“Is it a hawkish thing for Trump?”
This irritating little sentence—or variations of it—has been the soundtrack of my life for the past three years. And not a good soundtrack. More like the chorus of “Macarena” played loudly on a long-neglected violin. By a child. On repeat.
This dirge hit my ears over and over again in early 2020 while I was recruiting MPs in several countries to the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China (IPAC). The idea of IPAC is to build cross-party alliances around the world, with a view to pushing for coordinated policy reform.
Nearly everywhere, and especially on the European left, the anti-Trump chorus echoed along the halls of the world’s parliaments.… Seguir leyendo »
Five years ago on Monday, then-U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), a 2015 multilateral agreement that imposed restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program. Although both the Trump and Biden administrations promised to find a better solution, the Iran nuclear crisis has only gotten worse. Economic pressure and external sabotage have not stopped Tehran from steadily increasing its uranium enrichment capabilities. Today, the regime is only weeks, if not days, away from the ability to produce enough fissile material for a nuclear weapon, should it choose to take that step.
Although restoring the JCPOA has become increasingly implausible, understanding how it worked—and what has been lost—is essential for future global nonproliferation efforts.… Seguir leyendo »
Once upon a time, outer space, like the air and seas, was one of the global commons, held jointly for all of humanity. But great power competition, a deficit of rules, and a booming private space economy are eroding that status. The new cold war between the United States and nations such as Russia and China is extending to the cosmos: NATO has declared space an “operational domain”. And like the old Cold War, the new one poses a threat to life on Earth itself, from the dangers of space debris to the possibility of targeting satellites in an already-crowded Low Earth Orbit (an orbit around the Earth at 1,200 miles or less) that so much of modern life is dependent upon.… Seguir leyendo »
Over the past two weeks, Chinese Communist Party Chairman Xi Jinping has been holding court for visiting European dignitaries. In late March, Spanish President Pedro Sánchez was the first European statesman to meet the Chinese leader after his summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow. French President Emmanuel Macron followed last week together with EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. The only winner from these visits is Xi. Not only did he not make any concession on any issue vital to European interests, from Russia’s war to economic relations, his European visitors treated Xi to a display of European and transatlantic disunity serving the Chinese leader a major strategic objective on a silver platter and leaving Europe’s China policy in disarray.… Seguir leyendo »
Clear differences are emerging within the Ukrainian government as to whether Ukraine should make the reconquest of Crimea a nonnegotiable goal of its war effort or be prepared to trade at least provisional Russian control of the peninsula for Russian concessions elsewhere. This issue also has the potential to create a deep split between Kyiv and Western governments, which fear that Crimea and control of the strategically vital military base of Sevastopol might be the point on which Moscow would be willing to escalate toward nuclear war. The question is becoming more urgent as Ukraine prepares for an offensive that could potentially allow it to cut the land route between Russia and Crimea.… Seguir leyendo »
In most societies, vulnerable minorities are the biggest proponents of strong and independent courts, as it is the judiciary that often shields these groups from the excesses of state power. In Israel, a state that defines itself as Jewish, no minority group is more vulnerable than non-Jewish Palestinian citizens. Yet Palestinian citizens of Israel—who comprise about 20 percent of its citizen population—have been virtually absent from the massive protests that have rocked the country in recent weeks. These demonstrations have ostensibly sought to protect Israel’s courts and save its democracy.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s far-right coalition is seeking to weaken Israel’s judiciary by granting the government more control over appointments as well as the power to overrule Supreme Court decisions with a simple parliamentary majority.… Seguir leyendo »
Switzerland has a history of trading with Nazis, serving as a tax haven for the world’s corrupt officials, and claiming the moral high ground in global politics. That’s because of its tradition of neutrality, which dates back to the 1500s and was codified in The Hague Convention of 1907. Its preferred involvement in international conflicts has been to offer luxury hotels amid lofty mountains as venues for holding peace talks.
But Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and Switzerland’s continued insistence on not getting involved in a war that threatens all of Europe, has irritated Western countries that had previously accepted its claims of neutrality.… Seguir leyendo »
In 1386, the last pagan ruler of Lithuania, Jogaila, married the child queen of Poland, Jadwiga, then in her early teens. The marriage created a political union between Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, which encompassed large parts of today’s Belarus and Ukraine. By doing so, it solved a twofold problem. One, it helped bring the vast Eastern European territories, including lands of the former Kyivan Rus’, into the fold of Western Christendom. Two, the union addressed the immediate security concern facing both Poles and Lithuanians: the threat of Teutonic Knights.
The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth would go on to become one of the largest countries in Europe and a fascinating laboratory of political governance, studied in some detail by the United States’ founding fathers, particularly in the Federalist Papers.… Seguir leyendo »
Since Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine last February, commentators in Europe and the United States have lamented that few countries outside the West have offered Kyiv real backing. A common question posed to me in the last year is why so many countries have sat this one out. Indeed, politicians and diplomats in Africa, Asia, and Latin America have offered Ukraine limited support and suggested the West is in part to blame for Russia’s war.
At first glance, it may seem that a large part of the world is slipping away from the West—at best adopting a neutral position and at worst tilting toward Russia and China.… Seguir leyendo »
In 2017, newly elected French President Emmanuel Macron laid out his grand vision for France’s role in the future of Europe. Speaking at Sorbonne University, he bemoaned that Europeans were “concentrating all of our energy on our internal divisions”. He warned of “losing our debates in a European civil war”, by which he meant endless disagreements within the European Union about financial resources and budget constraints. To create a “strong Europe” capable of leading on the world stage, Macron proposed his solution: A centralized EU with a common political, economic, and social model—essentially an EU recreated in France’s own image—wrapped in another deeply ingrained French idea, that of a bloc that is strategically autonomous from the United States.… Seguir leyendo »
In The Spirit of the Laws, published in 1748, the French philosopher Montesquieu argued that one of the main elements binding the Dutch provinces together was their resistance to the Spanish crown. Likewise, what unified Swiss cantons was resistance to the Holy Roman Empire.
