RealClearWorld Articles

Donald's Wall Is Already There

Todd Miller - August 26, 2016


At the federal courthouse, Ignacio Sarabia asks the magistrate judge, Jacqueline Rateau, if he can explain why he crossed the international boundary between the two countries without authorization. He has already pleaded guilty to the federal misdemeanor commonly known as “illegal entry” and is about to receive a prison sentence. On either side of him are eight men in the same predicament, all still sunburned, all in the same ripped, soiled clothes they were wearing when arrested in the Arizona desert by agents of the U.S. Border Patrol.

Once again, the zero tolerance border enforcement program known as Operation Streamline has unfolded just as it always does here in Tucson, Arizona. Close to 60 people have already approached the judge in groups of seven or eight, their heads bowed submissively, their bodies weighed down by shackles and chains around wrists, waists, and ankles. The judge has handed out the requisite prison sentences in quick succession -- 180 days, 60 days, 90 days, 30 days.

On and on it goes, day-in, day-out. Like so many meals served in fast-food restaurants, 750,000 prison sentences of this sort have been handed down since Operation Streamline was launched in 2005. This mass prosecution of undocumented border crossers has become so much the norm that one reportconcluded it is now a “driving force in mass incarceration” in the United States. Yet it is but a single program among many overseen by the massive U.S. border enforcement and incarceration regime that has developed during the last two decades, particularly in the post-9/11 era.

Sarabia takes a half-step forward. “My infant is four months old,” he tells the judge in Spanish. The baby was, he assures her, born with a heart condition and is a U.S. citizen. They have no option but to operate. This is the reason, he says, that “I’m here before you.” He pauses.
“I want to be with my child, who is in the United States.”

Turkey's Government Celebrates Syria Intervention

Tom Stevenson - August 26, 2016

Turkish government officials praised the Turkish army's successful operation to take control of the northern Syrian town of Jarabulus on Wednesday - Turkey's first direct foray into the Syrian conflict - in no uncertain terms.

Prime Minister Binali Yildirim described the US-backed operation, which saw Jarabulus captured with little fighting and no Turkish casualties, as evidence of Turkey taking action over Syria in contrast to the West's dithering inaction.

"They are just competing with each other instead of solving the problem. Then, who pays the price? The displaced and killed civilians and Turkey pay the price," Yildirim said.

On Thursday Turkey's special forces commander, Lieutenant General Zekai Aksakalli, was photographed in Jarabulus celebrating the operations. Turkey's EU affairs minister Omer Celikclaimed the move was essential to European security.

We 'Old' Immigrants Are Concerned

Mathias Von Hein - August 26, 2016


DW: A year ago, during the mass influx of refugees, Angela Merkel became known for her "We can do it" mantra. Large parts of the German population took part in what became known as "welcome culture" after the borders had effectively been opened on September 5. A year on, how would you assess "welcome culture?"

Bassam Tibi: According to Max Weber, a politician has three obligations: 1) a sense of responsibility 2) sound judgment and 3) passionate objectivity. "We can do it" is a slogan. That can be good or bad. I'm not interested in it. What interests me is whether there is an idea behind it. But I don't see the idea. The Koran asks about the main human trait – I am a Muslim, "Don't you have a brain? Can't you reason?" Human beings can reason. And the main purpose of reason is the ability to learn. A year after "We can do it," Angela Merkel interrupts her vacation; she goes to Berlin after the terrorist attacks in July. And you may think, "Now the woman has learned something; now she will be logical when she speaks. And what does she say? 'We can do it.'" I almost fell off my chair. I thought, "What country am I living in?" There is more reason in my home country Syria than in Germany.

In your opinion, what should Angela Merkel have learned?

Angela Merkel must know. Last year, there were 58 million refugees worldwide. The number has reached 65.3 according to the United Nations. The majority of these people come from Africa and the Middle East and they want to go to Europe. That is the problem. I am willing to accept 1, 2 or 3 million. But I cannot accept 65 million. It is not possible. We are not talking about morals. Politics is not morality. "Politics is a strong and slow boring of hard boards," as Max Weber says. Merkel has not recognized the problem. Even if you want to receive refugees, but within limits, Merkel says the constitution states no cap. Can you name a law with numbers and percentages? I feel duped! "We can do it" is not a solution, but instead, a moral confession.

