Global health crises are geopolitical events, and the spread of the Wuhan coronavirus is no exception. That incipient pandemic is not simply testing the global health system. It is also an acid test for a Chinese regime that intends, in the words of President Xi Jinping, to “take center stage in the world.”
Much has been made — appropriately — of how China’s authoritarian system has been the taproot of its worst failures in responding to COVID-19. Yet the episode also shows why an authoritarian China will struggle to create a constructive, consensual international order, no matter how much power it wields.… Seguir leyendo »
In late January, the Chinese government responded to the outbreak of a new coronavirus with one of the world’s oldest medical procedures: quarantine. By February, more than 760 million people faced a residential lockdown of some sort. Those unlucky enough to be infected might very well be isolated at an involuntary quarantine center. The good news is that these measures slowed the spread of the virus, giving the rest of China — and the world — valuable time to prepare for a likely pandemic.
The bad news is that quarantine and isolation are usually accompanied by unwelcome side effects, including depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress.… Seguir leyendo »
Managing migration is one of the most profound challenges for international cooperation in our time.
Migration powers economic growth, reduces inequalities and connects diverse societies. Yet it is also a source of political tensions and human tragedies. The majority of migrants live and work legally. But a desperate minority are putting their lives at risk to enter countries where they face suspicion and abuse.
Demographic pressures and the impact of climate change on vulnerable societies are likely to drive further migration in the years ahead. As a global community, we face a choice. Do we want migration to be a source of prosperity and international solidarity, or a byword for inhumanity and social friction?… Seguir leyendo »
This will be a big year for the Paris climate agreement. The broad outlines of the deal were figured out in 2015, but the specific rules governing what it requires countries to do will have to be written by the end of 2018.
In spite of U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the accord, the deal appears surprisingly strong. In the final months of 2017, Nicaragua and Syria, the last two holdouts of the more than 190 nations that met in Paris, signed on. The U.S., meanwhile, will not be able to withdraw from the agreement until Nov.… Seguir leyendo »
Iraqi children have been the victims of the country’s dire political situation even before the start of the war led by the United States. The negative effects on children started with the harsh United Nations sanctions against the regime of Saddam Hussein and were considerably aggravated by the war, whose consequences are still felt.
Even now, hardly a week passes in Iraq without violence leaving both children and adults with permanent physical and mental scars. Experts such as Dr. Haithi al-Sady from the Psychological Research Center at Baghdad University have warned of the high number of children suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).… Seguir leyendo »
Here’s a new year fantasy: Imagine that, in response to President Donald Trump’s announcement that the U.S. will recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, Palestinians had renounced violence and embarked on a sustained campaign of Gandhian protest.
Imagine that instead of reading from the same familiar script, Palestinian leaders had called for sit-ins, silent marches and civil disobedience rather than “days of rage.” Imagine peaceful Palestinian demonstrations aimed more at drawing world attention to the justice of their cause than at producing martyrs or provoking anger at Israel.
It’s hard to imagine, that’s true. The Palestinian Authority has historically thought it would take violence to create a sovereign Palestinian state, and in any case it lacks the ability to bind other groups.… Seguir leyendo »
Professional forecasters like to say that making predictions is difficult, particularly about the future. However, here are some of the key themes — and questions — that look set to shape global events this year.
Will prosecutor Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation mark the end of Donald Trump’s presidency?
Trump didn’t expect to be Time magazine’s Man of the Year for 2017, but 2018 could be the year that we get a clearer idea of the legacy he will leave.
First, it should become clear just how much mileage Mueller’s probe into alleged collusion with Russia in the 2016 election really has.… Seguir leyendo »
In Myanmar, one of the world’s most diverse, multiethnic nations, there is a rare consensus — the much-persecuted Rohingya Muslims are outsiders and not part of the country. A military operation to flush out Rohingya militants waging a hit-and-run campaign has led to an exodus of Rohingya residents from Rakhine state, creating a refugee crisis for Bangladesh and, to a smaller extent, India.
India, over the years, has generously admitted asylum seekers or refugees from a host of places, including Tibet, Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and China. But the illegal entry of tens of thousands of Rohingya is seen in India as an internal security challenge, in part because of the threat the Indian government perceives from Rohingya jihadist activities.… Seguir leyendo »
Reasonable people have long believed that the first person in a conversation to mention Adolf Hitler or the Nazis loses the argument. Turkish President Recep Tayib Erdogan does not subscribe to this view, and he has no intention of losing the argument.
The argument — the referendum, more precisely — is about whether Erdogan should be given absolute power in Turkey for the indefinite future. He was seriously annoyed when various German municipalities dared to doubt his rendezvous with destiny.
Their crime was to withhold permission for Erdogan’s government to hold referendum rallies in German cities. Germany is home to 1.4 million Turkish citizens, and in a tight referendum their votes matter, so Erdogan was quite put out.… Seguir leyendo »
North Korea acts like an incorrigible child, only with nuclear weapons. Whenever hopes begin to build that Pyongyang is ready to try a new approach, it engages in some new mischief or malice.
So it is with the apparent assassination of Kim Jong Nam, half brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, as North Korea is officially known, likely used the deadly nerve agent VX at a busy airport filled with bustling travelers.
So what to do about Pyongyang?
No one has any particularly good ideas. Some propose putting the North back on the United States’ official list of state sponsors of terrorism.… Seguir leyendo »
In 2003, Indo-American public intellectual Fareed Zakaria published an influential book titled “The Future of Freedom: Liberal Democracy at Home and Abroad.” Democracy — the rule of and by the people — is not inherently good in and of itself, Zakaria argued, but needs to be tempered by liberalism. Liberty and economic freedom have to be anchored in the rule of law, a separation of powers and the protection of basic rights. Zakaria’s thesis seems relevant both to the world’s oldest democracy, the United States, and the biggest democracy, India.
