This site is not the only place to find my writing; I have been published at numerous other outlets across the web. In this recurring series, I’ll post some choice passages from these outside pieces and show you where to find the rest. Think of this as a mere tasting of the full smorgasbord. Without further ado, here’s Compendium #1, covering late March through mid-April 2023.
Coming in just under the wire, here’s your Foreign Telegram for March 2023. In an extremely busy month for international affairs, four stories stood out. In the realm of political protest, France and Israel have been in constant uproar over controversial government plans. In France, President Macron has pushed a hike in the retirement age, while in Israel, Prime Minister Netanyahu’s coalition seeks changes to the nation’s judiciary. The other overarching topic in March 2023 was diplomacy, particularly of Asian countries outside of Asia. China has had a busy month, brokering a surprise rapprochement between Iran and Saudi Arabia – sidelining the US – and doubling down on its “no limits partnership” with Russia with a state visit to Moscow. Japan, China’s primary regional rival, also expanded its diplomatic reach this month, with visits to India and, more importantly, Ukraine. The blocs of the 21st century are forming as we speak.
Tune in for detailed analysis of all four of these key geopolitical events. Take a break from the hectic pace of domestic affairs with a Foreign Telegram.
Napoleon’s Continental System and His Ultimate Downfall
Napoleon Bonaparte was inarguably the most influential world historical figure of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, and much has been made of his rise, reign, and ultimate downfall. Of the debates over the Napoleonic regime, none is more heated, complex, or replete with disparate ideas as the argument about the proximate causes of Napoleon’s fall and the rapid collapse of his European Empire. Myriad opinions on the reasons that Napoleon’s regime collapsed exist and many of these have received popular acclaim or widespread agreement. Some have claimed that the end of the Grand Empire was due to the machinations of Napoleon’s Foreign Secretary, Charles Maurice de Talleyrand, after Napoleon insulted his pride sometime between 1808 and 1809. Under this theory, Talleyrand “passed information to the Russians and Austrians, among others,” allowing Napoleon’s enemies to have an edge on the ‘Little Corporal’ and outmatch him strategically. Many observers focus more heavily on Napoleon’s personality flaws as contributing to his fall from power. Historian Adam Zamoyski states that “The number of complexes he suffered from, including class inferiority, money insecurity, intellectual envy, sexual anxiety, social awkwardness and, not surprisingly, a persistent hypersensitivity to criticism… drove his stark ambition, undermined his grandiose endeavors—and ultimately crippled his historic legacy.”
The quote above, from Plato’s Apology, was purportedly spoken by the ancient philosopher-sage Socrates just prior to his condemnation to death by the men of Athens. His crime? According to Plato, Socrates was condemned to death for the unforgivable offense of ‘corrupting the youth’ of the august city-state through his teachings, philosophy, and exhortations to greater self-knowledge. The resolve with which Socrates met his death and the stand he took for his principles have been celebrated throughout the ages as defining examples of political and philosophical courage. One of the historical eras which was typified by its fascination with the ideas and history of the ancient Greco-Roman world was the period of the late Enlightenment just prior to the French Revolution. The story of Socrates and his principled stand in the face of a hostile state was extremely resonant for French intellectuals in this period; one such intellectual was the famed painter Jacques-Louis David, who crafted a masterpiece depicting the moments before Socrates drank the hemlock that would kill him. David’s masterwork, The Death of Socrates, is a powerful visual representation of a literary and historical event as well as being an exemplar for an Enlightenment attitude – the value of defending one’s principles even to death – that would resound throughout the French Revolution.
We’ve finally made it: the Geopolitical World Cup Final is here! Our version of the quadrennial global soccer competition took a geopolitics-oriented view to determine which nation would come out on top in a no-holds-barred contest on all dimensions of power: economic, military, population, geography, development, and more.