Italy's Earthquake Is the Latest in a History of Destruction

Mike Sandiford - August 25, 2016

The Appenines region of central Italy has been struck by a deadly earthquake, with a magnitude of 6.2. The quake, which had an epicentre roughly 10km southeast of Norcia, Italy, occurred just over seven years after the 2009 L'Aquila earthquake that killed more than 300 people only 90km away.

The latest earthquake occurred at 3:36 am local time. The number of fatalities is unknown at time of writing but already exceeds 100. Buildings have collapsed in nearby Amatrice and residents are reportedly trapped in rubble.

General tectonic setting of Italy, showing seismicity over the past 10 years from the USGS catalogue. USGS

Fracture zone

This earthquake is no surprise. Italy is prone to earthquakes; it sits above the boundary of the African and European plates. The oceanic crust of the African plate is subducting (sinking) under Italy, creating iconic natural features such as the volcano at Mount Vesuvius. These plates are converging at a rate of around 5mm each year.

Both the L’Aquila and Norcia earthquakes were located below the central Appenines, which form the mountainous spine of Italy.

Crimea Is Not Russia

Daniel Kochis - August 25, 2016


Picture this: A foreign power invades California tomorrow and officially annexes it a few weeks later. The invaders have stolen nearly 5 percent of our nation’s landmass, including some of its most beautiful coastlines, resource-rich lands, and strategically important territory.

If you were Ukrainian, you’d have no trouble imagining this bleak scenario. This is pretty much what happened in 2014. In February that year, Russia illegally invaded the Crimean peninsula, organized a sham referendum in early March, and officially annexed the strategic region a couple of weeks later.

In annexing the peninsula, Russia seized over four percent of Ukraine’s territory, more than halved its coastline, and laid claim to the natural resources thought to lie off its shores, beneath the Black Sea. The theft had strategic value as well, and that value is why nations have fought over Crimea for centuries.

How the West reacts moving forward will depend on whether or not its leaders swallow (or at least pretend to accept) two pernicious myths propagated by the Kremlin’s disinformation machine.

How to Leave the European Union

Adriano Bosoni - August 25, 2016


After the results of the Brexit referendum, many EU governments and officials went out of their way to emphasize that the vote did not herald the end of the European Union and could even make it stronger. For these officials, presenting the vote as an oddity is essential to preserving the bloc. After all, if the Brexit is not an exception, then it could become an example for other countries to follow. The specter of the British precedent will shape relations between the bloc and the United Kingdom for years to come, throughout the negotiations process and afterward.

By now, it is clear that London is trying to delay its formal discussions to leave the European Union for as long as possible. Two months after the vote, the British government still faces conflicting pressure from the country's "leave" and "remain" camps as it tries to develop a strategy for exit negotiations, tentatively scheduled to begin in early 2017. The European Union, meanwhile, has dilemmas of its own with which to contend. The bloc's political heavyweights, Germany and France, will each hold general elections in 2017, and Italy may well join them if a referendum on constitutional reforms fails before the end of the year, precipitating the fall of the government. Dealing with domestic opposition parties that want their own versions of the Brexit referendum, Berlin, Paris and Rome want to send their voters the message that the costs of leaving the European Union outweigh the benefits. At the same time, Europe's main political players understand that prolonged uncertainty will hurt the Continent's fragile economic recovery. An agreement, therefore, is inevitable, even if negotiations could continue well into the next decade.

 

