What the Hell Just Happened to Turkey?

Then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of Turkey and his wife wave at supporters in Balıkesir, February 28, 2014
Then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of Turkey and his wife wave at supporters in Balıkesir, February 28, 2014 (AKP)

And “to” seems the right word, because this was done to Turkey by Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his political machine. International electoral monitors cite fraud; so too does the powerful Republican People’s Party. That hardly matters, it seems. Turkish election officials will not allow a recount.

And so even if cheated, it is a victory for Erdoğan. It has been a long road for a critical Middle Eastern nation. The geopolitical trajectory of Turkey is now set. Read more

Why Russian Resets Keep Failing

Presidents Dmitri Medvedev of Russia, Vaclav Klaus of the Czech Republic and Barack Obama of the United States share a toast, Prague, April 8, 2010
Presidents Dmitri Medvedev of Russia, Vaclav Klaus of the Czech Republic and Barack Obama of the United States share a toast, Prague, April 8, 2010 (White House/Pete Souza)

In short, if it wasn’t one thing, it would have been another.

It didn’t have to have to be a gas attack. It could have been a stray Russian shell in some Ukrainian city, a dead exiled opposition leader on the streets of a Western capital city, a major hacking attack against a critical American target, a crucial NATO ally “flipped” by a Russian disinformation campaign or a released set of Trump e-mails.

It could have been Donald Trump waking up one day to realize the Russians aren’t interested in destroying the Islamic State so long as IS distracts the Americans and grinds down anti-Assad rebels.

It could have been when Trump tried to rally Moscow to support a new round of sanctions or military threats against North Korea.

Perhaps Trump’s bromance might have ended with a shooting incident over Finnish skies or maybe he’d have changed his mind if Russian troops showed up in Libya to prop up Moscow’s increasingly favorited local strongman, Khalifa Haftar.

The fact is, on a long enough timeline, he would have changed his mind or faced an all-out revolt from his cabinet, his generals and his party. Read more

The Programs of France’s Presidential Candidates Compared

Polls suggest five candidates stand a chance of qualifying for the crucial second voting round in France’s presidential election next month.

They range from the far left to the far right, but a look at their policies suggests that these categories may have outlived their usefulness. Read more

What’s Wrong with Trump’s NATO Bill to Germany

German chancellor Angela Merkel speaks with American president Donald Trump in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington DC, March 17
German chancellor Angela Merkel speaks with American president Donald Trump in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington DC, March 17 (Bundesregierung)

American president Donald Trump reportedly presented Germany’s chancellor, Angela Merkel, with a $374 billion invoice for missed contributions to NATO when she visited Washington DC earlier this month.

As first reported by The Times, Trump arrived at the figure by calculating how much Germany has fallen short of NATO’s 2-percent defense spending target since 2002 and then adding interest.

A German official described the move as “outrageous” to The Times. Merkel ignored it.

It’s hard to imagine a previous president treating an ally so cruelly, but the story is not at all unbelievable given what we know about Trump: that he humiliates people, is intimidated by powerful women and sees international relations in transactional terms. Read more

The Forces Shaping the French Election: Populism, Pride and Prejudice

Marine Le Pen, leader of the French National Front, makes a speech in the European Parliament in Strasbourg, October 26, 2016
Marine Le Pen, leader of the French National Front, makes a speech in the European Parliament in Strasbourg, October 26, 2016 (European Parliament)

And why is it so critical? Nothing less than the European Union is at stake — and with it, the geopolitical contract that has bound Germany and France together since World War II.

After the defeat of anti-Islam populist Geert Wilders early this month in the Netherlands, it is reasonable to ask if populism as shaped by the alt-right has hit its limit. Europeans have watched the confusion in Britain over Brexit and the rise of Donald Trump. Now they are revisiting both their Euroskepticism and their willingness to gamble on ideologies not yet fully tested.

Yet France is subject to powerful forces quite different than the Netherlands, which has only a fraction of its population and international obligations. A large, unassimilated Muslim and African population simmers; an aging, conservative voter base roils; a discredited, weakened left wavers; and nobody knows what to do with the neoliberal threads that hold together the European Union yet impoverish just about anyone not in the upper classes. Read more

What Happens Next in the Netherlands?

Dutch government buildings in The Hague, November 21, 2013
Dutch government buildings in The Hague, November 21, 2013 (Rijksoverheid)

As expected, no single party won a majority of the votes in the Netherlands on Wednesday. Parties must now form a coalition in parliament in order to govern. Read more

Scotland Calls for Second Referendum: Why and Why Now?

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon of Scotland gives a news conference in Edinburgh, June 24, 2016
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon of Scotland gives a news conference in Edinburgh, June 24, 2016 (Scottish Government)

Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon has said she wants to hold a second independence referendum for the region in either late 2018 or early 2019.

The announcement comes days before the United Kingdom is expected to formally inform its allies in the European Union that it intends to withdraw from the body. Such a notification would trigger a two-year divorce process. If Sturgeon gets her way, that means Scots would be asked to choose between the EU and the United Kingdom by the time the terms of “Brexit” are known. Read more