In 1942, Winston Churchill tried to ready the British people for a long conflict. “This is not the end”, he said, referring to the Allied victory in Egypt. “It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning”. When we think in those terms, what phase are we witnessing in the war in Ukraine?
We are likely in the middle, explains Gideon Rose, a scholar at the Council on Foreign Relations and the author of an excellent book, “How Wars End”. He points out that every war begins similar to a chess game, with a dramatic attack and a defense.… Seguir leyendo »
The World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, is usually fixated on the future. Most years, the attendees are dazzled by some country, company or technology promising to burst forward, force change and dominate the next decade.
This year, the focus has not been on the future but the past. People delved into history to debate what caused Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The Swedish finance minister explained why his country, which hasn’t been at war since the Napoleonic era, was breaking its more than 200-year tradition of neutrality with its bid to join NATO. The Finnish foreign minister recalled Finland’s resistance to Moscow’s aggression in the Winter War of 1939 to 1940.… Seguir leyendo »
As the prospect of Roe v. Wade being overturned looms large and the United States braces for another round of culture wars, I have been puzzling about why clashes over values seem to be more intense in this country than elsewhere, and why the competing camps seem more divided than before.
One key to this might be found in a 2020 Pew Research Center survey, showing that on many cultural issues, the American political divide was the widest among rich countries surveyed. Asked whether the country would be “better off in the future if it sticks to its traditions and way of life”, 65 percent on the right said “yes”, vs.… Seguir leyendo »
At first glance, the war in Ukraine would seem to confirm President Biden’s oft-expressed view that the world today is marked by a contest between democracies and autocracies. After all, autocratic Russia is waging a savage assault on democratic Ukraine, and the latter enjoys the staunch support of Western democracies. On closer examination, however, that framework turns out to be neither accurate nor helpful as a guide for U.S. foreign policy.
It’s true that many of the world’s democracies have lined up to support Ukraine. But the world’s most populous democracy, India, has neither condemned the Russian aggression nor promised to abide by the sanctions against Moscow.… Seguir leyendo »
Ukraine’s brave and brilliant response to Russia’s attack is rightly being celebrated across the world. But it might be obscuring a growing danger. While the assault on Kyiv and the surrounding region has failed, Moscow’s strategy in the south and east of Ukraine could well succeed. If it does, Russia will have turned Ukraine into an economically crippled rump state, landlocked and threatened on three sides by Russian military power, always vulnerable to another incursion from Moscow. It will take much more military assistance from the West to ensure that this catastrophic outcome does not come to pass.
As Can Kasapoglu, a military scholar and strategist, presciently pointed out in the first few weeks of the war in an essay for the Hudson Institute, there are two distinct wars taking place in Ukraine, one in the north and one in the south, and the latter has been “radically more successful” for Moscow.… Seguir leyendo »
When Russia launched its attack on Ukraine, a wide variety of commentators believed there was at least one silver lining in this catastrophic cloud. Vladimir Putin’s assault on the liberal order, they hoped, would expose and delegitimize the illiberal, populist forces that have been surging for years. One speculated that the war in Ukraine could end the age of populism. Another, the scholar Francis Fukuyama, saw it as an opportunity for people to finally reject right-wing nationalism. Alas, six weeks into this conflict, such notions look like wishful thinking.
In Europe, two pivotal elections — in Hungary and France — tell the tale.… Seguir leyendo »
Russia’s utterly unprovoked, unjustifiable, immoral invasion of Ukraine would seem to mark the end of an era — one that began with the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. In that post-Cold War age, Western ideas about politics, economics and culture spread across the world largely uncontested, and American power undergirded the international system. It was not a period of tranquility — think of the wars in Yugoslavia and the Middle East. But it was a time in which American power and liberal democracy seemed triumphant, and the international system seemed to work more cooperatively than at any previous point in history.… Seguir leyendo »
It’s a tale of two Olympics. Remember the 2008 Beijing Games? China was dazzling the world with its economic prowess and technological sophistication, determined to impress with its soft power. Praise filled the headlines in countries such as Australia, Britain and the United States. "A perfect 10 in Beijing tonight,” opined the Sydney Morning Herald of the Opening Ceremonies. London’s Evening Standard described the event as “the beginning of China’s new era of greatness, witnessed — and implicitly approved — by much of the leadership of the planet.” And indeed, there was George W. Bush, the first American president to attend an Olympics in a foreign country, telling the press that the Beijing Games “exceeded my expectations.”… Seguir leyendo »
Only one person knows whether the Ukraine crisis will lead to war, the man who started it: Vladimir Putin. But so far the Biden administration has reacted to Putin’s military escalation intelligently, with an appropriate mix of deterrence and diplomacy. It has rallied European countries to stay together, provided more weapons to Ukraine and put some troops on heightened alert to signal greater resolve. It has also publicized the kinds of hybrid warfare Russia is engaging in and signaled the sanctions that Russia would face if it went ahead with an invasion.
But Washington has also held out the offer of diplomacy, outlining ways that the United States and Russia can work out better confidence-building measures regarding security arrangements in Eastern Europe.… Seguir leyendo »
What does Vladimir Putin want? It’s a question Washington finds hard to answer because we Americans rarely put ourselves in other people’s shoes. Two important essays, by Dmitri Trenin in Foreign Affairs and Eugene Chausovsky in Foreign Policy, provide some clues. Both suggest that the Russian president has stayed in power since 1999 not by being a reckless gambler but rather by being careful, even rational.
