John E. Herbst

  • Dealing with the Far-Right in Germany

    Atlantic Council experts share their take on the outcome of the German elections. Here’s what they have to say:

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  • Ukraine Needs Arms, Not Cheap Arguments

    The United States is seriously considering giving Ukraine lethal defensive weapons, and this is the right move. Over the last month, Michael Brendan Dougherty and I have debated this issue here and here.

    In his latest response, Dougherty tries to rack up a quick win. He claims that experts issued a report arguing for arming Ukraine in 2015 and warned of a “worldwide conflagration” if this did not happen. (I was a co-author of that report.) He also claims that Ukraine did not receive the assistance and “most of us are still walking about.”

    That is cute, but misleading. First, the report does not predict a “worldwide conflagration.” It carefully says that deterring and defending against Russian aggression is the surest way to avoid “a regional or even worldwide conflagration.” The use of the word “even” shows that we think a worldwide conflagration is a longshot. Second, Dougherty’s understanding of international timing is superficial. Our report did not specify a date for a dangerous clash. By Dougherty’s logic, Winston Churchill, who began to sound the alarm about Hitler in 1934, should have been skewered as an alarmist in 1936 since Germany had not yet launched World War II.

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  • Correction Unnecessary

    Bloomberg View columnist Leonid Bershidsky is unhappy and he has been tweeting.  Specifically, he demands a correction to my August 8 post that criticized some of the points in his opinion piece arguing against sending defensive lethal weapons to Ukraine. He claims that he “did not argue” what I said; he has “no idea how” I could have “read that stuff into” his piece; and he politely requests that I “either change that paragraph or remove the inaccurate reference to” his column.

    Mr. Bershidsky doth protest too much.  You can decide whether or not I misconstrued what he was saying.  Here is what I wrote:

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  • Putin Lashes Out

    Will Russia’s reaction to US sanctions be short-lived?

    [Editor's note: US President Donald J. Trump signed the new sanctions bill on August 2.] 

    The Kremlin’s reaction to the new US sanctions indicates that Russian President Vladimir Putin is in a “lashing-out mood,” that, while unsettling, will be short-lived, according to Daniel Fried, a distinguished fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Future Europe Initiative.

    “I would not take this terribly seriously,” said Fried of the Kremlin’s mandate on July 30 that the United States must cut 755 members of its diplomatic staff in Russia. “These kinds of diplomat wars seem important at the time,” he added, yet, when comparing the current situation to a similar diplomatic fallout between the United States and the Soviet Union in the 1980s, Fried said it is clear that Russia’s response will not have long-lasting detrimental effects.

    Fried described how “the Soviets tried this,” adding that “this sort of thing captures headlines.” While “it works in the short run; it doesn’t work in the long run,” he said.

    “For now,” however, “we’re going to be in a rough period,” said Fried, a former sanctions policy coordinator at the US Department of State.

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  • Setting the Record Straight about Reform in Ukraine

    Evaluating reform in Ukraine is akin to taking a Rorschach test. For Kremlin propagandists and their witting or unwitting acolytes in the West, Ukraine is an irredeemably corrupt place. To young reformers in Ukraine and some of the country’s well-wishers, progress in transforming the country is agonizingly slow and always in danger of reversal. And to Ukraine’s top leadership and those who worry most about defending the country from Moscow’s aggression, the country has achieved exceptional progress in very difficult circumstances.

    Each of these points of view can be supported when the country’s situation is viewed from a particular angle. But a careful, comprehensive look at the circumstances and dynamics of Ukraine’s reform efforts results in an assessment that is ultimately positive.

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  • Herbst Quoted in VOA on US-Russia Dispute Over Seized Compounds


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  • Herbst Quoted in VOA on Putin's Reaction to Magnitsky Act


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  • Herbst Joins Radio Free Europe to Discuss Changes in Uzbekistan Policies


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  • Herbst Joins VOA to Discuss Trump-Putin Meeting


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  • Herbst Quoted by Business Insider on What Would Happen If Ukraine Joined NATO


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