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Iran and the United States Can’t See Each Other Clearly

Fri, 26/06/2020 - 23:35
Domestic political dynamics in the two countries risk fueling a cycle of escalation. Meanwhile, the odds of a diplomatic resolution dwindle by the day.

China’s Sovereignty Obsession

Fri, 26/06/2020 - 04:37
Facing pressure at home and criticism abroad, China wants to telegraph strength even on its rugged Himalayan border with India.

The Secret to a Safe Reopening

Thu, 25/06/2020 - 21:04
Why the end of lockdown looks so different around the world.

How to Forecast Outbreaks and Pandemics

Thu, 25/06/2020 - 18:51
The United States needs the contagion equivalent of the National Weather Service.

The Growing White Supremacist Menace

Tue, 23/06/2020 - 04:27
COVID-19 has been a boon for far-right extremists.

When the CIA Interferes in Foreign Elections

Sun, 21/06/2020 - 02:19
A behind-the-scenes look at how the United States' Cold-War Strategy of election meddling has evolved in the twenty-first century.

How to Compensate the Pandemic’s Victims

Wed, 10/06/2020 - 22:53
But before enacting a publicly funded compensation program that would require individuals to surrender their right to sue, Congress should carefully consider the challenges—and some alternatives.

What the World Can Learn From China’s Experience With Coronavirus

Mon, 02/03/2020 - 06:00

China still has 92 percent of the world’s cases of the novel coronavirus known as COVID-19, and all but 118 of the nearly 3,000 deaths from the virus have occurred within its borders. But the events of the last few days have shown that COVID-19 will not remain a primarily Chinese story for long.

The number of new cases of COVID-19 reported daily outside China now exceeds the number of new cases inside China for the first time. In the last week (since February 24), more than 30 new countries have reported their first COVID-19 cases, including Brazil in South America, Afghanistan in South Asia, and Bahrain in the Persian Gulf. Almost none of these countries’ cases came directly from China. Over the weekend, Washington State reported the first death in the United States from COVID-19, the first health-care worker to be infected with the disease, and, most worrying, the first known outbreak of the disease in a long-term care facility for the elderly.

As this coronavirus proliferates in countries far beyond its origin, national governments must consider carefully which parts of China’s experience will be generalizable to their countries.

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How to Prepare for a Coronavirus Pandemic

Fri, 31/01/2020 - 06:00

When the first reports of a coronavirus outbreak hit the airwaves in early January, several dozen people had already caught the disease in or around the Chinese city of Wuhan. In the weeks since, the virus, nCoV, has spread quickly and the number of infections has grown by the day, even as Wuhan and other Chinese cities isolated large numbers of patients and quarantined some 50 million residents. At the latest count (as of Friday morning), there have been 213 deaths in China out of a total of 9,776 confirmed cases, and the virus has spread to more than 20 countries. On Thursday, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the disease a “Public Health Emergency of International Concern.”

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Brexit Is Just the Beginning

Fri, 31/01/2020 - 06:00

On the night of January 31, with little fanfare, without even a Big Ben bong, the United Kingdom will officially leave the European Union. After almost 50 years of EU membership and three years of bitter division over the vote to leave, the moment of formal departure is a historic milestone. But to say that the British are finally “getting Brexit done,” as Prime Minister Boris Johnson has claimed ad nauseam, is hopelessly optimistic. Friday marks the beginning of a new and uncertain phase of Brexit, not its end. 

The British government still needs to negotiate the terms of its future relations with the EU, a task so complex that many doubt it can be completed by the end of the year, when another ominous deadline looms. In the meantime, the country will be stuck in EU purgatory, bound by the bloc’s laws and regulations but powerless to shape them. Trade deals with other countries remain to be hammered out. And at home, the toxic fallout of Brexit division will linger—and potentially reshape British politics for years to come.

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Democracy Is Good for Your Health—And Vice Versa

Thu, 30/01/2020 - 06:00

Next week, Iowans will caucus to choose a Democratic candidate for president. But an observer might be forgiven for thinking that the future of U.S. health care was the real choice on the ballot.

Health care has been the most discussed topic at the Democratic Party debates, to the dismay of commentators who would like the conversation to expand beyond Medicare and its financing to highlight the candidates’ other policy differences with President Donald Trump. Yet politicians and debate moderators are merely responding to recent polls: health care is the only issue that a majority of Americans agrees is extremely important in the 2020 presidential election.

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The Wounded Presidency, Part Two

Wed, 29/01/2020 - 06:00

Just after 10:30 AM on August 7, 1998, two truck bombs exploded within minutes of each other outside the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, killing 224 people—12 of them Americans—and wounding more than 5,000 others. In the days that followed, the FBI and the CIA briefed U.S. President Bill Clinton on those they believed were responsible. “This one is a slam dunk, Mr. President,” said the CIA’s basketball-loving director, George Tenet. “There is no doubt that this was an al Qaeda operation.”


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Venezuela’s Problem Isn’t Socialism

Mon, 27/01/2020 - 06:00

In the last three years, tragic scenes of poverty and mayhem have dominated the coverage of Venezuela, a nation that used to be one of the wealthiest and most democratic countries in South America. Venezuela has become both a byword for failure and, curiously, something of an ideological hot potato, a rhetorical device dropped into political conversations around the world.

[Lea la versión de este artículo en español este lunes.] 

