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Updated: 1 month 6 days ago

Blood for Soil

Tue, 12/02/2019 - 06:00

Since the French Revolution, nationalism—the idea that state borders should coincide with national communities—has constituted the core source of political legitimacy around the world. As nationalism spread from western Europe in the early nineteenth century, it became increasingly ethnic in nature. In places where the state and the nation did not match up, such as Germany, Italy, and most of eastern Europe, the nation tended to be defined in terms of ethnicity, which led to violent processes of unification or secession. At the beginning of the twentieth century, ethnic nationalism came to disrupt political borders even more, leading to the breakup of multiethnic empires, including the Habsburg, Ottoman, and Russian ones. By changing the size of Europe’s political units, this undermined the balance of power and contributed to two world wars.

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Iran’s Other Generation Gap, 40 Years On

Mon, 11/02/2019 - 06:00

It was late in the afternoon on a cold winter day. Light snow had covered Tehran the night before, and I was spending the day in the production office of a small film unit of the Basij paramilitary militia. I was researching cultural producers in the Islamic Republic’s military and paramilitary organizations, and the young men who worked in this film unit had agreed to talk to me on the condition of anonymity.

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Putin’s Game Plan in Ukraine

Thu, 07/02/2019 - 06:00

At the end of 2013, Viktor Yanukovych, Ukraine’s president, postponed signing an association agreement with the European Union, choosing instead to pursue closer ties with Russia. Protesters began massing on Kiev’s central square, known as the Maidan. Weeks of tension spilling into violence culminated with Yanukovych’s ouster on February 22.

Russian President Vladimir Putin looked on with anger and alarm. Suppose that what had happened on the Maidan sparked similar protests in Russia?

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A New Americanism

Tue, 05/02/2019 - 06:00

In 1986, the Pulitzer Prize–winning, bowtie-wearing Stanford historian Carl Degler delivered something other than the usual pipe-smoking, scotch-on-the-rocks, after-dinner disquisition that had plagued the evening program of the annual meeting of the American Historical Association for nearly all of its centurylong history. Instead, Degler, a gentle and quietly heroic man, accused his colleagues of nothing short of dereliction of duty: appalled by nationalism, they had abandoned the study of the nation.

“We can write history that implicitly denies or ignores the nation-state, but it would be a history that flew in the face of what people who live in a nation-state require and demand,” Degler said that night in Chicago. He issued a warning: “If we historians fail to provide a nationally defined history, others less critical and less informed will take over the job for us.”

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E Pluribus Unum?

Fri, 01/02/2019 - 06:00
Identity Politics Strengthens Democracy

Stacey Y. Abrams

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Deepfakes and the New Disinformation War

Tue, 11/12/2018 - 06:00

A picture may be worth a thousand words, but there is nothing that persuades quite like an audio or video recording of an event. At a time when partisans can barely agree on facts, such persuasiveness might seem as if it could bring a welcome clarity. Audio and video recordings allow people to become firsthand witnesses of an event, sparing them the need to decide whether to trust someone else’s account of it. And thanks to smartphones, which make it easy to capture audio and video content, and social media platforms, which allow that content to be shared and consumed, people today can rely on their own eyes and ears to an unprecedented degree.

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More, Less, or Different?

Tue, 11/12/2018 - 06:00

Since November 2016, the U.S. foreign policy community has embarked on an extended voyage of soul-searching, filling the pages of publications like this one with essays on the past, present, and future of the liberal international order and the related question of where U.S. grand strategy goes from here. The prevailing sentiment is not for just more of the same. Big questions are up for debate in ways they have not been for many years. What is the purpose of U.S. foreign policy? Are there fundamental changes in the world that demand a corresponding change in approach?

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Snake-Oil Economics

Tue, 11/12/2018 - 06:00

When economists write, they can decide among three possible voices to convey their message. The choice is crucial, because it affects how readers receive their work.

The first voice might be called the textbook authority. Here, economists act as ambassadors for their profession. They faithfully present the wide range of views professional economists hold, acknowledging the pros and cons of each. These authors do their best to hide their personal biases and admit that there is still plenty that economists do not know. According to this perspective, reasonable people can disagree; it is the author’s job to explain the basis for that disagreement and help readers make an informed judgment.

The second voice is that of the nuanced advocate. In this case, economists advance a point of view while recognizing the diversity of thought among reasonable people. They use state-of-the-art theory and evidence to try to persuade the undecided and shake the faith of those who disagree. They take a stand without pretending to be omniscient. They acknowledge that their intellectual opponents have some serious arguments and respond to them calmly and without vitriol. 

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The Fourth Founding

Tue, 11/12/2018 - 06:00

The United States began as a radical experiment with grandiose ambitions. Its founders believed in Locke’s idea that free individuals could escape the perils of anarchy by joining together and cooperating for mutual benefit—and they created a country to show it wasn’t just talk. The signers of the Declaration of Independence bound themselves in a common political project, establishing a limited government to secure their rights and advance their interests. That act, noted Secretary of State John Quincy Adams in 1821, “was the first solemn declaration by a nation of the only legitimate foundation of civil government. It was the corner stone of a new fabric, destined to cover the surface of the globe.”

