Take a look at a few resources to better understand the nature of the conflict against ISIS:
Who are the combatants and what is at stake?
Strategies & Tactics
Aaron David Miller explains five “fictions we have to stop telling ourselves” to keep in mind when we analyze why we are in Syria/Iraq, how we can be effective, and more importantly, what is really possible.
We’re clearly not yet on the verge of plunging into another pointless Americanasaurus charge much like the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
But last night’s airstrikes in Syria do represent an important escalation and expansion of the war against the Islamic State (IS) and other jihadist forces. And it’s imperative that we bring additional clarity to the problem of coordinating ends and means, and defining what our goals are, to avoid such an eventuality. Mission creep usually results from a certain amount of hysteria, a lack of clarity or confusion in goals, and, most complicating, a miscalculation of the means at our disposal with which to achieve those goals.
via Americanasaurus and the March to War in Syria.
Making the case that China’s success isn’t worthy of emulation, economist Damboso Moyo suggests the following:
China’s track record is unquestionably impressive. But the Chinese model isn’t as viable as its admirers in the emerging world often think. First, unlike many emerging markets, China’s growth has been driven largely by exports. Its success has been dependent on the free markets of the West. Most other emerging-market economies are based on agricultural commodities—just the sort of produce that the U.S. and Europe undercut with their own domestic subsidies.
Second, an economic system with the state at its heart is inefficient because it dislocates markets. When the government is the ultimate economic arbiter, assets are inevitably mispriced, which hinders sustained, longer-term growth. It also creates imbalances between supply and demand, which can spark inflation and distort interest rates.
Finally, policies that mimic China may yield a short-term burst in employment, but they also produce serious negative externalities and economic dead weight. China itself is now grappling with massive debt woes in its financial sector, a property bubble that could burst at any time and pollution that slows growth.
via For Poor Countries, China Is No Model – WSJ.
Whither France/German relations go, there goes Europe–and it doesn’t look like a helpful trend. In the face of a lingering financial crisis and Russia in Ukraine, the pressure is building.
That rhetorical volley was the latest example of how far the partners have drifted apart. While their formal relationship remains close, the power balance has shifted sharply since Europe’s debt crisis erupted, raising doubts about their ability to continue their traditional role of together leading Europe in new economic and political directions.
The two countries are in such different places — economically, socially and politically — that the vaunted partnership teeters on the verge of a breakdown, analysts warn.
“The problem is that the relationship has become deeply unbalanced,” said Dominique Moïsi, a senior adviser at the French Institute for International Relations. “The French and Germans are not playing in the same league any longer, and the overall equilibrium of Europe was depending on a relatively balanced relationship, which no longer exists.”
via Growing Imbalance Between Germany and France Strains Their Relationship – NYTimes.com.
Negotiation experts often say it’s a shrewd idea to make the first offer, and to be fairly aggressive about it — to “anchor” the negotiation that follows. Here’s what that could mean in this situation:
You get a request to fill out a report — or whatever — “as soon as possible.” You consider how soon you might actually be able to do it, given everything else you’re dealing with. Then you add some extra time.
Kissinger inveighs on statesmanship, ‘the craft of “attending” to [global] problems’ in his forthcoming book. He has been attacked by liberals such as Christopher Hitchens, Gary J. Bass and Seymour Hersh as well as from conservatives. Even as it sounds a lot like my class lecture last week–I’m still looking forward to the massive tome:
The premise is that we live in a world of disorder: “While ‘the international community’ is invoked perhaps more insistently now than in any other era, it presents no clear or agreed set of goals, methods or limits. . . . Chaos threatens side by side with unprecedented interdependence.” Hence the need to build an order — one able to balance the competing desires of nations, both the established Western powers that wrote the existing international “rules” (principally the United States), and the emerging ones that do not accept them, principally China, but also Russia and the Islamic world.
This will be hard because there never has been a true world order. Instead, different civilizations have come up with their own versions. The Islamic and Chinese ones were almost entirely self-centered: If you were not within the umma of believers or blessed with the emperor’s masterly rule, you were an infidel or a barbarian. Balance did not come into it. America’s version, though more recent and more nuanced, is also somewhat self-centered — a moral order where everything will be fine once the world comes to its senses and thinks like America (which annoyingly it never quite does). So the best starting point remains Europe’s “Westphalian” balance of power.
via Henry Kissinger’s ‘World Order’ – NYTimes.com.
Words matter, especially when your country is being cut apart.
“I do not want to define it right now, but you can call it what you want,” Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany told a news conference last weekend in Brussels, where European Union leaders agreed that Russia had increased the “inflows of fighters and weapons” to Ukraine and mounted “aggression” but made no mention of any invasion.
President Obama has been equally circumspect, opting initially for the term “incursion” before denouncing Russia’s “brazen assault” on Ukraine during a speech on Wednesday in Estonia.