null

Breaking the Mold

Sample Headline

brockway - August 24, 2016


Lorum ipsum dolor sit amet. Lorum ipsum dolor sit amet. Lorum ipsum dolor sit amet. Lorum ipsum dolor sit amet. Lorum ipsum dolor sit amet. Lorum ipsum dolor sit amet. Lorum ipsum dolor sit amet. Lorum ipsum dolor sit amet. Lorum ipsum dolor sit amet. Lorum ipsum dolor sit amet. Lorum ipsum dolor sit amet. Lorum ipsum dolor sit amet. Lorum ipsum dolor sit amet. Lorum ipsum dolor sit amet. Lorum ipsum dolor sit amet. Lorum ipsum dolor sit amet. Lorum ipsum dolor sit amet. Lorum ipsum dolor sit amet. Lorum ipsum dolor sit amet. Lorum ipsum dolor sit amet. Lorum ipsum dolor sit amet. Lorum ipsum dolor sit amet. Lorum ipsum dolor sit amet. Lorum ipsum dolor sit amet. Lorum ipsum dolor sit amet. Lorum ipsum dolor sit amet. Lorum ipsum dolor sit amet. Lorum ipsum dolor sit amet. Lorum ipsum dolor sit amet. Lorum ipsum dolor sit amet. Lorum ipsum dolor sit amet. 

Lorum ipsum dolor sit amet. Lorum ipsum dolor sit amet. Lorum ipsum dolor sit amet. Lorum ipsum dolor sit amet. Lorum ipsum dolor sit amet. Lorum ipsum dolor sit amet. Lorum ipsum dolor sit amet. Lorum ipsum dolor sit amet. Lorum ipsum dolor sit amet. Lorum ipsum dolor sit amet. Lorum ipsum dolor sit amet. Lorum ipsum dolor sit amet. Lorum ipsum dolor sit amet. Lorum ipsum dolor sit amet. Lorum ipsum dolor sit amet. Lorum ipsum dolor sit amet. Lorum ipsum dolor sit amet. Lorum ipsum dolor sit amet. Lorum ipsum dolor sit amet. Lorum ipsum dolor sit amet. Lorum ipsum dolor sit amet. Lorum ipsum dolor sit amet. Lorum ipsum dolor sit amet. Lorum ipsum dolor sit amet. Lorum ipsum dolor sit amet. Lorum ipsum dolor sit amet. Lorum ipsum dolor sit amet. Lorum ipsum dolor sit amet. Lorum ipsum dolor sit amet. Lorum ipsum dolor sit amet. Lorum ipsum dolor sit amet. Lorum ipsum dolor sit amet. Lorum ipsum dolor sit amet. Lorum ipsum dolor sit amet. Lorum ipsum dolor sit amet. Lorum ipsum dolor sit amet. Lorum ipsum dolor sit amet. Lorum ipsum dolor sit amet. Lorum ipsum dolor sit amet. 

Lorum ipsum dolor sit amet. Lorum ipsum dolor sit amet. Lorum ipsum dolor sit amet. Lorum ipsum dolor sit amet. Lorum ipsum dolor sit amet. Lorum ipsum dolor sit amet. Lorum ipsum dolor sit amet. Lorum ipsum dolor sit amet. Lorum ipsum dolor sit amet. Lorum ipsum dolor sit amet. Lorum ipsum dolor sit amet. Lorum ipsum dolor sit amet. Lorum ipsum dolor sit amet. Lorum ipsum dolor sit amet. Lorum ipsum dolor sit amet. Lorum ipsum dolor sit amet. Lorum ipsum dolor sit amet. Lorum ipsum dolor sit amet. Lorum ipsum dolor sit amet. Lorum ipsum dolor sit amet. Lorum ipsum dolor sit amet. Lorum ipsum dolor sit amet. Lorum ipsum dolor sit amet. Lorum ipsum dolor sit amet. Lorum ipsum dolor sit amet. Lorum ipsum dolor sit amet. Lorum ipsum dolor sit amet. Lorum ipsum dolor sit amet. Lorum ipsum dolor sit amet. Lorum ipsum dolor sit amet. Lorum ipsum dolor sit amet. Lorum ipsum dolor sit amet. Lorum ipsum dolor sit amet. Lorum ipsum dolor sit amet. Lorum ipsum dolor sit amet. Lorum ipsum dolor sit amet. Lorum ipsum dolor sit amet. Lorum ipsum dolor sit amet. Lorum ipsum dolor sit amet. Lorum ipsum dolor sit amet. Lorum ipsum dolor sit amet. Lorum ipsum dolor sit amet. Lorum ipsum dolor sit amet. Lorum ipsum dolor sit amet. Lorum ipsum dolor sit amet. Lorum ipsum dolor sit amet. Lorum ipsum dolor sit amet. Lorum ipsum dolor sit amet. 

