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

(Image: Calla Kessler/The Washington Post)

Yes, Mr. President, Tuesday was a blue wave

Kevin M. Kruse

The Washington Post

In a combative news conference Wednesday, President Trump claimed that Tuesday’s election returns had been “very close to a complete victory” for the GOP. Because of his personal campaigning for Republican candidates in the final weeks, Trump argued, he had effectively “stopped the blue wave that they were talking about.”

Despite the president’s self-confidence, his assessment of the midterms in general and the blue wave in particular is largely wrong. The midterm results — in which Democrats took control of the House while Republicans narrowly increased their margin in the Senate — was not a “complete victory” for either side. And by historic measures, the House results fit the loose qualifications for a blue wave.

Despite the hopes of some on the left, the pundits’ predictions for a blue wave were always limited to the House. In the struggle for the Senate, Democrats faced the longest odds confronting a party in several decades — maybe more. While Republicans had to defend only nine seats, Democrats needed to protect two dozen — 10 of which stood in red states won by Trump in 2016 — as well as those of two more independents who caucus with Democrats. This was, as veteran election handicapper Stuart Rothenberg noted, “an almost impossible map” for them. And yet, despite the odds, the Democrats will end up with, at worst, a net loss of three seats. (Read more)

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

(Image: Silvia Izquierdo/Associated Press)

How the unthinkable happened in Brazil

Fernando Henrique Cardoso

Washington Post

The final outcome of Brazil’s presidential election on Sunday confirmed a trend delineated in the first round: a significant victory for Jair Bolsonaro, a retired Army captain who for decades was a back-bench congressman without any significant legislative record. He continually voted in favor of corporate interests and against a liberal economic agenda. He is also a relentless advocate of gun ownership and an ultra-conservative on moral and cultural issues like abortion and gay rights. Tellingly, his favorite motto is, “A good criminal is a dead criminal.”

How did the unthinkable happen? Bolsonaro surfed a tsunami of popular anger and despair that swept away the entire Brazilian political system, along with the old party leaders. He was able to do so because of the people’s growing suspicion that representative democracy is incapable of delivering what they need. This disaffection was compounded by a brutal economic recession in Brazil, the longest in our history. Unemployment soared, urban violence reached staggering heights — nearly 64,000 homicides in 2017 or 175 deaths per day. Organized crime spiraled out of control. Political parties, especially the left-wing Workers’ Party (PT), floundered in corruption. (Read more)

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

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(Image: Tyler Hicks)

The Tragedy of Saudi Arabia’s War

Declan Walsh

New York Times

CHEST HEAVING AND EYES FLUTTERING, the 3-year-old boy lay silently on a hospital bed in the highland town of Hajjah, a bag of bones fighting for breath.

His father, Ali al-Hajaji, stood anxiously over him. Mr. Hajaji had already lost one son three weeks earlier to the epidemic of hunger sweeping across Yemen. Now he feared that a second was slipping away.

It wasn’t for a lack of food in the area: The stores outside the hospital gate were filled with goods and the markets were bustling. But Mr. Hajaji couldn’t afford any of it because prices were rising too fast.

“I can barely buy a piece of stale bread,” he said. “That’s why my children are dying before my eyes.” (Read more)

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

(Image: Greg Baker/AFP/Getty Images)

The Vatican and China: An Ideological Struggle

The Guardian

Every power in the world must now come to terms with China’s rise to superpower status; last week it was the turn of the Vatican, a global soft superpower. An opaque and ambiguous agreement seems to have resolved decades of diplomatic stalemate over the appointment of bishops for China’s 12 million Catholics, although that figure, too, is shrouded in uncertainty. The Chinese authorities have for decades demanded that they, and not some foreign power, should choose their country’s religious leaders; the Vatican has for just as long resisted. Now it appears that the pope will recover the power to choose bishops, but only from a shortlist nominated by the government.

The agreement enraged those who feel that there can be no compromise with the Beijing government. An unknown number of priests and bishops, perhaps 12, are still detained in China, and some are believed to have died in prison. This agreement does nothing for them. On the other hand, it does not involve full diplomatic relations between Beijing and Rome, which would require the Vatican to give up its recognition of Taiwan. (Read more)

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

Image result for Iraq's new president taps Adel Abdul Mahdi to form government Read more: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2018/10/iraq-president-parliament-barham-salih-adel-abdul-mahdi.html#ixzz5TGZa6mei

(Image: REUTERS/Khalid al Mousily)

Iraq’s new president taps Adel Abdul Mahdi to form government 

Fazel Hawramy

Al-Monitor

The battle inside and outside the Iraqi parliament was fierce and bitter, but by the evening of Oct. 2, Barham Salih had managed to pull off one of the biggest electoral feats in recent Iraqi history by putting his faith in Iraqi parliamentarians to elect a new president. That night, the overwhelming majority of parliament members, 219 out of 329 total, voted to install Salih, a Kurd who believes in the territorial integrity of Iraq and who has vowed to work for all Iraqis.

Since 2003, the Iraqi presidency has been reserved for a Kurd, the parliament speakership for a Sunni and the premiership for a Shiite. Although Salih’s election has generally been welcomed among Iraqis, including the Kurds, his victory marked an escalation in tense relations between Iraq’s two dominant Kurdish parties, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), already at odds over the governing of Iraqi Kurdistan and related socioeconomic issues. (Read more)

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

Iran likely to divide Trump from allies at UN gathering

Nahal Toosi, David M. Herszenhorn and Matthew Karnitschnig

Politico

Donald Trump sees next week’s main session of the United Nations General Assembly as a chance to condemn Iran for spreading what he’s called “chaos and terror” through the Middle East.

But many key U.S. allies will likely use the global forum to present Trump himself as a threat to world peace.

The result could be an unusually combative gathering at an annual forum meant to promote harmony among world leaders.

“It’s not going to be a pleasant conversation,” predicted Ilan Berman, senior vice president of the conservative American Foreign Policy Council. (Read more)

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

Populism is the true legacy of the global financial crisis

Philip Stevens

Financial Times

The legacy of the global financial crisis might have been a re-imagination of the market economy. Anything goes could have made way for something a little closer to everyone gains. The eloquent speeches and bold pledges that followed the crash — think Barack Obama, Gordon Brown, Angela Merkel and the rest — held out just such a prospect. Instead we have ended up with Donald Trump, Brexit and beggar-thy-neighbour nationalism.

The process set in train by the September 2008 collapse of Lehman Brothers has produced two big losers — liberal democracy and open international borders. The culprits, who include bankers, central bankers and regulators, politicians and economists, have shrugged off responsibility. The world has certainly changed, but not in the ordered, structured way that would have been the hallmark of intelligent reform. (Read more) Continue reading “This Week’s Top 5 Picks in International History and Diplomacy”