Letter From the Editors: Jan. 23 - 29, 2017

Author: Xenia Grushetsky

The French and Bon Jovi Agree: Don’t Expect Big Changes

French philosopher Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr famously said, "The more things change, the more they stay the same." The expression even inspired a Bon Jovi song, so clearly Karr was onto something. Which leads us to ask: As major upheavals continue to rock the globe in 2017, how much are things really changing?

For instance, the Astana talks on Syria concluded in the Kazakh capital this week. The talks, which were the result of a hard-won ceasefire engineered by Russia, Iran and Turkey (note the glaring absence of a certain well-known global player), failed to bring any major breakthroughs. Choosing to remain optimistic, most analysts said the fact that the talks took place is important in and of itself. According to Alex Gorka, the results of the Astana meeting were "significant enough to pave the way for resuming the UN-brokered intra-Syrian talks in Geneva, Switzerland."

Weighing in with his own unique perspective, Liberal Democratic Party of Russia leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky added that while the Geneva talks "resembled a political show for the press," Astana managed to gather "actual field commanders who control the situation on the ground." Still, even Vladimir Volfovich admits the talks themselves were fruitless. So much for creating a new format.

Meanwhile, another event that kept commentators on the edge of their seats (or set their teeth on edge, depending on where they stand) was Donald Trump’s inauguration. But those tensions, just like the Astana talks, pretty much fizzled out. Senator Konstantin Kosachov, head of the Federation Council’s international affairs committee, worked himself into a tizzy predicting all but an armed revolt. And yet, the Donald was inaugurated without much hubbub - and with a fairly modest crowd in attendance. Now that Trump is officially the 45th president of the United States, are big changes really in store?

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