Andrew Polsky and Adam McMahon learning from the onset of the Cold War

Andrew J. Polsky, Professor of Political Science, at Hunter College/Graduate Center, CUNY, and Adam McMahon, Assistant Professor, Ryder University (and PhD, political science, the Graduate Center) wrote in the New York Daily News about what lessons can be drawn from the 1950s and the onset of the Cold War for the Russian invasion of Ukraine today.

Although NATO cannot submit to nuclear blackmail, we must remember that Russian threats to use nuclear weapons reflect weakness. Like Eisenhower, Biden understands that when an adversary with a nuclear arsenal gets on an onramp, the last thing you want to do is encourage him to push his foot down on the gas pedal.

March 19, 2022

Profiles of Ukrainian CUNY Students

The new CUNYverse platform features profiles of a few of the hundreds of Ukrainian CUNY students.

“Hi, there are explosions. I hope to see you again. I love you.” This was the message 17-year-old incoming CUNY student Iva Verba saw first thing in the morning on February 24 from her boyfriend. Ukrainians all over the world woke up to similar messages from their loved ones back home, who found themselves suddenly fearing for their lives under the thundering sounds of exploding bombs and rockets.

March 11, 2022

Moustafa Bayoumi on racism in the media coverage of Ukrainian refugees

Moustafa Bayoumi, Professor of English, Brooklyn College, penned this opinion piece in The Guardian on how the coverage of Ukrainian refugees differs from those fleeing other recent wars and calamities.

More troubling still is that this kind of slanted and racist media coverage extends beyond our screens and newspapers and easily bleeds and blends into our politics. Consider how Ukraine’s neighbors are now opening their doors to refugee flows, after demonizing and abusing refugees, especially Muslim and African refugees, for years.

March 2, 2022

Brigid O’Keeffe on the USSR and successor states

Brigid O’Keeffe, Professor of History, Brooklyn College, is quoted in this History channel website backgrounder on the Soviet Union, its constituent parts, and successor states.

According to Brigid O’Keeffe, professor of history at Brooklyn College, fears of nationalist revolts by non-Russians led the Bolsheviks in the early days of the Soviet Union to guarantee the right to national territories, native-language schools and cultural organizations while using those institutions to saturate the population with socialist values and practices. “In many ways, the Bolsheviks’ nationality policy worked as intended—in the sense that it helped to integrate non-Russian peoples into the evolving Soviet state, society, economy and culture,” she says. “But it also relentlessly demanded that Soviet people think about themselves in national terms, and it placed ethnicity at the center of Soviet politics.”

March 8, 2022

ASEEES resources on Ukraine

The Association for the Slavic, Eastern European and Eurasian Studies is collecting all the academic Ukraine-related events on their website:

You can also find a collected list of resources to help displaced Ukrainian scholars:

March 7, 2022

Julie George on Russia and Ukraine on the International Horizons podcast

Julie George, Professor of Political Science at Queens College and the Graduate Center, discusses the real motives behind the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the role of NATO and the U.S. in the invasion, the views of Russians and Ukrainians about the war, Putin’s miscalculations of the world’s reaction, and the prospects of nuclear weapons being deployed in the conflict, on the International Horizons podcast.

“It is not irrational — It’s about Putin’s Legacy”: The Russian Invasion of Ukraine with Julie George

March 7, 2022

David Harvey on the long-term causes of the Russian invasion

David Harvey, Distinguished Professor of Anthropology and Geography, Graduate Center, and the Director of Research, Center for Place, Culture and Politics, writes about the end of the post-Cold War world order.

“What we are witnessing in the Ukraine conflict is in many respects a product of the processes that dissolved the power of actually existing communism and of the Soviet Regime. With the end of the Cold War, Russians were promised a rosy future as the benefits of capitalist dynamism and a free market economy would supposedly spread by trickle down across the country. Boris Kagarlitsky described the reality this way: with the end of the cold war, Russians believed they were headed on a jet plane to Paris only to be told in mid-flight ‘welcome to Burkino Faso.’”

This Verso blog entry is taken from a talk given on February 27 at the 2022 Annual Meetings of the Association of American Geographers.

Benjamin Hett on the desperation of tyrants

Benjamin Hett, Professor of History, Hunter College/Graduate Center, offers lessons on Putin from his expertise on Hitler’s leadership of Nazi Germany in an op-ed that appeared in the Los Angeles Times.

“Hitler’s example is the most devastating, but we see the same desperation in other dictators when they face the reality of failure. They become more brutal and repressive. Dictators are psychologically fragile: They need adulation and a sense of mastery, and they cannot tolerate loss.”

February 28, 2022

Susan Smith-Peter on the impact of sanctions

Susan Smith-Peter was quoted in Women’s Wear Daily about Nike, Puma and H&M halting manufacturing operations in Russia:

“College of Staten Island history professor Susan Smith-Peter, who has written about Russia and Ukraine for 20 years, discussed the potential effectiveness of the sanctions Wednesday. “Will the sanctions end the assault in Kyiv? No. Will the sanctions help to show the Russian people and the elite that the entire world is horrified? Yes. If the goal is the second, it’s quite helpful. It’s a reasonable goal because what’s going on is unjustifiable,” she said.”

March 2, 2022