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A World in Disarray: American Foreign Policy and the Crisis of the Old Order

Fri, 07 Jul 2017 17:36:48 +0000

Richard HaassPenguin 2017978-0399562365Review by Kai Chen“Disarray” is the dominant characteristic of 21st century international relations, argues Richard A. Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations since 2003. This means “some rivals are sometime partners,” and joint efforts are essential to deal with common challenges, Haass explains in A World in Disarray. A distinguished foreign-policy practitioner who is now the president of the Council on Foreign Relations, Haass overviews the history of international relations from the Peace of Westphalia through the end of the Cold War, analyzing key foreign policy challenges and advancing recommendations for United States and other countries for dealing with the world’s disarray. The first three chapters explore the dynamics of international relations before 1990s, when balance of military power and economic independence was a guarantee against disarray. The Cold War could be a transformational period, in which American unipolarity “never really existed,” and “the enemy of your enemy is not necessarily your friend.” During this period, US foreign policy, especially national security, has been “guilty of a geographic bias that constitutes a strategic distortion.” For instance, the United States devoted major efforts into the Middle East and yet, at the global and local levels, demonstrated limited ability to “translate its clear advantages in wealth and military power into influence,” offset by the relative advantages of potential competitors and rivals, including terrorist and extreme groups.   The second of three sections focuses on international relations of the post–Cold War era, a transitional period with “increased globalization and increased regionalization,” and according to Haass, a departure from the past four centuries. He describes the era as “nonpolar” rather than “multipolar,” a world dominated by several principal powers with wider distribution of power and influence. He adds that “power is more distributed in more hands than at any time in history” and numerous non-sovereign actors share power and influence with the principal powers. Based on many cases, Haas stresses the realms of international relations involving numerous actors – like cyberspace, public health and nuclear proliferation – and explains the reasons for the disarray that has emerged in the post–Cold War era, including governments prioritizing short-term interests over long-term goals. Haas maintains that “little in history is inevitable,” and in the final section, advocates the concept of “sovereign obligation,” referring to “a government’s obligations to other governments and through them to the citizens of other countries” with “realism updated and adapted to meet the exigencies of this global era.” He presses this point: “Governments would have the obligation not just to avoid engaging in prohibited activities but also to do everything in their power to prevent other parties from carrying out those activities from their territory.” The United States and other nations have undertaken huge efforts on sovereign obligations – from the US war on terror to China’s One Belt, One Road. But such endeavors are time-consuming. Such goals can disrupt internal trajectories for any country and create a new source of risk for triggering unilateral actions or resorting to military force. US foreign policy has long been characterized by an openness to immigrants and trade, as well as longstanding commitments to allies. For Haass, dysfunctional politics, particularly “frequent reversals run the risk of unnerving friends and emboldening adversaries.” Interviewed for the Financial Times after his book’s publication, he refers to Trump administration striving to overturn many policies of his predecessor: "a lot of people are new to government and foreign policy” with “competing centres of authority inside the White House."   Haass challenges conventional views on international relations in a global setting, but reader[...]

