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Ukraine Crisis

Why Russia Opposed the MH17 Tribunal

Georgy Bovt | Posted 07.22.2015 | World
Georgy Bovt

MOSCOW -- The vast majority of Russians view the incident as an "episode of war," as "collateral damage" roughly equivalent to the Ukrainian forces' indiscriminate shelling of civilians in the Donbass -- a crime of which state-controlled television constantly reminds them.

Weekend Roundup: A German Europe and a New Middle East

Nathan Gardels | Posted 07.19.2015 | World
Nathan Gardels

This week the geopolitical balance changed decisively. As Margaret Thatcher warned long ago, a German Europe, not a Europeanized Germany, would one day be the dominant reality on the continent. The tough terms of the latest Greek bailout and the relegation of France to a junior partner in those negotiations confirm her prescience. As Iranian philosopher Ramin Jahanbegloo writes in response to this week's historic nuclear deal and opening with Iran, "from now on Iran will be a full partner in the big game in the Middle East and the world," including through "intensified sectarian proxy wars" in the region. (continued)

Ukraine's Far-Right: Sifting Facts From Fiction

Samuel Ramani | Posted 07.13.2015 | World
Samuel Ramani

While it is essential not to underestimate the power of far-right movements in Ukraine and their political influence, it is equally important to emphasize that far-right movements have limited public support in contemporary Ukraine.

Weekend Roundup: China's Equity Bubble and Greece's Debt Hole Rattle the World

Nathan Gardels | Posted 07.10.2015 | World
Nathan Gardels

The world was rattled this week by the busted stock market bubble in China and by the "no" vote in Greece last Sunday against austerity policies aimed at reducing the country's unpayable debt. Yet, by week's end, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras appeared to cave in and say "yes" to the very austerity measures voters had rejected in return for a fresh $59 billion bailout package. After $3.2 trillion of value was wiped out by midweek, the uncharacteristically uncertain hand of the Chinese authorities intervened to stop the crash in a stock market they had cheered to ever greater heights over previous months. Meanwhile, the leaders of the BRICS countries met in Russia to bolster plans for their New Development Bank -- which rivals the World Bank -- and declared they would coordinate policies to keep their economies stable amid all the turmoil. Mohamed El-Erian, one of the most influential voices in the global bond market, writes that the link between the Chinese and Greek crises is the stimulative policies of central banks around the world that have led to a debt buildup and created a gap between the inflated value of financial assets and the real economy. (continued)

Interview with Kiev International Democracy Institute Director and Ukraine expert, Sergiy Taran

Samuel Ramani | Posted 07.09.2015 | World
Samuel Ramani

Sergiy Taran is the Director of the Kiev-based International Democracy Institute think tank, and the head of the Board of the Center of Sociological a...

Weekend Roundup: How Will Greece Take Its Hemlock?

Nathan Gardels | Posted 07.02.2015 | World
Nathan Gardels

Ancient Greece was not only the birthplace of democracy, but also a deathbed of reason when a jury of 500 citizens condemned Socrates to die by hemlock poisoning for his impious attitude toward the order of the day. Defiant to the end, the philosopher voluntarily drank the poison himself in a suicidal display of dignity. This weekend, Greek voters will decide in a referendum whether they will be force-fed more painful austerity, imposed by the jury of other European democracies, or, like Socrates, administer their own poison in a "no" vote that will likely push Greece out of the eurozone. Tragedy, too, such as we are witnessing today, had its origins in early Greek drama. Nobel Laureate Joe Stiglitz and Martin Guzman argue that Greece will be better off administering the poison by its own hand. As they point out by examining the Argentine default in 2001, there is "life after debt and default." Manolis Glezos, the elderly firebrand of Syriza, writes from Athens that, in a democracy, "the people are the measure" of their fate. (continued)

Will a 'Perfect Storm' Sink Europe?

Mohamed A. El-Erian | Posted 06.29.2015 | World
Mohamed A. El-Erian

Given the EU's fundamental interconnectedness -- in economic, financial, geopolitical and social terms -- the disruptive impact of each shock would amplify the others, overwhelming the region's circuit breakers, leading to recession, reviving financial instability and creating pockets of social tension. This would increase already high unemployment, expose excessive financial risk-taking, embolden Russia and strengthen populist movements further, thereby impeding comprehensive policy responses.

