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Hal Brands
For Hal Brands's latest contributions to The Japan Times, see below:
Iran holds its National Army Day parade in Tehran in April 2022.
COMMENTARY / World
Oct 25, 2023
U.S. must press its advantages over Iran or war will spread
The Hamas attack on Israel was a geopolitical earthquake. The aftershocks will reverberate for years to come.
Japan Times
COMMENTARY / World
Jul 4, 2023
What Ukraine needs most — ammo
Fighter jets and high-tech missiles get the headlines, but the U.S. is on a global scavenger hunt for old-fashioned howitzer shells.
Japan Times
COMMENTARY / World
Feb 21, 2023
Ukraine’s future is not in NATO
Ukraine won’t become a party to the NATO treaty, but it can expect a close and continuing partnership with Europe and the U.S.
Japan Times
COMMENTARY / World
Jan 23, 2023
Big Ukraine war lesson: There’s only one superpower
The effort against Russia has illustrated what a world without American power would look like — and what it looks like when America uses its unmatched power well.
Japan Times
COMMENTARY / World
Dec 22, 2022
Zelenskyy seeks victory. Will the U.S. pay the price?
Ukrainian President Zelenskyy was greeted in Congress with standing ovations. Yet even as his country's needs grow, the prospects for U.S. assistance will inevitably become less certain.
Japan Times
COMMENTARY / World
Dec 4, 2022
Ukraine’s victories may become a problem for the U.S.
Washington has been a big winner from Moscow's fiasco in Ukraine — but a lengthy stalemate could become a huge burden.
Japan Times
COMMENTARY / World
Sep 23, 2022
Take Putin’s nuclear threat seriously, but not too seriously
Few think the Russian leader would be foolish enough to escalate radically, but there's also a strong argument to be made that he's not bluffing.
Japan Times
COMMENTARY / World
Aug 21, 2022
Russia’s war in Ukraine has echoes of the Soviet Union’s end
Empires like Russia — especially the biggest ones — don't end quickly or peacefully.
Japan Times
COMMENTARY / World
Aug 3, 2022
Al-Zawahri killing was a great success of a bygone era
After 9/11, the U.S. built a man-hunting machine without parallel in human history. But today, its priorities lie elsewhere.
Japan Times
COMMENTARY / World
Jul 1, 2022
The West must move east for NATO to survive
No matter what happens in the Ukraine war, the U.S. must persuade allies to move more troops and equipment permanently into states on Russia's borders.
Japan Times
COMMENTARY / World
May 6, 2022
As Putin gets desperate, the world should remember Pearl Harbor
Economic sanctions are working now against Russia as they squeezed Japan before its war with the U.S. But the historical lesson is that they don't make adversaries less aggressive.
Japan Times
COMMENTARY / World
Mar 25, 2022
What happens in Russia if Putin can’t win in Ukraine?
Russia has now been subjected to an isolation more sudden and total than that experienced by any major power in recent history. What that leads to may not be pretty.
Japan Times
COMMENTARY / World
Mar 24, 2022
A losing and desperate Putin could be terrifying
By taking U.S. intervention off the table, the Biden administration may tempt just the sort of Russian escalation the world fears, especially if Putin becomes desperate.
Japan Times
COMMENTARY / World
Mar 7, 2022
How Putin destroyed the three myths of America’s global order
Putin's gambit is producing an intellectual paradigm shift, a recognition that this war may be a prelude to more devastating conflicts unless democratic states respond.
Japan Times
COMMENTARY / World
Sep 2, 2021
The Afghanistan war wasn’t a cynical misadventure
When once-good wars go bad, Americans tend to conclude that there was never anything redeeming about them in the first place.
Japan Times
COMMENTARY / World
Apr 28, 2021
The Cold War playbook won’t help Alexei Navalny
That Navalny ended his hunger strike and his life isn't in imminent danger — for now — doesn't remove the underlying issue.
Japan Times
COMMENTARY / World
Oct 11, 2020
Little war in the Caucasus has big lessons for U.S. and Russia
The resumption of hostilities in Nagorno-Karabakh against Armenia, a longtime enemy of Turkey, indicates the war is part of a larger Turkish power play.
Japan Times
COMMENTARY / World
Jul 14, 2020
The upside of a new cold war with China
Competition with the Soviet Union brought out the best in American democracy.
Japan Times
COMMENTARY / World
Jul 5, 2020
Putin wins 16 more years of reckless behavior
The West consistently underestimates the Russian president's willingness to take extreme risks.
Japan Times
COMMENTARY / World
Jun 30, 2020
China’s rise heralds return of the domino theory
Seventy years ago the Korean War raised legitimate fears that one U.S. loss could set off communist victories across the globe.

Longform

Yayoi Kusama’s “Pumpkin,” once the victim of high waves that dragged it into the sea, sits at the end of a pier on the south side of Naoshima.
Why is the most exciting art in Japan so hard to get to?