Lorum ipsum dolor sit amet. Lorum ipsum dolor sit amet. Lorum ipsum dolor sit amet. Lorum ipsum dolor sit amet. Lorum ipsum dolor sit amet. Lorum ipsum dolor sit amet. Lorum ipsum dolor sit amet. Lorum ipsum dolor sit amet. Lorum ipsum dolor sit amet. Lorum ipsum dolor sit amet. Lorum ipsum dolor sit amet. Lorum ipsum dolor sit amet. Lorum ipsum dolor sit amet. Lorum ipsum dolor sit amet. Lorum ipsum dolor sit amet. Lorum ipsum dolor sit amet. 

This is sample text for the Pull-Quote Feature. You can replace this text with as much text as needed. Lorum ipsum dolor sit amet.

RCW Developer

Brexit: Limiting the Damage

Michael Leigh - August 23, 2016


BRUSSELS - David Cameron’s decision to call a referendum on Britain’s EU membership has inflicted more harm on Britain and on Europe as a whole than any decision by a British prime minister since the 1956 Suez crisis or the 1938 Munich agreement. The governing Conservatives are being driven by extremists and have adopted the policies of the populist United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP), now racked by internal divisions. The opposition Labour party is in meltdown; the Liberal Democrats marginalized. Public discontent with mainstream politicians continues to grow. The government has no plan for implementing Brexit, no idea of its negotiating objectives, and is wholly unprepared. 

The decade ahead will probably be dominated by tortuous negotiations, disruption, and disinvestment. Brexit negotiations, and the fear of contagion to other member states, will distract the EU from efforts to strengthen the Euro and to address challenges from terrorism to migration, energy security and climate change. Britain, Europe and, indeed, the United States have an interest in limiting the damage.

Theresa May, Britain’s new prime minister, who herself mildly favored “remain” before the June referendum, considers the outcome irreversible and now views Brexit in uncompromising terms. She must deliver Brexit without undue delay to keep her party behind her and UKIP under control. Yet she cannot expect France, Germany, and the Netherlands to agree to a satisfactory deal for post-Brexit Britain ahead of their elections, which run through October 2017. Other member states also face difficult political transitions.

She is right, therefore, to take her time in devising attainable negotiating objectives and testing them out, before formally notifying the EU of Britain’s intention to withdraw. This notification will trigger a two-year deadline, after which Britain will simply become a “third country” enjoying no special relationship with the EU, unless an agreement is approved by all member states.

Another Russia Does Exist

Andrei Kozyrev - August 23, 2016


On the morning of Aug. 19, 1991, in the center of Moscow, I stood by the window of the presidential office in the Russian Soviet Republic’s headquarters, known as the White House. There I watched as two long columns of vehicles simultaneously approached. It was an incredible picture. On the left side was a line of dusty, fully armed battle tanks, something never before seen in the city other than for military parades on national holidays, when they were always clean to a shine. On the right was a cavalcade of sparkling black sedans, carrying on their hoods the flags of Western countries. A car with the Stars and Stripes on its hood took the lead.

The tanks had been ordered against us by a junta of Soviet hardliners who had placed reformist Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev under house arrest at his dacha in Crimea, and who were now prepared to use military power to crush the forces of change his reforms had unleashed. The diplomats were coming to show support for those very forces, even at considerable risk to their own safety. This juxtaposition epitomized the choice faced by Russia and by the Russian people, at that moment and ever since: to embrace reform, Western-style democracy, and conciliatory relations with our neighbors, or to be drawn back to militaristic authoritarianism.

That day 25 years ago, the Russian people spoke clear, and they spoke loud. By noon, thousands of men and women bearing flowers, banners, and musical instruments, but prepared to fight with their bare hands if necessary, surrounded the White House. They formed a living wall, and the first ever popularly elected leader of Russia, President Boris Yeltsin, pledged to them to stand for freedom. He made this promise while standing atop one of the very tanks that had been sent by his opponents, with the tank’s crew and other soldiers, and thousands of ordinary Russians, cheering him on. This image, shot by CNN cameras, captured imaginations in Russia and in the West: Yeltsin was a symbol of the new Russia, determined to transform his country from a threat to peace into a friend and partner. Clashes elsewhere in the city killed three young people, but within three days the hardliners had been defeated.