Weekend Roundup: Refugees and the ‘Left Behind' Rock Europe

Nathan Gardels | Posted 06.26.2015 | World
Nathan Gardels

A flood of desperate refugees from across the Mediterranean and the related surge of indignant fringe parties, including now from iconic, self-satisfied Denmark, are battering the discredited political establishment in Europe. Writing from London, Mark Leonard argues that the contest in Europe today is not between right and left; it is a revolt of the left behind masses against the "cosmopolitan" and "metrosexual" elites. Martin Schulz, the president of the European Parliament, says in an interview that what Europe needs is "pragmatic solutions, not big debates" when resolving the Greek financial crisis. (continued)

How the Migrant Crisis Is Testing Europe's Security Strategy

Fabrizio Tassinari | Posted 06.23.2015 | World
Fabrizio Tassinari

COPENHAGEN -- The most revolutionary idea of modern Europe has been to purse the safety of its citizens by opening borders, not erecting barriers. A new European security strategy must make the case that the nexus of security and integration still amount to the formula of European peace. That is a battle that Europe cannot afford to lose.

EU Extends Sanctions Against Russia By 6 Months

AP | JAMEY KEATEN | Posted 06.22.2015 | World

LUXEMBOURG (AP) — The European Union on Monday extended economic sanctions against Russia until January to keep pressure on Moscow over the conflict...

Weekend Roundup: Is the West Abandoning Globalization?

Nathan Gardels | Posted 06.19.2015 | World
Nathan Gardels

As China establishes a new infrastructure investment bank for Asia and builds out the new Silk Road trading route westward to Turkey, the U.S. Congress is balking at trade agreements and retreating from the very global institutions that have been the pillars of the American-led order. The European project is unraveling as Greece is poised on the brink of default and an exit from the euro. No doubt President Obama's proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership needs some fixing once on the "fast-track," notably concerning the weight it gives to corporate prerogatives. But something more is going on. In Europe, too, there is mounting opposition to the proposed trans-Atlantic trade pact with the U.S., as well as the rise of anti-foreigner and anti-EU parties. Is the West abandoning globalization and the post-war integration of Europe, a mutiny against what has provided its bounty? (continued)

Weekend Roundup: Turkish and Greek Democracy Upend the Status Quo

Nathan Gardels | Posted 06.12.2015 | World
Nathan Gardels

The value of democracy, when it works, is its capacity to change course. In both Greece, and now Turkey, recent elections have upended the status quo. With Greece having lost an astonishing 25 percent of its GDP through austerity policies, the Syriza government that came to power earlier this year has insisted on sticking to its popular mandate to resist the demands of creditors and hold out for debt relief. The prospects of default and an exit from the eurozone have never been closer. In Turkey, which has been seeking to join the European Union, the autocratic path set by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been stopped in its tracks by voters in this week's poll. (continued)

Interview with Harvard University Professor and Renowned International Relations Scholar, Joseph Nye

Samuel Ramani | Posted 06.12.2015 | World
Samuel Ramani

Joseph Nye is a University Distinguished Professor at Harvard University. He was also the former Dean of Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government, and an Assistant Secretary of Defense under the Clinton administration.

The Birth of Wars

Christos Terzides | Posted 06.12.2015 | Politics
Christos Terzides

In my humble opinion, it's both inconceivable and terrifying that such a powerful man as George Soros would propose an action that could spark a new world war.

Weekend Roundup: Showdown Between the U.S. and China at Mischief Reef

Nathan Gardels | Posted 06.05.2015 | World
Nathan Gardels

Trouble is brewing between the U.S. and China over the aptly named Mischief Reef and other islets in the South China Sea, which China claims. The contretemps over these tiny shoals is an early proxy battle for the grand contest of the 21st century between the rising power of China and the established American world order. Writing this week from Beijing, Yanmei Xie argues that the U.S. should be defending a global commons in the South China Sea, not naval supremacy. Shen Dingli writes from Shanghai that China has every right to "build sovereignty" there. Harvard professor and former chair of the CIA's National Intelligence Council, Joe Nye, says the U.S. should stick to its long-standing policy of not getting involved in territorial disputes in Asia. (continued)

Weekend Roundup: Pope Francis Resurrects Liberation Theology -- Without Marx

Nathan Gardels | Posted 05.31.2015 | World
Nathan Gardels

If communism is "The God That Failed," liberation theology is the gospel that has succeeded. Marx may be dead, but the cause of the poor and oppressed has been resurrected. This is the message the Argentine pope, Francis, sent by canonizing Oscar Romero, reversing decades of conservative opposition in the church hierarchy and setting the El Salvadoran archbishop on the road to sainthood. Romero was gunned down at the altar in 1980 by a right-wing death squad that regarded him as a dangerous Marxist because of his activism on behalf of the poor. As Paul Vallely writes, Romero is an exemplar for Francis. Both are "orthodox and yet utterly radical." Romero is "a priest whose life stands in testament to the kind of Catholicism preferred by a pope who declared within days of his election that he wanted 'a poor Church for the poor.'" (continued)

Interview With Noted Journalist and Russia Expert, David Satter

Samuel Ramani | Posted 05.28.2015 | World
Samuel Ramani

David Satter is a journalist who was a Financial Times correspondent in Moscow from 1976 to 1982; and subsequently was a Soviet affairs specialist for the Wall Street Journal.

