Not since the Vietnam War has a foreign-policy issue transformed Western domestic politics in the way the threat from Islamic State has. Neither the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, nor the subsequent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq — however costly and corrosive of national purpose — so profoundly reset the playing field of politics.
Across the West, domestic policy debates — ranging from immigration to law enforcement to education — are now refracted through the lens of the new terrorism. Because of the Islamic State-related attacks in the United States and Europe, the line between foreign and domestic policy is gradually being erased.… Seguir leyendo »
The element of surprise in international relations appears more frequent and more ferocious. Are these shocks to be expected from a dangerously fragile political and economic global architecture? Or is something else going on?
It is increasingly understood that we have entered a new phase of globalization – one defined more by divergence than convergence. Fragmentation, rather than a flattening of difference, is creating an archipelago-shaped world of fracturing capital, power and ideas.
What is less appreciated is that basic enablers of globalization — finance, technology, energy, law, education, science, trade and travel — have all been turned into weapons in a new form of warfare.… Seguir leyendo »
The agreement between the United States and Russia to rid Syria of chemical weapons should please — but also terrify — anyone hoping to return the United Nations to relevance. After the ugly, ignominious train crash of the United Nations’ inspections process in Iraq a decade ago, the question is whether the United Nations can deliver both international legitimacy and a genuine prospect for peace.
Syria’s suffering did not begin with the Assad regime’s criminal use of chemical weapons — and it won’t end with their removal. The timeline that Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart, Sergey V.… Seguir leyendo »
The narcissism of small differences is not usually associated with great-power politics. The pathology of turning minor disputes into major divisions between otherwise like-minded parties is presumed to pale in the shadow of the strategic disputes that separate Washington, Moscow and Beijing.
Step back, however, from the day-to-day diplomatic jousting among American, Chinese and Russian officials over what to do about North Korea, Iran and Syria, and it is difficult to arrive at any other diagnosis.
Compare the actual — and startlingly minor — divergences in the desired outcome in each crisis with the severe consequences for each great power of failure to address them effectively, and the absence of sustained engagement at the level of government leaders becomes inexplicable.… Seguir leyendo »
Alongside the perennial lament about “uncertainty” in global markets and politics, nothing is decried quite as often as “lack of leadership.” From the euro-zone crisis to intervention in internal conflicts to Britain’s place in Europe, and on to America’s crisis of governance and China’s rising nationalism, the purported absence of leadership is regularly cited as a primary cause of our global economic and political malaise.
Looking back over Europe’s past six months, however, a curious picture emerges, one that suggests a realization on the part of some its leaders that the time for prevarication must come to an end.
Angela Merkel’s steadfast refusal to succumb to the false choice of fast-forwarded federalism or inevitable break-up of the European Union; Mario Draghi’s come-what-may affirmation of the European Central Bank’s commitment to the common currency; François Hollande’s perilous intervention in Mali at its hour of Islamist danger; and David Cameron’s bold combination of a call for genuine reform of the E.U.… Seguir leyendo »
Two years in the life of the Arab Awakening already feels like an exhausted century, with the pendulum swinging from exuberance to extreme fear. Reckonings with tyranny considered unimaginable a mere five years ago have taken place across North Africa, alongside a descent into savage civil war in Syria, chaos in Yemen, violence in Lebanon and the tremors of quakes still to come in virtually every corner of the region.
Everything has changed when it comes to the exercise of power in the Middle East. And yet, in too many capitals contending with its new condition, nothing has changed.
With the rush to rename the two-year Arab Spring into an “Arab Autumn” or even, among those with strikingly short memories, an “Arab Winter,” it’s worth recalling what this revolutionary movement really was about.… Seguir leyendo »
Where’s the voice of business when you need it? For governments in the West, this has been a common refrain of the financial and economic firefighting over the past four years.
Where relations between chief executives and political leaders haven’t soured completely, as in the United States, there has been a distinct absence of business from the critical debates about how a new and more legitimate form of capitalism can be created out of the ashes of the credit crisis.
It is one thing for leaders of embattled financial institutions to keep their heads below the parapet as they focus on reinventing broken business models and avoiding the question of bonuses defining the entirety of their shareholder dialogue.… Seguir leyendo »
Within 48 hours of the launch of NATO military action against the Qaddafi regime, the intervention is beset by fundamental questions about the reality of regional support and its strategic objective. The Arab League has walked back from its initial calls for a no-flight zone, and is now distancing itself from the widespread targeting of Libyan installations. On Sunday, Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, refused to identify a specific endgame for military action.
At stake is far more than a successful armed action against a militarily feeble opponent. Having made the fateful and perilous choice to go to war with Col.… Seguir leyendo »
The Islamic republic of Iran’s year of living dangerously is finding an apt end in the extraordinary scenes unfolding after the funeral of Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri. The senior cleric’s funeral has turned into a huge demonstration against the Government, with tens of thousands of protesters descending on the holy city of Qom.
The YouTube clip of the murder of the young protester Neda Agha-Soltan in the summer’s demonstrations against the stolen elections symbolised the Tehran regime’s betrayal of its youth. The death of Montazeri was a reminder of how an older generation has been betrayed. Montazeri, a founding father of the republic and once a chosen successor of Ayatollah Khomeini, came to despise the monster that grew out of the revolution.… Seguir leyendo »
A fateful consensus is forming around the proposition that war with Iran is inevitable. The failure of the past eight years’ non-diplomacy has resulted in a worst-case scenario whereby Iran, most experts agree, has passed the point of no return in terms of technical nuclear weapons capability without violating its legal obligations under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
Witness, then, the remarkable display of Arab-Israeli unity at the White House: Monday’s message from Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu about existential threats echoing Arab warnings about the Persian menace on the horizon. Palestine is passé, Iran is in — and the great debate, we are now to believe, concerns whether the road to Tehran runs through Jerusalem or vice versa.… Seguir leyendo »