Archive for the ‘international relations’ tag

#  Looking for Ukraine →

May 29th, 2014 at 12:02 // In Worth Reading 

I’ve said it a number of times that I love when literary review send a reporter to conflict areas and let them be verbose and thorough in their impressions. Ukraine’s recent history and near-term reality is explained clearly and vividly by Tim Judah for the NYRB. His conclusion, though I encourage you to read it if you have the time:

But while it will be hard to agree on a date, it is already easy to say what is happening in people’s heads. Six months ago everyone here just went about their normal business. They were worried about the things that everyone worries about, and here especially: low salaries, scraping by, collecting money for all the bribes one has to pay, and so on. And then something snapped. The rotting ship of the Ukrainian state sprung a leak and everything began to go down. In people’s heads a new reality has gradually begun to take shape and, in this way, everyone is being prepared for war.

#  The Principal Contradiction of International Relations →

May 22nd, 2014 at 17:01 // In Worth Considering 

I always enjoy reading Slavoj Žižek, and this piece of his about the current state of international relations is at least reasonable enough to entertain:

This, however, brings us to what is arguably the “principal contradiction” of the new world order (if we may use this old Maoist term): the impossibility of creating a global political order that would correspond to the global capitalist economy.

#  Europe’s GPS Alternative Tested, Works →

March 4th, 2014 at 11:42 // In Worth Knowing 

Inspired by yesterday’s time video, I Googled to discover how GPS is owned. Turns out, it’s owned by the US national government, which constitutes an understandably a troubling monopoly to rival powers. So China, India, Russia, and Europe all have systems that provide similar functionality to GPS. I went on a mini rant about the whole topic on Twitter.

#  Malta Selling Citizenship →

February 19th, 2014 at 16:59 // In Worth Knowing 

I learned a lot I didn’t expect from this short essay about the issue of Malta trying to sell citizenship to itself, and thus the EU citizenship to anyone who can pay:

New legislation, Muscat and his advisers said, would allow carefully screened foreigners to obtain fast-tracked, no-strings-attached Maltese citizenship in exchange for an investment of 650,000 euros. The parliament in Valletta was due to approve the plan once a few details had been ironed out. In the meantime, interested parties should speak to Henley & Partners, the firm that had organised the conference and would be administering the passport programme.

#  2014 Gates Annual Letter →

January 27th, 2014 at 16:44 // In Worth Considering 

Bill and Melinda Gates are trying to “bust” three myths about poverty in their annual letter this year, which is novel and cool. The design of the page itself is also something worth a look, in its own right.

To be self-serving for a second, I just published my personal annual review for the first time. I’ve unfortunately got nothing to say about how we solve large international issues, but you might be interested.

#  Indonesia Today →

October 30th, 2013 at 21:40 // In Worth Knowing 

Pankaj Mishra’s article is opinionated, but also a great primer on the recent history and current outlook for the largest and least-talked-about (at least in my little American experience) countries in the world.

There is talk once more of a ‘rising’ Asian economy (the Boston Consulting Group predicts that more than half the country’s 242 million people will qualify as middle class by 2020), though recent economic setbacks suggest, as with similar predictions about India, that this may prove to be fantasy. Wealth has brought disconcerting changes: large parts of Sumatra, ravaged by slash-and-burn investors, resemble a lunar landscape, and smoke from land-clearing fires started by palm-oil prospectors extends as far as the cities of Malaysia and Thailand, where doctors warn people with respiratory diseases to wear masks.

#  A Kinder Iran? →

October 4th, 2013 at 20:08 // In Worth Knowing 

Gary Sick’s primer on Hassan Rouhani, Iran’s new president, and what he means for the countries relations with the outside world seems to walk carefully and well the line between optimism and realism about the future.

Khamenei appeared before the leadership of the powerful and conservative Revolutionary Guards Corps to remind them politely but firmly that their proper concern was national security, not politics. Since the Revolutionary Guards played a major part in undermining both of Rouhani’s predecessors, this was a unique and unequivocal demonstration of solidarity. It does not, however, guarantee indefinite support for Rouhani’s initiatives. The Guards and the senior clerical establishment will look for results and weigh their own interests. Thus far, Rouhani, with the help of the Leader, has stayed ahead of his domestic and foreign opposition, but in New York he and his associates gave every indication of being men in a hurry.

#  Egypt at the end of 2011 →

December 26th, 2011 at 8:37 // In Worth Considering 

Egypt’s changed a lot this year, but as Adam Shatz’s reporting makes clear, not as much as most optimists hoped it would.

The young people who launched the revolution are still protesting, but they have been outflanked by the hard men, the soldiers and Islamist politicians now calling the shots. The Mubarak regime was replaced by a military junta, the 20-member Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (Scaf), headed by Field Marshal Muhammed Hussein Tantawi.The Scaf has all but declared war on Tahrir, assailing protesters calling for civilian rule as ‘enemies’ of the revolution which it perversely claims to embody.

I link to this in part because it so accurately supports a point I made recently: revolutions don’t really work.

#  The Real Russian Story →

December 22nd, 2011 at 18:08 // In Worth Considering 

Fascinating review from Stephen Holmes of Luke Harding’s book on Russia. To the extent that this portrait has been painted elsewhere, I’ve never seen it. A minor example:

Because ‘never show weakness’ is the most pressing imperative of any chronically insecure regime, the Putin government decided to do what took minimal effort: seize control of the principal platform on which the government’s many shortcomings could be displayed. The Kremlin has monopolised nationwide television news not in order to impose a party line or because it hopes to persuade a cynical and disillusioned public to swallow the official version of events, but because it fears what might follow if the regime’s critics are seen to get away with disclosing the criminality and ridiculing the folly of the country’s ruling circles on national TV.

#  Libya’s Gaddafi Era →

November 13th, 2011 at 9:00 // In Worth Considering 

Hugh Roberts offers a relatively thorough and careful political history of Libya during Gaddafi’s reign, and the events that led to his removal. (This detail will likely scare most people away, it nearly scared me off.) His most interesting assertion, especially to inattentive observers like myself is this:

The intervention tarnished every one of the principles the war party invoked to justify it. It occasioned the deaths of thousands of civilians, debased the idea of democracy, debased the idea of law and passed off a counterfeit revolution as the real thing. Two assertions that were endlessly reiterated – they were fundamental to the Western powers’ case for war – were that Gaddafi was engaged in ‘killing his own people’ and that he had ‘lost all legitimacy’, the latter presented as the corollary of the former. Both assertions involved mystifications.