Tag: Democratic Republic of Congo

Peace picks August 24-28

1. Promoting Nuclear Safety Cooperation in Northeast Asia | Tuesday, August 25th | 12:00-1:30 | East-West Center | REGISTER TO ATTEND | China, Japan, and South Korea all have deep experience with nuclear energy and large commercial nuclear power sectors, and the use of nuclear power is expected to continue to expand, mostly driven by growth in China. There have been calls over the years to increase regional nuclear safety cooperation, and the need for such cooperation has been highlighted by the Fukushima accident in Japan, the fake parts’ certificates scandal in South Korea, and rapid reactor construction in China. The most recent proposal for strengthening regional nuclear safety cooperation came in South Korean President Park Geun-hye’s Northeast Asia Peace and Cooperation Initiative (NAPCI). NAPCI envisions addressing “soft” issues, including nuclear safety, in order to build deeper regional cooperation on “hard” security issues, similar to the integration process in Europe, and Park has specifically cited the European Atomic Energy Community (EURATOM) as a model for Northeast Asia. Yet, is EURATOM an appropriate model for Northeast Asia? Can NAPCI’s call for regional nuclear safety cooperation actually be realized, and what would effective cooperation look like?  Strong, enduring commitment to nuclear safety cooperation by all regional actors will be necessary for NAPCI or any other initiative to succeed. This seminar will examine the current state of nuclear safety cooperation in Northeast Asia and offer a view to the future. Speaker: Dr. James E. Platte, Non-Resident Sasakawa Peace Foundation Fellow, Pacific Forum, CSIS.

The once-mighty Jordan River is little more than a sewage canal at this spot, due to the diversion of 98% of its water for human needs. How will Climate Change exacerbate water scarcity in an already dry Middle East? PC: Eddie Grove
The once mighty Jordan River is little more than a sewage canal at this spot, due to the diversion of 98% of its water for human needs. How will Climate Change exacerbate water scarcity in an already dry Middle East? PC: Eddie Grove

2. Peace, Conflict, and the Scale of the Climate Risk Landscape | Tuesday, August 25th | 1:15-2:45 | Webinar Sponsored by the Wilson Center | REGISTER TO ATTEND | Climate risks have the potential to affect every natural and social system, to harm populations, disrupt economic systems, and contribute directly or indirectly to conflicts within and across jurisdictional borders. The Global Climate Security webinar series convenes global thought leaders to seek pathways to improve responses to destabilizing climate risks.  The opening webinar will examine the security implications of climate risk and will provide a context for the subsequent place-based and sector-based webinars. This session will address climate risk and security on all fronts from the risk assessment perspective (impacts on governance, economic vitality, national, regional and international security) to potential solutions (risk management, policy, and technical). Participants will hear from experts from the national intelligence and climate impact communities who will address the scale of the risks.  The first webinar will set up the remaining webinars, which in turn will address how to respond in four sectors (national & subnational, industry, defense and global policy) based on risk assessment and responses commensurate with the risk.  The intent is to examine steps to bridge the risk – policy analysis gap. Speakers include: Joshua Busby, Assistant Professor of Public Affairs, Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, University of Texas, Austin Marc Levy, Deputy Director, Center for International Earth Science Information Network, Earth Institute, Columbia University, Mathew J. Burrows, Director, Strategic Foresight Initiative, Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security, Atlantic Council, and Nadya T. Bliss, Director, Global Security Initiative, Arizona State University.

Iran's IR-40 heavy water reactor at Arak.
Iran’s IR-40 heavy water reactor at Arak.

