The Oberlin Review

Heidi Brown, OC ’93, Investigator

Gabby Greene, Staff Writer

March 2, 2018

Heidi Brown, OC ’93, is a former journalist for Forbes Magazine in Russia. She covered the Russian business environment after the collapse of the Soviet Union and has written extensively on Russia’s oligarchs and governmental corruption. She now works for the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority as an investigator. Brown delivered a talk on Russian politics, titled “Beyond the Oligarchs” in King Building Monday. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.  What drew you to Russia’s business scene? I did not have any interest in business or being a business journalist when I was at Oberlin or when I decided to commit to journalism as a profession. After I graduated, I went to New York, and ...

Appeasement Policies Will Not Fix Doping

Duncan Reid, Contributing Writer

March 2, 2018

Four years ago, in something out of an Ian Fleming novel, the Russian government engaged in a conspiracy to successfully facilitate Olympic athletes doping and cover evidence that makes what Lance Armstrong did at the Tour de France look like petty crime in comparison. The world was appalled when the operation was uncovered. Stories of KGB agents breaking into the Sochi Doping Control Center — the building where doping tests occur — to swap urine samples, whistleblowers seeking asylum, and a systematic doping program that involved the highest levels of the Russian government flooded the airwaves. The International Olympic Committee and the World Anti-Doping Agency quickly convened special commissions to investig...

Americans Must Resist Russian Influence

Editorial Board

February 23, 2018

In May 2016, as Donald Trump’s campaign snowballed into a force of nature, a quiet conversation at the Kensington Wine Rooms between George Papadopoulos, a foreign policy advisor to the campaign, and Australian diplomat Alexander Downer took on the distinct scent of a smoking gun. Having overindulged in the establishment’s titular offering, Papadopoulos mentioned to Downer that Joseph Mifsud — a professor with connections to Russia — had indicated that the foreign government had “dirt” on Hillary Clinton, instigating a push to connect Trump to Russian efforts to discredit the Democratic candidate. Downer was not the confidant Papadopoulos may have expected, and provided the tip that would kick off a clandes...

Russian Athletes Should Compete in 2018 Games

Julie Schreiber, Sports Editor

December 8, 2017

The International Olympic Committee officially announced Tuesday that it would ban Russia from the upcoming 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea. This decision was the highly anticipated response to a years-long investigation of a Russian state-sponsored doping program to enhance the performance of Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Come the start of the games in February, there will be no sight of the Russian flag, no sound of the Russian national anthem, and no Team Russia marching together at the opening ceremony. However, there will still be an opportunity for Russian athletes to participate. Any Russian competitor who can prove themselves clean and unaffiliated with the dopi...

Russian Connections Warrant Investigation

Nathan Carpenter, Contributing Opinions Editor

February 17, 2017

One of the most disturbing stories to come out of the brutal 2016 U.S. presidential election cycle was that Russian operatives, publicly encouraged by then-candidate Donald Trump, had allegedly hacked the Democratic National Committee in an attempt to tip the scales towards Trump, a much more pro-Russia candidate than former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. In the wake of the election, significant evidence has emerged of further inappropriate actions by Trump’s campaign team and Russia — actions that could easily be characterized as treasonous. On Tuesday, for example, The New York Times published a story revealing private contact between Russian intelligence officials and senior members of Trump’s team, incl...

Federal Government Adopts Hypocritical Policy on War Crimes

Sean Para, Columnist

April 8, 2016

The list of Russian violations of international treaties and human rights in the past two and a half decades is astounding in its lawlessness. The two Chechen Wars from 1994–1996 and from 1999–2009 resulted in an incredible number of civilian casualties, so many so that some have called it a genocide. Human rights groups estimate approximately 80,000 people were killed in the Chechnya region from 1994–1996 alone. The 2008 Russo-Georgian War was engineered by the Putin regime to gain control over the breakaway republics of South Ossetia and Abkhazia and deter Georgia from looking toward joining NATO. The 2014 annexation of Crimea and incursion into Eastern Ukraine to support the Donbass republics was also in flag...

