What's the Big Idea?

What's the Big Idea?

Why you should care

Because you want to stay ahead of the curve, and these thoughtful pieces will put you there.

A Fifth Russian Era

Understanding Russia has always been challenging. To comprehend it today, it is important to understand what this complex, multiethnic country spanning 11 time zones has been through in recent years. Looking at its post-czarist history, it’s possible to sketch out five eras tracing its metamorphosis into the Russia we currently face. With the reelection of Vladimir Putin yet again, we are now in the Rising Russia era, during which we will be dealing with a more assertive and confident Russia on the world stage.

Energy Independence Day Is Almost Here

Over the last year or so, the realization has begun to take hold in the United States that the country is on its way to achieving independence in oil and natural gas production. Given that the competition for oil has been one of the key drivers of international politics for decades, this has potentially profound implications for the relative power positions of the United States and other countries — both oil producers and non-oil producers.

While the trends that account for coming American energy independence are pretty well-documented, foreign policy thinkers are only beginning to grapple with what this might mean for U.S. policies and influence abroad and how it might impact other nations that are heavy producers of oil and gas, like Russia and the Persian Gulf countries, or rapidly growing consumers like China.

Pope Francis’ Long-Term Plan

Pope Francis is a rock star. A rock star who drives his own Renault, flies coach and carries his own bags. (OK, so maybe not a rock star at all, but don’t tell that to his adoring fans.)

He’s been lauded for living in the Vatican hotel, making personal phone calls to strangers, being inclusive to homosexuals and women, and speaking nicely about atheists. He’s been compared to Princess Diana and was listed as the most talked-about person in 2013. Like we said, rock star.

Francis made headlines this week with his scathing critique of modern capitalism, but over the long term, a pope’s legacy in the Catholic Church is often measured by the bishops he chooses. These bishops, in turn, become the next several popes, molding the Vatican and thus, Catholicism. Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI enforced orthodoxy. Pope Francis is going for messages about living simply, having mercy and focusing on a personal relationship with God. Could he sprinkle some of his rock-star dust onto his bishops?

Jedis and Genocide

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) had a rebellion on its hands, not unlike the Galactic Empire faced in Star Wars. In reality, it wasn’t such a long time ago (2001), but it did involve the Jedi Order. When asked by the ABS about religious preference in a compulsory national census, over 70,000 Australians self-identified as belonging to the Jedi religion, believing in the Force and following the teachings of such Jedi luminaries as Yoda, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Luke Skywalker.

While watching the wholesale slaughter of the Jedi by a corrupted Anakin Skywalker at the end of Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith (2005), OZY contributor Brian Kritz’s inner Star Wars nerd combined with his even nerdier inner international criminal-law-scholar self to ask the following: Under the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (the Genocide Convention), were Anakin’s actions an act of genocide upon the Jedi? As Yoda might have said in his inimitable inverted syntax, “Genocide, it may be, but a legal scholar, I am not.” So let us lead you in an exploration of mass atrocity law to discover whether the Jedi were the victim of genocide and, more important, to show why it’s past time to update the Genocide Act.

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