3. Iran: What Next After the Nuclear Deal? | Tuesday, August 25th | 6:30-8:30 | Located at OpenGov Hub and sponsored by PS21 | REGISTER TO ATTEND | After last month’s Iran nuclear deal, what next for the Islamic Republic? Will the easing of sanctions bring it more into the diplomatic and international mainstream? Or will the new economic growth create a more assertive Iran that further antagonizes the rest of the region? What will the domestic consequences be of Tehran’s new openness to the outside world? And what, if anything, will happen to the nuclear program? Panelists include: Ariane Tabatabai, Visiting Assistant Professor, Security Studies Program, Georgetown University, Kelsey Davenport, Director for Nonproliferation Policy, Arms Control Association, Reza Akbari, Senior Program Officer, Institute for War and Peace Reporting, and Sam Cutler, Policy Advisor, Ferrari & Associates, P.C. Moderator: Negar Razavi, PhD candidate, University of Pennsylvania and Global Fellow, PS21.

Youth in Jordan have few avenues for political engagement, contributing to radicalization in cities like Irbid, pictured here. (That is not a real In & Out Burger- sorry, Californians) PC: Eddie Grove
Youth in Jordan have few avenues for political engagement, contributing to radicalization in cities like Irbid, pictured here. (That is not a real In & Out Burger- sorry, Californians) PC: Eddie Grove

4. International Youth Month Breakfast Briefing: “Young Democracy: Engagement as a Deterrent to Radicalization” | Wednesday, August 26th | 9:30 – 11:00 | Located at the Rayburn House Office Building and hosted by IFES | REGISTER TO ATTEND | Join IFES for a breakfast briefing on how involving young people in constructive democratic processes can serve as a potential deterrent to radicalization. This panel will discuss engagement both before and after the age of enfranchisement, with a special emphasis on the political participation of young women and girls.  Discussants will offer examples of programmatic work from multiple regions and countries, including Bangladesh, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Indonesia, Libya, Nepal, Syria and Yemen.  This event will be co-hosted by the office of Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18).  Speakers include: Matthew Cohen, Program Officer, Africa, IFES, Jessica Huber, Senior Gender Specialist, IFES, Juliette Schmidt, Deputy Regional Director, Asia and the Pacific, IFES, and Ambar Zobairi, Deputy Regional Director, Middle East and North Africa.  Moderated by Augusta Featherston, Youth Adviser, IFES.

5. The Economic Impact of Lifting Sanctions on Iran Thursday, August 27th | 10:00-11:00 | Carnegie Endowment for International Peace | REGISTER TO ATTEND | A new World Bank report assesses that the removal of economic sanctions against Iran could significantly boost economic growth in Iran—including $15 billion in annual oil revenue—while potentially reducing global oil prices as much as 14 percent in the short run, depending on OPEC’s response, and opening up a significant market for exports. Drawing from the report’s systematic and comprehensive analysis, Shantayanan Devarajan will discuss the economic and geopolitical implications of Iran’s potential reentry into the global economy. Carnegie’s Uri Dadush will discuss the economic consequences and Karim Sadjadpour will moderate. Speakers include: Shantayanan Devarajan, chief economist, MENA region, World Bank and Uri Dadush, senior associate, Carnegie Endowment.  Moderator, Karim Sadjadpour, senior associate, Middle East Program, Carnegie Endowment.

Near Harstad, Norway, above the Arctic Circle. PC: Eddie Grove
Near Harstad, Norway, above the Arctic Circle.
PC: Eddie Grove

6. The New Ice Curtain: Russia’s Strategic Reach to the Arctic | Thursday, August 27th | 10:00 – 11:30 | CSIS | REGISTRATION CLOSED- WATCH ONLINE | Please join us for the release and discussion of a new CSIS Europe Program report, The New Ice Curtain: Russia’s Strategic Reach to the Arctic, which examines Russia’s economic, energy, and security strategies and aspirations in the Arctic, and the evolution of the Kremlin’s Arctic policies over the past decade. On the eve of President Obama’s and Secretary of State John Kerry’s visit to Anchorage, Alaska where they will convene Arctic and non-Arctic leaders to discuss climate impact and resilience, and global leadership in the Arctic, it is a timely moment to better understand the