A similar process is now underway in Europe as a result of Russia’s aggression in Ukraine.
In the latest Eurobarometer poll, released in January, 72 percent of citizens living in the European Union said that their country’s membership in the EU is beneficial. That is the highest score in a long time—the Eurobarometer has been asking the same question since 2005.… Seguir leyendo »
International efforts to prosecute the crime of aggression are focusing on punishing Russian leaders responsible for their country’s invasion of Ukraine. The Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly has just called for the establishment of a special tribunal to prosecute the ongoing crime of aggression committed against Ukraine, starting with Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014. It states that “Russian and Belarusian political and military leaders who planned, prepared, initiated or executed these acts, and who were in a position to control or direct the political or military action of the State, should be identified and prosecuted”.
But why cast the net so narrowly?… Seguir leyendo »
In 1999, a 7.4 magnitude earthquake struck near Marmara, Turkey, causing close to 18,000 deaths and leaving tens of thousands more people injured, displaced, or sorting through the rubble of their collapsed city. The Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) mobilized immediately, and within the first 48 hours, it deployed approximately 65,000 personnel to lead the search, rescue, evacuation, and sheltering efforts. Soldiers went beyond their active military duties to operate field hospitals, tent cities, and mobile kitchens to affected citizens, ultimately proving crucial to the country’s recovery from the disaster.
More than two decades later, another tragedy has struck Turkey as well as parts of northern Syria in one of the deadliest quakes in recent history.… Seguir leyendo »
Last week I visited Kyiv, nearly one year after the launch of the large-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine. It has been a year of senseless bloodshed and destruction, of mass graves and gross violations of our most basic principles. Visiting Ukraine, standing amid the ruins of war and witnessing so much human suffering and courage at the same time, I was more convinced than ever that Russia’s invasion was a watershed moment in world history—one that concerns us all, governments and citizens worldwide.
Here’s why I think that the only possible outcome of this war is that Russian President Vladimir Putin will lose and Ukraine will prevail.… Seguir leyendo »
The devastating earthquake on Feb. 6 that ravaged south and central Turkey and northwestern Syria, resulting in the loss of more than 46,000 lives, revealed many fault lines beyond those in the earth. It’s been noted that the disaster has exposed the widespread corruption—in the form of the many shoddy construction contracts that were approved by the government despite tightened regulations that had been adopted after the 1999 Izmit earthquake—on which Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s rule of 20 years has been based. But the earthquake has also brought to light a fault line between the country’s scientists and academics and a regime based on contempt and disregard for knowledge and expertise.… Seguir leyendo »
Shortly before U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken was slated to depart for Beijing on the Biden administration’s first cabinet-level visit, the trip was postponed. The last-minute schedule change came after a Chinese surveillance balloon was confirmed to be floating above sensitive U.S. military sites, including potentially an active nuclear missile silo field in Montana. Over the weekend, the balloon was shot down by a U.S. F-22 fighter jet once the expected debris no longer posed a threat to civilians.
The incident is reminiscent of those that occurred during the Cold War involving the United States and the Soviet Union—and it comes at a time when many are debating whether Washington and Beijing are now headed toward a similar relationship.… Seguir leyendo »
After two years of genocidal war, a fragile peace is settling on the northern Ethiopian region of Tigray. Local forces, led by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), have handed tanks and rockets over to the federal army as a gesture of goodwill. Meanwhile, rival Amhara fighters are withdrawing from the region. But it is a fraught recovery—one that now needs the central government to act to guarantee the safety of returning refugees.
In November 2022, the International Committee of the Red Cross delivered 40 tons of medical supplies to Tigray’s capital, Mekelle, yet around 11,000 tons are needed, according to the World Food Program.… Seguir leyendo »
As the defense ministers of NATO and other nations met at Ramstein Air Base in Germany, today and tried to resolve their divisions over supplying Ukraine with the heavy weapons it needs to drive Russian forces out of its territory, it’s clear that there are very different visions of the end state of the war and the region’s future. Among European countries, especially, there are stark differences about long-term policy toward Russia. There are now at least three camps of thought competing for Europe’s strategic center of gravity.
The first camp seems to believe it can turn back the clock when the war is over.… Seguir leyendo »
When I lived in Ankara in the early 2000s, I often spent time with Turks in their 20s and 30s. I recall a particular dinner conversation when we were discussing Turkish foreign policy and the country’s tortured relations with its NATO allies when one of them asked: “Why do Americans and Europeans insist that Turkey is either West or East? Why can’t we just be Turkey?” I fumbled around for an answer citing Turkish interests, the Cold War, and European Union membership before settling on “But Mustafa Kemal Atatürk! He wanted to ‘raise [Turkey] to the level of the most prosperous and civilized nations of the world.’… Seguir leyendo »
After decades of refusal and denial, the last year has seen a cascade of announcements by Western countries and their richly funded museums of their willingness to begin restoring art masterpieces seized or secreted out of Africa over the course of roughly the last century and a half.
This has been a season of reckoning for one institution after another, from the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C., to the Metropolitan Museum in New York, along with numerous others in Britain and Europe, with their directors publicly coming to terms with the problems inherent to continuing to possess the priceless cultural patrimony of a formerly colonized continent.… Seguir leyendo »