The reformist promise of late August 1991 gained momentum in the days and months that followed. The communist party dictatorship collapsed, and with it we buried the Soviet Union itself. In its place, in December that year, a Commonwealth of Independent States that included Russia and Ukraine was peacefully formed based on respect of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of each participant. The Russian government took bold steps toward the transition to a market economy, free and fair elections of government officials, and above all a truly free press.

Making Sense of Trump and His National Security Critics

Rebecca Gordon - August 22, 2016


It’s not every day that Republicans publish an open letter announcing that their presidential candidate is unfit for office. But lately this sort of thing has been happening more and more frequently. The most recent example: we just heard from 50 representatives of the national security apparatus, men -- and a few women -- who served under Republican presidents from Ronald Reagan to George W. Bush. All of them are very worried about Donald Trump.

They think we should be alerted to the fact that the Republican standard-bearer “lacks the character, values, and experience to be president.”

That’s true of course, but it’s also pretty rich, coming from this bunch. The letter’s signers include, among others, the man who was Condoleezza Rice’s legal advisor when she ran the National Security Council (John Bellinger III); one of George W. Bush’s CIA directors who also ran the National Security Agency (Michael Hayden); a Bush administration ambassador to the United Nations and Iraq (John Negroponte); an architect of the neoconservative policy in the Middle East adopted by the Bush administration that led to the invasion of Iraq, who has since served as president of the World Bank (Robert Zoellick). In short, given the history of the “global war on terror,” this is your basic list of potential American war criminals.

Their letter continues, “He weakens U.S. moral authority as the leader of the free world.”

How Israel Became a Role Model in Fighting Terrorism

Nathalie Hamou - August 22, 2016


PARIS — In the wake of last month's tragedy in Nice, just like after the attacks in Paris on November 13th, the same solution was put forward for France: “the Israeli model,” where the terrorist threat is part of daily life.

In Tel Aviv, military experts invited on television sets appeared to be modest, avoiding any kind of reference to an “Israeli anti-terrorist model.” The Jewish state, whose people have been through seven wars and two intifadas since its creation, has become a textbook case for how to handle a permanent state of insecurity. This expertise could be a source of inspiration for European decision-makers.

In the aftermath of the attacks in Paris, Cannes mayor David Lisnard called upon former Israeli Brigadier-General Nitzan Nuriel to help local authorities and emergency intervention teams prepare for a possible attack during the world-famous Cannes film festival. Last April Nuriel, who also headed Israel's anti-terrorism bureau from 2007 to 2012, conducted a terror simulation at the festival’s convention center to test the city’s reinforced security measures. He had previously carried out an audit based on lessons learned from the 2008 Mumbai attacks and the 2004 Madrid bombings, the two disasters professionals remember most.

One of his recommendations was to “secure the seafront” and enhance controls on all land and sea access points to the city of Cannes. Asked about the Nice attack, he told Les Échos: “I have the feeling France wasn’t really prepared for such a disaster.”

The Syria "What If" That May Haunt Obama

W. Robert Pearson - August 21, 2016


On Aug. 21, 2013, the Syrian government murdered more than 1,400 innocent Syrians in the Damascus suburb of Ghouta -- including several hundred children -- in a nerve gas attack. What if the United States had decisively dealt with the Assad government after its chemical weapons attack? It certainly would have been a defining moment for every major participant -- Syria, Russia, Turkey, and the United States. That deadly attack and its aftermath may have profoundly affected U.S.-Turkey relations and the fate of the besieged Syrian city of Aleppo.

Rewind one year, to August 2012, and recall that it was President Barack Obama who said "We have been very clear to the Assad regime, but also to other players on the ground, that a red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized. That would change my calculus. That would change my equation.”

Syrian warplanes were nonetheless back in the air three weeks after the nerve gas attack. Facing opposition in Congress over an airstrike and some hesitation among its allies, the United States had welcomed a Russian proposal to negotiate the destruction of Syria’s chemical arsenal. Syria’s regime had escaped unscathed, and Russia had seized the diplomatic momentum on the Syrian issue.

