The Case Against a New Concert of Powers

Demographic, Wild Cards

The Case Against a New Concert of Powers

Global politics today is a mess, and it can be tempting to turn to history for clues about how to clean it up, as Richard Haass and Charles Kupchan did recently in “The New Concert of Powers” (March 23). But one must be careful to learn the right lessons. Haass and Kupchan argue that the nineteenth-century Concert of Europe provides a model for managing great-power relations, avoiding major wars, and balancing an imbalanced world. These are worthy goals, but the Concert of Europe failed to achieve them—and so would any new organization inspired by it.

In 1815, Austria, France, Prussia, Russia, and the United Kingdom founded the concert to maintain their power and stabilize a continent roiled by wars and revolutionary uprisings. The concert is sometimes depicted as producing a golden age of diplomacy: a time when diplomats and statesmen fostered mutual respect, maintained a balance of power, avoided one another’s spheres of influence, and eschewed war in favor of joint sorties to the opera and late-night discussions over whiskey and cigars.

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Strong diplomacy, strong status: Turkey in the region

Demographic, Diplomacy, Wild Cards

Strong diplomacy, strong status: Turkey in the region

After the end of the Cold War, the United States declared itself the sheriff of global politics. The new world order of American neo-cons amounted to the sole hegemony of the U.S. around the world.

Devastating the established international order, this unipolar international system nullified the status of international law and organizations, particularly the United Nations.

During the first two decades of the post-Cold War period, the U.S.’s unlawful occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq concluded, providing lasting political instability in the Middle East. However, the eruption of the Syrian civil war soon proved that the unipolar international order was simply not working. Losing their role as a playmaker, the U.S. administration injected itself into the Syrian crisis as one of the parties of the regional conflict by using two terrorist organizations, Daesh and the PKK, as proxies

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Asian Americans and social justice

Demographic, Policies, Society, Wild Cards

Asian Americans and social justice

May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, and we should note recent achievements. Congress finally acknowledged the 20,000 Chinese Americans who, despite intense racism, served in the U.S. military during the Second World War. Taiwanese American Charles Yu’s novel about that racism, “Interior Chinatown”, won the National Book Award. Kamala Harris, a woman with roots in India, became U.S. vice president.

Even more remarkable is Gintanjali Rao, an Indian American from Colorado. Over the past five years, Rao has invented technologies to measure lead in drinking water, diagnose opioid addiction, and detect cyberbullying. She has conducted international science workshops, given public talks, and learned to pilot an airplane. And she’s only fifteen!

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Developing countries in the stranglehold of debt

Demographic, Wild Cards

Developing countries in the stranglehold of debt.

The coronavirus pandemic and other aspects of the multidimensional crisis of global capitalism are enough to fully justify suspending debt repayment. Indeed priority must be given to protecting people against ecological, economic and public health disasters.

In the context of the current emergency, we have to assess longer trends that make it necessary to implement radical solutions to the issue of DCs’ debt. This is why we develop our analysis of factors that currently increase the unsustainability of the debt repayments claimed from countries in the Global South. We shall consider in turn the downward trend in commodity prices, the reduction of foreign exchange reserves, continued dependence on revenue from commodity export, the DCs’ debt payment calendar, with major repayments due between 2021 and 2025, mainly to private creditors, the drop in migrants’ remittances to their countries of origin, the back flow to the North of stock market investments, the perpetuation of capital flight.1 Payment rescheduling granted in 2020-2021 because of the pandemic by creditor countries that are members of the Paris Club and of the G20 only accounts for a small portion of repayments owed by developing countries.

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Poisoned Wells: The Dirty Politics of African Oil

Demographic, Wild Cards

Poisoned Wells: The Dirty Politics of African Oil

Each week the oil and gas fields of sub-Saharan Africa produce well over a billion dollars’ worth of oil, an amount that far exceeds development aid to the entire African continent. Yet the rising tide of oil money is not promoting stability and development, but is instead causing violence, poverty, and stagnation.

It is also generating vast corruption that reaches deep into American and European economies. In Poisoned Wells, Nicholas Shaxson exposes the root causes of this paradox of poverty from plenty, and explores the mechanisms by which oil causes grave instabilities and corruption around the globe. Shaxson is the only journalist who has had access to the key players in African oil, and is willing to make the connections between the problems of the developing world and the involvement of leading global corporations and governments.