The Islamic Challenge and the United States

Fri, 26 May 2017 15:16:11 +0000

Ehsan AhrariMcGill-Queen's University Press2017ISBN: 978-0773548169Susan FroetschelSingling out an enemy or adopting a monocausal approach to analyzing complex challenges like terrorism or oppression is tempting, but unhelpful. While prioritizing targets makes sense, focusing on a single culprit is limiting. Too often, practitioners of this technique overlook vast histories and systemic roots, then express puzzlement as to why the sore they pick at continues to fester.    Such has been the US approach to conflict in the Middle East, as exemplified by Donald Trump’s May 21 speech to the Muslim world from Saudi Arabia. Before a summit of Arab leaders, he pointed to “one goal that transcends every other consideration.… to meet history's great test – to conquer extremism and vanquish the forces of terrorism.” Trump then singled out Iran as “a regime that is responsible for so much instability in the region” – this just hours after Iranian voters re-elected pragmatic President Hassan Rouhani over a hardliner.  Trump’s words overlooked the Saudi role in spreading fundamentalist ideologies or funding extremist groups like the Islamic State terrorists who viciously target Iranian Shiites. The US president may not realize that the United States and the United Kingdom, hoping to prevent nationalization of the Iran’s oil industry, conspired to overthrow Iran’s democratically elected leader in 1953, instead embracing a despot. He refuses to consider that Iran has reasons for worry after US-led invasions of countries in either direction, Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraq in 2003. The United States has singled out enemies in the past. Egypt was a centerpiece of US foreign policy during the 1960s and then Iran after the 1973 revolution. Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Libya and Syria have also had turns – and now again Iran.  And global terrorists can be charged with the same error as their main fight is with the United States as lone superpower. Of course, the challenges are far more complex, as thoughtfully revealed by The Islamic Challenge and the United States. The book by Ehsan M. Ahrari, written with Sharon Leyland Ahrari, offers thorough background for those intent on understanding the intricate foreign relations, numerous and ongoing conflicts, and factors contributing to terrorism. The author is a former professor with the US Air War College, and despite the book’s title, he does not resort to analysis of Muslim-majority nations vis-à-vis the United States. Instead, the book offers systematic, concise examination of history, unfolding connections along with the many reasons for action and inaction. Ahrari places responsibility on autocratic leaders who “loathe quality education and its most crucial features – the promotion of critical thinking, original ideas, innovations, and creativity – that might also lead to demands for political change from their citizenry.” Low education standards weaken political, legal and moral opposition, and this contributes to violence, poverty, militaries that secure regimes rather than citizens, prisons that radicalize, and a form of populism that maintains only violent militancy can bring about political change, not by advancing societies but by dragging them back to the seventh century and erasing a history of despair. Global powers may destroy the functioning of groups like Al Qaeda, but will struggle to eliminate the ideology without substantive changes in foreign policy. There is hope, though, in Pew Research Center findings that strong majorities in many Muslim-majority countries prefer democracy over strong leaders and support freedom of religion.  Ahrari is precise, defining Islamism as a “politico-religious movement focused on the acquisition of territory, and then declaring those territories as part of their caliphate.” He reviews the history and philosophies shaped the Middle East including the Sykes-Picot Agreement, the Takfiri doctrine and other Islamist theorists, as well as US support for jihadists against the [...]

Energy and Human Resource Development in Developing Countries: Towards Effective Localization

Wed, 29 Mar 2017 17:52:46 +0000

William HickeyPalgrave Macmillan2017978-1137576309A review by Rachel Wu Poverty and climate change among the world’s thorniest challenges, and William Hickey, in Energy and Human Resource Development in Developing Countries: Towards Effective Localization, ambitiously seeks an overarching way to solve both. The result is a lengthy and stimulating manifesto in favor of human resources as the best way to approach these problems. Human resource development “becomes a competitive advantage and national resource in its own right” in the effort to empower individuals to make decisions. In aggregate, that empowerment combines to create a more sustainable future for us all. Endorsing the macroeconomic concept of endogenous growth theory, Hickey writes that “the more know-how a country has, the more it can entertain a wider portfolio in the energy mix,” emphasizing the potential of nuclear power. With less knowledge, resource-rich emerging countries remain dependent on foreign companies and “simplistic but heavily polluting, fossil fuel burning to power cars and trucks, boats and planes, and spin turbines.” Indeed, abundant stores of fossil fuels too often become a resource curse. The paradoxical phenomenon and accompanying stagnant growth have afflicted societies with the most valuable commodities, extending back to the 16th century Spanish discovery of silver mines in South America and continuing to many African nations today.    Hickey is pessimistic about the potential for economics and finance to address inequality and global warming. He posits that carbon taxes and carbon trading are easy to game in systems lacking stringent enforcement mechanisms. Developing countries with sovereign wealth funds often use them – and natural resources, by proxy – to invest in foreign capital and not their own people, even while receiving World Bank and International Monetary Fund loans. Human resource development, when implemented poorly, can exacerbate the problem by centralizing money at the top. By offering vivid firsthand accounts of the disparities he witnessed at the Kazakh national oil/gas company and Chinese power plants in Sri Lanka, Hickey drives home the urgency of implementing effective human-resources policy. For Hickey, the key to human resource development’s success in improving the economic situation of all is localization – “finding local citizens to do the jobs that are held by many foreign expatriates in host countries.” He proposes eliminating production-sharing agreements that provide negative incentivizes for localized management, as self-regulation often leads to wasteful spending on expatriates. Another compelling policy is “spatial sectoring,” ensuring that education is local and not centered in the country’s metropolises.  Localization is relevant as the currents of nationalism and isolationism pulse through much of the Western world. Because urban elites often siphon resources from rural areas where many oilfields and mines are located, development must be tailored on a “meso” level of communities and not just the “macro” level of nations. Another step of localization is actually delocalization, which occurs when local development becomes successful enough to go global. In keeping with the zeitgeist of populism across America and Europe, this book makes a point to vilify the elites, depicting the “gods of high finance” and corrupt politicians as myopic and selfish, an attitude that may strike readers as an oversimplification of unresolved debates. The book provides many case studies as helpful examples for how not to implement a policy of localization. While governments can learn from the past to avoid exploitive contracts with oil companies, they cannot simply mandate localization. The similar failures of localized steel production in China’s Great Leap Forward and Indonesia’s 21st century Mineral and Coal Law, requiring local refining of natural resources, demonstrate that governments must develop knowledge[...]