It is difficult to gainsay President Obama’s decision. He had inherited two wars in Afghanistan and Iraq that he was trying to end. A third military campaign in Libya had seemingly ended in October 2011 with the capture and killing of former leader Moammar Gadhafi, only to be marred by postwar instability and the 2012 murder in Benghazi of Ambassador Chris Stevens. Since 2006, Washington and its P5+1 partners had been negotiating on a nuclear weapons agreement with Iran, and the president wanted that process to continue. Even so, Israel and some members of Congress seemed to prefer a new war with the Islamic Republic of Iran. That would be three wars fought and two more contemplated for the United States in the Middle East within a single decade.The first two alone had cost Americans up to an estimated $6 trillion, approximately one-third of the country’s annual GNP. The United States was in the midst of its worst economic downturn in 80 years and was facing a long, slow recovery. Finally, and importantly, most Americans were in no mood for another war. By a strict calculation of the pros and cons, the answer looked clear -- stay out of it.

Venezuela's Military Has Been Getting Stronger Since the Days of Hugo Chavez

Rebecca Jarman - August 19, 2016


When General Néstor Reverol was appointed Venezuela’s new home secretary, much of the world interpreted it as an ominous sign of growing military influence. The appointment was a strange one in itself: just one day after Reverol was indicted in the US on charges of drug trafficking, president Nicolás Maduro called him “an exemplary officer”, “a brave man”, and the ideal candidate to stake out the mafioso gangs supposedly holding Venezuela to ransom.

This was the latest in a growing number of military appointments to Maduro’s government. Only a fortnight before, the incumbent defence minister, General Vladimir Padrino López, was given control of a national distribution network that oversees the administration of food, medicine and basic goods in an attempt to ease the country’s notorious shortages. From here on, all other ministers will answer to López as the second-in-command of Venezuela’s so-called “economic war” on hoarding, speculation and neo-imperialist forces, embodied on the ground by black marketeers and small-time capitalists.

That so many army officials are being nominated for political positions has not gone unnoticed. Some onlookers are speculating that it amounts to a clandestine coup against the increasingly unstable Venezuelan president, who seems increasingly unable or unwilling to tackle the hyperinflation that has brought the country to paralysis.

All this concern, however, is long overdue. A much longer and slower process of militarisation has been underway for some time.

Trump Advisers Waged Covert Influence Campaign in Ukraine

Chad Day - August 19, 2016


WASHINGTON (AP) -- A firm run by Donald Trump's campaign chairman directly orchestrated a covert Washington lobbying operation on behalf of Ukraine's ruling political party, attempting to sway American public opinion in favor of the country's pro-Russian government, emails obtained by The Associated Press show. Paul Manafort and his deputy, Rick Gates, never disclosed their work as foreign agents as required under federal law.

The lobbying included attempts to gain positive press coverage of Ukrainian officials in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Associated Press. Another goal: undercutting American public sympathy for the imprisoned rival of Ukraine's then-president. At the time, European and American leaders were pressuring Ukraine to free her.

Gates personally directed the work of two prominent Washington lobbying firms in the matter, the emails show. He worked for Manafort's political consulting firm at the time.

Manafort's and Gates' activities carry outsized importance, since they have steered Trump's campaign since April. The pair also played a formative role building out Trump's campaign operation after pushing out an early rival. Trump shook up his campaign's organization again this week, but Manafort and Gates retain their titles and much of their influence. The new disclosures about their work come as Trump faces criticism for his friendly overtures to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Stuck in an Intractable Syria

Aaron David Miller - August 19, 2016


Have you ever wondered why the Syrian conflict has dragged on for so long?

At the core of the struggle is that local Syrian actors have so far been unable and unwilling to agree on an acceptable and sustainable way to end their conflict.

And as attested to by the recent back-and-forth struggle over the fate of Aleppo -- Syria’s second largest city -- none of those actors seem powerful enough to best the others. None can restore the old order, and none can create a new order -- not even with the help of outside powers.

So what about those outside powers?   

