HUGO BARDI—Dmitry Orlov wrote “The Five Stages of Collapse” as an article in 2008 and as a book in 2013. It was an original idea for that time that of comparing the fall of the Soviet Union with that of the United States. Being an American citizen born in Russia, Orlov could compare the two Empires in detail and note the many similarities that led both to follow the same trajectory, even though the cycle of the American Empire is not over, yet.To strengthen Orlov’s analysis I thought I could apply the same five stages to an older Empire, the Roman one. And, yes, the five stages apply well also to that ancient case. So, here is my take on this subject.
ALEX LANTIER—It is difficult to understand at this point how Notre-Dame cathedral could have found itself defenseless in the face of this type of fire. The vulnerability of French cathedral spires and roofs to fire has been well known for many centuries, with the cathedrals of Reims and Chartres having suffered major fires of this type in 1481 and 1506, respectively.Notre-Dame was spared major fires not only during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, but also during the French Revolution and the Paris Commune, when Parisian workers attacked the structure as they rose up against the Church, and also during the two world wars of the 20th century.Despite all the vast technological advances that humanity has made in the 21st century, it is in this century that the famous cathedral was ravaged by fire. Serious questions are posed, with budgets in France and across Europe entirely turned to austerity and tax cuts for the rich, as to whether the allocation of more money on the renovation of Notre-Dame and its fire security could have averted or at least contained a blaze that ended up devastating the entire building.
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OPERATION LONG-JUMP 1943: The Nazi Assassination Plot against Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin – And How it Was Foiled.
MIKE FAULKNER—It has been widely recognized, not least by the Nazis themselves, that the foreign espionage and intelligence services of the Soviet Union and, until 1943, of the Communist International, were extraordinarily efficient and effective as well as being composed of many highly motivated and professional anti-fascists.A good example of this is the German journalist, Richard Sorge, who, as a Nazi party member worked as a journalist in Tokyo. But, like Svetlov/Schultz he was actually a Soviet intelligence officer. He was a dedicated Marxist who had worked undercover for the Comintern for many years. In the winter of 1941, when the Germans were at the gates of Moscow and some of the best Soviet divisions were still in the far east because the government feared that Japan would follow Hitler in breaking the neutrality pact signed with the Soviets in April 1941, and launch an attack in the Far East. Sorge learned that Japan would respect the pact and not attack.
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GAITHER STEWART—I read German writing and the archives of STASI, State Security, or Staatssicherheit about Field-Marshal Paulus. And I pondered the act of crossover from one ideology to another. Crossover for him would have meant changing from everything he had yet experienced in his military and family life to a new morality. Crossover points unwaveringly at transformation. Transformation is more than mere change, a different matter altogether. Though change makes us uneasy and anxious, we are still capable of returning to our original state. Even the change from a familiar place to another may make us feel uneasy. For we have lost a point of reference, a sense of belonging. That sensation of loss triggers our nostalgias. That loss can become a black hole in our existence. So though I feel sorry for the Field-Marshal, I still have not decided what I believe moved Friedrich Paulus.