Analysis

‘A rogue presidency’: The era of containing Trump is over

For two years, they tried to tutor and confine him. They taught him history, explained nuances and gamed out reverberations. Philip Rucker The Washington Post They urged careful deliberation, counseled restraint and prepared talking points to try to sell mainstream actions to a restive conservative base hungry for disruption. But in the end, they failed. For President Trump, the era of containment is over. One by one, the seasoned advisers seen as bulwarks against Trump’s most reckless impulses have been ... Read More »

Reviving Civil Disobedience

Nonviolent but confrontational forms of civil disobedience have a strong track record of success in exposing injustice and countering creeping authoritarianism. Jan-Werner Mueller Project Syndicate But those who embrace this tactic today will have to adapt it to a fractured and polarized public sphere. PRINCETON – With populism and authoritarianism on the rise around the world, there has been considerable talk of “resistance,” especially in the United States. A rather broad term, resistance could refer to everything from supporting opposition ... Read More »

What Aristotle can teach us about Trump’s rhetoric

From Franklin D. Roosevelt’s fireside chats to Ronald Reagan’s reputation as the “great communicator” to Barack Obama’s soaring oratory to Donald Trump’s Twitter use, styles of presidential communication have… Anthony F. Arrigo The Conversation But what is similar across all presidents is their ability to create persuasive messages that resonate with large segments of the U.S. population. Whatever your opinion about Donald Trump, he is highly effective at doing this. The question is why, and how does he do… As ... Read More »

Nigeria’s 2019 Elections: Six States to Watch

Nigerian elections are high-stakes affairs often marred by street clashes and worse. ICG As the 2019 contests approach, the risk of disturbances is particularly high in six states. The government and its foreign partners can limit campaign-related violence by enhancing security and promoting dialogue among rivals. What’s new?  As presidential, gubernatorial and legislative elections draw near in Nigeria, the risk of violence is widespread, particularly in six states where stakes are high or other conflicts fester. Why does it matter? ... Read More »

Avoiding a Free-for-all in Syria’s North East

President Donald Trump has ordered U.S. troops to withdraw from north-east Syria. ICG This risks chaos and drives home the urgent need for a deal that restores Syrian state sovereignty to its north east, assuages Turkish security concerns and allows for some degree of Kurdish self-rule. What’s new? President Trump’s surprise decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria followed previous warnings that he justified their presence only as part of the campaign to defeat the Islamic State (ISIS). Trump said ... Read More »

The Geopolitics of Greece: A Sea at its Heart

Throughout the history of Greece, its geography has been both a blessing and a curse, a blessing because it allowed Greece to dominate the “known Western world” for a good portion of Europe’s ancient history due to a combination of sea access and rugged topography. Stratfor In the ancient era, these were perfect conditions for a maritime city-state culture oriented toward commerce and one that was difficult to dislodge by more powerful land-based opponents. This geography incubated the West’s first ... Read More »

Listening to nature: How sound can help us understand environmental change

Our hearing tells us of a car approaching from behind, unseen, or a bird in a distant forest. Garth Paine The Conversation Everything vibrates, and sound passes through and around us all the time. Sound is a critical environmental signifier. Increasingly, we are learning that humans and animals are not the only organisms that use sound to communicate. So do plants and forests. Plants detect vibrations in a frequency-selective manner, using this “hearing” sense to find water by sending out ... Read More »

The biggest winner of Trump’s Syria withdrawal? Turkey.

