Edge of Change (Issue 016)
26 April 2018
In his new essay, Thomas de Waal raises a challenging question about the unexpected persistence of unrecognized post-Soviet states, as well as Northern Cyprus, which managed to establish regular civil life despite being more or less de-jure cut off from the world. He mentions that none of them has turned into black holes of international crime and instead, they have the resemblings of normal states. However, not being subjects of international politics leaves the inhabitants of these territories at the mercy of their “parent” states and global forces whose interactions directly influence the situation on the ground and may make life there extremely hard even without resorting to violence.
23 July 2018
Michael Kugelman analyses a popular claim about the newly-elected Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan that he has come to power due to direct support from the country’s mighty armed forces. He shows that this logic is mostly based on the recent arrest of 3-times Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Khan’s major rival, which could have hardly happened without the army’s consent. However, a deeper approach suggest otherwise. Khan is known to be an independent and mercurial character, so he can hardly be expected to defer to generals’ will easily; moreover, his party preaches an unconventional foreign policy for Pakistan that envisions severing ties with U.S. until the drone bombardments are over, exiting “the war on terror” coalition and fostering a more constructive dialogue with India. All these goals run contrary to the armed forces’ long-time preferences.
23 July 2018
The article by Steven A. Cook focuses on key reasons of recent victory of Syrian regime forces and the balance of power in the Middle East after the victory of the Assad regime.
Bashar al-Assad’s victory appears to be symbolic and reveals the current allocation of power in the region. Obviously, the key supporters of Syrian regime such as Russia and Iran, as well as Turkey are the real winners, while the U.S. proved to surrender its position in the region and now the era when the United States determined the rules of the game in the Middle East and maintained a regional order is over. The era when the United States determined the rules of the game in the Middle East and maintained a regional order is now over and Trump wants to leave Syria “very soon,” even as his national security advisor vows to stay as long as Iran remains.
24 July 2018
Jonathan Hopkin writes to Foreign Affairs about the Brexit White Paper and the resignations that followed it. The government is divided into “no deal” representors and hard Brexiters. Theresa May’s tenure as British Prime Minister has required her to navigate the tensions between Leavers and Remainers within her own parliamentary majority while negotiating with the European Union on the terms of Brexit. Theresa May has now been Prime minister for 2 years by promising a Brexit without trade-offs, but as the deadline for an agreement approaches, she was put in front of a hard choice. With choice comes division, as the Brexit coalition fundamentally disagrees about the point of the tradeoff between sovereignty and economics that the United Kingdom should be aiming for.
25 July 2018
The Le Monde editorial piece comments on the Israeli parliament’s decision to proclaim Israel a “Jewish” state. The authors indicate to its discriminatory character, bearing in mind that the status of Arabic has been symbolically downgraded from the second official language it used to be. Another law adopted at the same time de-facto fully legitimized exclusively Jewish settlements that have long been encroaching on the Palestinian lands. The article sees growingly exclusive nationalism of Netanhyahu’s government as inherent to the Prime Minister’s political strategy that needs enemies to sustain the country’s image of a besieged fortress.
26 July 2018
After shocking two weeks when U.S. President Trump baffled European leaders at the NATO summit in Brussels and then at the Helsinki meeting with Vladimir Putin, there has been a relative return to normality with Trump’s accommodating meeting with European Commission President, Jean-Claude Juncker, whereby he pledged to stall a rising trade war with Europe and made some tough remarks about Russia. The author views it as a sign of growing irritation with the president’s unpredictable behaviour within the Republican Party circles that Donald Trump could not have easily ignored. At the same time, the latest events should be a huge relief for Europe that seemed left at the crossroads between the unreliable Washington and aggressive Moscow.
26 July 2018
During the Cold War, the United States derived immense military advantage from the global trade system that it constructed. This trade system helped U.S. embark on a long-run economic growth which was much more efficient than the autarkic policies of Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, ultimately enabling it to gain leverage over the rival bloc. Now Washington seems to be inclined to launch trade wars not only against China, but also against the world’s most innovative economies. But unlike the USSR, China has chosen a different path and development strategy. China and Europe have stepped up trade coordination, which will invariably touch upon trade in high technology goods. So, it appears that U.S. plays a very risky game whose results will not be the same with those achieved in the Cold War.