Bolton’s Odd, Outdated Fixation

Insights, analysis and must reads from CNN's Fareed Zakaria and the Global Public Square team, compiled by Global Briefing editor Jason Miks.

September 13, 2018

Bolton's Odd, Outdated Fixation

From China, to Russia to terrorism, the United States today faces plenty of security challenges. That makes the choice of prime target in John Bolton's first big speech as national security adviser this week all the more puzzling, writes Jeremy Shapiro for Foreign Policy. Bolton, it seems, is more interested in fighting the battles of the past.
"Bolton has long seen the struggle against the [International Criminal Court] and global governance generally as a continuing and sacred mission to preserve US sovereignty. The creation of the ICC marked a brief moment when it seemed that such institutions might indeed threaten US freedom of action, if it gained the universal jurisdiction supporters initially sought," Shapiro writes.
"But since then, for better or for worse, nationalism and geopolitical competition have returned with a vengeance, and the prospect of global governance has faded away. The United States and many other powerful countries never joined the ICC. In part as a result, the court has struggled since the beginning to demonstrate its relevance. It has never indicted anyone outside of Africa and only managed to convict a handful people in 16 years despite an abundance of war crimes in the world. Africa is revolting against the court, Europe has lost faith in it, and the United States, Russia, and China have never paid much attention to it."

The Three Myths of the Peace Process

The Oslo Accord was officially signed 25 years ago today. Aaron David Miller writes for USA Today that at the time, it seemed like the "Middle East peace process was now irreversible." Fast forward to 2018, he says, and it's time to dispel three common myths: America is the key to a solution, the US is an honest broker, and Arab states can save the peace process.
"Both Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lack vision and are too risk-averse, tied to their domestic politics, and more interested in keeping their jobs than in trying to fundamentally change the status quo. The Trump administration needs to understand that a willful and skillful mediator is critical, but much more important are partners willing to make decisions that allow a third party to bridge gaps. On the big issues — borders and Jerusalem — Abbas and Netanyahu are not even close," Miller says.

Two (Troubling) Explanations for the Skripal Poisoning

"Two Russians accused of a nerve agent attack in the UK have admitted they visited the city where the assault took place," but claimed it was just for sightseeing, CNN reports. Alexey Kovalev suggests in The Guardian that it is increasingly clear that there are really only two plausible explanations for the poisoning. Neither is encouraging.
"If it's indeed Vladimir Putin's deep hatred of turncoats that prompted him to authorize the Skripal hit…then he critically lacks any strategic foresight and has let personal animus take precedence over Russia's immediate and long-term interests," Kovalev writes.
"If Putin didn't authorize the operation, this makes matters even worse, both for Russia and for the world. Because that would mean that Putin doesn't control his own security apparatus, whose members go rogue on ever more reckless vengeance missions at home and abroad."

Northern Light

For decades, the United States led the world in resettling refugees. This year, it is on course to resettle fewer than its northern neighbor, Priscilla Alvarez writes for The Atlantic.
"The US resettled more than 69,000 refugees in 2015 and nearly 85,000 in 2016, the final two years of the Obama administration. The number fell to 33,000 in 2017, the first year of the Trump administration, and with just 19 days left in fiscal year 2018, it's expected to plummet to 20,000, less than half of the current ceiling," Alvarez writes.
"This year…Canada could outpace the US in the number of refugees admitted. According to UNHCR, the resettlement admission target for Canada in 2018 is 27,000, which is more than those admitted to the US a month away from the end of the fiscal year."

The Good (and Not So Good) News About ISIS

The number and scale of attacks by ISIS has tumbled this year. But it's not because the group has stopped trying, Rukmini Callimachi writes for The New York Times.

"The Islamic State carried out 14 successful attacks in Europe and North America in 2015, 22 in 2016 and 27 in 2017, according to data collected by George Washington University's Program on Extremism. But in the first eight months of this year, it only carried out four," Callimachi writes.

"The scale of attacks has also fallen. The largest toll in a single attack fell from 130 in 2015, to 86 in 2016, to 22 at the pop concert in Manchester in 2017. So far in 2018, the worst single-day toll was in the aisles of a supermarket in Trèbes, France, where a man acting in the name of the Islamic State gunned down three people in March."

"But the number of attempted attacks in Europe has remained unchanged, according to data collected by the Center for the Analysis of Terrorism in Paris. That data suggests that while the Islamic State's capacity may have been diminished, its effort has not."

The World's Most Positive People Are…

Paraguayans were most likely to report feeling positive about their lives last year, according to a new Gallup poll, with Latin American nations continuing to dominate the top of the annual Global Emotions Report.

The poll, which covers more than 140 nations, asked around 154,000 adults questions including "Did you feel well-rested yesterday?" and "Did you learn or do something interesting yesterday?" The second "most positive" nation was Colombia, followed by El Salvador, Guatemala and Canada.

Why do Latin American nations dominate the top spots? Per Gallup: "The high percentages reporting positive emotions in Latin America at least partly reflects the cultural tendency in the region to focus on life's positives."

The country with the lowest positive experiences score was Afghanistan, followed by Yemen and Tunisia.



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