When President Trump announced Wednesday that he was pulling U.S. forces out of Syria, it came as a shock to much of Washington. Ishaan Tharoor The Washington Post Key U.S. military officials reportedly felt hoodwinked by the drastic shift in policy; Trump’s secretary of defense quit. Counterterrorism experts warned that a departure could lead to an Islamic State resurgence. Critics in the foreign-policy community declared that Trump was giving “a Christmas gift to our enemies” — namely Russia and Iran, whose influence the… ... Read More »

Duterte: Philippines’ brutal president must be condemned, but the West is guilty of double standards

Not since the grim Marcos era have Western commentators been so interested in the Philippines. Their focus is the country’s brutal and boorish president, Rodrigo Duterte, whose gruesome anti-drug campaign – death… Tom Sykes The Conversation But some of these Western critics ignore or understate the role of Western policy in helping to create the conditions that birthed “Dutertismo”. They have also simplified Duterte’s erratic policy gestures and not held the Western powers to the… In his book Duterte Harry, ... Read More »

After More Than Two Decades of Work, a New Hebrew Bible to Rival the King James

The pre-eminent scholar Robert Alter has finally finished his own translation. Avi Steinberg The New York Times One morning this fall, at his home high in the Berkeley hills, the literary critic and translator Robert Alter chatted with me about the dilemmas he faced while translating the Hebrew Bible. Alter, who is 83, sat on a sofa with a long-limbed, feline watchfulness. Behind him, a picture window looked out onto a… He occasionally cast a probing eye on his brand-new, ... Read More »

North Korea: We Asked 27 Experts What They Think Will Happen in 2019

The world’s best Korea and Asia watchers gave us their predictions. Will we go back to “fire and fury” or is lasting peace just over the horizon? Harry J. Kazianis and John Dale Grover The National Interest The following is a note from our Executive Editor and the Center for the National Interest’s Director of Defense Studies, Harry J. Kazianis : What happens next when it comes to the North Korea challenge? Your guess is as good as mine, but by looking ... Read More »

Earthrise, a photo that changed the world

December 24 is the 50th anniversary of Earthrise, arguably one of the most profound images in the history of human culture. Authors: The Conversation When astronaut William Anders photographed a fragile blue sphere set in dark space peeking over the Moon, it changed our perception of our place in space and fuelled environmental awareness around the world. The photo let us see our planet from a great distance for the first time. The living Earth, surrounded by the darkness of ... Read More »

Violent Crackdown in West Papua: An Interview With Independence Leader Benny Wenda

Right now, the Indonesian military are carrying out a violent crackdown in the Ndgua regency of occupied West Papua. Reports have been emerging about the ongoing assault, which is a reprisal over an incident involving the deaths of a… Paul Gregoire Sydney Criminal Lawyers The Indonesian Armed Forces have been reportedly bombing the highland region. While Indonesian security affairs minister Wiranto has denied that explosives were used, he confirmed grenade launchers have been. West Papuan people are reporting having been shot and ... Read More »

How ‘access journalism’ is threatening investigative journalism

A series of memoirs are appearing for Christmas – by Mike Carlton, Kerry O’Brien and the like – as the baby boomer generation of journalists gets some quality time to reflect, laugh, and reveal some new… Peter Manning The Conversation As the receiver of a cheapo massive cardboard screed in 1972 for “investigative journalism” from my colleagues in the ABC’s This Day Tonight, my recollection was that “investigative journalism” was a cool, new… I accepted the award with honour. It ... Read More »

Making Yemen’s Hodeida Deal Stick

On 17 December, the UN announced a ceasefire in the contested governorate of Hodeida. Peter Salisbury ICG Thus far, after some initial wobbling, it has held. In this Q&A, Crisis Group’s senior Yemen analyst Peter Salisbury unpacks the ceasefire and assesses its prospects. What does the ceasefire mean? The Hodeida ceasefire is a first step toward implementing an agreement reached at UN-led talks between Yemen’s internationally recognised government and Huthi rebels in Sweden on 13 December to demilitarise Hodeida city ... Read More »

A Road to Dialogue After Nicaragua’s Crushed Uprising

Public resentment is high in Nicaragua after street protests in April were crushed in a brutal government crackdown. ICG To prevent further unrest, President Ortega should implement agreed electoral reforms while international actors maintain diplomatic pressure to create conditions for dialogue. What’s new? Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega has quelled a civic uprising through violence, intimidation and prosecution of protesters without due process. More than 300 people died in clashes pitting protesters against police and parapolice groups. Protests have since subsided, ... Read More »