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)
While the trajectory Armenia will take still remains unclear, Sargasyan's best hopes for survival depend on using limited repression and to deter an aggressive Russian response by emphasizing the domestic undercurrents of the current protests.
There is much talk -- most recently by Secretary of State John Kerry -- of the "new Cold War." This ignores a simple fact: A weakened Russia can hardly launch a new Cold War.
Should we pronounce the UN a failure, or perhaps give it a ceremonial gold watch and retire it? The UN and its adjunct organs and agencies have made much progress, before the 50th Anniversary, but also since.
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)
The Russians are coming -- again! From the 1950s through the '80s, on screen, in print, the very badest of baddies were always the Russians.
LONDON -- Eurasia is an idea whose time, it is said, has come around again. Recent historical research has rescued the old Silk Road from historical oblivion. The late American sociologist Janet Abu-Lughod identified eight overlapping "circuits of trade" between northwest Europe and China that, under the aegis of a Pax Mongolica, flourished between the 13th and 14th centuries.
MOSCOW -- Countries like India and Brazil -- unlike, say, Germany and Japan a century ago -- are not seeking to overturn the world order. All they want is a place at the high table. Barring that, they have little choice but to build their own -- though India, Brazil and South Africa have reason to wonder if a Chinese-led world order would be an improvement on the current one.
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)
MOSCOW -- Apparently, the Kremlin thinks that deploying 40 new ICBMs will somehow improve its image, just as the Soviet Union once used the same missiles in a misguided attempt to make itself more attractive.
Marina Litvinenko is the widow of Russian FSB agent Alexander Litvinenko, who fled Russia for the United Kingdom in 2000. Alexander Litvinenko was murdered by radioactivity poisoning in London in 2006; and since then, Marina Litvinenko has become an activist who has pushed for several inquiries into the events leading to his death.
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)
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.
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)
An imposed peace can only happen if ISIS is stopped, and only a joint coalition that includes the West and Russia would be able to achieve that end.
In one of the stranger developments in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, Ukrainian President Petro Poroschenko recently appointed former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili as the governor of the Odessa region.