WPR Articles May 12 — May 18
Given global headlines, you might think the world is terribly off course, from geopolitical rivalries to Middle East mayhem. This noisy, negative narrative isn’t all wrong. But it has drowned out more positive developments in dealing with difficult global problems, from climate change to nonproliferation.
The centenary of the Sykes-Picot treaty has stirred up resentments in the Middle East and a sense that the flailing states of the region never really existed as coherent geographic entities. But even if one could draw a better map of the region, it would not solve its deepest sources of distress.
Lyndon Johnson ignored the many signs of discontent over the Vietnam War because he was convinced that the political cost of retreat would outweigh the cost of fighting a war most Americans no longer supported. It is an error that has seemed to plague U.S. presidents for more than a half-century.
The results of Ireland’s general election in late February were as indecisive as anyone could have imagined. Few are confident in the stability of the new minority government, led by Fine Gael and backed to a degree by its longtime rival, Fianna Fail. The breaking point will most likely come on economic policy issues.
Japan recently announced a three-year, $7 billion investment deal with the countries of the lower Mekong River to boost development and improve infrastructure. In an email interview, the Center for Strategic and International Studies’ Phuong Nguyen discussed Japan’s relations in Southeast Asia.
Mexican Trade Minister Herminio Blanco told a meeting of business leaders earlier this month that “Mexico will become more competitive when the Trans-Pacific Partnership takes effect.” In an email interview, Raúl Francisco Montalvo Corzo discussed the potential effects of TPP membership on Mexico’s economy.
The Seventh Congress of the Workers’ Party of Korea, the first such meeting in 36 years, ended Monday with much pageantry in Pyongyang, but with little evidence that North Korea has changed its policy line in any substantive way. Kim Jong Un’s North Korea, the regime has declared, is here to stay.
When Vladimir Putin launched his campaign to prevent Ukraine from drawing closer to the EU in 2014, his objectives went beyond that country’s borders. Moscow’s moves were also meant as a signal to other countries in Eastern Europe that might have contemplated following in Ukraine’s steps.
In this week’s Trend Lines podcast, WPR’s editor-in-chief, Judah Grunstein, and host Peter Dörrie discuss NATO’s challenges, South Sudan’s peace process and North Korea’s party congress. For the Report, Ted Henken, joins us to talk about Cuba’s economy and opposition in the reform era.
Protests that have gripped Gambia since mid-April present a serious political test for longtime President Yahya Jammeh. With a presidential election set for December, Gambia could find itself mired in turmoil for months, although Jammeh is unlikely to see his hold on power crumble in the immediate future.
Last week, the Long War Journal reported that the “self-proclaimed head of the Islamic State’s arm in the Sahara has reportedly threatened to attack Morocco.” The message drew attention to the potential terror threats facing Morocco, which has for years taken pride in its domestic anti-radicalization programs.
There has been a distinct pattern to America’s time as a global power: Whenever the U.S. becomes involved in a conflict, it quickly draws lessons that set the trajectory for the next one. This means that getting the lessons of today’s conflicts right will be vital to U.S. strategy-making.
Decision-makers rarely solve international tensions once and for all. They cobble together temporary fixes and leave future generations to solve the glitches. Europe’s leaders are now paying the price for their forebears’ failure to establish a durable order after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Mozambique’s government was recently revealed to have borrowed $1.4 billion in previously undisclosed loans. In an email interview, Fernanda Massarongo Chivulele, a researcher at the Institute of Social and Economic Studies, discussed the scandal’s implications for Mozambique’s politics and economy.
South Korean President Park Geun-hye visited Iran earlier this month, pledging to forge ahead and establish a new era of relations with Tehran built on closer economic cooperation. Park and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani agreed to 30 joint economic projects, totaling more than $37.1 billion.
The breakdown of the Syrian state has been a boon for Kurdish groups. Since 2011, they have made significant territorial, economic and political gains. At the same time, they lack long-term support. How do these dynamics impact regional stability, Kurdish leverage in Syria, and Syrian end-states?
Singapore and Australia recently announced a $1.7 billion military cooperation deal, as part of a broader strategic partnership. In an email interview, Euan Graham, director of the Lowy Institute’s international security program, discussed Australia’s defense and security relationship with Singapore.