India continues to be robustly, even chaotically, democratic. But its freedom is under growing threat.… Seguir leyendo »
Only 39 light-years away, astronomers have found seven planets circling a very small “red dwarf” star called Trappist-1. All seven are in or near what we call the “Goldilocks zone”: not too hot, not too cold, but just right for water to remain liquid on the planet. So we all speculate once again, but a little more bravely this time, about whether some of these planets might be home to life.
Not only are three of Trappist-1’s planets dead center in the Goldilocks zone; the other four are on the fringes of the habitable zone. And they are all big enough — from half Earth’s size to slightly bigger than our home planet — to retain an atmosphere for billions of years.… Seguir leyendo »
Kim Jong Nam, older half-brother of North Korea’s young leader, Kim Jong Un, died at Kuala Lumpur International Airport while preparing to fly to Macau. He reportedly was injected or sprayed with poison by two unidentified women, presumed to be North Korean agents. If true, it seems Kim Jong Un is tying up loose ends, eliminating a family heir who might have been used to legitimize a successor regime.
North Korea always has looked a bit like the Ottoman Empire with the plethora of “royal” children and other close relatives competing for power. Until Kim Jong Un, however, family members might lose authority and disappear from public view, but they were not murdered — a practice embraced by Ottoman sultans.… Seguir leyendo »
Since the arrival of Donald Trump in the White House, U.S. policy toward Southeast Asia has remained uncertain. Leaders around the world have become anxious about whether the United States will continue to engage with the global community or adopt an isolationist foreign policy to please American conservatives.
Amid this anxiety, the U.S. recently announced the launch of this year’s Cobra Gold military exercise, due to begin Tuesday. Cobra Gold has long represented the bedrock of relations between the U.S. and Thailand, which can be traced back to the Cold War period. The exercise, initiated in 1980 and one of the largest in the Asia-Pacific region, involves 13,000 troops from 24 Asian-Pacific countries.… Seguir leyendo »
Religious differences run deep in our pluralistic world. It may come as no surprise that such disagreements sometimes end up in violence.
Yet that rarely is the case in what might be called Christendom. Indeed, in large part there is little discrimination let alone persecution against spiritual minorities in majority Christian nations. The exceptions tend to be countries that suffered under communism or other authoritarian forms of rule.
In contrast, brutal mistreatment of religious minorities of all faiths is the norm in majority Muslim countries. The degree of harm varies—Christians live better in the small Gulf States than in Saudi Arabia, for instance, where not a single church is allowed to exist.… Seguir leyendo »
China’s seizure of a U.S. Navy unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV) in the South China Sea last month garnered widespread attention. The drone was an oceanographic research instrument, available for commercial purchase off the shelf and without any value for capture.
Although Washington and Beijing seemed to resolve the issue within a few days, other commentators have noted that the incident fits into a pattern of Chinese behavior surrounding American transitions of power. Both the 2001 EP-3 collision and the 2009 harassment of the USNS Impeccable occurred in the weeks immediately following American presidential inaugurations. Both actions seemed calculated to challenge the new presidents in an effort to gauge their reactions and convey a message of Chinese strength and determination early in the new leaders’ terms.… Seguir leyendo »
On Jan. 11 former Exxon Mobil CEO and now U.S. President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for secretary of state Rex Tillerson was grilled by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee regarding his position on various current international issues. He was pressed by Texas Republican Sen. Marco Rubio regarding his view of recent actions by Russia in Ukraine, Syria and cyberspace. Tillerson wisely — some would say evasively — avoided direct answers repeatedly pleading ignorance and a need for more information.
He should have done the same for questions regarding China’s actions in the South China Sea. Instead he made several intemperate remarks that have alarmed China and the region, including U.S.… Seguir leyendo »
Well before Donald Trump was elected president of the United States, I sent a holiday greeting to my friends that read: “These times are not business as usual. Wishing you the best in a troubled world.” Now I feel the need to share this message with the rest of the world. But before I do, I must tell you who I am and what I stand for.
I am an 86-year-old Hungarian Jew who became a U.S. citizen after the end of World War II. I learned at an early age how important it is what kind of political regime prevails.… Seguir leyendo »
Following the Thai political crisis that led to two military coups in 2006 and 2014, overthrowing the elected governments of Thaksin and Yingluck Shinawatra respectively, it became evident that the Thai middle class and civil society organizations were not performing as agents of change. Instead they became defenders of the old power while protecting their political interests.
Claiming to safeguard democracy, members of the Bangkok-based middle class staged protests against these governments, which were supposedly tainted by self-interested politicians like Thaksin and Yingluck. In reality, the fear of the Shinawatras and their successful populism designed to empower the rural residents answered why the middle class and civil society rejected their kind of democracy.… Seguir leyendo »
On Dec. 23, the U.N. Security Council adopted Resolution 2334 by a vote of 14-0. By abstaining, the United States chose not to veto the resolution’s criticism of Israeli settlements in lands occupied since the 1967 war. About 600,000 Jews live in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. A large number of settlements are unauthorized, although some have been retroactively legalized.
By contrast Palestinians’ requests for building approvals are routinely rejected and unauthorized constructions are promptly demolished by army bulldozers. With de facto colonization by stealth, the maze of barriers, checkpoints and fences no longer correspond to internationally recognized demarcation lines.… Seguir leyendo »