Report: Russia Masses Tanks, Rockets, Troops On Ukraine Border

Reuters | Posted 05.28.2015 | World

By Maria Tsvetkova KHUTOR CHKALOVA, Russia, May 27 (Reuters) - Russia's army is massing troops and hundreds of pieces of weaponry incl...

Weekend Roundup: Seizure of Palmyra Signals New Dark Age in Mideast

Nathan Gardels | Posted 05.22.2015 | World
Nathan Gardels

The seizure of Palmyra this week by ISIS could not be more emblematic of the new dark age descending on the Mideast. In the name of decontaminating Islam, the Wahhabi offshoot has pledged to demolish even the ruins of this ancient crossroads of the Roman Empire, India, China and Persia that represents the historical diversity of intermingling cultures. It is yet another sobering lesson in how the accomplishments of civilization can be rolled back by the mad pursuit of pure states of being - whether of ideal pasts, utopian futures, races or religions. As WorldPost correspondent Sophia Jones reports, Palmyra is also darkly remembered by many Syrians for its more recent history as a "death camp" of "torture and fear" in the 1980s and 1990s under Hafez al- Assad.

As We Reflect on VE-day, Beware the Sin of Omission

Nicholas Nazar | Posted 05.27.2015 | Politics
Nicholas Nazar

As we remember those who gave their all to ensure our freedoms and liberties, let us also guard against clever appropriations of the memory of blood and sacrifice for political ends.

Weekend Roundup: Is the Information Age the Age of Non-Communication?

Nathan Gardels | Posted 05.15.2015 | World
Nathan Gardels

Facebook has become the world's publishing Leviathan with 1.4 billion users - a cyberpopulation the size of China. Never before have so many of like mind and sympathetic bent been able to connect with each other. Yet, by slotting what is shared through algorithm and personalization into silos of the similar, few boundaries beyond the familiar are being crossed. As identities fortify into tribes through this increasingly dominant medium, one wonders if the information age is becoming the age of non-communication. On this point, "technosociologist" Zeynep Tufekci contests a study recently released by Facebook that claims it is not creating echo chambers. Timothy Karr also worries that Mark Zuckerberg's plan to provide cyber access to the world's poor through will "represent the entirety of the Internet for a significant proportion of the world's population."

Re-establishing the Special US-UK Relationship

Dr. Harlan K. Ullman | Posted 05.14.2015 | Politics
Dr. Harlan K. Ullman

Cameron's majority in Parliament offers an opportunity to rebuild this special relationship, provided Washington and London are prepared to grasp it.

After Ebola: How Civil Society Can Help Mitigate the Next Crisis

Randal Mason | Posted 05.14.2015 | Impact
Randal Mason

After a period of intense national suffering, Liberia has just been declared Ebola-free by the World Health Organization. In addition to thanking the dedicated health care workers in her country, President Sirleaf acknowledged the key role civil society played in helping to turn the tide.

How Putin Used VE Day to Equate the Victory Over Fascism With the Fight in Ukraine

Alexander Golts | Posted 05.11.2015 | World
Alexander Golts

MOSCOW -- Putin's goal was to convince average Russians to equate the nearly holy war against fascism with the regime's current escapade in Ukraine. Kremlin spin doctors have been reinforcing that association for months with a constant torrent of claims that Ukraine is besieged with "fascist sentiment," which is attempting to justify Hitler's atrocities.

Weekend Roundup: A New Cold War Is Brewing in the Pacific

Nathan Gardels | Posted 05.08.2015 | World
Nathan Gardels

Is a new Cold War brewing in the Pacific between China and the U.S. with Japan playing a front line role? Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's visit to Washington last week alarmingly pushed developments in that direction. In a blog he adapted from his well-received speech to the U.S. Congress, Abe proposes that the two democratic post-WWII allies join in a "seamless" strategic effort to "to spread and nurture our shared values" and "stick to the path" that "won the Cold War" -- and, in so many words not spoken, to contain China. By excluding China, the world's second largest economy, from the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership on trade while embracing the revision of Japan's pacifist constitution to allow military action beyond self-defense without an apology for colonialism and aggression acceptable to its Asian neighbors, the U.S. and Japan are laying the cornerstone of a new bloc system in the Pacific. As Minxin Pei writes, China's leaders will certainly see it that way and respond in kind. (continued)