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The Darker Nations: A People’s History of the Third World (New Press People’s History)

Demographic, Wild Cards

The Darker Nations: A People’s History of the Third World (New Press People’s History)

Here, from a brilliant young writer, is a paradigm-shifting history of both a utopian concept and global movement—the idea of the Third World. The Darker Nations traces the intellectual origins and the political history of the twentieth century attempt to knit together the world’s impoverished countries in opposition to the United States and Soviet spheres of influence in the decades following World War II.

Spanning every continent of the global South, Vijay Prashad’s fascinating narrative takes us from the birth of postcolonial nations after World War II to the downfall and corruption of nationalist regimes. A breakthrough book of cutting-edge scholarship, it includes vivid portraits of Third World giants like India’s Nehru, Egypt’s Nasser, and Indonesia’s Sukarno—as well as scores of extraordinary but now-forgotten intellectuals, artists, and freedom fighters. The Darker Nations restores to memory the vibrant though flawed idea of the Third World, whose demise, Prashad ultimately argues, has produced a much impoverished international political arena. 12 b/w photographs.

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The Darker Nations: A People’s History of the Third World (New Press People’s History)

Demographic, Wild Cards

The Darker Nations: A People’s History of the Third World (New Press People’s History)

Here, from a brilliant young writer, is a paradigm-shifting history of both a utopian concept and global movement—the idea of the Third World. The Darker Nations traces the intellectual origins and the political history of the twentieth century attempt to knit together the world’s impoverished countries in opposition to the United States and Soviet spheres of influence in the decades following World War II.

Spanning every continent of the global South, Vijay Prashad’s fascinating narrative takes us from the birth of postcolonial nations after World War II to the downfall and corruption of nationalist regimes. A breakthrough book of cutting-edge scholarship, it includes vivid portraits of Third World giants like India’s Nehru, Egypt’s Nasser, and Indonesia’s Sukarno—as well as scores of extraordinary but now-forgotten intellectuals, artists, and freedom fighters.

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The Rough Guide to Malaysia, Singapore & Brunei 5 (Rough Guide Travel Guides)

Demographic, Wild Cards

The Rough Guide to Malaysia, Singapore & Brunei 5 (Rough Guide Travel Guides)

The Rough Guide to Malaysia, Singapore & Brunei is the definitive guide to these three fascinating Southeast Asian countries. There’s detailed coverage of Malaysia’s superb natural attractions, including Taman Negara – the Peninsula’s main national park, with its four gateways – and, in Sabah and Sarawak, Mount Kinabalu and the limestone pinnacles at Mulu. Great beaches and islands also get full attention, including the islands of Langkawi, the Perhentians and the dive mecca of Sipidan. There’s plenty on the indigenous tribes of Borneo too, including how to make upriver trips to traditional longhouses. The book also provides the lowdown on Singapore’s burgeoning entertainment scene – from alternative gigs to cutting-edge theatre – and uncovers the secret charms of secluded Brunei.

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Protest and Possibilities: Civil Society and Coalitions for Political Change in Malaysia (Contemporary Issues in Asia and Pacific)

Demographic, Wild Cards

Protest and Possibilities: Civil Society and Coalitions for Political Change in Malaysia (Contemporary Issues in Asia and Pacific)

Protest and Possibilities explores the pursuit of political reform in Malaysia, an illiberal democracy, and contrasts coalition-building and reform processes there with those of electoral authoritarian Indonesia. The study considers the roles of civil society agents (CSAs) in promoting alternative (especially noncommunal) political norms and helping to find common ground among opposition political actors, and compares recent reformist initiatives with past political trajectories.

The nature of illiberal democracy encourages a combination of contained and transgressive contention, with CSAs and political parties performing distinct but complementary roles. Enough space has been allowed over time for CSAs and political parties to accumulate coalitional capital, or the mutual trust and understanding necessary for groups to find common cause and work in coalition. In addition, shifts in political opportunities and threats encourage both CSAs and political parties to alter their strategies and thinking to take advantage of windows for change, facilitating long-term normative as well as institutional change.

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The Turks in World History

Demographic, Wild Cards

The Turks in World History

Beginning in Inner Asia two thousand years ago, the Turks have migrated and expanded to form today’s Turkish Republic, five post-Soviet republics, other societies across Eurasia, and a global diaspora. For the first time in a single, accessible volume, this book traces the Turkic peoples’
trajectory from steppe, to empire, to nation-state. Cultural, economic, social, and political history unite in these pages to illuminate the projection of Turkic identity across space and time and the profound transformations marked successively by the Turks’ entry into Islam and into modernity.

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