The Daily (New York Times) I’m doing a fair bit of listening about Ukraine at the moment. In Four Paths Forward in Ukraine (March 17) David Sanger, White House and national security correspondent for The New York Times, explores four scenarios: 1. The diplomatic path- Ukraine agrees to Russian demands to give up any claim on Crimea; accepts independence of Donetsk and Luhansk; declarse its neutrality; and promises never to join NATO. Russia would demand that all sanctions be lifted. Scenario 2: A long war of attrition, with Russia ‘winning’ but an ongoing Ukranian insurgency (which Sanger thinks is likely). Third scenario: China helps Russia. Sanger thinks that China will just sit back and watch how things play out for now. They might assist, but from behind the scenes. Scenario 4: Putin decides to expand the conflict beyond Ukraine.
Axios – How it Happened. This series on Ukraine just has two episodes so far. Episode 1 Putin’s Invasion Part I: How We Got Here features Axios’ world editor Dave Lawler talking about how Putin came to power and how he has wielded that power. The podcast also features “our Aussie” Jonathan Swan, speaking about his exclusive Axios on HBO interview with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Trump, Zelensky- is there anyone he hasn’t interviewed? Episode 2 Putin’s Invasion Part II: The Consequences discusses President Biden’s decades of political experience with Russia and the sanctions the U.S. and Europe have brought against the country. It also explains why it’s so hard for the West to cut ties with Russia when it comes to energy, and why the Biden administration chose to do so even if it would send gas prices soaring.
History of Rome Podcast. Episode 113- Three Empires. Although the Roman Empire now split into three, Mike Duncan argues that all three empires remained culturally Roman, and that’s what’s important. Following the capture of Valerian in 260 AD, the western provinces broke away to form a separate Empire and the east became controlled by the city of Palmyra where Odaenathus was the last stop on the Silk Road. He defeated the Sassanids, and so he was mollycoddled a bit by the Romans who, deep down, thought he was a bit of a barbarian. Meanwhile Postumus was up on the Danube. At this time, local troops threw their support behind their own commander as Emperor, and when he had a stunning victory, Postumus was acclaimed emperor of Gaul, Germania, Britannia and Hispania in what was known as the Gallic Empire. Meanwhile Gallienus concentrated on the centre of the empire. He hit on the idea of the mobile cavalry as a way of reinforcing his authority, and it was a good psychological connection with the provinces to have the cavalry come by occasionally. In Episode 114 The Nadir of our Fortunes, Mike Duncan reminds us of the mess that the Empire was in, with the Sassanids in the East, the Goths on the Danube, the Alamanni in Italy and the Franks in the West. He then backtracks to Odaenathus over in the East, who was seen as a bit of a saviour when Macrinus and his son were killed, and he took over. Over in the west, Postumus was chosen by his own troops, and he happily embraced Aureolus, Gallienus’ top general, when he defected to Postumus. Gallienus had concentrated his efforts on Rome, but the senators hated him because he turned to military men instead of Senators- so he ended up with a bad rap from the historical sources. He founded four mints near the big military deployments so that the soldiers could be paid on time, but this just caused inflation and debasement of the currency. In the end Gallienus defeated Aureolus in battle, but then he was shot (probably assassinated). Episode 115 Phase Two Complete sees the almost simultaneous deaths of Gallienus, Odenathus and Postumus in the Late 260s. The Goths were coming south and Odenathus was assassinated by his nephew -(why? Personal reasons? or was his wife Zenobia behind it?) Zenobia stepped right in to the role of emperor of the east, assuming that she had the right as Odeanthus’ widow. The Goths sailed down and sacked Athens. When Gallienus left Rome to fight the Goths, his trusted general Aureolus mounted a revolt. Gallienus was assassinated in a conspiracy of his top officers. The troops rallied around Claudius, who demanded the head of Aureolus.
Emily Greene Balch. I prepared a presentation for my Unitarian fellowship on the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), and the connection with the Australian Church’s Sisterhood of International Peace. Emily Greene Balch was raised a Unitarian in America (although she later joined the Quakers) and, along with Jane Addams, was a founding member of WILPF. This podcast, from the Internet Archive, is of Kristen E. Gwinn talking about Balch at First Church of Jamaica Plains (which Balch and her family attended). A pretty formidable woman. She was one of the pacifists who was really challenged by the rise of Fascism, and ended up siding with ‘freedom’ over ‘peace’.
Now and Then I’ve been listening to American historian Heather Cox Richardson for quite a while, and she has started a podcast with fellow historian Joanne Freeman called ‘Now and Then’. As you might expect from two American historians, it is VERY American focussed, but in the episode Avatars of Democracy, they express their admiration for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. They then look at three other historical leaders who fought for democracy: the French-born Revolutionary War hero Lafayette, the Latin American liberator Simón Bolívar, and South African political prisoner and president Nelson Mandela.