Putin Country: A Journey Into the Real Russia

Fri, 02 Dec 2016 15:30:00 +0000

Anne GarrelsFarrar, Straus and Giroux2016ISBN: 978-0374247720A Review by Julia SinitskyComing as yet another publication in a bout of renewed interest on contemporary Russia, Putin Country gives the reader at once an ordinary and original perspective. Anne Garrels, as a journalist for NPR, traveled to Russia many times over two decades as the country opened to the world, at times embracing and rejecting western economic and political influences. Garrels does well to avoid many of the clichés about new Cold War tensions. Despite the title, Putin Country is not about Vladimir Putin’s personality, the Kremlin or Moscow at all, but about the lives of ordinary, working-class Russians trying to make a living in 21st century Russia. Of course, the Kremlin’s centralized decision-making affects Russians, and Garrels reminds that the Russia beyond Moscow and St. Petersburg is often a world distant to Moscow-centered corruption, oligarchs and major players. Instead, she focuses on Russia’s polluted industrial heartland and Chelyabinsk, a city on the border between Europe and Asia. This work covers a number of topics, all nuanced and socially relevant, with themes including political and social stability, identity, family, healthcare, prisons, religion, ecology, nuclear energy, freedom of speech and many others. Each topic is presented through intertwining anecdotes that involve ordinary Chelyabinsk residents some of whom she has known for years. Garrels, by examining an array of social topics, combined with the fact that Chelyabinsk itself is part of the Russian periphery, offers a kind of country diagnosis unburdened by dry statistics or other social science measures. Readers get a feel of daily life in modern Russia by following Garrels on her journeys and getting a rare glimpse into private lives, some struggling for years under a system which accommodates corrupt practices over hard and honest work. Others of Garrels’ interviewees more easily adapted to the difficult life in post-Soviet Russia and try to improve the lives of those around them. Garrels writes that in 2012, though Chelyabinsk would not be mistaken for Moscow, it is still unrecognizable from the failing industrial center she first visited in 1993, when New Russia was just forming as a state. Since then, she has visited several times and comments on the changes due to capitalism which developed during the Yeltsin and Putin eras and free-market transformations, including western goods, public health care and education, and the ability to travel abroad. The Russian government, through poorly run privatization schemes has created a new world of haves and have nots, with few people in between. Most people Garrels meets around Chelyabinsk live from paycheck to paycheck, contrasting wildly from nouveau rich Russians who thrive even in times of economic turmoil. But for either party, their daily life leave little time to dwell on human rights violations, government reforms or other pressing social concerns.  Many Russians blame the West as much as their own leaders for Russia’s many problems, and this mindset is not likely to change. Economic transitions have been difficult. “Shock therapy, advocated by the West to replace the Soviet economic system, was most shocking in the countryside…as farms fell apart, land was either stolen by crafty managers or redivided among the ill-prepared workers,” Garrels writes. “With no infrastructure to back them, most couldn’t make it on their own.” The focus on devastated rural and peripheral industrial centers is a timely critique in the wake of what seems like a worldwide protest against neoliberal globalist values. Many families never fully recovered from the economic and emotional shock of the collapse of the Soviet Union and cannot escape poverty, corruption and crime. The remedies for their economic condition remain few, and some find consolation in vodka, illegal drugs or numerous religious sects that have sprung up all over R[...]

