July 25, 2013 |
Some 6,000 refugees pour out of Syria every day, straining humanitarian aid resources and destabilizing the country's neighbors. Cumulatively, they already make up 10% of the population of Jordan. And there is no end in sight. Antonio Guterres, the U.N. high commissioner for refugees, says the displacement of people has not risen "at such a frightening rate" since the Rwandan genocide of 1994. The absolute size of the humanitarian catastrophe may not yet match the largest of recent times, such as the 2010 floods in Pakistan, but Syria is working hard to catch up. Moreover, its political effects are potentially far greater than those of any tsunami or earthquake.
November 8, 2012 |
In the same week it is revealed to us who will be the next leaders of both superpowers: Barack Obama and Xi Jinping. The only difference is that we didn't know it would be Obama until after Tuesday's vote. By contrast, we knew it would be Xi long before the process that begins in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Nov. 8, from which he will emerge as Communist Party leader, becoming president next spring. The coincidence prompts two questions: Which superpower is getting stronger?
March 29, 2012 |
If Aung San Suu Kyi is elected to Burma's parliament on Sunday, the world will inevitably ask: Has Asia's Nelson Mandela finally met her President F.W. de Klerk? Or, if you prefer a European comparison, has Asia's Vaclav Havel met her Mikhail Gorbachev? Cue episode three in the world's prisoner-to-president sagas? I do believe that day will come, but let us have no illusions: There are still major obstacles ahead. Wisdom and strength, both inside and outside Burma, will be needed to surmount them.
May 12, 2011 |
How can we best combat the anti-immigrant populists who are setting the political pace in many European countries? This month, a verdict is due in the trial of Dutch politician Geert Wilders for making anti-Islamic statements — such as calling the Koran a "fascist book" that should be banned. At the same time, the Netherlands' center-right coalition government depends for its survival on Wilders' Party for Freedom, which won more than 15% of the vote in the last general election. Wilders' price included a commitment to a burka ban. In the Netherlands, as elsewhere in Europe, center-right parties have been trying to win back voters who have turned to such anti-foreigner populists by adopting toned-down versions of their rhetoric and policies.
November 18, 2010 |
If we want to help pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi and the cause of freedom in Myanmar (also known as Burma), we must hope that India rediscovers the spirit of its better self. The world's largest democracy needs urgently to review its approach to one of the world's worst tyrannies, which squats like a toad on its very doorstep. Otherwise, it seems highly unlikely that the weak, divided opposition forces inside Burma and Western support outside can generate the leverage needed to help to success the nonviolent, negotiated revolution that the liberated heroine has again evoked.
September 27, 2013 |
So the German people have spoken, and Chancellor Angela Merkel has been reelected. That means the European Union will continue to be a tortoise. Next May, following the European Parliament elections, we will discover just how slow and unhappy a creature it is. Then, across the next decade, a larger, Aesopian question will be posed: Can the European tortoise outrun the American eagle and the Chinese dragon? Or can it at least keep pace with them? Resounding though Mutti ("Mom") Merkel's election victory was, Germany's new government still has to be formed.
April 26, 2012 |
BEIJING - What is happening in China? The officially acknowledged or credibly confirmed facts of the Bo Xilai affair are worthy of a blockbuster political thriller. Its deeper causes, however, go to the heart of the weird, unprecedented system of Leninist capitalism that has emerged in China over the last 30 years. Its possible consequences for change in that system could do more to shape the 21st century world than anything happening in Washington, New Delhi or Brussels. Behind the walls of the Communist Party leadership compound, next to the old Forbidden City, the ghost of Hegel has somehow got mixed up with Robert Ludlum.
September 12, 2013 |
In all the long history of American presidential addresses, has there been an odder one than this? With the solemn grandeur appropriate to a declaration of war, President Obama informed the American people Tuesday night that a congressional vote on military action had been postponed because Russia was brokering a diplomatic initiative that might - or might not - put Syria's chemical weapons under international control. A Gettysburg Address this wasn't. There will be many more turns on the road to Damascus, but the politics of these weeks since the criminal use of chemical weapons in Syria on Aug. 21 already tell us a lot about the United States.
May 16, 2011
Romney's dilemma Re "Health reform double-edged for Romney," May 12, and "Romney confronts healthcare dilemma," May 13 The fact that Mitt Romney feels the need to disown his highly successful and vastly popular healthcare plan in Massachusetts speaks volumes about the GOP and its priorities. That such an innovative plan should require a negative spin is simply indefensible. I had hoped that the former Massachusetts governor would be justifiably proud of his plan and take credit for inspiring President Obama's healthcare plan instead of pandering to the dogmatism that seems to be required of Republican candidates.