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Peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians have failed miserably. The reason, write two senior Israeli government officials, is not disagreement over specific issues, such as settlements or Jerusalem, but something much more fundamental: the Palestinians' refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state.
The greatest danger to Israel comes not from without -- in the form of Palestinian intransigence -- but from within. The ongoing occupation of the territories is destroying Israel's values and viability. It breeds an aggressive, intolerant ethnic nationalism and causes political gridlock, empowering an ultrareligious underclass that refuses to contribute and lives off the state.
Like an odorless gas, economic inequality pervades every corner of the United States and saps the strength of its democracy. Over the past three decades, Washington has consistently favored the rich -- and the more wealth accumulates in a few hands at the top, the more influence and favor the rich acquire, making it easier for them and their political allies to cast off restraint without paying a social price.
The United States can no longer afford a world-spanning foreign policy. Retrenchment -- cutting military spending, redefining foreign priorities, and shifting more of the defense burden to allies -- is the only sensible course. Luckily, that does not have to spell instability abroad. History shows that pausing to recharge national batteries can renew a dominant power’s international legitimacy.
Despite the fall of the Qaddafi regime in Libya, humanitarian intervention still has plenty of critics. But their targets are usually the early, ugly missions of the 1990s. Since then -- as Libya has shown -- the international community has learned its lessons and grown much more adept at using military force to save lives.
Intervening militarily to save lives abroad often sounds good on paper, but the record has not been promising. The ethical calculus involved is almost always complicated by messy realities on the ground, and the opportunity costs of such missions are massive. Well-meaning countries could save far more lives by helping refugees and victims of natural disasters and funding public health.
Most pundits argue the eurozone has only two options: break up or create a fiscal union to match its monetary one. In fact, there's a third, and better, path: adopt tighter market discipline, bailing out illiquid countries while letting truly insolvent ones go bust. The result would be a collection of fitter economies and a Europe strong enough to play a big role on the world stage.
The world cannot let the March disaster at Japan’s Fukushima power plant scare it into forgoing the benefits of nuclear energy -- a cheap, reliable, and safe source of electricity. Still, writes a former U.S. undersecretary of energy, the United States does need to update its safety standards and reform its handling of nuclear waste.
Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia has been gripped by a devastating population crisis. The country's demographic decline will undermine the Kremlin's plans for economic and military modernization -- and could make Moscow more dangerous in the international arena.
As Indonesia hosts a number of high-level summits this year, it looks set to take its place among the world’s economic superstars. But celebrations are premature: although the country has made great strides, its gains are reversible. For the country to continue to prosper, Jakarta must address rampant corruption and poor governance.
In their single-minded pursuit of economic growth, China's leaders have long overlooked public health -- which, by some measures, is now worse than under Mao. Despite recent reforms, China's citizens keep getting sicker, threatening the country's health-care system, the economy at large, and even the stability of the regime.
President Viktor Yanukovych has led Ukraine, no stranger to crisis, into another round of turmoil. He has rolled back democracy while failing to take on corruption or take the country closer to Europe. Now, much of the public has turned against him -- and the country could be headed for more unrest.
Reviews & Responses
China is hardly the first great power to make authoritarian development look attractive. As Jonathan Steinberg’s new biography of Bismarck shows, Wilhelmine Germany did it with ease. But can even successful nondemocratic political systems thrive and evolve peacefully over the long run? The answer depends on whether authoritarian elites can tolerate sharing power.
Steven Radelet’s accessible new book argues that much of the credit for Africa’s recent economic boom goes to its increasingly open political systems. But Radelet fails to answer the deeper question: why some countries have managed to develop successful democracies while others have tried but failed.