Articles in English

India has long been one of the more pro-American countries in the world. While President Donald Trump doesn’t enjoy the same support as predecessors former Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush — presumably because of his trade threats and his restrictions on visas for highly-skilled workers, most of which go to Indians — that broad approval remains largely intact, with 56% of Indians polled saying they had confidence in Trump to do the right thing on world affairs.

Indian diplomats say privately that handling the Trump administration has been complicated. At one level, India and the US have continued to move their nascent strategic relationship forward with mutual concerns about China’s territorial and political assertiveness in the Indo-Pacific serving as the backdrop.…  Seguir leyendo »

This time four years ago, officials in Moscow were preparing — along with the rest of the world — for what appeared to be inevitable: a Hillary Clinton presidency. It was a grim prospect for Russian President Vladimir Putin at a time Russia was overwhelmed by a string of scandals.

That summer, the world had learned about the massive state-sponsored doping program in Russian sport. In September, a Dutch-led international investigation found that Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, shot down while flying over Ukraine, had been downed by a Russian missile, killing all 298 on board. Around the same time, Russia launched a brutal bombing campaign on the Syrian city of Aleppo, killing hundreds of civilians and devastating the city.…  Seguir leyendo »

I’m a pessimistic person, so I spend a good deal of time these days trying to envision a Trump victory. Trump himself has always been like a man hopping from ice floe to ice floe. He has no master plan for anything, including a second term. Yet one can make some guesses. Certainly there will be more golf, more tweets, and more rallies. Also more looting, more environmental damage, more Covid deaths, less and less restraint by the courts. Trump himself may remain at the helm for years. Or his evident mental and physical decline may worsen, leaving us with a de facto regent: Jared Kushner, Mike Pence, Mike Pompeo, or (worst of all) William Barr.…  Seguir leyendo »

During the Cold War, it was not uncommon for some in the United States to attack what they called the forces of “godless” communism, whether in China or Soviet Russia. But this is a misconception.

Communist regimes are definitely atheist, but in their behavior they are not godless. Chinese President Xi Jinping recently gave the world a fresh reminder.

In mid-September, Xi visited a museum in Hunan province, stopping at a statue commemorating the “Ragged Quilt.” There, he retold the story of how three female soldiers in the Red Army spent the night at the home of a villager. As the soldiers left, they cut their quilt in two and gave one half to the woman who had sheltered them.…  Seguir leyendo »

Demonstrators supporting the reform of the Chilean constitution in Santiago, 25 October. Photograph: Pedro Ugarte/AFP/Getty Images

On Sunday, Chileans voted overwhelmingly in favour of establishing a new constitution. After one year of almost continuous social and violent protests, the country erupted upon hearing the news with the kind of jubilant parties and street celebrations that were last seen when a 1989 plebiscite put an end to the 17-year dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet.

Chile’s current constitution was written by Pinochet’s adviser and rightwing ideologue Jaime Guzmán, and was approved at the time by a rigged referendum. When Chile subsequently became a democracy in 1990, authoritarian principles enshrined in this constitution constrained the country’s process of democratisation and imposed a neoliberal model of economic development.…  Seguir leyendo »

Angered women’s rights activists and their supporters confront police and a far-right group on the fifth day of their nationwide protests against a recent court ruling that tightened Poland’s restrictive abortion law in Warsaw on Monday. (Czarek Sokolowski/AP)

Widespread protests have roiled Poland since Thursday, after the government imposed tighter restrictions on abortion. Hundreds of thousands are marching through streets, blocking traffic, holding sit-ins in churches, and amassing in front of the residences of high-ranking clergy. Protesters have called for a nationwide strike on Wednesday.

Here’s what sparked the protests. The conservative populist government of the Law and Justice (PiS) party eliminated grave fetal defects as a justification for obtaining an abortion. These cases constitute 98 percent of legal abortions in Poland.

Poland has severe restrictions on abortion

Since 1993, Poland’s restrictive abortion law allowed for abortions in three circumstances: rape or incest, grave fetal defects or threat to the life of the mother.…  Seguir leyendo »

The authors of this collection consider the most pressing foreign policy challenges for the next US president, and examine how the outcome of the 2020 election will affect these.

The president will determine how the US’s diplomatic, economic and military resources are invested, and what value the administration will attach to existing alliances and multilateral institutions.

Whoever sits in the White House will shape the trajectory of the US–China relationship and the global economy after the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as international cooperation on climate action, international trade and technology policy, and health.

Sumary

  • The last four years have confirmed that the choices the US makes are highly consequential for international politics.
…  Seguir leyendo »
Matt Stone/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald via Getty Images An ICE agent processing an undocumented immigrant, Burlington, Massachusetts, September 25, 2019

In 2018, Guinean asylum-seeker Aboubacar Soumah was presented with an opportunity to get out of immigration detention under the United States immigration bail bond system. The opportunity came with a price tag of $15,000. With “only $59 to his name,” as a public radio report put it, and no network of friends or relatives in the country, Soumah was forced to remain in detention indefinitely.

