Plus: The Taliban Are Who We Thought They Were
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CATHY YOUNG: Prigozhin Unbound.
OVER THE PAST SPRING, amid the tense wait for the Ukrainian counteroffensive, the segment of the Russian invading forces that commanded the most attention was the Wagner Group, the “private military company” founded by food-service tycoon (and longtime Vladimir Putin crony) Yevgeny Prigozhin. As Wagner units took the leading role in the grinding, gruesomely bloody, months-long fight for Bakhmut, Prigozhin himself became something of a star—not only of his own viral videos appeared with some regularity, but of reports from independent Russian media and Western journalists.
Yet back in February 2022 when Putin’s “special military operation” began, Prigozhin was still denying his connection with Wagner, even via legal action—and whatever role Wagner played in the war was kept very much on the down-low.
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NATALIE GONNELLA-PLATTS AND JESSICA LUDWIG: The Taliban Are Who We Thought They Were.
When the Taliban took control of Afghanistan in the mid-1990s, they established one of the most brutal and oppressive regimes in the world and harbored international terrorists. Since regaining control of the country in 2021, they have reverted to their old behavior, once again using violence against Afghans to maintain their grip on power. As a result, Afghanistan has become a “significant coordination site” for threats to the United States, Europe, and Asia, according to a leaked Pentagon assessment.
Terrorism both at home and abroad is a core, unchanging element of what the Taliban are and have always been. It shouldn’t shock anyone that the Taliban broke their purported promise to curb terrorism. They rely on violence and corruption to control the population.
MONA CHAREN: Is the GOP Tiptoeing Toward Normality?
EVERY MORNING, before we open our eyes, every one of us must grapple with the excruciating possibility that Donald Trump could be re-elected. It’s the nightmare from which we cannot awake, at least for now. And yet, while we go through our days under this sword of Damocles, we can also detect that something is stirring in the Republican party. After eight vertiginous years of rot and decay made no less alarming by their often buffoonish character, the GOP seems to be taking some tentative steps toward normality.
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