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Dear Friends,

It’s hard to remember a time when America was pulled so hard inward, while the world around us was so wobbly. We were shaken by the July 8 murder of Shinzo Abe. The assassination took place the day after Boris Johnson resigned and just before G-20 finance ministers meeting in Bali failed to reach consensus on a number of key issues.

Ken Weinstein joined us by Zoom earlier this week from Tokyo to discuss Abe’s legacy and the shape of Japanese politics going forward. Ken was scheduled to see the former prime minister the week he was shot. Brad Glosserman has written for us. Brad has lived in Japan for 15 years and has deep knowledge of Japanese society and the country’s foreign policy.

We’d like to do more with Japan. I’m happy to share that the Japanese magazine Foresight will start publishing in translation pieces from American Purpose on a regular basis. We’re grateful to our editorial board colleague Hiro Aida for this partnership. An influential editor and lecturer, Hiro is writing something for us on shifts in Japanese strategic culture. Look for his essay in September.

We’ll continue our work on Ukraine. On Monday in Washington, we hosted Ukrainian MP Alex Goncharenko. Alex represents Odessa. Our American Purpose delegation met with him in Kyiv last month. Tomorrow by Zoom we host Alexander Lukashuk of the RFE/RL Belarus service and London Times correspondent Askold Krushelnycky for their reporting from western Ukraine and the region.

For different dimensions of our rapidly evolving domestic and national security challenges, read this week and next Giselle Donnelly, Frank Fukuyama, Carl Gershman, Michael Kimmage, Arch Puddington, and Carla Robbins. We keep picking spots to drill deeper. Next week in Washington, we’ll host Alanna Putze and her colleagues from the RUSI financial crimes team in London. They’ve been doing important work on Russia sanctions.

On political reform, we’ll join Luke Phillips of Braver Angels for a program (Opens in a new window) next week. On Tuesday July 26 at 6 pm ET Frank DiStefano and Silas Kulkarni will discuss the question, “What Should Our Parties Stand For? Thinking about American Ideologies.” The event will take place at the National Institute for Civil Discourse. To attend, contact Luke Phillips: (Opens in a new window)

I’ll mention briefly the good work of American Purpose friends.

  • Phil Wallach spoke at an AEI discussion (Opens in a new window) of the new book by Nicholas Jacobs and Sidney Milkis, Whatever Happened to the Vital Center? Our editorial board colleague Bill Galston was part of the conversation. Here’s (Opens in a new window) Phil’s review of the book for American Purpose.

  • Cheryl Miller continues to grow the Hertog Foundation’s formidable network. Read about their summer fellows program here (Opens in a new window). I had the privilege of speaking to the group last week. Cheryl is a steady source of advice on younger talent for all our endeavors.

  • Henry Nau published a stimulating piece last week (Opens in a new window) on Ronald Reagan’s legacy. There are nuggets like this: “Individualism … especially for Reagan, never meant lack of community or the ‘the common good.’ It meant simply that individuals, with a significant degree of freedom, choose the communities they wish to join or leave, and choose the common good they wish to pursue.”

  • Jamie Fly leads RFE/RL and is just back from Ukraine. He briefed journalists and Hill staffers yesterday.

  • Aviezer Tucker has had a hand in the establishment in Prague of the Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes. Information here (Opens in a new window). Our friend Vladimir Tismaneanu is involved. I’ll serve alongside Vladimir and Aviezer as a member of the advisory council.

  • Tejas Srinivasan has a terrific new podcast called “Cultural Mixtapes.” Tejas is a research associate with American Purpose and student at Middlebury College in Vermont. He’s just hosted Maggie Doherty on “Abortion Rights and Feminist Narratives.” Listen here (Opens in a new window).

  • Steven Hill wrote up charming observations from the subway earlier this month for July 4th. Steven has been a valuable advisor and contributor to American Purpose. Keep an eye out for his writing now for DemocracySOS (Opens in a new window).


I’ve been watching YouTube videos of singers in rehearsal. It’s always interesting to see how things get made. There’s a rehearsal clip with Bavarian soprano Diana Damrau singing Mozart’s “Queen of the Night” (scroll down for more). In the scene, the queen presses a dagger into the hand of her daughter Pamina and urges her to murder her father.

This iconic aria from Mozart’s opera The Magic Flute premiered just before the composer’s death at age 35 in December 1791. Mozart apparently whispered to his wife Constanze on his deathbed that he was hearing soaring passages from the piece in his head. He wrote it with his sister-in-law in mind, a singer with exceptional range.

Listen here (Opens in a new window) to Damrau in rehearsal and watch to the very end. It will knock your socks off. You’ll see what it looks like when a musician feels they’ve nailed a demanding piece.

Here’s (Opens in a new window) a bubbly play-by-play of the aria performed on stage by Damrau. The show is called “The Charismatic Voice” and the commentator (Opens in a new window) is opera singer Elizabeth Zharoff. She’s sung the role of Pamina dozens of times and gets the emotional and technical side of things.

My very best,


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