American Conservatism and Russia

George Friedman - August 18, 2016


Until the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, one of the centerpieces of American conservatism was anti-communism. Anti-communism readily translated into anti-Soviet sentiment and that into anti-Russian. One of conservatives’ major criticisms of liberals was that they underestimated the threat the Soviet Union posed. The right saw the left as excessively prepared to negotiate away fundamental American interests and principles to placate the Soviets.

American conservatism has fragmented into so many parts since 1991 that it bears little resemblance to the movement Ronald Reagan presided over. However, of all the fragments, the most interesting and exotic is the one that appears to be pro-Russian, regarding Russian President Vladimir Putin favorably. I am not only talking about Donald Trump, although his speech on national security explicitly called for a working relationship with Russia to fight Islamist terrorism. I am talking about a faction of conservatism that does not see Russia, even led by a former dedicated KGB man (and therefore a former member of the Communist Party), as a strategic or moral threat to the United States, but rather a potential ally.

Part of the reason for this is the rise of the jihadist strain of Islam that has unleashed terror on the United States and Europe. The threat of Russian power seems distant. The threat of Islamic terrorism seems imminent. It poses a threat to Russia as well as the United States. The Russians were fighting Muslim separatists in Chechnya years before 9/11. Indeed, when Putin came to power in 2000, he renewed that war with ruthlessness and managed to mostly pacify the region.

There is a theory that the enemy of my enemy is my friend. In the same way that conservatives focused far more on ideology than they did on strategy, their moral objection to communism has transferred to the Islamic world. They are strengthened in this regard by what they see as liberals’ unwillingness to respond in kind. Just as the conservatives objected to liberal policy toward the Soviets as anything from ineffective to collaborative, so the same objections are being expressed about the liberal response to Islam.

Germany and the UK: Hints of a Role Reversal

Almut Moeller - August 18, 2016


“Summer is off” was German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s message at the end of July when she decided to interrupt her holidays for her annual summer press briefing. In the aftermath of the attacks in Wuerzburg, Munich, and Ansbach, as well as the attempted military coup in Turkey, Merkel felt compelled to address the German public on some fundamental questions of government policy.

The chancellor is traditionally expected to cover a lot of ground in this press briefing. And indeed, Merkel admitted in her typically sober and understated style that she did not feel “unterausgelasted” (“underworked”) by the number and scope of challenges to German and European societies. She even admitted to sometimes feeling like she needed a good dose of sleep -- and suggested that all the events that have left the European Union and its members increasingly frail and disunited required deep reflection.

For policy analysts as well, this summer has hardly seemed like “time off,” but has nonetheless been a time for the brain to take a break from the news-driven routine and to engage in some bigger and longer-term thinking. Summer seminars -- usually convened in pleasant settings -- often provide just the right change of scenery to help structure one’s thinking process. And this year, British-German seminars have been particularly thought-provoking.

At the British-German Forum in Sussex in mid-July and at a gathering of the Koenigswinter Conference in Berlin two weeks later I was left with a sense of things being turned upside down. In the past it has usually been the German cohort in such settings that navigated toward talking about Europe, while the Brits were more at ease fretting about foreign policy and the state of the world at large. What a stark difference to this year’s discussions, which took place only a few weeks after the British referendum on EU membership. Understandably, the Brexit vote and the European Union were at the heart of British conversations. By contrast, Germans were interested more in the wider foreign and security challenges facing Europe. In trying to meet the task of talking about the state of the Union from a German perspective, I felt the urge to start off with thoughts on what the world looked like from Germany.

San Diego Built a Bridge Over Its Border Wall

Andrew Selee - August 17, 2016


The idea of building a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico has gained traction again in this election year. The timing may be a little unusual: Illegal immigration from Mexico is negligible these days, with the overall unauthorized population dropping noticeably since 2008. Further, for the first time in decades, there are almost certainly more Mexicans leaving the United States than coming here.

City leaders in San Diego, America's seventh largest city and the only one in the top 10 governed by a Republican mayor, have actually pursued a different approach to the border. Instead of asking for a higher wall, San Diego's leaders decided to build a bridge over the piece of wall they already had. That bridge, a futuristic structure spanning majestically over the border fence below, allows San Diegans to use Tijuana's much larger airport to take flights to Asia and Latin America. Since it was inaugurated in December 2015, San Diego flyers have been able to check into their flights on the U.S. side of the pedestrian bridge, walk across into Mexico, going through immigration and customs as they go, and head straight to their gate at the General Abelardo L. Rodriguez Airport in Tijuana.

