Critics of President Biden’s decision to withdraw from Afghanistan often paint a rosy picture of the country, arguing that with the help of the United States, the Afghan government had reached a stable stalemate with the Taliban and made great advancements for women’s rights. Afghans themselves would probably say otherwise.
It’s difficult to think differently after reviewing a 2019 survey of Afghan public opinion sponsored by the Asia Foundation, the latest in a 15-year series of polls. The foundation had polled thousands of Afghans each year since 2004 asking their opinions on a host of matters, including security and their views toward women.… Seguir leyendo »
As Afghanistan tumbles into Taliban hands, the avalanche of recrimination and outright condemnation of the Biden administration’s withdrawal of U.S. troops in Afghanistan has become unrelenting. Former National Security Adviser General H. R. McMaster echoed the sentiments of many when he declared that Afghanistan is a “humanity problem on a modern-day frontier between barbarism and civilization” and that the United States lacks the will “to continue the effort in the interest of all humanity.”
What is happening is a terrible tragedy, but the blame cannot be laid at any one door. The Biden administration’s short timetable for withdrawal, tied to the 20th anniversary of 9/11, and in the middle of the fighting season, was a mistake.… Seguir leyendo »
We are going through what by every measure is a great crisis, so it is natural to assume that it will prove to be a turning point in modern history. In the months since the appearance of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, analysts have differed over the type of world the pandemic will leave in its wake. But most argue that the world we are entering will be fundamentally different from what existed before. Some predict the pandemic will bring about a new world order led by China; others believe it will trigger the demise of China’s leadership.… Seguir leyendo »
North Korea has all but completed its quest for nuclear weapons. It has demonstrated its ability to produce boosted-fission bombs and may be able to make fusion ones, as well. It can likely miniaturize them to fit atop a missile. And it will soon be able to deliver this payload to the continental United States. North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong Un, has declared his country’s nuclear deterrent complete and, despite his willingness to meet with U.S. President Donald Trump, is unlikely to give it up. Yet Washington continues to demand that Pyongyang relinquish the nuclear weapons it already has, and the Trump administration has pledged that the North Korean regime will never acquire a nuclear missile that can hit the United States.… Seguir leyendo »
Democracy today seems to be in constant crisis. Democratic backsliding has occurred in countries from Venezuela to Poland, and autocratic leaders, including Hungary’s Viktor Orban, Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and Russia’s Vladimir Putin, proudly proclaim that the era of liberal democracy is over. Perhaps most worrying, even in the West where it has long been taken for granted, liberal democracy is under attack from populists, and, according to some scholars, it is no longer highly valued by many citizens.
In seeking to explain these troubling trends, most observers focus on the challenges currently facing democracy. They argue that globalization and rising automation have made life more insecure for the working and middle classes, privileged highly educated city dwellers over the less educated who live in rural areas, and made capitalism more of a zero-sum game.… Seguir leyendo »
During the Cold War, the United States and the Soviet Union faced off in an existential struggle between two antithetical systems. Either the Soviet bloc would “bury” the West, as Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev threatened in 1956, or Western principles of democratic accountability, individual rights, and the rule of law would triumph over Soviet totalitarianism. The eventual outcome—the demise of the Soviet system and the expansion of the U.S.-led international order—showed that military power is essential to American national security but also that the United States must advance its goals through the quiet resilience of democratic institutions and the attractive pull of alliances.… Seguir leyendo »
Oct. 12 is Spain’s National Day — its Fourth of July. On Thursday, this Oct. 12, Spain’s allies ought to stand with Spain as it faces its greatest test in Catalonia.
Spain’s 1978 constitution is similar to the U.S. Constitution in a number of ways. The U.S. Constitution does not contemplate secession. Without being too melodramatic, the United States fought the Civil War partially on the issue of whether or not states could secede. The U.S. federal government would intervene if, for example, Louisiana or Illinois sought to secede.
The Spanish government is doing the same in Catalonia. On Dec. 6, 1978, Catalonia voted 90 percent in favor of the 1978 constitution.… Seguir leyendo »
The stakes could not be higher for Iran’s February 26 elections for the parliament and the Assembly of Experts, the body charged with electing and removing the country’s Supreme Leader. With Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei now 77, it is likely that the next assembly will choose his successor, possibly reshaping the course of the Islamic Republic.
The polls follow the July 2015 nuclear agreement, a significant achievement for Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who was elected, in part, to resolve Iran’s protracted standoff with the West. His foreign policy victory could strengthen his pragmatist allies, allowing them to gain an upper hand in the legislature.… Seguir leyendo »
Last week’s massacre of 132 schoolchildren in Peshawar by the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) was horrific. It sparked a wave of sympathy—world leaders expressed their solidarity with the country—and also criticism—for years, Pakistan has given safe haven to terrorist groups.
TTP’s ghastly attack in Peshawar was hardly surprising. In the spring of 2010, Faisal Shahzad, a TTP-trained American, attempted to bomb Times Square in New York. Just weeks later, TTP operatives massacred 86 Ahmadi worshippers during Friday prayers at mosques in Lahore. (Ahmadis are a persecuted minority Muslim sect.) In 2013, TTP was linked to the killing of 127 Christians in Peshawar.… Seguir leyendo »
When King Juan Carlos abdicated the Spanish throne earlier this week, Spaniards were caught off-guard. As recently as April, Juan Carlos, who is one of the modern era’s most successful monarchs -- he assumed the throne in 1975 following the death of General Francisco Franco and is widely considered to be the father of Spanish democracy for having orchestrated a widely-praised democratic transition that became a model for many other countries -- was shutting down rumors that his transfer of some responsibilities to his son, 46-year-old Prince Felipe, was a sign that he might step down. “Abdication is not an option,” said a royal spokesman at the time.… Seguir leyendo »
The turmoil unfolding in Ukraine actually provides the people of Ukraine with an opportunity to make their country a better place. Historically, any one of three conditions -- a new, transitional government; dire economic challenges; and the threat of a mass uprising -- has made a shift to a freer, more democratic, transparent, and accountable government attractive to citizens, leaders, and their core supporters. Ukraine is in the unusual situation of meeting all three conditions at once. But to turn opportunity into reality and foster a genuinely free, democratic, and prosperous society, the country’s leaders, as well as the United States and the European Union, need to engage in democratization’s best practices.… Seguir leyendo »