• Peace index2018 Global Peace Index finds a less peaceful world

    The 2018 Global Peace Index (GPI) finds that the global level of peace has deteriorated by 0.27 percent in the last year, marking the fourth successive year of deteriorations. Ninety-two countries deteriorated, while 71 countries improved. The 2018 GPI reveals a world in which the tensions, conflicts, and crises that emerged in the past decade remain unresolved, especially in the Middle East, resulting in a gradual, sustained fall in peacefulness. The Top 5 most peaceful countries are Iceland, New Zealand, Austria, Portugal, and Denmark. The least peaceful countries: Syria, Afghanistan, South Sudan, Iraq, and Somalia.

  • DeterrenceThe challenge of deterrence in today’s world

    The challenge of deterrence — discouraging states from taking unwanted actions, especially military aggression — has again become a principal theme in U.S. defense policy. But the landscape has changed: Many potential adversaries are significantly more capable than they were a decade or more ago, and the risks of actually fighting a major war are more significant than ever. This makes it even more imperative to deter conflict.

  • Cuban mystery21 U.S. diplomats in Cuba suffered “acquired brain injury from an exposure of unknown origin”: Experts

    In late 2016, U.S. government personnel in Havana, Cuba, visited the embassy medical unit after experiencing unusual sound and sensory phenomena and the onset of neurological symptoms. Researchers who examined the twenty-one diplomats say that concussion-like symptoms were observed in the 11 women and 10 men after they reported hearing intensely loud sounds in their homes and hotel rooms and feeling changes in air pressure caused by an unknown source. The symptoms were consistent with brain injury, although there was no history of head trauma. The experts who examined the American diplomats concluded: “The unique circumstances of these patients and the clinical manifestations detailed in this report raise concern about a new mechanism for possible acquired brain injury from an exposure of unknown origin.”

  • IranIran’s uprising—a case of patrimonial corruption, pt. 2

    By John Changiz Vafai

    Iran’s corruption is more structural and ideologically oriented than the one resulting from nepotism or individual petty corruption. The grievances expressed by the ordinary Iranians on the streets of various towns, reflect the structural corruption that have resulted in a grave disparity in distribution of resources for the ordinary people. Because of the structural and patrimonial corruption, mismanagement, and preferential treatment of its citizens, Iran’s economic growth after the nuclear deal has benefited only the well-connected few. The demonstrations took place primarily in towns other than Tehran, and the demonstrators were not solely students demanding change on government’s policies concerning basic human rights and political freedoms. The demonstrators have been asking for an affordable price of groceries.

  • IranIran’s uprising—a case of patrimonial corruption, pt. 1

    By John Changiz Vafai

    The recent uprising in Iran has a powerful message: eliminate economic injustice. In this respect, it is more potent and enduring than the wave of demonstrations in 2009 seeking “where is my vote.” The 2009 revolt was primarily carried out by young university students, intellectuals, urban dwellers, and those who had the experience of life under democratic systems. In that year, young Iranians’ overwhelming vote, for a semblance of a representative government, was answered with guns. Iran’s problems could not be explained without referring to the paradoxical fabric of its society, and its government. Iran has one of the highest adult education in the world— 97 percent among young adults— well ahead of the regional average. Further, a considerable percentage of the student body, in Iranian universities, is female. And Iran has a unique pattern of distribution of wealth among its institutions. The disposition of economic resources is mainly controlled, and ultimately benefited, by the extra-constitutional entities.

  • African securityTurkey’s foray into Somalia is a huge success, but there are risks

    By Brendon J. Cannon

    Turkey’s engagement with Somalia is striking for its brevity and ostensible success. Turkey has been involved in Somalia since just 2011, yet Ankara can point to a string of reported accomplishments and an arguably outsized presence in an often violent country regularly described as a failed state. Turkey’s presence in Somalia certainly embodies one of the most interesting regional geopolitical developments in the past decade. It also represents one of the most misunderstood and confusing. Why did Turkey choose Somalia? And, after its initial humanitarian intervention in 2011, what internal and external forces have shaped and expanded that involvement? Furthermore, what explains Turkey’s reported triumphs? Turkey’s actions have arguably improved the situation in Somalia over the past six years. This is because Ankara has actually attempted to assuage rather than solve Somalia’s long-standing problems outright. Investment is largely driven by profits and assistance is targeted, coordinated and based on needs. These interventions rarely come with the types of strings attached that characterize other efforts seeking to restructure Somalia. This has been welcomed by many Somalis for whom requirements for political reform or the creation of accountability mechanisms ring hollow.

  • The Russia connectionTillerson urges Latin America to beware of Russia, China

    U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson warned countries of the Western Hemisphere to beware of “alarming” actions by Russia and China in their region, urging them to work with the United States instead. “Latin America doesn’t need new imperial powers that seek only to benefit their own people,” Tillerson said in speech in Texas on 1 February before arriving in Mexico to begin a tour of regional countries. Tillerson said that “strong institutions and governments that are accountable to their people also secure their sovereignty against potential predatory actors that are now showing up in our hemisphere.”

  • Middle EastNetanyahu tells Putin Israel won’t allow Iranian bases in Syria, missile plants in Lebanon

    In talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Putin that Israel would not tolerate an Iranian military presence in Syria or making Lebanon into “factory for precision missiles” to attack Israel. Regarding Iranian efforts to establish a base of operations in Syria, Netanyahu said, “I made clear to Putin that we will stop it if it doesn’t stop by itself. We are already acting to stop it.”