The bridge solved one of the city's most vexing problems: the lack of a major airport that could connect San Diego to major cities around the world. The existing airport inside the city couldn't be expanded, and other options were simply too costly. Meanwhile, San Diego's high-tech industries were losing their competitive standing against other cities on the West Coast that offer easy flights to Asia and Latin America. City leaders eventually decided that the best option was to make it easier for people in San Diego to use Tijuana's airport, which already had international flights and was located just across the border. Private investors funded the bridge figuring that the $18 crossing fee would eventually make the venture profitable.

But the airport bridge is only one of the many things going on between two large neighboring cities that once barely interacted with each other. Today dozens of businesses have design and production facilities on both sides of the border, and the area's local governments engage in regional planning together. Museums and cultural organizations frequently offer binational expositions and workshops. Leaders in both cities have even floated ideas for a joint Olympics or World Cup someday, taking advantage of the combined stadium capacity they would have.

China's Investments Reveal Its Broader Ambitions

Matthew Bey - August 17, 2016

In November 1979, the Jinghe Share Holding Co. opened its doors in Tokyo, marking China's first overseas investment and the start of the country's transformative economic opening. Today, China has become the world's second-largest investor and biggest supplier of capital. While other markets are in recession, China's economy continues to grow, however slowly. Without question, the gravity of China's economy, coupled with its ever-expanding reach into global affairs, will secure its place of influence in the international system for decades to come.

But the sort of presence Beijing seeks abroad is evolving. For China, as for most countries, investment and acquisition are key components of its strategy for development and, to some extent, national security. Yet as China embarks on the long path leading away from an export-based model of economic growth and toward one dependent on domestic consumption, its investment priorities are shifting. Beijing is gradually replacing its focus on snatching up the developing world's energy and natural resources with an emphasis on acquiring the developed world's value-added industry assets. At the same time, the government's traditional dominance in outward investment is weakening, making room for private enterprises to invest alongside their state-owned peers. Furthermore, China is becoming more careful about its investment decisions, trading a frenzy of hasty purchases for a careful search for quality buys.

By all appearances, China's actions have consistently conformed with these trends for the past two years, even as the scale and size of its investments overseas have steadily risen. But perhaps more important, the new phase of its investment strategy reflects a deeper transformation underway — a change in China's vision of its place in the world.

China 'Goes Out' Into the World

War Crimes Trials for Islamic State Fighters

Ronald Tiersky - August 17, 2016


The military campaign against the Islamic State has jelled, and ISIS defeats continue to mount. As shown in the ouster of Islamic State forces last week from Manbij in Syria and Sirte in Libya, the group’s fighters are now fleeing abroad or into the desert rather than fight to the death to hold untenable positions in cities and towns. Raqqa and Mosul will be next and at that point the war against ISIS in Syria and Iraq becomes a mopping-up operation, however bloody that may be.

Its morale broken and its administrative structures and military force collapsing, the ISIS operation is shifting from establishing a Muslim theocratic state and global authority to surviving as a collection of more or less coherent international terrorist networks. Across the world there may be even more terrorist attacks than before, but at a certain point jumping from one dismal assessment to another must give way to looking at the facts as they are. In the Middle East, numerous religious, ethnic, regional, and national conflicts remain to be addressed, but the Islamic State’s demise will be seen to be an event of historical consequence.

ISIS is the apotheosis of Islamist geopolitical jihad as launched by al-Qaeda in the late 1980s. It will have had a fearsome life, but its short-lived success is unlikely to be replicated, let alone surpassed. That Islamic State survives materially in some other, ultimately less unique and consequential form, is another matter. That other jihadist groups survive for the foreseeable future is also of lesser consequence. That the ideology of global jihad survives in a weakened form and still attracting certain numbers of recruits is also regrettable but not fundamental. Some fanaticisms need only time to burn themselves out.

The issue then is how to make the most of Islamic State’s destruction.