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Russia’s annexation of Crimea is Moscow’s latest attempt to maintain influence in a post-Soviet state by creating a so-called frozen conflict, in which a splinter territory remains under Russian protection and beyond the control of the central government. But history suggests Russia’s move will backfire and push the rest of Ukraine west.
Whether it is Russian forces seizing Crimea, China making aggressive claims in its coastal waters, or Iran trying to dominate the Middle East, old-fashioned power plays are back. These revisionist powers never bought into the geopolitical settlement that followed the Cold War, and their ongoing attempts to overturn it will not be peaceful.
China, Iran, and Russia are not determined to undo the post–Cold War settlement. They are not full-scale revisionist powers but, at most, part-time spoilers. The United States is far more powerful and has built a robust liberal world order countries need to integrate with in order to succeed.
The problems of the Middle East remain too deeply intertwined with U.S. national security and the American economy to ignore. Whatever it might prefer to do, the Obama administration can’t just walk away from the region, but has to take a greater interest in it.
Cutting-edge research shows that giving things to the world’s poor is much more expensive than one might expect. When it comes to reducing poverty, therefore, simply sending cold hard cash is often the best and most efficient form of aid.
Behind all the talk of reforming the National Security Agency lies the question of whether it can win back the public’s trust, or at least its acquiescence. U.S. policymakers and citizens need to weigh how much security and diplomatic advantage they are willing to forgo in return for greater restraint and transparency.
Iraqi Kurdistan has achieved new prosperity by exporting its own oil and gas to Turkey, against the objections of Iraq’s central government. By challenging Baghdad’s claims to exclusive control of Iraq’s natural resources, the Kurds are showing how economic cooperation can make Middle Eastern borders more porous.
With the election of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, Tehran and Washington have a unique opportunity to chart a new course. Ongoing nuclear negotiations face no insurmountable barriers; the only requirements for success are good faith and political will.
Asia is going to command ever more attention and resources from the United States, thanks to the region’s growing prosperity and influence and the enormous challenges the region poses. The Obama administration’s pivot or rebalancing makes sense; the challenge now is giving it proper form, substance, and resources.
It would be obscene to say that the genocide in Rwanda had even the thinnest silver lining. But it did create a natural -- or unnatural -- experiment, as the country’s social, economic, and political institutions were wiped out. In important respects, the reconstructed Rwanda is a dramatically different country, especially for women.
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