The Death Penalty: A Worldwide Perspective, Fifth Edition

Tue, 29 Nov 2016 15:23:08 +0000

Roger Hood and Carolyn HoyleOxford University Press2015ISBN: 978-0-19-870174-3A Review by Leila ToiviainenAttitudes regarding the death penalty are often based on populist and electoral calculations.  For example, drug trafficking remains punishable by death in Indonesia: This year, the nation so far has executed 14, including eight foreign nationals, by firing squad. Australia, Netherlands and Brazil responded to the execution of their citizens by withdrawing their ambassadors from Jakarta for “consultations.” The Death Penalty, by two Oxford professors of criminology, Roger Hood and Carolyn Hoyle, began as a 1988 report to the United Nations Committee on Crime Prevention and Control. They argue for the worldwide abolition of the death penalty. The execution of foreign nationals exposes troubling inconsistencies, as revealed by recent headlines. In April, Prime Minister John Howard appealed for clemency to Indonesian President Joko Widodo to spare the lives of two Australians in April. Yet the authors point out that, after terrorist bombs killed 88 Australians on the island of Bali in 2002, Howard condoned the execution of the terrorists by firing squad. Not mentioned in the book is Howard’s response to the 1996 massacre in Tasmania after a gunman killed 35 and wounded 26 – tightening Australian gun laws despite objections from the gun lobby. There were no calls for the return of the death penalty. The authors’ arguments against the death penalty are based on a human rights perspective: Human rights of those imprisoned for crimes should be respected; those who have committed serious crimes should be given a second chance to reform and atone for their misdeeds. The 597-page book is scholarly, but readable and compassionate. The analysis is the result of ongoing research for nearly two decades during which more countries have abolished the death penalty. Uncertainty amongst its supporters has grown. The death penalty should not be used by any nation as an instrument of revenge. The weakness of arguments to support its continuing application by some nations, including as a deterrent, lead the authors to conclude that no argument can justify the inhumanity of the penalty; it cannot be applied fairly, without mistakes; it is arbitrary and cruel. Since the publication of the first edition of The Death Penalty the authors report progress: 41 countries abolished the death penalty from 1989 to 1999 – 40 for all crimes in all circumstances. Yet 39 nations, including the world’s two largest economies, China and the United States, remain “active retentionists” – executing at least one person within the last 10 years. The authors claim that China accounts for at least 80 percent of all recorded judicial executions, and Amnesty International has ceased publishing China’s death penalty statistics, which are regarded as state secrets. Amnesty International: Nations That Lead in Executions, 2014   Official Unreported, Unacknowledged, or Estimated China   3000+ Iran 289 454 Saudi Arabia   90+ Iraq   61+ United States 35   The authors characterize Western Europe and Australasia as death-penalty-free zones, and attribute the origins of more humane ways of punishment to the liberal utilitarian and humanistic ideas sweeping through Europe at the end of the 18th century. Norway abolished capital punishment in 1905, and following the mass murder of 69 youth in 2011, support for the death penalty remained at 16 percent. Support for the death penalty in North America is faltering as a result of innocent individuals being executed for crimes they did not commit. As the authors point out, the globe knows more about the situation in North America because of the extent of empirical studies and debates undertaken in that nation. President Vladimir Putin of Russia provides an example of a leader who has resisted pressure from public opinion to restore the death penalty and committed to uphold a moratorium. In 2002[...]

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Tue, 15 Nov 2016 15:19:04 +0000

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Tue, 15 Nov 2016 15:03:37 +0000

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We are happy to receive unsolicited articles from qualified contributors, but due to the number of inquiries we receive, we cannot guarantee a quick response.

Articles published in YaleGlobal range across a wide spectrum of topics and viewpoints. The thread tying them together is that all aim to illuminate some aspect of globalization - meaning the close interdependence and interconnectedness of the world - for an educated but non-expert global audience. Our criteria for publication include originality, clarity, authority, and relevancy. Articles should fall within a range of 1,000 to 1,200 words. Additionally, the article must be written exclusively for YaleGlobal. Please send your submission to

A World Connected: Globalization in the 21st Century

Mon, 14 Nov 2016 23:06:35 +0000





No word has evoked as much passion in recent times as the word “globalization,” which carries an array of meanings among different people and disciplines. But the fact is that globalization is a historical process that has connected the world and influenced it, for better or worse, in every aspect of life. 

