Archive for the ‘Foreign Policy’ Category

5
Apr

The Silence of Rex Tillerson

Written on April 5, 2017 by Waya Quiviger in Americas, Foreign Policy

One would not expect the secretary of defense routinely to inspect the sentries and walk point on patrols, but, in effect, that is what the secretary of state has to do. He is the chief executive of a department numbering in the tens of thousands, and a budget in the tens of billions; but he is also the country’s chief diplomat, charged with conducting negotiations and doing much of the detailed work of American foreign policy. Americans expect him as well to serve as the president’s senior constitutionally accountable adviser on such matters, and as the expositor of an administration’s foreign policy.

It is not unprecedented for a president to install a business executive as secretary of state. After all, George Shultz, one of the outstanding 20th-century occupants of that office, came to Foggy Bottom from Bechtel. But then again, Shultz had a rich array of experiences under his belt in addition to a successful business career—he had taught economics at MIT and the University of Chicago, and served as both secretary of labor and the first director of the Office of Management and Budget.

Tillerson resembles Shultz in what is, by all accounts, sterling character—honest, considerate, soft-spoken, but effective at managing a large business. There is no reason to doubt his integrity or good judgment. But in his first few months as secretary of state his performance suggests both his limits (which he may transcend) and more fundamental proclivities of the Trump administration (which he almost certainly cannot).

During his short tenure the following has happened: His top pick for deputy secretary of state was shot down at the last minute in a bit of palace intrigue; his boss has proposed slashing his department’s budget by 29 percent; his press operation at the State Department went dark for several weeks, after which the interim spokesman made a (good) statement in support of Russian demonstrators and was promptly moved; he decided to get rid of the usual press entourage on his inaugural overseas trip to Asia; he nearly skipped a meeting of NATO foreign ministers, pulling back in the nick of time to spend only a few hours on the ground in Brussels; he has been preceded on a visit to Iraq by the princeling of the Trump administration, Jared Kushner, whose remit includes China and Middle East peace, among other things. And on the great issues of American foreign policy—nothing. Read more…

Published on April 4 by Eliot Cohen in the atlantic.com

31
Dec

How to make sense of 2016

Written on December 31, 2016 by Waya Quiviger in Foreign Policy, Global Economy, Op Ed

FOR a certain kind of liberal, 2016 stands as a rebuke. If you believe, as The Economist does, in open economies and open societies, where the free exchange of goods, capital, people and ideas is encouraged and where universal freedoms are protected from state abuse by the rule of law, then this has been a year of setbacks. Not just over Brexit and the election of Donald Trump, but also the tragedy of Syria, abandoned to its suffering, and widespread support—in Hungary, Poland and beyond—for “illiberal democracy”. As globalisation has become a slur, nationalism, and even authoritarianism, have flourished. In Turkey relief at the failure of a coup was overtaken by savage (and popular) reprisals. In the Philippines voters chose a president who not only deployed death squads but bragged about pulling the trigger. All the while Russia, which hacked Western democracy, and China, which just last week set out to taunt America by seizing one of its maritime drones, insist liberalism is merely a cover for Western expansion.

Faced with this litany, many liberals (of the free-market sort) have lost their nerve. Some have written epitaphs for the liberal order and issued warnings about the threat to democracy. Others argue that, with a timid tweak to immigration law or an extra tariff, life will simply return to normal. That is not good enough. The bitter harvest of 2016 has not suddenly destroyed liberalism’s claim to be the best way to confer dignity and bring about prosperity and equity. Rather than ducking the struggle of ideas, liberals should relish it. Read more…

The Economist,

20
Dec

Why America was bound to fail in Syria

Written on December 20, 2016 by Waya Quiviger in Foreign Policy, Middle East, Op Ed

The fall of Aleppo is a human catastrophe. It’s also a demonstration of the perils of choosing the middle course in a military conflict. Sometimes it’s possible to talk and fight at the same time. But in Syria, the U.S. decision to pursue a dual-track, halfway approach made the mayhem worse.

A battered Secretary of State John F. Kerry made one more plea Thursday for a peaceful evacuation of what’s left of Aleppo. At a State Department briefing, he used the strongest language to describe the situation: “Another Srebrenica . . . nothing short of a massacre . . . indiscriminate slaughter . . . a cynical policy of terrorizing civilians.”

But for five years, the United States’ actions haven’t matched its rhetoric. Kerry’s only real weapon now is the gruesome suffering of the Syrian people and the shame it engenders in everyone who watches. That shame hangs over this administration, too.

Kerry’s critics argue that his efforts to negotiate a settlement were always doomed to failure. Maybe so, but after the Russian military intervention in September 2015, the administration concluded that diplomacy was the only viable strategy in Aleppo. Having made that decision, officials needed to make it work. Instead, they continued to toy with an armed opposition they weren’t prepared to fully support. Read more…

 Opinion writer December 15

www.washingtonpost.com

16
Dec

By this time next year, the eurozone could be defunct. Despite the small chances of it actually happening, the fact that the collapse of the currency union is even possible speaks volumes about the size of the problems Europe faces. Since financial, economic and political crises descended on the Continent almost a decade ago, Europe has endured many difficult moments. But 2017 will be the most important year yet for the continuity of the eurozone as political and economic risk reaches the bloc’s very core in Germany, France and Italy.

Threats to the European Union and the eurozone become more acute as they spread to the bloc’s key members. While Europe’s supranational structures could probably survive Greece’s departure from the eurozone or Britain’s exit from the European Union, for example, they probably couldn’t overcome the withdrawal of Germany, France or Italy. These countries not only have the largest economies in Europe, but they are also the main forces driving the process of European integration.

Next year, a series of events will put the European Union’s foundational structures to the test. The bloc’s most serious challenges will come from France and Italy, which are dogged by low economic growth rates and relatively high unemployment. Anti-globalization sentiments are strong among large swaths of their populations, who want to protect their economies from the perceived threats of immigration and free trade. Meanwhile, many French and Italian voters are skeptical of the European Union and the mainstream political parties that back it. Both countries are fertile ground for political forces that vow to fight globalization and reverse the process of European integration. Read more…

By Adriano Bosoni
December 15, 2016; http://www.realclearworld.com/

12
Dec

The long wave unfurled at last. Perhaps it is no surprise that the two societies that felt its furious force — the United States and Britain — are also the open societies at the hub of globalized turbo-capitalism and finance. For at least a decade, accelerating since the crash of 2008, fears and resentments had been building over the impunity of elites, the dizzying disruption of technology, the influx of migrants and the precariousness of modern existence.

In Western societies, for too long, there had been no victories, no glory and diminishing certainties. Wars were waged; nobody knew how they could be won. Their wounds festered. The distance between metropolis and periphery grew into a cultural chasm. Many things became unsayable; even gender became debatable. Truth blurred, then was sidelined, in an online tribal cacophony.

Jobs went. Inequality thrust itself in your face. What the powerful said and the lives people lived were so unrelated that politics looked increasingly like a big heist. Debacle followed debacle — the euro, the Iraq War, the Great Recession — and their architects never paid. Syria encapsulated the West’s newfound impotence, a kind of seeping amorality; and, in its bloody dismemberment, Syria sent into Europe a human tide that rabble-rousers seized upon. Read more…

www.nyt.com

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