THE BEST OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS
FROM AROUND THE WEB
December 19, 2014
How much do we have to give up?
An exchange between Naomi Klein and Elizabeth Kolbert on the former's book This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate. At issue is the question of how much consumption citizens of Western countries will have to give up in order to radically reduce carbon emissions. Published by the New York Review of Books.
December 18, 2014
The secret talks to save Peter Kassig
The U.S. aid worker was killed by his ISIS captors in November. But before he was, a radical New York lawyer, U.S. officials, and a jihadi scholar worked to free him, reports The Guardian: "That’s when he picked up the phone, called his best jihadist contact, and launched an improbable series of back-channel talks."
December 17, 2014
It wasn't that long ago that Syria was considered a sturdy police state while Lebanon was teetering on the edge of complete chaos. Now Syria is in shambles while Lebanon soldiers on, despite a massive influx of refugees from Syria. Nassim Nicholas Taleb and Gregory F. Treverton on what makes a real fragile state, for Foreign Affairs.
December 16, 2014
China’s nouveau riche
China is certainly much much richer than it was when Deng Xiaoping opened up the country's markets. But is it happier? Nathan Vanderklippe profiles six of "Deng's children" – the nouveau riche of China – for the Globe and Mail: "As China’s economy slows to a pace not seen in decades, it also faces a moment to consider the sweep of its modern history."
December 15, 2014
The new nuclear pioneers
There is a renewed interest in nuclear energy, both from young engineers and wealthy investors, writes Josh Freed in the latest Brookings essay. That interest is being spurred by climate change. And this isn't your grandfather's nuclear energy. New plants have the potential to be cleaner and safer than ever before.
December 12, 2014
Meet the self-declared rulers of Donetsk and Lugansk. Currently in charge of Donetsk is Alexander Zakharchenko, who "has been slow to take on some of the deftness required of an elected politician". In the Lugansk People’s Republic, it's Igor Plotnitsky, "who looks like a Godfather extra with the eyebrows of Brezhnev." By Courtney Weaver for FT.
December 11, 2014
Britain’s war in Afghanistan
"The extent of the military and political catastrophe [the British army's mission in Afghanistan] represents is hard to overstate," writes James Meek for the London Review of Books. "In a way it was worse than a defeat, because to be defeated, an army and its masters must understand the nature of the conflict they are fighting. Britain never did understand."
December 10, 2014
Bhopal, 30 years on
Siddhartha Deb revisits Bhopal, India, 30 years after "the worst industrial disaster in the history of the world", in a piece for The Baffler: "Today, thirty years after the events of December 2 and 3, 1984, the factory continues to pulsate with its evil magic."
December 9, 2014
Syria On Air
A profile of Raed Fares, a Syrian activist who started a radio station in north-west Syria, by Eliza Griswold for the New York Times Magazine. Fares reports on surviving daily life in a town under constant attack from government forces and to “tell the world about the horrors of a war he calls 'Obama’s Rwanda'".
December 8, 2014
The new narco state
Afghanistan produces 90 percent of the world's opium. Production has grown substantially since the U.S.-led invasion. How did it happen? "The answer lies partly in the deeply cynical bargains struck by former Afghan President Hamid Karzai... and partly in the way the U.S. military ignored the corruption of its allies," reports Matthieu Aikins for Rolling Stone.
December 5, 2014
Understanding what ISIS wants
"The first thing we need to recognize is that ISIS is not waging a war against the West," writes Ahmed Rashid for the New York Review of Books. "This is above all a war within Islam: a conflict of Sunni against Shia, but also a war by Sunni extremists against more moderate Muslims." Our strategy against ISIS must understand this.
December 4, 2014
What the human rights movement gets wrong
"At a time when human rights violations remain widespread, the discourse of human rights continues to flourish," writes Eric Posner in an essay for the Guardian. What can explain this disconnect? In Posner's view, the top-down human rights movement has failed and "it is time for a reckoning."
December 3, 2014
The war in Syria is not going well. ISIS has seized large swaths of territory. The Assad regime is no closer to capitulating. Almost half of the country's population has been forcibly displaced from their homes. The Free Syrian Army is being sucked into warlordism. And the West continues to pour money into the vortex, reports Robin Wright for the New Yorker.
December 2, 2014
Economic diplomacy on the ground
In Burkina Faso, an experiment in overseas aid is taking place, writes Marco Chown Oved for the Toronto Star. The Canadian government has partnered with a mining company to both benefit locals and promote Canadian business. But how does this "economic diplomacy" work on the ground?
December 1, 2014
A Broken Ukraine
Over a million Ukrainians have been driven from their homes by the war in that country. Mark MacKinnon reports on three of them for the Globe and Mail. None are optimistic: "Many of those who fled eastern Ukraine, and nearly all those who remain behind, believe that the country and the sense of nationhood that existed a year ago have been destroyed."