A World Connected: Globalization in the 21st Century

is a collection of more than 100 thought-provoking essays by renowned scholars, journalists and leading policymakers published over the past decade by YaleGlobal Online, now published by the MacMillan Center. The essays are grouped by chapters on Global Economy and Trade, Security, Diplomacy, Society, Culture, Health and Environment, Demography and Immigration, Anti-Globalization, Innovation and Global Governance and offer insights about globalization trends for the future. The volume contains a general introduction by the editors and a preface by Yale University President Richard C. Levin. 

With intelligent and timely analysis, YaleGlobal and its first e-book, A World Connected: Globalization in the 21st Century, perform the valuable task of raising awareness about our interconnected world and highlighting the need for international cooperation and better governance.”
– Richard C. Levin, President, Yale University

“As the story of globalization century-style continues to unfold, reflecting on the lessons and challenges of both the recent and more distant past is critical to understand the options as we move forward – together, as nations, societies, communities and individuals – and the potential impact of our collective choices. This book will serve as an invaluable and thoughtful reference along the journey.”
– Tracey Keys,

YaleGlobal Staff

Mon, 14 Nov 2016 22:39:43 +0000

Ian Shapiro Publisher Ian Shapiro is Sterling Professor of Political Science at Yale University, where he also serves as Henry R. Luce Director of the MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies. He has written widely and influentially on democracy, justice, and the methods of social inquiry. In democratic theory, he has argued that democracy’s value comes primarily from its potential to limit domination rather than, as is conventionally assumed, from its operation as a system of participation, representation, or preference aggregation. In debates about social scientific methods, he is chiefly known for rejecting prevalent theory-driven and method-driven approaches in favor of starting with a problem and then devising suitable methods to study it. A native of South Africa, Shapiro received his J.D. from the Yale Law School and his Ph.D from the Yale Political Science Department where he has taught since 1984 and served as chair from 1999 to 2004. Shapiro is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Society, and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. He is a past fellow of the Carnegie Corporation, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences. He has held visiting appointments at the University of Cape Town, Keio University in Tokyo, Sciences Po in Paris, the Institute for Advanced Study in Vienna, the University of Oslo, and Nuffield College, Oxford. His most recent books are The Real World of Democratic Theory; Containment: Rebuilding a Strategy against Global Terror; and The Flight From Reality in the Human Sciences. His new book, Politics Against Domination, will be published by Harvard University Press in 2016. His current research concerns the relations between democracy and the distribution of income and wealth. Susan Froetschel Managing Editor Susan Froetschel joined the YaleGlobal staff as assistant editor in December 2005. Before that, she was a Bass Tutor-in-Residence at the Yale Writing Center and was appointed to the Yale School of Art design faculty as a writing critic from 2000 to 2005. She also taught magazine writing and literary journalism at Southern Connecticut State University for seven years and has written numerous articles and opinion essays for magazines and newspapers. She studied journalism at Pennsylvania State University, and her master’s degree in public administration is from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. Froetschel is the author of five mystery novels about families who question public policies that most take for granted. The most recent novels, Fear of Beauty and Allure of Deceit, are set in rural Afghanistan. Her work has been recognized by the Military Writers Society of America, Mystery Writers of America and the Middle East Outreach Council. Nayan Chanda Consulting Editor Nayan Chanda is Consulting Editor. He is the founder and former Editor-in-Chief and Editorial Director of YaleGlobal Online Magazine, published by the Whitney and Betty MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies at Yale. For nearly thirty years before he joined Yale University Chanda was with the Hong Kong-based magazine The Far Eastern Economic Review as its editor, editor-at-large and correspondent. In 1989-90 Chanda was a Senior Fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington. From 1990-1992 Chanda was editor of the Asian Wall Street Journal Weekly, published from New York. He is the author of Bound Together: How Traders, Preachers, Adventurers and Warriors Shaped Globalization (Yale University Press, 2007) Chinese, French, Korean, Japanese, Italian, Portuguese and Turkish translations of the book have been published. He is also the author of Brother Enemy: The War After the War and coauthor of over a dozen books on Asian [...]