Three Kingdoms, the Stasi, NATO, and more


It’s the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s anniversary today. So make sure to read our interview with Adm. James Stavridis about why NATO is so valuable and so crucial to the protection of U.S. interests.



This is one of the central texts in early modern Chinese literary history — so central that it is grouped among the so-called Four Great Classic Novels. Little is known for sure about its reputed author, Luo Guanzhong. But the book itself teems with life. It deals with the end of the Eastern Han dynasty and chronicles the lives, struggles, and ambitions of various politicians, insurgents, warlords, and other players in the Great Game of imperial politics. The novels ends with the conquest of the titular three kingdoms by a new dynastic aspirant, a potent reminder that in political life change is the sole constant.



It’s hard to imagine a Stasi surveillance agent as the deeply sympathetic protagonist of a film set in the declining years of the GDR. But that is precisely where the power of Florian Henckel von Donnersmark’s astonishing debut film lies. The profoundly gifted (and sadly deceased) actor Ulrich Muehe plays Gerd Wiesler, a Stasi snoop who undergoes a crisis of conscience during an assignment to invasively surveil the life of an East German writer suspected of democratic sympathies. Surprising, starkly affecting, and politically trenchant, this is a must-see.


ON THIS DAY IN 1949 . . .

Twelve nations signed the North Atlantic Treaty in Washington, DC. This treaty is, of course, the founding document of NATO — a linchpin of the post-war order. The initial list of nations has since expanded from its European core to the Balkan and Baltic periphery, including Estonia and Albania, and to the Near East as well, with Turkey. Whatever difficulties our close military ties with these nations have brought, it is hard to argue that they are far outweighed by the advantages.