There is a saying, “Once bitten, twice shy“. Russia and China claim to have been bitten once: when the West turned the United Nation’s Security Council resolution 1973 on its head and proceeded to invade Libya. Moscow and Beijing became shy when the West tried to do another Libya, over Syria. When the West mooted successive draft resolutions on Syria, they fought shy.
Therefore, it comes as surprise that the two countries lost their shyness and allowed themselves to be hoodwinked again on Mali.
Curiously, Moscow and Beijing haven’t yet commented on the French intervention in Mali, which came to light ipso facto and has rapidly morphed through the past week into a concerted Western enterprise in Africa. The mother of all ironies is that the
The Arab Spring is not an outcome, it is a process. For those countries at the forefront of regional transformation, the fundamental question is can democracy become institutionalised? Though progress has been uneven and the outcomes of many state-society struggles have yet to be resolved, the answer is a cautious yes. In at least a few countries, we are witnessing the onset of democratic institutionalisation: whether the process of reform and transformation spreads to other parts of the Middle East depends on many factors — religious tensions, political mobilisation, regime adaptations, geopolitics. Meanwhile North Africa provides the most promising preview of the future.
The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 was supposed to mark both the “end of history” and the birth of an international community founded on the universal acceptance of Western values — a world in which “market democracy” was the norm. Instead, the West has suffered a litany of disappointments — from costly wars to financial crises to the rise of non-Western powers — that has left it deeply disillusioned. Far from a cooperative, rule-based order, the contemporary world is a place of vast, permanent competition — a muddled melee among regional poles, countries, governments, businesses, banks, financial funds, rating agencies, producers, consumers, individuals, international media, and criminal organizations, if not also between “civilizations.” This competition continues even in the forums that are supposed to regulate it: the World Trade Organization, the G-20, and others.
Three major forces will loom behind the headlines in 2013, driving events in the new year: the crisis of the Western political order, rising sectarian strife in the Middle East, and worries about American withdrawal from the world.
The most immediate challenge is the crisis of the Western democratic model, caused by the inability of the United States and Europe to deal with their respective fiscal and financial issues. The problems are economic, but the weaknesses are fundamentally political. A continued failure to act will result in the weakening of the West‘s global stature in every dimension of national strength — its ability to prosper, to summon and guide international action, and to advance core national interests.
Over the decades Turkey has dictated its Middle Eastern relations based on opportunities presented by shifts in the regional balance of power. In the early 1990s up until around 2006, Turkey was finely enmeshed in Western sentiments and policies. But beginning in 2006 it recognized a leadership vacuum in the Middle East and began attempting to fill it, resulting in more Islamist policies and a gravitation towards alignment with the Arab/Muslim countries. Things picked up even more so after the Arab uprisings began. That was not surprising. It should have even been expected. However, I suggested in an article a few months ago that based on its shortsighted and failed foreign policy in Syria, its diplomatic history, and in spite of its trending Islamism, Turkey might seek to renew its relations with Israel and again warm up to the U.S. But I fear that suggestion will prove incorrect.
Mao Zedong believed that revolutionary fervor could overcome technological backwardness. But when more pragmatic leaders took power in Beijing, they found that China lagged so far behind the West that the country risked permanent second-class status.
Mao’s successor, Deng Xiaoping, launched China’s rise by reforming the economy and opening the country to the West. With this opening, however, came a long-running, state-sponsored espionage program to acquire advanced technology and accelerate the growth of China’s civil and military industries. And when Western companies first went into China, they believed that the damage from espionage was tolerable, part of the cost of doing business in the world’s fastest-growing market, and that they could “run faster” to create new technologies, thereby minimizing any loss. But what was tolerable when China was a developing economy is no longer acceptable when it is the second-largest economy in the world and a potential military competitor.
Since the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York City, the word jihad dominated Western media outlets and characterised Islam as an inherently violent religion. Figures and groups such as Osama Bin Laden and al-Qaeda were presented to Westerners as opponents to Western civilisation who made it their duty to carry out terrorist attacks all over the world in the name of Islam. The intent of this essay is to assess the phenomenon of global Jihad. In doing so, it will address different interpretations of the meaning of Jihad in Islamic culture, discuss the roots of global jihad and the rise of Salafi Jihadism during the 1980s and finally attempt to argue that global jihad doctrine has been constructed to resonate with disaffected Muslims throughout the world.
Parts of Aleppo‘s historic souk, or marketplace, have been burnt to the ground. The storied Sissi House, one of the region’s finest restaurants and famous for its tasty cherry lamb kebabs, has reportedly burnt down. Dar Zamaria, part of a wave of chic boutique hotels being carved out of Ottoman merchant houses (and which I reviewed for the New York Times in 2009), has also reportedly been destroyed. We are witnessing a sectarian civil war, and the dreadful human carnage that comes with it. We may also be witnessing the destruction of a way of life that’s evolved over centuries around one of the Arab world‘s architectural treasures.
If the West is not going to intervene in Syria, it should at least do more to prevent this UNESCO-protected site — a city that lays claim to being among the world’s oldest — from becoming a 21st-century version of Dresden.
If you were to list the factors with the biggest potential impact on the business world over the next few decades, you’d likely cite some common themes – evolving technology, the globalization of markets, and fiscal challenges in Western countries, perhaps. But here’s one you might not have considered: women.
According to our research, nearly 1 billion women will enter the global economy for the first time in the coming decade alone. And they will dramatically reshape the world of business and economies, globally.
Who are these women? We call them the “third billion,” in that their economic impact will be just as significant as that of the billion-plus populations in China or India, respectively. While these women have been overlooked in many markets — and actively suppressed in others — they are increasingly taking their place in the global economy, as both employees and entrepreneurs. It will not be long before they take their place as executives as well. Once these women begin to earn positions of leadership, they will change the economic potential and corporate culture of the world’s most esteemed organizations.