Soumah’s case is far from unique. As in the US criminal justice system, an immigration bond can be offered to a person in custody at the discretion of a judge as a way of securing their release while their case is pending.…  Seguir leyendo »

Donald Trump embodies the worst in us. By “us” I mean both the human species generally and the American people in particular, since the salient qualities of Trump’s personality, without exception, are extreme examples of tendencies to which anyone who grows up breathing the polluted air of American capitalism might fall prey. The dogma that all publicity is good publicity. The uncritical worship of money, coupled with a deranged financial recklessness and the certainty that a fall guy can always be found when things go awry. The belief that any display of humility, uncertainty, or compassion is an admission of weakness.…  Seguir leyendo »

A man walks past an advertisement for K-pop boy band BTS in Seoul, South Korea, on Sept. 18. (SeongJoon Cho/Bloomberg)

Hell hath no fury like a legion of loyal K-pop fans scorned.

This month, K-pop group BTS accepted the Korea Society’s James A. Van Fleet Award, which recognizes the group’s role in developing goodwill between South Korea and the United States. By all accounts, it was a harmless event focusing on diplomacy. But then band leader Kim Nam-joon, better known as RM, made a comment about the tragedies of the Korean War, saying “we need to always remember the history of pain shared by the two nations, and sacrifices of many men and women.”

This immediately triggered the paranoia of the Chinese propaganda machine, which bizarrely interpreted the remark as an insult because there was no mention of Chinese lives lost during the war.…  Seguir leyendo »

President-elect Luis Arce of Bolivia has committed to a return to stability and inclusion. Credit Juan Karita/Associated Press

On Oct. 18, Bolivians elected Luis Arce, the presidential candidate of the former President Evo Morales’s Movement Toward Socialism party and his chosen successor. Some saw the victory as a call for Mr. Morales to return to the government. But perhaps the electoral landslide may be better understood as an example of how to move forward in the wake of a tumultuous year for the world. It’s also a lesson on how similar movements weighed down by the baggage of past leaders can keep political relevance — without their looming influence.

As a candidate, Mr. Arce signaled his willingness to turn the page on Mr.…  Seguir leyendo »

Montage based on the blurred broadcast of a witness in Al Hassan's trial before the ICC © ICC-CPI / Thijs Bouwknegt / JusticeInfo.net

“There is risk of identifying the expert – private session please,” sighed presiding judge Antoine Kesia-Mbe Mindua on 15 October. It was the end of the first block of expert testimony in the trial of Al Hassan Ag Abdoul Aziz Ag Mohamed Ag Mahmoud before the International Criminal Court (ICC). Al Hassan is on trial for 7-year-old atrocity crimes in Timbuktu, Mali, nearly six thousand kilometres away from the seat of the ICC in The Hague, The Netherlands.

Zapping between the channels of the ICC courtroom, video-links, private and public sessions, judges have now heard the first fifteen prosecution witnesses. It is laudable that evidentiary examinations take place at all against the uncertain odds of the COVID-19 pandemic.…  Seguir leyendo »

Why people power doesn’t work like it used to

As most of the world shelters from the novel coronavirus, tens of thousands of brave protesters have been marching through the streets of Minsk and Bangkok for the past several months, defying water cannons, rubber bullets and the risk of imprisonment — or disease. They are demanding the ouster of their autocratic rulers — Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus and Prayuth Chan-ocha of Thailand — and hoping that, like the “people power” movements of dozens of other countries, they will achieve democracy.

Lets hope they do. Sadly, however, the history of the past decade suggests they won’t.

People power, which democratized countries from South Korea and Poland in the 1980s to Georgia and Ukraine in the 2000s and Tunisia in 2010, has been on a losing streak.…  Seguir leyendo »

People walk with their hands above their heads as they pass security checkpoints, held by forces holding machetes and sticks at Obalende Market in Lagos, Nigeria, on Oct. 23. (Sophie Bouillon/AFP/Getty Images)

On Oct. 20, Nigerian soldiers shot at protesters at Lekki Toll Gate, killing at least 10. Protesters were blocking a highway in Lagos, the country’s largest city and commercial capital, to draw attention to their struggle against police brutality. That night, soldiers and police attacked protesters across several parts of Lagos and elsewhere. Amnesty International reports at least 38 Nigerians died in the clashes, with dozens more injured.

The sequence of events leading to what Nigerians call the #LekkiMassacre suggests this appears to be a carefully planned attack. While protesters were on the road, dancing to songs from a live DJ, the Lagos state governor imposed a curfew, to start at 4 p.m.…  Seguir leyendo »

On Sept. 15, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Israel formally signed the “Abraham Accords,” establishing normal diplomatic relations. Supporters like President Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu presented the agreement as an unprecedented step toward peace.

Not everyone agrees. A number of prominent public figures and civil society groups argue the move is aimed at pressuring Palestinians to accept a state without sovereignty, while granting authoritarian Arab Persian Gulf nations international legitimacy and greater access to new technologies for repression.

What do ordinary Arabs think? The 2019-2020 polling data of the Arab Opinion Index suggests that many Arabs are at odds with their governments on the question of Israel.…  Seguir leyendo »