North America

An Offensive Plan for the Balkans That the U.S. Should Get Behind

A Kosovo-Serbia land swap would be peaceful ethnic cleansing. But at least it would bring peace. Charles A. Kupchan * The New York Times The Balkans remains in strategic limbo. Kosovo declared independence from Serbia 10 years ago, but Serbia has yet to come to terms with its loss — refusing to recognize Kosovo and stirring trouble between the country’s ethnic Serbs and the ethnic Albanian majority. Almost two decades after the… A breakthrough may now be in the making. ... Read More »

UN Secretary-General: American Power Is in Decline, the World Is ‘in Pieces’

Is Democracy Dying? António Guterres confronts the “reemergence of irrationality” in global politics. Uri Friedman The Atlantic For the past two years, the secretary-general of the United Nations, António Guterres, has watched as President Donald Trump upends American foreign policy, engaging in trade wars while simultaneously disengaging from international agreements and… And now Guterres has reached a verdict: The United States, once the guarantor of global stability, is losing its ability to influence world events. “I think that the soft ... Read More »

New book offers vital background on the Iran nuclear deal

Wendy Sherman may not have the highest name recognition outside of Washington — but that’s what you might expect from a former top State Department official whose job included delicate negotiations with old adversaries and… Jason Rezaian The Washington Post Now she has just come out with a new memoir that fills a valuable gap in recent history by providing a detailed look at the talks that led to the Iran nuclear deal. Sherman was the lead negotiator for the ... Read More »

If Britain Opts for Corbyn, Then the New Prime Minister Will Clash with Trump Over Israel

Is the Middle East ready? Lawrence J. Haas The National Interest The signs of breakdown in the liberal international order are mounting, and they’re coming from disparate directions: Washington battles its closest allies on trade, Beijing and Moscow come together more closely militarily in an anti-U.S. alliance, and Beijing seeks to make its territorial expansion a… But the liberal order is as much about values as about alliances and power plays. In that sense, the most striking recent manifestation of ... Read More »

New data paint an unpleasant picture of poverty in the US

On Sept. 12, the U.S. Census Bureau released national poverty data for 2017. The headline was that 39.7 million people were poor in 2017. This works out to 12.3 percent of the population or one in eight Americans. The good news is that the U.S. poverty rate has fallen since 2010, when it hit 15.1 percent, and… The bad news is that poverty still exceeds the 11.3 percent rate of 2000 and far too many people are poor in a ... Read More »

How to Save the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program

Amid the largest displacement crisis since World War II, President Donald Trump’s administration has cut the U.S.’s annual intake of refugees in half. ICG It should reverse course, and future administrations should strive to put refugee admissions on a stronger political and operational footing. What’s new?  Through various forms of bureaucratic strangulation, the Trump administration is working to squeeze the life from a program that has helped resettle three million refugees in the U.S. since 1980. Why does it matter?  The current ... Read More »

Argentina, Turkey, Indonesia – why it’s too early to speak of contagion in emerging markets

Turkey, Indonesia and Argentina have all seen their currencies experience huge drops in recent months. Similarly, stocks in India, South Africa, Mexico and others have taken a hit. Alain Naef The Conversation Emerging markets across the board have been under pressure since the US Federal Reserve raised interest rates in June. Governments and companies had borrowed in dollars when interest rates were low and the dollar was weak. Now the dollar is strong and interest rates are rising. And research ... Read More »

US threatens to arrest ICC judges who probe war crimes

The United States threatened Monday to arrest and sanction judges and other officials of the International Criminal Court if it moves to charge any American who served in Afghanistan with… WASHINGTON – Agence France Presse Hurriyet White House National Security Advisor John Bolton called the Hague-based rights body “unaccountable” and “outright dangerous” to the United States, Israel and other allies, and said any probe of US service members would be “an… “If the court comes after us, Israel or other US allies, we will not sit quietly,” Bolton said. ... Read More »

Nonprofit newsrooms are reaching bigger audiences by teaming up with other outlets

When images of NBC intern Cassie Semyon sprinting out of the Paul Manafort trial to deliver the verdict to her newsroom went viral, questions bubbled up on social media. Is she a trained runner? Was she barefoot? What was she… Magda Konieczna The Conversation What no one asked was, why was she running so fast? That was obvious: to beat the competition. After all, everyone expects journalists to fight for scoops and guard sources jealously to make sure no one ... Read More »

10 reasons why Finland’s education system is the best in the world

Time and time again, American students continually rank near the middle or bottom among industrialized nations when it comes to performance in math and science. Mike Colagrossi WEF The Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) which in conjunction with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) routinely releases data which shows that Americans are seriously lagging behind in a… Despite calls for education reform and a continual lackluster performance on the international scale, not a lot is being done or changing within the ... Read More »

When the Beach Is Out of Reach—Coastal Access Becomes a Growing Concern

As Americans crowd toward the coasts, states and municipalities are caught in passionate battles about public access, while lawsuits seem headed for the U.S. Supreme Court. Timothy B. Clark Route Fifty NORTHEAST HARBOR — Maine, it is said, has more coastline than any other state. Measured along the twists and turns of countless coves and inlets, the coast stretches 3,478 miles, a few more than California’s—and over 5,000 miles if one counts the shorelines of… But Maine does not grant the ... Read More »

American Democracy Can’t Fix Itself

Instead of placing their faith in the resilience of the system, ordinary voters are going to have to step up and restore the constitutional balance of power. Julian E. Zelizer The Atlantic The claims this past week that high-level officials are secretly undercutting the president in an effort to restrain a commander in chief they no longer feel is fit for office has left many Americans deeply unsettled. “Just a glance at recent headlines should tell you that this moment ... Read More »

Weak hand at helm as Australia drifts upon stormy regional seas

Political turmoil compels leadership to prioritize domestic survival, rather than the greatest series of foreign policy challenges Canberra has faced in decades. By LACHLAN COLQUHOUN Asia Times Australia faces arguably its greatest series of regional foreign policy challenges in decades – including, most notably, how to balance its relations with a rising China – but political turmoil is hampering a coherent and committed response. New Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison recently visited Indonesia to ink a new trade deal, while Foreign ... Read More »

Chevron wins Ecuador rainforest ‘oil dumping’ case

An international tribunal in The Hague has ruled in favour of the US oil company, Chevron, in an environmental dispute with the government of Ecuador. BBC Chevron had been ordered to pay $9.5bn (£7.4bn) compensation to thousands of residents in Ecuador’s Amazon region. They accused the company of dumping toxic waste in local lakes and rivers of the Lago Agrio region for decades. The court said that the 2011 Ecuador Supreme Court ruling had been obtained through fraud, bribery and ... Read More »

Freedom of Navigation and the Environment

The US has long maintained that freedom of navigation (FON) for warships in foreign 200-nautical-mile Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs) is essentially “absolute.” Mark J. Valencia IPP Review China and some other countries disagree and have placed some restrictions on the activities of foreign warships and aircraft in their EEZs. But the US is undermining its own position by placing restrictions on its own military’s activities, and by extension those of foreign militaries, in its own EEZ. Military activities in EEZs ... Read More »

World politics explainer: the assassination of John F. Kennedy

At precisely 1pm on November 22, 1963, the 35th president of the United States was pronounced dead at Parkland Hospital Trauma Room 1 in Dallas, Texas. Lloyd Cox The Conversation John F Kennedy’s personal physician stated the cause of death was a gunshot wound to the head. This was officially announced to a stunned public half an hour later. The shock waves of the president’s assassination, the fourth in US history, continue to reverberate today. What happened? While the events ... Read More »