These Norwegians are feeling pretty sheepish about Russia's advances in the Arctic. PC: Eddie Grove
These Norwegians are feeling pretty sheepish about Russia’s advances in the Arctic. PC: Eddie Grove

largest and most dynamic Arctic actor and to assess whether the Arctic will remain a cooperative region or succumb to geopolitical tensions. Report author Heather A. Conley and project consultant Dr. Marlène Laruelle will examine the significant changes in Russia’s Arctic policies and rhetoric – particularly since President Putin’s return to the Kremlin in 2012 – and offer their insights on Russia’s military posturing in the region, as well as how to develop new collaborative thinking to preserve and protect international Arctic cooperation. New York Times correspondent Steven Lee Myers, who has written about and traveled frequently to the Russian Arctic, will offer his reflections on the report and assess whether the

Above the Arctic Circle in on the Swedish-Norwegian border at Riksgränsen/Björnfjell. PC: Eddie Grove
Above the Arctic Circle in on the Swedish-Norwegian border at Riksgränsen/Björnfjell. PC: Eddie Grove

development of a 21st century “ice curtain” is realistic. The panelists will also preview the upcoming August 31st meeting in Alaska and assess the impact of the potential attendance of Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on U.S.-Russian cooperation in the Arctic. Speakers include: Dr. Marlène Laruelle, Research Professor of International Affairs, George Washington University and Steven Lee Myers, Correspondent, The New York Times.  Introduced and moderated by Heather A. Conley, Senior Vice President for Europe, Eurasia and the Arctic, CSIS Europe Program.


The plutonium reactor at Khushab, Pakistan.
The plutonium reactor at Khushab, Pakistan.

7. A Normal Nuclear Pakistan | Thursday, August 27th | 12:30-2:00 | Stimson | REGISTER TO ATTEND | A commercial pathway for Pakistan to join the mainstream in the global nuclear order is highly unlikely. Pakistan’s leaders must therefore consider nuclear weapon-related initiatives that could facilitate mainstreaming, while also strengthening nonproliferation norms, bolstering global disarmament hopes, and setting the bar higher for new entrants into the Nuclear Suppliers Group. This presentation will discuss a new report by the Stimson Center and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, “A Normal Nuclear Pakistan,” co-written by Toby Dalton (Co-Founder and Senior Associate, Stimson) and Michael Krepon (Co-Director of the Nuclear Policy Program, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace). The report takes a hard look at Pakistan’s nuclear weapon-related programs and its ambitions to be viewed as a normal state possessing advanced nuclear technologies.

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Bombing is not sufficient

To bomb or not to bomb was yesterday’s question. Now most of Washington is agreeing that to stop the Islamic State bombing is necessary. The questions currently asked concern how much, whether to do it in Syria as well as Iraq, the intelligence requirements and how many American boots needed on the ground, even if not in combat.

Bombing may well be necessary to stop extremist advances, but it is certainly not sufficient to roll back or defeat the Islamic State. If you think the United States is at risk from the IS, you will want to do more than bomb. Quite a few people are proposing just that, though the numbers of troops they are suggesting necessary (10-15,000) seems extraordinarily low given our past experience in Iraq.  Presumably they are counting on the Kurdish peshmerga and the 300,000 or so Iraqi troops the Americans think are still reasonably well organized and motivated. How could that go wrong?

But the military manpower question is not the only one. The first question that will arise in any areas liberated from the IS is who will govern? Who will have power? What will their relationship be to Damascus or Baghdad? How will they obtain resources, how will they provide services, how will they administer justice? The Sunni populations of Iraq (where they are a majority in the areas now held by IS) and of Syria (where they are the majority in the country as a whole) will not want to accept prime minister-designate Haider al Abadi (much less Nouri al Maliki, who is still a caretaker PM) or President Asad, respectively.

