Posts

Showing posts from April, 2017

Japan’s Nuclear Moment

Image
If Japan wanted to develop nuclear weapons, there would be no better moment than now to start. As the North Korean regime grows desperate to get a more generous ransom against its nuclear program, its threats to Tokyo grew multifold. Last week Shinzo Abe, the Japanese Prime Minister, warned that North Korea is preparing to launch missiles with sarin against Tokyo. The U.S. President, Donald Trump, further added to the turmoil by declaring last week that an “armada” of American military vessels is heading to the Korean peninsula, only to be contradicted by his own military, which broke the news that days later the “armada” was sailing nearby Singapore, over 3,000 miles away from the Korean peninsula, and reportedly has been travelling in the opposite direction. So much for the credibility of the American “extended deterrence”, which should guarantee the security umbrella over Japan, a policy in force since 1975. Now, both South Korea and Japan feel cheated and let down, while the U.S. …

How Europe and America Lost Turkey

Image
A Japanese diplomat once replied to an American counterpart asking him about the principles of the Japanese foreign policy by pointing, “Your country may be based on principles, ours is based on archipelago”. Geographic boundaries are rarely elastic, even when socially constructed. Cultural boundaries may seem more elastic, but like the physical ones, they too are rarely prone to fundamental changes. More importantly, the latter often determine the perception of the former. In “The Revenge of Geography” Robert Kaplan argued in a powerful way that ignoring geography may be a fatal mistake that could prevent us from understanding the nature of many political conflicts. What he ostensibly omitted from his paradigm is the difference between physical and human geography. A cursory look would show that when the two overlap, greater stability ensues. But when they don’t, a search of identity could take many paths, not all of them leading to stability.

Turkey is a case in focus. In a striking …

The Upside-Down World of Populists

Image
It is rather puzzling why the supporters of populist political actors seem not to care at all about obvious and undisputed facts (or their lack thereof) that concern their candidates, while mainstream supporters tend to withdraw their support at the slightest hint of an allegation of misconduct?

Consider the following examples, although others abound: the U.S. president, Donald Trump, publicly accuses his predecessor in wiretapping his Trump Tower. The allegations are consequently officially disproved and rejected by the FBI director James Comey, and by both Republican and Democrat leaders in the House and Senate. Yet, Trump supporters continue to believe it is all a cover-up by “fake” media and “corrupt” establishment. No loss of credibility or love, it seems, for Trump by his supporters. Sticking to his claim might have even helped him consolidate further his base. During the same congressional hearing, the FBI director reveals that the Trump campaign ties with Russia are subject to…