Most Russian experts and military strategists I follow doubted Putin would invade Ukraine. I agreed with their rational arguments, but here we are. I’m reminded of the Haruki Murakami novel 1Q84. The heroine alights from her taxi and gradually discovers that she is living in a world where everything is almost the same, except there are two moons. Since Covid began, I doubt I’m alone in feeling that I have somehow gotten off at the wrong stop, and am living in a hellishly perverse alternative universe.
In just a few weeks, the Winter Olympics will be held in Beijing. Both Japan and China were unlucky in their timing; these Games without an audience must be bittersweet for participants as well. For me personally, they bring back memories.
Last month, a bit past the peak of fall foliage, I went to Vermont to visit family. Along the way I decided to stop by one of the many small cemeteries that dot the state to see the only monument to the 1918 Pandemic in the US. Hope Cemetery was beautiful, graced with stone gates, on a shining autumn day and a place where the eternal and the impermanent exist side by side.
In 2003 David Hale and I wrote an oft-cited article in Foreign Affairs, China Takes Off. Nearly two decades later, has China’s inevitable deceleration begun?