Bombing may solve one problem, but it opens a host of others. This is, of course, why President Obama has tried to avoid it. He heeds Colin Powell’s warning: you break it, you own it. The governance question should not be regarded as mission creep, or leap. It is an essential part of any mission that rolls back or defeats the IS. Without a clear plan for how it is to be accomplished, bombing risks making things worse–perhaps much worse–rather than better.

Sadly, the United States is not much better equipped or trained to handle the governance question–and the associated economic and social questions–than it was on the even of the Afghanistan war, 12 years ago. Yes, there is today an office of civilian stability operations in the State Department, but it can quickly deploy only dozens of people. Its budget has been cut and its bureaucratic rank demoted since its establishment during George W. Bush’s first term. Its financial and staff resources are nowhere near what will be required in Syria and Iraq if bombing of the IS leads to its withdrawal or defeat.

The international community–UN, European Union, NATO, Arab League, Organization of the Islamic Conference, World Bank, International Monetary Fund–are likewise a bit better at post-war transition than they were, but their successes lie in the Balkans in the 1990s, not in the Middle East in the 2010s. They have gained little traction in Libya, which needs them, and only marginally more in Yemen, where failure could still be imminent. Syria and Iraq are several times larger and more complex than any international statebuilding effort in recent times, except for Afghanistan, which is not looking good.

Even just the immediate humanitarian issues associated with the wars in Syria and Iraq are proving too complex and too big for the highly capable and practiced international mechanisms that deal with them. They are stretched to their limits. We don’t have the capacity to deal with millions of refugees and displaced Iraqis and Syrians for years on end, on top of major crises in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Central African Republic and ebola in West Africa.

President Obama has tried hard to avoid the statebuilding challenges that inevitably follow successful military operations. He wanted to do his nationbuilding at home. We need it, and not just in Ferguson, Missouri, where citizens clearly don’t think the local police exercise their authority legitimately. But international challenges are also real. Failing to meet them could give the Islamic State openings that we will come to regret.

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Peace picks July 28-August 2

1. The Elusive Final Deal with Iran: Developments and Options Going Forward  Monday, July 28 | 12:00 pm – 1:30 pm JINSA; 1307 New York Ave NW, Washington, D.C. REGISTER TO ATTEND In the wake of the recent four-month extension of negotiations for a comprehensive deal on Iran’s nuclear program, JINSA’s Gemunder Center for Defense and Strategy will hold a lunch panel event to assess this outcome and discuss steps going forward for U.S. policy to prevent a nuclear Iran. SPEAKERS: Ambassador Dennis Ross, Ambassador Eric Edelman, Stephen Rademaker, and Ray Takeyh.

2. Nuclear Politics on the Korean Peninsula Monday, July 28 | 3:00 pm – 5:15 pm Korea Economic Institute; Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 1779 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Washington, D.C. REGISTER TO ATTEND The evolving security environment around the Korean Peninsula presents new challenges and opportunities for addressing the North Korean nuclear threat. What do South Koreans expect from Beijing after Chinese President Xi Jinping’s recent visit to Seoul? What do South Korean aspirations for full nuclear fuel cycle capabilities mean for dealing with North Korea and for the balance of power in the region? And what do these trends mean for the US-ROK alliance? SPEAKERS: Douglas H. Paal: VP for Studies, CEIP, Donald A. Manzullo, President & CEO, KEI, Park Jin, Executive President of the Asia Future Institute, Kang Choi, Vice President, Asan Institute for Policy Studies, and others.

3. Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova: How Corruption Threatens the Eastern Partnership Monday, July 28 | 4:00 pm – 5:30 pm National Endowment for Democracy; 1025 F Street NW, Suite 800, Washington, D.C. REGISTER TO ATTEND Last month, Georgia, Ukraine and Moldova signed EU association agreements, putting to paper a clear desire to turn westwards and break from an unhappy post-Soviet legacy. Yet difficult issues remain, principally that of corruption. Entrenched corruption in these three countries persists as a result of the networks of criminality that thrived in the lawlessness of the 1990s. As these countries look to strengthen the rule of law and democratic accountability within their borders, the panel will discuss current corruption challenges and how outside actors – from Russia to the US – are influencing the reform process in each country. SPEAKERS: Oliver Bullough, Peter Pomerantsev, Vladimir Soloviev, Olga Khvostunova, Anne Applebaum, and Christopher Walker.

