RealClearWorld Blog

How Can Spain Break Its Electoral Gridlock?

Kaj Leers - May 7, 2016
Spain heads to the polls again on June 26 in an election that is widely expected to result in another hung Cortés - Spain's parliament - just as it did in December of last year. The problem is that Spain's electoral system may again give parties reason to play profiling games to prepare for new elections, rather than forming a coalition government. Which parties will dare to take responsibility after June 26? With the possible exception of the socialists of the PSOE and the centrist Ciudadanos, most parties never lost sight of the possibility of new general elections...

Could Brazil's Left Zig-Zag to a Comeback?

Fabio Rafael Fiallo - May 6, 2016
Brazil's President, Dilma Rousseff, is responsible in three ways for her country's predicament. She is responsible for her erratic economic policies, characterized by lavish public spending and mismanagement of public funds, which, along with an adverse world economic climate, have contributed to Brazil's dismal performance in recent years. She is responsible, too, for her reckless oversight of the state-run Petrobras oil firm when she was Energy Minister and chair of the Petrobras board. That firm is at the center of the gravest corruption scandal in the history of Brazil. Finally, she is...

Russia's Military Modernization: Where Next?

Samuel Bendett - April 27, 2016
Following years of rumors, and its initial showing during a military parade in Moscow last year, Russia's newest battle tank, the Armata, continues to make headlines. The Uralvagonzavod factory tabbed to produce the machine announced recently that it could produce an unmanned Armata as well, calling such a tank the weapon of the future. The famous military production plant already has experience with unmanned machines -- it produces a robotic fire truck on the basis of the T-72 battle tank. According to plant management, mass production of the newest manned Armata tanks could begin later this...

The Heat Is Rising as Russia's Economy Falters

Samuel Bendett - April 25, 2016
The worsening state of the Russian economy is under increasing scrutiny, as are divinations of its meaning for the Russian regime. Most prognostications stop short of issuing a verdict on the future of the Russian state should its economy plunge even further. Despite a state of affairs that would alarm a truly Western-style economy, the Russian economy continues to function, and even shows short spikes of growth in the face of the broad sanctions imposed on Russia. While arguments in favor of Russian stability in the face of continued economic instability are probably correct, many analysts...


Let's Have One Corporate Tax for Europe

Kaj Leers - April 19, 2016
"In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes," wrote Benjamin Franklin. That truism seems a bit less true after the Panama Papers exposed one of the biggest tax dodging scandals in history. The reveals from the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca showed that yes, death is inevitable, but some of us can avoid taxes. It is time to bury what lies at the heart of the problem: tax competition. "The problem is bad laws." That is what U.S. President Barack Obama said in response to the Panama Papers revelations about companies and people engaging in tax evasion and...

Europe's Six-Headed Crisis

Andy Langenkamp - April 13, 2016
Andy Langenkamp is a global policy analyst for ECR Research. Crises are nothing new. However, in Europe six crises reinforce each other. The list includes migration, populism, Brexit, a lingering economic crisis, the policies of Russian President Vladimir Putin, and terrorism. The deal on refugee exchange reached between the European Union and Turkey has at least one hopeful aspect: For the first time since the onset of the migrant crisis, the 28 EU members more or less acted in unison. The deal will cut numbers -- already, people smugglers say they have seen business dwindle. Yet...

Will Israel Reach Age 100?

Aaron David Miller - April 12, 2016
The State of Israel turns 68 next month. Is Israel doomed? Will bad demography, bad neighbors, and bad Israeli behavior turn the once hopeful and idealistic notion of a thriving Jewish democratic state into a veritable Middle Eastern Sparta -- isolated in the international community and struggling to survive in a hostile region even as it occupies a restless and growing Palestinian majority?Having worked the Israel issue for half a dozen secretaries of state, I certainly wouldn't want to minimize the challenges Israelis face at home and abroad. Still -- and I concede up front that the view...

Time To Write Off Some Of Greece's Debts

Kaj Leers - April 8, 2016
It was off the radar screen for some time but it looks to return with a vengeance this summer: the Greek Question about debt relief. Pressure is on eurozone nations to finally write off some of the debt Athens owes them but cannot easily pay back. "We will get every cent back, with interest." That is what German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other heads of state of northern eurozone countries promised their voters when they loaned money to Greece. The Greeks then used that money to pay off loans to German and Northern European banks, so as to prevent a so-called credit event -- a default --...


Russia's Interest in Nagorno-Karabakh: It's About Europe

Antonia Colibasanu - April 8, 2016
European sanctions against Russia are set to expire on July 31, barring a unanimous vote to extend them the next time EU heads of state meet. Russia has developed several ways to influence Europeans. Over the long term, Moscow has chosen economic diplomacy, while also supporting any movement that seeks to unravel European integration and disrupt Transatlantic links. This support covers all kinds of actions: from funding European far-right parties, to supporting roundtables focused on issues of national self-determination, to fostering dialogue on national spiritual awakening -- especially in...

How Ukraine's Military Will Defeat Russia's Rebels

Samuel Bendett - April 6, 2016
Tensions between Ukraine and Russia show no signs of abating, and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko was unsparing when he recently criticized Russia for destabilizing his country. Speaking on March 25 at a government meeting marking the creation of the Ukrainian Security Service, or SBU, Poroshenko said that of the more than 200 terrorist attacks prevented by Ukraine in 2015, most were prepared in Russia. The president said such attacks were meant to to destabilize the political situation in the country and were planned for Kiev, Odessa, Nikolaev, Kherson, Zaporizhzhya, Kharkiv, and Lviv...

