China's Environmental Enforcers

How Beijing Keeps Local Leaders in Line

Deborah M. Lehr and Leigh Wedell
A farmer walks on a dried-up pond on the outskirts of Baokang, central China's Hubei province, June 10, 2007.
A farmer walks on a dried-up pond on the outskirts of Baokang, central China's Hubei province, June 10, 2007. (Courtesy Reuters)
In early June, Chinese president Xi Jinping deployed eight SWAT-like inspection teams across China to ensure that local officials were meeting his new environmental targets. The teams submitted a 1,000-page report with a simple conclusion: local leaders, looking out for their own financial interests, were consistently ignoring directives from Beijing.
Snapshot

The Sana'a Illusion

Farea Al-muslimi
Last month, U.S. President Barack Obama suggested that Yemen could be an example for how to bring stability to Iraq. His comments came as a shock to most Yemenis.
Snapshot

Putin's Losing Streak

Stephen Holmes and Ivan Krastev
Russia's annexation of Crimea came with few consequences for Russia, while an accidental attack on a civilian airliner by semi-anarchical rebel forces, only loosely controlled by Moscow, may redefine the country's place in the world order. Here's why.
Capsule Review

Today's Book: Universal Rights Down to Earth

G. John Ikenberry
Ford argues that human rights are best advanced when they are turned into steady, pragmatic efforts to tackle injustice in specific political settings.
An Israeli soldier rides atop an armored personnel carrier after crossing back into Israel from Gaza, July 28, 2014.
Snapshot
Bilal Y. Saab

Qatar’s diplomatic intervention in Gaza has exposed the risks inherent in its broader grand strategy. Although Qatar’s foreign policy has not changed, it is no longer going to be able to pose as a neutral arbiter.

Snapshot
Khaled Elgindy

For Israeli policymakers, another concentrated war against Gaza was preferable to the possibility of another West Bank uprising against Israel, akin to the so-called intifadas that occurred in the late 1980s and the early 2000s. Contrary to what Israelis may have hoped, however, the present war has made a third intifada more, not less, likely.

Wreckage at Tripoli International Airport, July 2014.
Snapshot
Jason Pack

The violence tearing apart Libya might appear to be an ideological struggle. In fact, it is an economic competition between two rival criminal networks.

A demonstrator outside the Israeli Embassy in London, July 26, 2014.
Snapshot
Dalia Dassa Kaye

The longer the conflict in Gaza continues, the harder it will be to insulate the negotiations from other events in the region -- and that does not bode well for a successful outcome.

The ink-stained finger of an Iraqi soldier, April 13, 2013.
Snapshot
Erica De Bruin

The problem of how to improve Iraqi military capacity without undermining civilian control won’t go away when Maliki leaves office. It will persist until norms of democratic and civilian rule become entrenched in Iraq -- a process that could take decades, if not longer.

A Dutch flag hangs at half-mast as a sign of respect for those killed in the downed Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, July 19, 2014
Snapshot
Mitchell A. Orenstein

Out to earn a dollar on the Russian natural resource trade, European nations such as the Netherlands have long kept smiling as the Kremlin has continued to humiliate them. But now the airline disaster, combined with Moscow’s attempts to cover up its role in the tragedy, will likely force Europe to get real about its eastern neighbor.

Discussion