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Deepfakes and the New Disinformation War

Wed, 05/12/2018 - 16:57
Thanks to the rise of “deepfakes”—highly realistic and difficult-to-detect digital manipulations of audio or video—it is becoming easier than ever to portray someone saying or doing something he or she never said or did, with potentially disastrous consequences for politics.

Beyond the AI Arms Race

Fri, 16/11/2018 - 06:00
AI Superpowers risks feeding the zero-sum arms race thinking that he himself warns could hurt humanity’s ability to harness AI for good.

Brexit and Broken Promises

Fri, 16/11/2018 - 06:00
The United Kingdom embraced a political fantasy in June 2016, when a slight majority of Brexit referendum participants voted for the country to leave the European Union

The Long Decline of Congressional Oversight

Thu, 15/11/2018 - 06:00
Congress doesn't pay much attention to foreign policy anymore. Democrats probably won't change that.


Wed, 14/11/2018 - 06:00
最近中国发生的种种事情都令人不安。 几十万的维吾尔族穆斯林被关入新疆的奥威尔式的“再教育营”。香港的一个政党被取缔,尽管香港在中国享有特殊地位和长期的言论自由。 [Read the English version of this article here.] 一位南部港口城市的教师被要求交出护照,以便他的学校能够密切关注他的行动。 诺贝尔奖获得者刘晓波——一位身患疾病的异见者——被禁止出国寻求医疗。旨在打击犯罪的国际刑警组织的主席刚回到中国就消失了,再次出现时竟已被政府拘留,面临腐败的指控。这样的例子不胜枚举。 类似事件的报道一个个浮出水面,每个报道本身都令人震惊,但又很容易被当作积极的大方向中无须重视的小插曲。然而,把这些散落的事件组合在一起,我们就会看清习近平主席掌控下的中国的真实方向,这是一幅令人感到压抑的画面。 中国正在大谈进步,但很多方面都正在回到过去,中国的领导干部在镇压上愈发不顾颜面了。 新疆政府把维吾尔族百分之五到百分之十的人口集体关押起来,这种手段似乎属于上个世纪,而非二十一世纪。 但这些严厉措施并非简单地收回过去几十年的改革和开放。北京方面正在将这些措施扩大到更大的地理范畴,将它们从西部边境地区扩展到相比之下似乎相对自由的地区,并采用高科技服务于老式的的极权主义野心。简而言之,我们目睹的不是中国压迫现状的延续,而是一种令人震惊的新事物的开始。 镇压的前沿- 新疆 在中国西部土地辽阔的新疆,本地人反抗中国统治已有多年历史。相对而言,中国通过控制当地人的外出、言论和文化表达来镇压这种反对也行之有年。但在过去的两年里,当局采取了前所未有的措施,向该地区的维吾尔族和其他少数民族强制灌输汉族文化。中国建立了一个由180多个“教育转化”营组成的网络,在没在有任何刑事指控的情况下,关押了多达一百万维吾尔族和其他少数民族。当局声称这些中心是用于“职业培训”和“法制教育”。一些曾经的囚犯描述了一种由军事化训练和普遍虐待构成的体制,他们说在那里,囚犯们大喊党的口号,学习习近平思想。与此同时,当局招募了大批汉族公民入住维吾尔族家庭,监视这些家庭,挑选需要再教育的人。...

Spain Digs Up Its Past

Wed, 14/11/2018 - 06:00
The Spanish government's plans to exhume the country's former dictator Francisco Franco from the Valley of the Fallen has caused a fierce debate over the dictator's legacy and the politics of memory. 

There’s a Right Way to End Syria’s War

Wed, 14/11/2018 - 06:00
Earlier this month, Geir Pedersen, Norway’s ambassador to China and a former permanent representative to the United Nations, was appointed special envoy on the Syria conflict. The task Pedersen inherits is gargantuan, even for one of the better-respected diplomats in the UN biosphere, and one with a long history of work on seemingly intractable conflicts. Syria has been brutalized for nearly eight years now. Pedersen inherits a broken opposition and a stubborn, unruly, murderous dictator in Damascus who refuses to leave. At the very heart of any negotiation must be the simple premise that Assad—a man with much blood on his hands, but who retains the support of Putin and Hezbollah—must go. 

The Populist Wave Hits the Catholic Church

Tue, 13/11/2018 - 06:00
The turmoil in the Catholic Church today reveals yet another front in the populist rebellion against establishment leaders that has roiled the politics of the West.

How to Counter China’s Influence in the South Pacific

Tue, 13/11/2018 - 06:00
The United States and key regional allies are finally sharpening their focus on strategic competition with China for influence in the South Pacific.

The Deal Trump Should Strike With Xi

Mon, 12/11/2018 - 06:00
Focus on liberalizing investment, not trade, at the G-20.

Trumpism Comes to Brazil

Sun, 28/10/2018 - 05:00
Jair Bolsonaro has accomplished the once unthinkable: he has won the presidency of Latin America’s largest country, which accounts for approximately 40 percent of the region’s population and a roughly equal share of its GDP. Bolsonaro will likely preside over the biggest foreign policy shift in Brazil's recent history—a change that will have important reverberations throughout the Americas and across the globe. He has made clear his intention not only to be one of Washington’s strongest allies but to borrow much of his international agenda directly from Trump’s playbook.