. recognizes Russia’s conquests. This is a classic problem in beginning talks: one or both sides …

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Mediation and Westphalia

The Thirty Years’ War lasted for over a generation, but not for lack of attempts to end it. Several parties volunteered to mediate an end to the fighting soon after Sweden’s invasion in 1630, and continued to do so until the Treaty of Hamburg (1641) set the terms for the Congress of Westphalia. Most of …

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