4. Contemporary Media Use in Turkey Tuesday, July 29 | 9:00 am – 10:00 am Gallup Organization; 901 F St NW # 400, Washington, D.C. REGISTER TO ATTEND The Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) and Gallup invite you to attend a research briefing on news consumption habits and attitudes in Turkey, along with, for the first time, an in-depth look at the distinctive media consumption habits among Turkey’s Kurdish population. This briefing will share data on media usage, a methodological overview and a review of attitudinal data on government and foreign policy. SPEAKERS: Chris Stewart, Bruce Sherman, William Bell, and Rajesh Srinivasan.

5. Doing Colombia Peace Forum: Peace Proposals from Victims of Colombia’s Armed Conflict Tuesday, July 29 | 10:00 am – 12:00 pm US Institute of Peace; 2301 Constitution Avenue NW, Washington, D.C. REGISTER TO ATTEND In June, the government of Colombia and the FARC parties issued a ground-breaking declaration of principles on victims. They announced that they were inviting a delegation of victims to participate in the talks, and that other opportunities will be created for victims to be heard within the peace process. They requested that the United Nations and the National University convene a series of three regional and one national forum for victims to present their proposals. Two forums have already taken place and the others are scheduled for late July and early August. This event will discuss victims’ rights and proposals from four victims of different groups, including guerrillas, paramilitaries, and the State. A half a century of internal armed conflict has resulted in more than 6.5 million victims officially registered with the Colombian government’s Victims’ Unit. This is an opportunity to hear diverse perspectives of leaders who are survivors of violence to discuss their proposals for a just and lasting peace. SPEAKERS: Clara Rojas González, Colombian National Congress Representative, Aida Quilcué, Director of Human Rights, Regional Indigenous Council of Cauca, Deyis Margarita Carmona Tejada, Spokeswoman, Peasants’ Assembly of Cesar for Land Restitution, José Antequera Guzmán Co-Founder, Sons and Daughters of Memory and Against Impunity, and Gimena Sánchez, Senior Associate for the Andes, WOLA.

6. Book Launch—Made in Bangladesh, Cambodia, and Sri Lanka: The Labor Behind the Global Garments and Textiles Industries Tuesday, July 29 | 10:00 am – 12:45 pm Woodrow Wilson Center; 1300 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Washington, D.C. REGISTER TO ATTEND The garments and textiles sector is one of the world’s oldest export industries. It has often served as the “starter” industry for many countries, especially in Asia. Dr. Saxena’s book, based on original, in-depth research in three different Asian countries, casts light on some of the significant policy and attitudinal shifts that have occurred in this industry. The book also puts the entire garments and textiles sector into the larger context of international trade policy. SPEAKER: Sanchita Saxena, Executive Director, Institute for South Asia Studies and Director, Chowdhury Center for Bangladesh Studies, UC-Berkeley.

7. Great Expectations? Assessing US-India Strategic Relations Tuesday, July 29 | 12:30 pm – 2:00 pm East-West Center; 1819 L St NW, Suite 600, Washington, D.C
  REGISTER TO ATTEND American enthusiasm for a strategic partnership with India has risen and fallen over the years. Optimism about US-India relations in the 2000s has been tempered by pessimism about these ties in the 2010s. Was the initial enthusiasm about US-India relations inflated? How valid are more recent skeptical perspectives? In his presentation, Dr. Dinshaw Mistry will discuss these questions, drawing upon ten contemporary cases where New Delhi’s policies converged with or diverged from Washington’s expectations. The answers offer important lessons for future US strategic engagement with India. Also with Dr. Stephen P. Cohen, Associate Professor, University of Cincinnati.