  • Muslims & HolocaustHead of Saudi-based Muslim organization calls Holocaust denial “a crime to distort history”

    In a historic move, the leader of the Muslim World League, a group based in Saudi Arabia, has condemned Holocaust denial in a letter sent to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. “History is indeed impartial no matter how hard forgers tried to tamper with or manipulate it,” Mohammad Al Issa, the secretary general of the Muslim World League, wrote in the message sent to museum director, Sara Bloomfield, five days before International Holocaust Remembrance Day on 27 January.

  • Truth decayOutcry over Poland’s law which rewrites WWII history, and bans challenges to the government’s version

    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu joined other Israeli leaders in harshly condemning a law initiated by Poland’s nationalist government and passed by the lower house of the Polish parliament. The law aims to distance Poland from any responsibility for or complicity in the Holocaust. At a Sunday cabinet meeting, Netanyahu said that Israel has “no tolerance for the distortion of the truth, the rewriting of history and the denial of the Holocaust.” Historians of twentieth-century Poland, as well as historians of the Second World War and the Holocaust, argue that the Polish government’s version of history is a willful distortion of a complicated and painful reality.

  • Climate migrantsClimate change will displace millions in coming decades. Nations should prepare now to help them

    By Gulrez Shah Azhar

    By the middle of this century, experts estimate that climate change is likely to displace between 150 and 300 million people. If this group formed a country, it would be the fourth-largest in the world, with a population nearly as large as that of the United States. Yet neither individual countries nor the global community are completely prepared to support a whole new class of “climate migrants.” The scale of this challenge is unlike anything humanity has ever faced. By midcentury, climate change is likely to uproot far more people than the Second World War, which displaced some 60 million across Europe, or the Partition of India, which affected approximately 15 million. The migration crisis that has gripped Europe since 2015 has involved something over one million refugees and migrants. It is daunting to envision much larger flows of people, but that is why the global community should start doing so now.

  • Climate migrantsClimate change will displace millions of people. Where will they go?

    By Tiffany Challe

    The 1951 Refugee Convention defines a protected refugee as someone who leaves his or her home country due to racial, religious, or social persecution, or reasonable fear of such persecution. These refugees have the right to seek asylum and protection from participating members of the United Nations (though these countries are not obligated to take them in). However, people displaced by climate change do not fit this definition. At the international level, there is no legal mechanism in place to protect climate migrants’ rights and to ensure assistance from other countries. For climate relocation to work, governments need to care and commit to international responsibility and burden-sharing. However, in the current global political context of fear of terrorism, an increased refugee influx into Europe, and an overall rise of xenophobia, countries are more likely to opt for stricter policies on cross-border migration.

  • CounterterrorismSaudi-led Islamic counterterrorism alliance holds first summit meeting

    Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the young but dominant figure in Saudi Arabia, on Sunday convened a meeting in Riyadh of top defense officials from forty-one Muslim countries for the first summit of the Islamic Military Counterterrorism Alliance. Saudi Arabia announced the alliance in December 2015 to fight “terrorism,” singling out the “Islamic State” (IS) as a disease tarnishing the name of Islam. Analysts note that the real target of the new alliance may not be Islamist extremism, but Iran. All the alliance members are Sunni-majority or Sunni-led countries. The alliance does not include Shiite Iran; Syria, which is ruled by Alawite president Bashar al-Assad; or Iraq, which is led by a Shiite government.

  • Communism: 100 years onTracing communism’s reach, 100 years after the Russian Revolution

    One hundred years ago Wednesday, 25 October, the Bolsheviks overthrew the Provisional Government in Petrograd (St. Petersburg), which came to power on 3 March 1917 after the abdication of Emperor Nicholas II. The Bolsheviks, or communists, under the leadership of Vladimir Lenin, were now in power in Russia, ending nearly two centuries of monarchic rule. A civil war followed, leading to the creation of the Soviet Union (USSR) in 1922. So great was the Soviet Union’s outsize impact over the course of its brief life, that its dissolution, on 25 December 1991, led to debate over what to expect in a world without it. In a 1989 essay titled “The End of History” – expanded in a 1992 book — political scientist Francis Fukuyama argued that the end of communism meant that the last challenge to Western liberal democracy had ended, and that humanity had reached an endpoint, with the “universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government.” NYU politics professor Joshua Tucker, the co-author of a new book, Communism’s Shadow, suggests that communist thought continues to have a real impact today, and that the legacy of the Soviet Union is very much alive.

  • Hemispheric securityRewriting NAFTA has serious implications beyond just trade

    By Jessica Trisko Darden

    President Donald J. Trump has called the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) our “worst trade deal.” After flip-flopping between scrapping NAFTA altogether and saying that the agreement required only tweaks, Trump is trying to force a renegotiation of a deal that supports three million American jobs. This may seem like just another trade dispute, but NAFTA has bound together North America’s economic and security considerations. The renegotiation of NAFTA may thus have serious implications not only for trade and the continental economy, but also for immigration and border security. Bad deal or not, NAFTA has fundamentally reshaped North America’s immigration and security policies. Any changes to NAFTA will certainly have repercussions that reach far beyond the economy.