Doping Ruins Trust

Sarena Malsin, Sports Editor

November 20, 2015

Call me a biased athlete and sports editor, but sports competitions are one of the last bastions of positive and wholesome interaction be­tween countries. They pro­vide this incredible escape for everybody to care about something within a smaller scope than global politics. They serve as a funnel for visceral energy and national pride — all in an environ­ment influenced by the basic positive values that athletic participation and competi­tion impart on people. They occur on a national stage, so people internalize these val­ues to show respect to their international counterparts and represent their own countries well. At least, these values are usually internalized. If they aren’t, there are many regulatory...

Russia Prevents Ukraine from Joining West

Sean Para, Columnist

November 6, 2015

The calm that has settled over eastern Ukraine in the past two months has been billed by many as a victory for the West. Russia, as the narrative goes, has failed to take over the territory as it had originally intended. The Russian economy has been battered by sanctions and the drop in oil prices, a staunch juxtaposition to Ukraine’s economic outlook, which includes state reform and a potential political recovery. “Ukraine has turned toward the West and is lost to Russia forever,” experts say. While this is a convenient narrative for Western governments, it is patently false. The “Russia lost in Ukraine” narrative does rely on facts and evidence. It is certainly true that the Ukraine crisis has isolate...

Abandonment of Ukraine Allows Conflict to Drag On

Sean Para, Columnist

October 2, 2015

Mass media has covered little of the conflict in Eastern Ukraine over the past few months. Since the success of February’s Minsk-2 accords, large-scale fighting has abated in Eastern Ukraine. Nonetheless, violence continues. Small numbers of soldiers in both the Ukrainian and rebel armed forces are still dying. Minor firefights break out often, artillery fire is still exchanged — the conflict has not ended. The international community needs to refocus its attention on the civil war in Eastern Ukraine and come together to forge a peaceful resolution that takes into account both Russian and separatist interests. This is the only way the conflict will end. Civil war erupted in Eastern Ukraine after an uprising during th...

Settlement Necessary to End Syrian Crisis

Sean Para, Columnist

September 25, 2015

Syria has now been embroiled in a brutal civil war for four and a half years. The conflict has morphed into a proxy war as various powers compete for influence on the ground and seek to use Syria to further their larger foreign policy aims. The country is entirely fractured. The only way to end this morass of death and destruction is a negotiated settlement that grants some of the demands of the major factions while also taking into account the interests of the major foreign powers intervening in the conflict. There are four main groups of combatants. First, the Assad regime itself, which controls many of the country’s population centers as well as Syria’s coastal strip — a large chunk of territory in the count...

Eastern Europe Still Endures Russian Influence

Sean Para, Columnist

September 18, 2015

The U.S.-Russian relationship has changed dramatically in the past year and a half. After more than two decades of cooperation, the old foes have returned to their previous antagonism. The cause — the Ukraine Crisis and ensuing war in the Donbass — continues to smolder and drive the two powers apart. Russia also has influence in several other key regions, with Syria as the one most commonly making headlines. Russia’s weight on the international field is too great to ignore, and the U.S. should change its current isolationist attitude to one of limited engagement. Russia is not the power it once was. During the Cold War, the Soviets had the second-largest economy, by far the largest landmass and one of the lar...

Great Power Politics Return to International Relations

Sean Para, Columnist

September 4, 2015

Last year was a watershed year in international relations. We are seeing its dramatic effects this year and will continue to do so in many ways, as 2014 marked a return to previous Great Powers’ political relationships. First of all, the Ukraine Crisis and ensuing civil war in Donbass laid bare the divisions between Russia and the West and reintroduced the specter of war to Europe. China has become a central player in international politics and has been actively trying to replace the United States as the country with the greatest influence in East Asia, a role the U.S. has fulfilled since 1945. A few years ago many still believed that the end of the Cold War had brought an end to this sort of geopolitical compet...

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