David Gordon

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An image distributed by Islamic State militants on social media on August 25, 2015 purports to show the destruction of a Roman-era temple in the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra. REUTERS/Social Media

The winds of change are unexpectedly blowing through the Levant.

In the aftermath of the Iran nuclear agreement, there was a broad expectation, both in the region and beyond, that sectarian tensions and conflict would intensify and deepen the proxy battle between Iran and Saudi Arabia. In the United States, even some strong supporters of the nuclear deal emphasized that Washington needed to respond aggressively to the inevitable push by Tehran to expand its regional influence at the expense of traditional U.S. allies.

What we are seeing on the ground, however, looks quite different. There is an increasing possibility for new geopolitical alignments throughout the region.…  Seguir leyendo »

When it comes to economic reform, China’s leaders no longer believe that time is on their side. With a new sense of urgency, President Xi Jinping and his inner circle are attempting one of the most ambitious economic and social-policy reform plans in history.

But in any authoritarian country, change creates risk. Consider the scale of the proposed plans. For China to reach the next stage of its development, a much larger share of Chinese-made products now destined for Europe, America and Japan must be sold to consumers inside China. This shift will require a big increase in local purchasing power — and, therefore, an enormous transfer of wealth from large domestic companies to Chinese households.…  Seguir leyendo »

Cuando la reforma económica es el tema en consideración, los líderes chinos ya no creen que el tiempo esté de su lado. Con un nuevo sentido de urgencia, el presidente Xi Jinping y su círculo más cercano están intentando implementar uno de los más ambiciosos planes de reforma de políticas sociales y económicas en la historia.

Pero, en un país autoritario, el cambio crea riesgo. Considere la escala de los planes propuestos. Para que China llegue a la siguiente etapa de su desarrollo, una proporción mucho mayor de los productos fabricados en China, que ahora están destinados a ser exportados a Europa, América y Japón, deben ser vendidos a los consumidores dentro de China.…  Seguir leyendo »

There have been a lot of alarming headlines for U.S.-Chinese relations of late — and not for no reason. Recriminations over claims of cyberaggression, trouble for U.S. companies in China, and a worrying security environment in East Asia — especially around North Korea — have generated a lot of press. It’s vitally important that the U.S. and Chinese leaderships become directly involved in keeping bilateral ties, the world’s most important, on track.

But there’s an important good news story here as well; one that won’t draw as much attention because it points down a less provocative and more promising path. Yes, China is rising; but, surprise, so is America — and given the deep economic interdependence that both governments acknowledge, that’s a recipe for a more constructive longer-term relationship.…  Seguir leyendo »

For the first time in months, Europe is enjoying a respite from market pressure. Its latest halting moves toward banking union may not have fully reassured market players but were undoubtedly a step in the right direction, and investors’ cautious optimism reflects that.

By contrast, the “fiscal cliff” looming for the United States at year’s end, when the Bush tax cuts are set to expire and automatic spending reductions take effect, appears as ominous as ever. Partisan rhetoric is as hot as the weather in Washington, and Congress is deeply polarized.

But don’t be euphoric about the euro zone, and don’t despair about the United States.…  Seguir leyendo »

The International Monetary Fund has been at the center of global financial stability since its creation after World War II. In the last year it has played a central role in reducing the risk of a European financial meltdown. At the fund’s spring meetings this week, the question of whether to bolster I.M.F. resources will dominate the agenda. Yet in reality the I.M.F. faces a much greater challenge that could render additional financing a sideshow: an erosion of market belief in I.M.F. financial analysis. Such a loss of credibility threatens the fund, the nations it seeks to support, and the global financial system.…  Seguir leyendo »

It’s been nearly 11 months since the killing of Osama bin Laden and almost 11 years since 9/11 thrust Al Qaeda to the forefront of U.S. national security. Since then — in fits and starts after 2001, and at an accelerated pace in the last five years — the United States has been remarkably successful in degrading Al Qaeda’s operational capacity and splintering the organization, culminating in the raid in Abbottabad last May.

To state the obvious, all this is good news. The U.S. homeland is safer, the world is a better place, and a reduced jihadist threat is allowing the United States to make a shrewd strategic pivot to the Asia-Pacific region.…  Seguir leyendo »

Among global big thinkers, never a bashful crowd, the notion of a United States in decline has become conventional wisdom. In late 2011, this narrative has crescendoed, with experts arguing that China has surpassed the United States economically, Niall Ferguson declaring that we are at “the end of 500 years of Western predominance” and The National Interest proclaiming “the end of the American era.” Even the National Intelligence Council’s coming Global Trends 2030 study reportedly assumes an America in decline.

As 2011 draws to a close, the U.S. military’s exit from Iraq and challenges in Afghanistan along with American vulnerability to the European crisis provide further confirmation of the decline narrative.…  Seguir leyendo »

As President Obama travels to Honolulu for this weekend’s Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, he will confront a changing game in Asia. During a recent visit to the region, a senior Asian policymaker told me, “We used to ask what we could get from the Americans in return for their military personnel and basing rights. The new question is, what will we have to give them to get them to stay. And it’s all because of China.”

Meetings with Japanese, Australian and Southeast Asian policymakers and business executives have made clear to me that China is misplaying its hand in Asia. Beijing has miscalculated its ability to cater to nationalist sentiment at home without alarming its neighbors and is inadvertently driving Asian states to build closer economic and strategic ties with the United States and each other.…  Seguir leyendo »