8. The Protection Project Review of the U.S. State Department Trafficking in Persons Report 2014 Wednesday, July 30 | 12:00 pm – 2:00 pm Johns Hopkins SAIS – Nitze Building; 1740 Massachusetts Ave., N.W., Washington, D.C. REGISTER TO ATTEND Luis CdeBaca, ambassador at large in the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons at the U.S. Department of State, and Mohamed Mattar, senior research professor of international law and executive director of The Protection Project, will discuss this topic.

9. The Iraq Meltdown: What Next? Wednesday, July 30 | 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm Heritage Foundation; 214 Massachusetts Ave NE, Washington, D.C. REGISTER TO ATTEND The swift collapse of Iraqi security forces in northern Iraq in the face of an al-Qaeda-spearheaded Sunni insurgency is a disastrous setback for U.S. counterterrorism and Middle East policies that will have dangerous regional spillover effects. The Islamic State, formerly known the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, and before that as Al-Qaeda in Iraq, now poses a rising threat to the United States and U.S. allies. Congressman Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) will discuss Iraq and the broader implications for the American foreign policy. Following his remarks, a panel of experts will discuss the current trends in Iraq. SPEAKERS: Jessica Lewis, Research Director, Institute for the Study of War, Steven P. Bucci, Ph.D., Director, Douglas and Sarah Allison Center for Foreign and National Security Policy, The Heritage Foundation, and James Phillips, Senior Research Fellow for Middle Eastern Affairs, The Heritage Foundation.

10. Africa Development Forum Event: What should African Leaders know to accelerate the achievement and sustainability of health goals in the post 2015 agenda? Thursday, July 31 | 9:00 am – 12:00 pm Chemonics International; 1717 H St. NW, Washington, D.C. REGISTER TO ATTEND Panelists will discuss the lessons they have learned from their experiences and efforts working towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Setting policy, developing plans, and coordinating and managing programs that deliver services across hundreds of hospitals and health centers requires resources and technical skills. This capacity needs to be quickly and effectively developed in most health systems where governance structures are vaguely defined. The panelists will draw from the lessons learned from the MDGs to propose ways African leaders can meet and even go beyond the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) 4-Ensuring Healthy Lives targets in an efficient way that makes the best of all resources available and protects the poor. SPEAKERS: Darius Mans, Africare, Elvira Beracochea, Founder and CEO, MIDEGO, and Akudo Ikemba, CEO, Friends Africa.

11. The North Korean Economy: Challenges and Opportunities for Reform Thursday, July 31 | 9:00 am – 10:00 am Korea Economic Institute; 1800 K Street NW Suite 1010 Washington, D.C. REGISTER TO ATTENDIn an era of globalization, North Korea remains one of the most isolated economies in the world. While normally still functioning as a planned economy, Pyongyang has pledged in recent years that no North Korean will ‘have to tighten their belts again.’ However, to truly fulfill that pledge, North Korea will need to engage in the types of reform that China, South Korea, and others have been advocating. What steps has North Korea taken under Kim Jong-un to reform the economy and how successful have they been? What obstacles does North Korea face in developing a normal functioning economy? Please join the Korea Economic Institute of America and the Korea Institute for International Economic Policy for a discussion on these and other issues that face the North Korea economy today. SPEAKERS: Lee Il Houng, Bradley Babson, and William Newcomb.

12. NPC Luncheon with Denis Sassou-Nguesso, President of the Republic of the Congo Friday, August 1 | 12:30 pm – 2:00 pm National Press Club; 529 14th St. NW, 13th Floor, Washington, D.C. REGISTER TO ATTEND President of the Republic of Congo Denis Sassou-Nguesso will discuss peace, security and stability of the central Africa region and oil investments in his country at a National Press Club luncheon on Friday, August 1. Sassou-Nguesso, who met President Vladimir Putin in 2012, recently was quoted in a Nigerian newspaper as saying that Congo plans to attract Russian investment in oil industry, agriculture and education services.