Now Is the Time to Break ISIS

Ronald Tiersky - April 5, 2016
Victory or defeat in war is often as much psychological as it is military. Military forces fight to impose their wills, and at a certain moment, even if the weapons are not yet silent, one side or the other loses heart. Its will to resist breaks, and defeat becomes a matter of time. Arguably, we are getting to that point in the war against the so-called Islamic State group.Classical military theory broadly emphasizes that the battlefield advantage lies with the defenders, because defense requires fewer soldiers and weapons to hold positions than the attacker needs in order to overrun them....

Obama's 'Tear Down This Wall' Moment in Cuba

Fabio Rafael Fiallo - March 29, 2016
Weeks before President Obama's arrival in Havana, uneasiness was already perceptible in the ranks of the Cuban government. For sure, President Raul Castro knew how much his regime could benefit from a historic event that would signal, better than anything else, the thaw in U.S.-Cuba relations. He was no less aware, however, of the risks associated with hosting an American president who was intent on openly defending the cause of human rights and liberty during his journey. The ruling government's anxiety was all the more understandable considering that a poll carried out in April 2015 found...


Obama's Cuban Disgrace

Jason Emert - March 29, 2016
I had the opportunity to visit Havana with the permission of the U.S. government in March 2013. Thankfully, I am blessed with a vivid imagination, and I could see that it must have been an incredible city prior to 1959 -- certainly the crown jewel of the Caribbean. That is no longer the case. The torment of communism is absolute, and it eats away at buildings the same way it does mankind. Those buildings tell their own story. Once-beautiful facades, paint chipped and fading, hid rotting wood floors and crumbling walls. Famed cars from the 1950s drove past these buildings, several now serving...

The Blood on the Hands of Belgian Politicians

Kaj Leers - March 28, 2016
Several days after the terrorist mayhem in Brussels, reflection on how the attacks could happen is in full swing. Part of the answer: Belgian politicians simply don't care about the safety of their citizens. Ever since the Paris terrorist attacks of November 2015, and the leading roles Belgians played in them, Europe and the Belgians have wondered why so many of the leading perpetrators hailed from one quarter in Brussels. When the questions were answered, security experts across the globe were left baffled when they found out that the Brussels agglomeration counts no fewer than 19 separate...

New Missiles, Old Trains: The Future of Warfare in the Former Soviet Union

Samuel Bendett - March 26, 2016
In the near future, Ukraine plans to conduct test launches of domestically produced ballistic missiles built without the involvement of foreign companies, said National Security and Defense Council Secretary Oleksandr Turchinov in an interview with Interfax-Ukraine news agency. According to Turchinov, resuscitating the domestic missile industry is a priority for Ukrainian authorities. "We need to develop as a space-faring nation, producing high-tech spacecraft, but we also need to restore the necessary production line of combat missiles that will protect the country," added the secretary. "We...

Brussels Then, Now, and in the Future

Joel Weickgenant - March 22, 2016
My daily digest of reading this morning started on a troubling if relatively speculative note. As a naturalized Dutch citizen living in the United Kingdom, I take a personal as well as professional interest in Britain's June 23 vote on whether to remain in the European Union. This article in the Financial Times encapsulated the concerns of the 2.9 million EU citizens living here, as it described a rush on applications for British citizenship by long-time residents hoping to avoid their status being subject to "negotiations between the UK and Brussels" in the event of a so-called Brexit. I'll...


The Curious Case of Succession in Kazakhstan

L. Todd Wood - March 21, 2016
Kazakhstan has long been a model of post-Soviet cooperation with Moscow and a cornerstone of the Kremlin's plan for a Eurasian economic block drawing on the allegiance former Soviet states have to their onetime motherland, or the Russian Federation. President Nursultan Nazarbayev is the only leader the littoral Caspian state has ever had. Nazarbayev gained power for good in 1990 as the Soviet Union collapsed, and he stayed firmly ensconced at the top through suppression of the political opposition. Today the Russian-Kazakh relationship is one of Moscow's closest in terms of post-Soviet...

Hard Times for Castro's Latin American Heirs

Fabio Rafael Fiallo - March 21, 2016
These are hard times for Latin America's populist left, the one that, inspired by the Castro model, was brought to power at the dawn of the present century by Hugo Chavez in Venezuela and Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva in Brazil. After claiming the moral high ground for years, it sees its popularity and electoral weight shrinking by the day. In Argentina, the hard-left Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner handed over the country's presidency to the pro-market Mauricio Macri, after the latter defeated the candidate of Ms. Kirchner's party in elections held last December. Around the same time, Venezuela's...

This Is Not the Path to Cuban Freedom

Carlos Alberto Montaner - March 21, 2016
The U.S. president had not set foot in Cuba when the regime began to drop rhetorical bombs. First came a long editorial in Granma. Its essence? That Cuba won't budge an inch from its socialist and anti-imperialist positions, including its support for the Chavismo it spawned in Venezuela, an enormous source of subsidy for the Cubans, of woe for the Venezuelans, and of unease for its neighbors. Then, Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez, the Castros' diplomatic errand boy, warned that his government would not appreciate it if Obama spoke about empowering the Cuban people. Or if the United...

The EU's Deal With Turkey: What Comes Next?

Kaj Leers - March 19, 2016
Turkey and the European Union achieved a Herculean feat, finally sealing a deal that has been in the works since October. According to the agreement, Syrian refugees fleeing to the Continent via Turkish-Greek waters will be sent back to Turkey. With this, European leaders hope to put a stop to the hitherto unstoppable influx of asylum seekers from the Syrian civil war. However, now comes the hardest part, one at which the European Union has in the recent past proven incredibly inept: actually executing the agreement. Starting this Sunday, Syrian refugees reaching Greek shores will be...