This Week’s Top 5 Picks in International History and Diplomacy

(Image: André Carrilho)

How the Brexiteers broke history

Richard J. Evans

New Statesman

Politicians have always used history to bolster their arguments in one way or another, plundering the past for examples that seem to shore up their position. They pull out historical parallels with current events because these seem to tell us not only where we’ve come from and where we are, but, most importantly, where we are going. History can provide encouragement or warning, according to the politician’s purpose: past events show us what we can expect if we do nothing to ward off a clear and present danger, or what we can look forward to if we take the course of action they advocate.

Yet the past can be an unreliable guide to the present, and more often than not it resists politicians’ attempts to co-opt it in their own interests. Unless they pay it the respect it is due, they too often get caught out massaging and manipulating the facts, or interpreting them in ways that the evidence does not in the end support. (Read more)

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The rebirth of the Nigerian Left?

Sa’eed Husaini

Africa is a Country

Even as a phrase, “The Nigerian Left” might sound paradoxical. What has the world’s Moët drinking capital and a world leader in global indices of private jet ownership to do with lefty politics? In fact, when I recently tweeted about an academic project I am pursuing entitled “What’s left of Nigeria’s Left?” I was not surprised to be greeted by a number of comically skeptical responses from Naija Twitter including:

Though amusing, such a view is inaccurate, as I got to see for myself while attending the conference on “Capitalism, Imperialism, & Revolutions in the 21st Century” held recently at Nasarawa State University (NSU). (Read more)

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‘Preparing for the worst’: Mueller anxiety pervades Trump world

Darren Samuelshon

Politico

Lawyers for President Donald Trump and his son Donald Trump Jr. insist they aren’t worried about special counsel Robert Mueller.

But half a dozen people in contact with the White House and other Trump officials say a deep anxiety has started to set in that Mueller is about to pounce after his self-imposed quiet period, and that any number of Trump’s allies and family members may soon be staring down the barrel of an indictment.

Then there are the president’s own tweets, which have turned back to attacking Mueller after a near two-month break. Thursday morning, Trump launched an oddly detailed condemnation of the special counsel and his team: “They are screaming and shouting at people, horribly threatening them to come up with the answers they want,” adding that the investigators “don’t … care how many lives the[sic] ruin.” (Read more)

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China’s Influence on Display as Leaders Converge on Island Nation

Bloomberg

Chinese President Xi Jinping didn’t arrive in Papua New Guinea until late Thursday, but his presence has been felt there for some time.

China has been pouring money into the Pacific Island nation, injecting at least $5.9 billion of infrastructure spending since 2011 into an economy smaller than any U.S. state. The investment has highlighted the region’s growing status as a strategic battleground between China and U.S. allies ahead of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summits, which are bringing Xi, Vice President Mike Pence and other world leaders there this week.

APEC attendees arrived in the capital Port Moresby aboard shuttles donated by China. A banner advertising the state-owned China Railway Group flew over a construction site near cruise ships being used to house delegations. Other Chinese firms, including CreditEase Corp., Beijing Rogrand E-Commerce Co. and Jian Nan Chun, a signature maker of baijiu alcohol, are featured on the event’s sponsors list. (Read more)

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Is Major Realignment Taking Place in the Middle East?

Colin P. Clarke and Ariane M. Tabatabai

Foreign Affairs

Having long criticized U.S. policy in the Middle East, President Donald Trump has outlined the contours of a fresh approach to the region. Last month, his administration unveiled its new Syria strategy, marking a departure from a mission focused on countering the Islamic State (or ISIS) to one aimed at containing Iran. But these new plans don’t consider a critical challenge: the shifting alignments in the region, which have intensified following the killing of the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

Alignments in the Middle East have long been shifting tectonic plates. For decades, regional powers—particularly Iran, Iraq, Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey—have competed to maximize power against the backdrop of interventions by Russia, the United Kingdom, and, later, the United States. Until recently, the United States and its regional allies—Israel, the majority of the Arab Gulf states, and Turkey—were aligned against Iran. In the aftermath of the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement, it seemed certain that these regional powers, backed by Washington, would succeed in isolating the mullahs. But myriad domestic, regional, and international factors have combined to obviate this long-standing status quo. The most significant result of these developments has been Turkey’s drift away from the United States and toward Iran and Russia. (Read more)

 

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