Trenin points out that Putin has watched four waves of NATO expansionism since he took power. His military incursions have usually been reactions to events rather than grand initiatives of his own. In 2008, the response followed Georgia’s decision to retake the separatist province of South Ossetia.… Seguir leyendo »
The saddest thing about the emergence of the omicron variant is its utter predictability. For months, even longer, public health officials have been warning that as long as the coronavirus can circulate freely and widely, it would change its form, and that those mutations could be more difficult to handle than the original variant. In October, former British prime minister, Gordon Brown predicted this. He said: “We in the West may feel safe and blessed at the moment, because we’ve had the vaccines, but we may find a new variant that comes out of Africa or Asia, where people have not been vaccinated and are not protected.… Seguir leyendo »
Imagine, for a moment, what the world looks like to people living in China today — say, to an average couple.
Their country, home to one of the greatest and most ancient civilizations in the world, long a leader in science and technology, was largely isolated from the great wave of military and technological advancement that began in the West in the 16th century. It was late coming to the powerful economic gains that began with the industrial revolution in the 18th century. It was dominated by outside powers during the 19th century.
And for the last century — when this Chinese couple's parents and grandparents were alive — China suffered through a collapsing Qing dynasty, civil wars, a brutal occupation by Japan, a prolonged battle between the forces of Chiang Kai Shek and Mao Zedong.… Seguir leyendo »
Believe it or not, there is some real good news on the climate front. This week, approximately 100 countries announced an agreement to cut methane emissions 30 percent by 2030, closing a glaring gap in climate policy. They also reached a broad agreement to end deforestation in the same time frame, including pledging funds to back it up. (Deforestation produces about 10 percent of the world’s carbon emissions.) The private sector has committed to align $130 trillion with the goal of net zero emissions in their investments by 2050, in an effort to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
Positive technological trends are also accelerating.… Seguir leyendo »
Have we witnessed another Sputnik moment? The Financial Times has reported that China tested a hypersonic missile this summer, though China denies this. Gen. Mark A. Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, compared the test to that pivotal event during the Cold War: “I don’t know if it’s quite a Sputnik moment,” he said, “but I think it’s very close to that.”
Milley should dust off his history books. The Chinese test has nothing in common with Sputnik, and claiming that it does feeds a dangerous paranoia growing in Washington these days.
To recall, the Soviet Union launched Sputnik, the first man-made satellite to orbit the planet, on October 4, 1957.… Seguir leyendo »
¿Estamos regresando a la década de 1970, como han afirmado recientemente varios analistas? Sin duda hay similitudes sorprendentes.
La humillante retirada de Afganistán hace recordar la derrota de Estados Unidos en Vietnam. Los precios están aumentando y el crecimiento económico se está estancando. En aquel entonces, el poder económico emergente que desafiaba la superioridad estadounidense era Japón; hoy es China.
Al examinarlas más de cerca, la mayoría de estas analogías resultan superficiales. Sin embargo, hay una en la que los paralelismos son notables, y eso debería preocupar mucho al gobierno del presidente de Estados Unidos, Joe Biden. Vamos rumbo a una crisis energética mundial.… Seguir leyendo »
If you want to understand what Islamist militancy today is really about, pay attention to this statement by the Taliban’s spokesman last week: “China is our most important partner, and represents a fundamental and extraordinary opportunity for us.”
Let me remind you that China is credibly accused of massive and pervasive persecution of its Muslim population — including mass incarceration, systematic “reeducation,” 24/7 surveillance and, in some cases, forced sterilization. In other words, the world’s most ideologically committed Islamist government has said that its closest ally will be a nation engaged in what many observers call cultural genocide against Muslims. Lesson: The Islamist militant movement has always been more about power than about religion.… Seguir leyendo »
Are you ready for the next global crisis? Christopher Krebs, the former director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, said last month that we are already “on the cusp of a global digital pandemic.” He was talking about the explosion of cybercrime. FBI Director Christopher A. Wray concurs, explaining that the dramatic rise of this new form of crime has shaken the U.S. security apparatus much like the 9/11 attacks did in 2001.
In fact, the escalation of cybercrime is a far more pervasive problem than terrorism. As we connect more and more things to the Internet, all of us become more and more vulnerable to hackers, who can compromise any person or business though the Web and steal their data or freeze them out until they pay a ransom.… Seguir leyendo »
In 2017, a former Goldman Sachs banker launched a dating app called Hater, designed to match people according to their shared dislikes. It didn’t last long.
That doesn’t bode well for the coalition that is set to form a new Israeli government, since it seems unified by little more than a shared hatred for current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. It is surely the strangest coalition in modern political history, comprising parties to the right of Netanyahu, the center, the left and even, for the first time, one representing Israeli Arabs. Could such a motley crew stay together?
Actually, it is possible.… Seguir leyendo »
In a country that is divided on almost everything, one area of bipartisanship in the United States is alive and growing — fear of China. “The Chinese are eating our lunch,” says President Biden. Republican Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri says they “are well on their way” to achieving their goal of world “domination.” Experts warn that China’s Belt and Road Initiative and vaccine diplomacy are bolstering its soft power.
Let’s look at what is actually happening on the ground. China’s secrecy and deception about the origins of covid-19 have spurred increasing calls for thorough investigations, including now from Biden. Instead of being transparent and welcoming international efforts to figure out what went wrong, Beijing’s attitude has been defensive and obstructionist — fueling suspicions and conspiracy theories.… Seguir leyendo »
It has been the same way for decades. Every time violence between the Israelis and Palestinians erupts, governments around the world urge de-escalation, a cease-fire agreement is reached, and experts warn that the situation cannot continue like this. But it has, and it will. Ultimately, this is not a problem that can be resolved through power, whether political or military. It can only be resolved through moral persuasion.
The recurring pattern of violence obscures a seismic shift that has taken place over the past few decades. Israel is now the superpower of the Middle East. A strategic studies institute at Bar-Ilan University recently laid out the disparities.… Seguir leyendo »