What Just Happened in America?

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump gives a speech in Phoenix, Arizona, October 29
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump gives a speech in Phoenix, Arizona, October 29 (Gage Skidmore)

The blog originally began with a simple vision: complicated foreign policy analysis stuffed with swears to soften the otherwise indigestible material. As the years have worn on, I’ve largely dropped that approach.

But I feel we deserve the old way today.

So let’s start to dig through the rubble and figure out what the fuck just happened in America. Read more

What Did Walloons Get from Resisting Canada Trade Pact?

Paul Magnette, the regional prime minister of Wallonia, Belgium, makes a speech in Brussels, June 15
Paul Magnette, the regional prime minister of Wallonia, Belgium, makes a speech in Brussels, June 15 (EU/Tim De Backer)

The Socialist-led regional government of Belgium’s French-speaking south, which had stalled ratification of a European trade pact with Canada, agreed to support the treaty after all on Thursday.

The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between Canada and the European Union will itself not change.

But the Belgians do ask for a four-page addition to the 1,600-page treaty, which must be endorsed by all four of Belgium’s regional parliaments as well as the 27 other EU member states before the full accord can come into force. Read more

There Are Basically Three Ways Brexit Can Go

Prime Ministers Theresa May of the United Kingdom and Lars Løkke Rasmussen of Denmark answer questions from reporters in Copenhagen, October 10
Prime Ministers Theresa May of the United Kingdom and Lars Løkke Rasmussen of Denmark answer questions from reporters in Copenhagen, October 10 (The Prime Minister’s Office/Tom Evans)

While the British press frantically reports on every move and countermove in the phony war that is their nation’s withdrawal from the EU before it has even started — and while the markets attempt to infer a plan from the every word of Theresa May and her ministers when there clearly is no plan — the outlook really hasn’t changed since Britons voted to leave the European Union in June.

There are essentially three ways this can go. Read more

Why the Hell Is Yemen Shooting at the United States Navy?

The American amphibious dock landing ship USS Fort McHenry prepares to transit the Suez Canal, January 10, 2015
The American amphibious dock landing ship USS Fort McHenry prepares to transit the Suez Canal, January 10, 2015 (USN/Jonathan B. Trejo)

Of course, it isn’t Yemen shooting the navy at all, but the question would be fair to a layman.

Three times, Yemeni rebels (Rebels? Perhaps; but we’ll get to that later) have fired upon US Navy ships guarding the Straights of Aden. Now the United States has fired back, bombing from afar radar sites.

For Westerners, and especially Americans, creaky old stereotypes roar to life: Ali Baba, the Mad Dog of the Desert, lingers in the Western mind, reinforced by the shadows of Gaddafi, Saddam Hussein, Osama bin Laden and now, most recently, Bashar al-Assad. Mad dogs, perhaps, but none were Yemeni.

There are layers upon layers of conflict here, all of which can be seen as reasonable in and of themselves but which complicate the matter of Yemen beyond the layman. It was not a mad dog nihilistically hoping for cruise-missile-delivered paradise who fired those missiles at the US Navy, nor do such folks give form and function to the overlaying conflicts within Yemen.

But first, we must understand Yemen. Read more

As Syria’s Ceasefire Fails, It’s Time to Break Some Stereotypes

The Syrian flag flies over Damascus, April 26, 2011
The Syrian flag flies over Damascus, April 26, 2011 (Henry Patton)

Even last week, as I went about analyzing the Russian and American motives behind the most recent go at peace in the Syria civil war, I was hesitant to triumph success. I doubt many are shocked; maybe John Kerry is heartbroken, but certainly this wasn’t beyond the realm of expectations.

So while anybody paying attention is full of “I told you sos,” perhaps fewer say much more beyond the cliché that the Middle East is full of people who have hated one another since the Bible.

The truth it, folks out there have been hating one another a lot longer than that. And yet, such age-old conflicts are irrelevant at best and worse, misleading. Of value now is using geopolitics as a way to both understand why the ceasefire failed and as a way to break up some useless stereotypes. Read more

Why Uzbekistan Is a Bellwether of Stability in Central Asia

President Islam Karimov of Uzbekistan attends a welcome ceremony in Riga, Latvia, October 17, 2013
President Islam Karimov of Uzbekistan attends a welcome ceremony in Riga, Latvia, October 17, 2013 (Latvian Presidency)

As we’re receiving conflicting reports today about the health of Uzbek president Islam Karimov — official sources say he suffered a stroke and has been hospitalized, other outlets report he’s dead — I thought it worth reiterating the geopolitical importance of his country. Read more

Turkey’s Intervention in Syria: Why and Why Now?

A Polish Leopard 2 tank, also in service with the Turkish army, takes part in military exercises near Zagan, June 13, 2015
A Polish Leopard 2 tank, also in service with the Turkish army, takes part in military exercises near Zagan, June 13, 2015 (MCD/Evert-Jan Daniels)

Turkish tanks rolled across the border into Syria on Wednesday. Protected by warplanes and flanked by special forces, they quickly succeeded in forcing Islamic State militants out of the city of Jarablus and driving a wedge between their territory and that of the Syrian Kurds.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Turkish-backed rebels — mostly Arab and Turkmen — had taken control of the city. Read more