In election campaigns from Brazil to Mexico, Italy to the United States, politicians invoke Venezuela as a cautionary tale of the dangers of socialism. Left-wing candidates from Jeremy Corbyn, in the United Kingdom, to Pablo Iglesias, in Spain, find themselves accused of sympathizing with socialist Chavismo—and suffer real political damage from the association with Venezuela’s rulers. The charge, endlessly repeated, is that Venezuela’s failure is the failure of an ideology; socialism is to blame, and if you make the wrong choice at the ballot box, the chaos of Venezuela could come to your doorstep, too.

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Why America Must Lead Again

Thu, 23/01/2020 - 06:00

By nearly every measure, the credibility and influence of the United States in the world have diminished since President Barack Obama and I left office on January 20, 2017. President Donald Trump has belittled, undermined, and in some cases abandoned U.S. allies and partners. He has turned on our own intelligence professionals, diplomats, and troops. He has emboldened our adversaries and squandered our leverage to contend with national security challenges from North Korea to Iran, from Syria to Afghanistan to Venezuela, with practically nothing to show for it. He has launched ill-advised trade wars, against the United States’ friends and foes alike, that are hurting the American middle class. He has abdicated American leadership in mobilizing collective action to meet new threats, especially those unique to this century. Most profoundly, he has turned away from the democratic values that give strength to our nation and unify us as a people.

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The Looming Tax War

Fri, 17/01/2020 - 06:00

While the trade war between China and the United States has hogged headlines and driven market anxieties over the past year, an equally large threat to the global economy has gotten little attention: a looming tax war. Since the early twentieth century, countries have largely agreed on how to tax income earned by multinational corporations that conduct business across borders. But this long-standing regime is coming apart, imperiling the broader international economic order.

The current system, established through decades of practice and convention, provides a basis for determining which country can tax income earned in one jurisdiction by a business that resides in another. The regime rests on the norms set in domestic tax laws as well as a patchwork of almost 4,000 bilateral treaties. For decades, the system was stable and functional enough that no one other than international tax lawyers even talked about it.

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A Way Out of Spain’s Catalan Crisis

Wed, 27/11/2019 - 06:00

On October 14, Spain’s Supreme Court sentenced several leaders of the Catalonian separatist movement to lengthy prison terms for their role in organizing a controversial independence referendum two years ago. What followed seemed, in some ways, like a tragic replay of the failed 2017 secession bid: protests erupted in Barcelona, some descending into vandalism; riot police manhandled peaceful protesters; and Catalonia was left without a clear path to resolving its differences with the central government.

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The New Geography of Global Diplomacy

Wed, 27/11/2019 - 06:00

As China’s rise has become a central force in global politics, analysts and policymakers have tracked its path to potential preeminence on a number of fronts: the size of its economy, the scale and reach of its investment and commercial relationships, the budget and capabilities of its military forces. But as of 2019, China has surpassed the United States in an underappreciated but crucial measure of global influence: the size of its diplomatic network.

For decades, Washington had the largest diplomatic network in the world. Now China does, boasting 276 diplomatic posts—including embassies, consulates, and permanent missions to international organizations. The United States’ network, meanwhile, stands at 273, down one post since 2017.

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The Oligarchs Who Lost Ukraine and Won Washington

Tue, 26/11/2019 - 06:00

A congressional impeachment inquiry seeks to determine whether U.S. President Donald Trump extorted a foreign leader, withholding a coveted White House meeting and U.S. military aid in order to promulgate a Russian-inspired conspiracy theory and smear his chief opponent in the 2020 election. The United States’ gravest constitutional crisis since Watergate is not just about preserving the integrity of U.S. democratic institutions from the president’s abuse of power, however. It is an episode in a broader geopolitical struggle between the defenders of democracy and the forces of oligarchic authoritarianism, from Kyiv’s Maidan to Hong Kong’s Mong Kok. In this wider global conflict, Trump and his surrogates have consistently aligned themselves with the forces of oligarchic authoritarianism—in Russia, Turkey, Hungary, and other countries, too. Nowhere is this clearer than in Ukraine.

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Algeria Faces the Unknown—Finally

Tue, 26/11/2019 - 06:00

What if an election is held and no one votes? This question now confronts Algeria, where the government of interim President Abdelkader Bensalah has scheduled a presidential election for December 12. Yet the election risks ending as an exercise in absurdity: nearly all Algerian political and civil organizations have refused to endorse the five official candidates and have called upon Algerians to refrain from voting. The failure of this election will, paradoxically, mark the success of the country’s democratic aspirations, as expressed through a phenomenon that has dominated the Algerian political landscape since late February: le hirak.

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Foreign Policy Has Always Been at the Heart of Impeachment

Mon, 25/11/2019 - 06:00

Presidential impeachment in the United States has always seemed to be a domestic matter. President Bill Clinton was impeached for lying about sexual misconduct. President Richard Nixon resigned to avoid certain impeachment in the wake of the Watergate scandal. And in 1868, the House of Representatives leveled 11 articles of impeachment against President Andrew Johnson for defying a Republican-led Congress and its positions on Reconstruction.

The current inquiry into President Donald Trump is different. Sometime in December, it is likely that a U.S. president will for the first time be impeached for misusing his foreign policy authority in the service of personal political interests. The evidence laid out in House Intelligence Committee hearings establishes that Trump conditioned the release of congressionally authorized military aid to Ukraine on an announcement by the Ukrainian government that it would conduct investigations of Trump’s political opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden, and of the baseless allegation that Ukraine, not Russia, interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

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