13. Cultures of the Mekong Saturday, August 2 | 10:00 am – 3:15 pm S. Dillon Ripley Center; 1100 Jefferson Drive, SW, Washington, D.C. REGISTER TO ATTEND Civilizations have risen and fallen for centuries on the banks of the Mekong River. Long before there was Phnom Penh or Hanoi, there were the settlements at Ban Chiang, Angkor, and Champa in the areas now known as Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, and Thailand. Robert DeCaroli, associate professor in the department of history and art history at George Mason University, explores these cultures that grew up along this massive 2700-mile river. Other speakers include Michael H. McLendon, Joseph Antos, Richard V. Burkhauser, Peter Schuck, and Sally Satel,

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The 2013 vintage in the peace vineyard

2013 has been a so-so vintage in the peace vineyard.

The Balkans saw improved relations between Serbia and Kosovo, progress by both towards the European Union and Croatian membership.  Albania managed a peaceful alternation in power.  But Bosnia and Macedonia remain enmired in long-running constitutional and nominal difficulties, respectively.  Slovenia, already a NATO and EU member, ran into financial problems, as did CyprusTurkey‘s long-serving and still politically dominant prime minister managed to get himself into trouble over a shopping center and corruption.

The former Soviet space has likewise seen contradictory developments:  Moldova‘s courageous push towards the EU, Ukraine‘s ongoing, nonviolent rebellion against tighter ties to Russia, and terrorist challenges to the Sochi Winter Olympics. Read more

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The end is nigh, once again

2013 is ending with a lot of doom and gloom:

  • South Sudan, the world’s newest state, is suffering bloodletting between political rivals, who coincide with its two largest tribes (Dinka and Nuer).
  • The Central African Republic is imploding in an orgy of Christian/Muslim violence.
  • North Korea is risking internal strife as its latest Kim exerts his authority by purging and executing his formally powerful uncle.
  • China is challenging Japan and South Korea in the the East China Sea.
  • Syria is in chaos, spelling catastrophe for most of its population and serious strains for all its neighbors.
  • Nuclear negotiations with Iran seem slow, if not stalled.
  • Egypt‘s military is repressing not only the Muslim Brotherhood but also secular human rights advocates.
  • Israel and Palestine still seem far from agreement on the two-state solution most agree is their best bet.
  • Afghanistan‘s President Karzai is refusing to sign the long-sought security agreement with the United States, putting at risk continued presence of US troops even as the Taliban seem to be strengthening in the countryside, and capital and people are fleeing Kabul.
  • Al Qaeda is recovering as a franchised operation (especially in Iraq, Syria, Yemen and North Africa), even as its headquarters in Pakistan has been devastated.
  • Ukraine is turning eastward, despite the thousands of brave protesters in Kiev’s streets.

The Economist topped off the gloom this week by suggesting that the current international situation resembles the one that preceded World War I:  a declining world power (then Great Britain, now the US) unable to ensure global security and a rising challenger (then Germany now China). Read more

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The world according to CFR

The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) survey of prevention priorities for 2014 is out today.  Crowdsourced, it is pretty much the definition of elite conventional wisdom. Pundits of all stripes contribute.

The top tier includes contingencies with high impact and moderate likelihood (intensification of the Syrian civil war, a cyberattack on critical US infrastructure, attacks on the Iranian nuclear program or evidence of nuclear weapons intent, a mass casualty terrorist attack on the US or an ally, or a severe North Korean crisis) as well as those with moderate impact and high likelihood (in a word “instability” in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Iraq or Jordan).  None merited the designation high impact and high likelihood, though many of us might have suggested Syria, Iraq  and Pakistan for that category. Read more

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