The Great Debate

And the world’s favorite country is … Germany?

By Alan Posener
November 17, 2014

Visitors enjoy a beer during the opening day of the 181st Oktoberfest in Munich

Germany, it appears, is the most respected country in the world. According to the Nation Brands Index, Germany deposed the hitherto reigning champion, the Unites States. The home of Audi, Mercedes, Siemens, Bosch and Co. now tops the charts.

Seven unlikely events in the fight against Islamic State, and their likely outcomes

By Aki Peritz and Tara Maller
November 17, 2014

Shi'ite fighters, who have joined the Iraqi army to fight against militants of the Islamic State, formerly known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), take part in field training in the desert in the province of Najaf

It’s easy to get depressed about the Middle East these days. The bloodshed continues unabated in Syria. Islamic State advances across Iraq, sacking towns and slaughtering innocents. Millions are refugees. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad seems well ensconced in Damascus, on track to outlasting President Barack Obama in office.

from Jack Shafer:

You can’t build a better Internet out of red tape

By Jack Shafer
November 14, 2014

A NBN Co worker arranges fibre-optic cables used in the National Broadband Network in west Sydney

If the latest installment in the long-running net neutrality debate has rendered you mentally exhausted, allow me to approach the future-of-the-Internet argument from a less draining direction. You needn't worry about mastering such tech and regulatory topics as Title II regulations, peering, and fast lanes.

Putin waging information war in Ukraine worthy of George Orwell

By Lucian Kim
November 14, 2014

A chicken walks near a residential block and a car damaged by recent shelling in Donetsk

It was a familiar scenario this week. First the government in Kiev said that Russia was sending convoys of men and weapons to support pro-Moscow separatists in eastern Ukraine. Then U.S. General Philip Breedlove, NATO’s top commander in Europe, confirmed those claims, saying “there is no question anymore about Russia’s direct military involvement in Ukraine.” His remarks were summarily denied by the Russian Defense Ministry, which said it had stopped paying attention to his “unfounded proclamations.”

from Anatole Kaletsky:

Time for a ‘melt-up’: The coming global boom

By Anatole Kaletsky
November 14, 2014

European Central Bank Governor Mario Draghi speaks at a news conference during the World Bank/IMF annual meetings in Washington

Get ready for a “melt-up.”

Back in mid-October, as stock markets around the world plunged faster than at any time since 2011, many investors and economists feared a meltdown. But with the U.S. economy steadily expanding, monetary and fiscal policies becoming more stimulative in other parts of the world and the autumn season for financial crises now over, a melt-up seems far more likely.

Is the U.S. really against torture? It can be hard to tell

By Elisa Massimino
November 14, 2014

U.S. President Barack Obama delivers remarks at Organizing for Action's "National Organizing Summit" in Washington

President Barack Obama brought the U.S. commitment against torture into sharper focus on Wednesday. For a president who prohibited torture as one of his first official acts, this shouldn’t be news. But it is.

Documents raise fresh questions about thalidomide criminal trial

By Harold Evans
November 13, 2014

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The dark shadow of the drug thalidomide is still with us. The original catastrophe maimed thousands of babies and killed far more: it remains one of the greatest man-made global disasters.

A one-state solution: Israel’s settlements aren’t going away

By Dimi Reider
November 13, 2014

Jewish youth hold Israeli flags at the beginning of a rally march in the West Bank settlement of Itamar, near Nablus

Bursts of Israeli settlement construction in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, once the subject of intense news coverage, have become almost routine.

Why Palestinians are back fighting on Jerusalem’s streets

By Rashid I. Khalidi
November 13, 2014

Palestinian youths throw stones towards Israeli border police during clashes at a checkpoint between the Shuafat refugee camp and Jerusalem

Once again, widespread popular unrest has broken out in Jerusalem. Since July, there have been clashes between young Arabs and Israeli security forces using tear gas, rubber bullets, live ammunition and truncheons.  

from John Lloyd:

U.S. ‘soft power’ hits another hard reality in the Middle East

By John Lloyd
November 12, 2014

Relatives of detained activists cry and pray for them as the activists stand trial at a court in Cairo

On Sunday, June 22, 1941, Winston Churchill’s private secretary, John Colville, woke him with the news that Nazi Germany had invaded the Soviet Union. In a radio address that same evening, the British prime minister repeated his “consistent” opposition to communism, but said that “all this flashes away … the Russian danger is therefore our danger.” In a later House of Commons debate, Churchill quipped -- “If Hitler invaded Hell, I would at least make a favorable reference to the devil in the House of Commons.”