Trump’s Withdrawal from Syria Is a Disaster

Presidents Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of Turkey and Donald Trump of the United States pose for photos in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington DC, May 16, 2017
Presidents Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of Turkey and Donald Trump of the United States pose for photos in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington DC, May 16, 2017 (Turkish Presidency)

The calamity of Donald Trump’s withdrawal from northern Syria is hard to overstate.

  • More than 160,000 people have fled the region.
  • A Kurdish politician and at least ten others have been killed.
  • Hundreds of fighters from the self-declared Islamic State (ISIS) — which the Kurds did more than anyone to defeat — have been freed from prison.
  • Trump doesn’t care, saying, “They’re going to be escaping to Europe.” No matter that’s where America’s best friends are, or used to be.
  • Turkey has attacked an American commando outpost in Syria.
  • Abandoned by the West, the Kurds are appealing to Bashar Assad and his patron, Vladimir Putin, for help. Read more

Republican Ground Shifts Beneath Trump’s Feet

American president Donald Trump and his defense secretary, James Mattis, arrive for a NATO summit in Brussels, July 12, 2018
American president Donald Trump and his defense secretary, James Mattis, arrive for a NATO summit in Brussels, July 12, 2018 (NATO)

I haven’t written much about Donald Trump this year, because what’s the point? As I reported in December, the scandals keep piling on — from corruption to illegal payoffs to making apologies for white supremacists to Russia — but half of America either doesn’t believe it or doesn’t care.

Trump campaign officials have been arrested, indicted and convicted; migrants have been treated so abysmally at the southern border that seven children have died in detention; the president launched a disastrous trade war with China and threatens to unravel the entire world order that has kept America and its allies safe for seven decades, and still members of Trump’s Republican Party would not speak out.

They finally are. The president’s behavior has become so erratic in recent weeks that even some of his supporters are disturbed. Read more

What Catalonia Has in Common with the United States

A demonstration for Catalan independence in Perpignan, France, November 10, 2018
A demonstration for Catalan independence in Perpignan, France, November 10, 2018 (ANC)

Asked to judge such dirty tricks as spreading false information about an opponent or removing yard signs, both Democrats and Republicans in the United States are far more forgiving if their own party is to blame — and outraged if such misdeeds are perpetrated by the other side.

Partisanship colors how we interpret events. Catalonia could be another case study. Read more

Spanish Liberals U-Turn on Deal with Socialists — Again

Spanish party leaders Pedro Sánchez and Albert Rivera sign a coalition agreement in Madrid, February 24, 2016
Spanish party leaders Pedro Sánchez and Albert Rivera sign a coalition agreement in Madrid, February 24, 2016 (PSOE)

Spain’s liberal Citizens party has changed its mind about a deal with the center-left Socialists — again.

They now say they would be willing to abstain in an investiture vote to allow the Socialists’ Pedro Sánchez a second term as prime minister.

If they had done that a month ago, Spain wouldn’t have needed to go to elections again in November.

The Citizens still rule out a formal coalition with the Socialists, but not with the conservative People’s Party. Which suggests their return to the center is purely tactical. Read more

Poland Needs EU Support to Meet Climate Goals

Turów Power Station in Bogatynia, Poland, December 3, 2009
Turów Power Station in Bogatynia, Poland, December 3, 2009 (Wikimedia Commons)

Poland will not be able to meet the EU’s 2050 zero-emissions target without additional funds. In an interview with the Financial Times, the country’s chief energy advisor, Piotr Naimski, argues that the European Union needs to take its particular circumstances into account.

Poland’s extreme reliance on coal makes the goal to reduce net emissions to zero a tall order. Coal generates about 80 percent of Poland’s electricity. It also curbs its reliance on Russian energy, which is of geopolitical significance.

There is a political consideration as well. Mining unions are still strong in Poland. The industry has long provided well-paying jobs with a high degree of stability. Miners enjoy special retirement provisions. This makes them a powerful voting bloc. Read more

Portugal’s Costa Cruising to Victory on Back of Strong Economy

Prime Minister António Costa of Portugal meets with Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany in Berlin, February 5, 2016
Prime Minister António Costa of Portugal meets with Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany in Berlin, February 5, 2016 (Bundesregierung)

Portugal’s António Costa is almost certain to win reelection on Sunday. Polls give his Socialist Party in the range of 37 percent support against 26-28 percent for the center-right Social Democrats.

Costa won’t have enough for an absolute majority, but he is expected to continue to govern with the support of the far left. Read more

Under New Government, Greece’s Economic Prospects Look Up

Greek prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Portuguese Social Democratic Party party Rui Rio attend a meeting of European conservative party leaders in Brussels, March 21
Greek prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Portuguese Social Democratic Party party Rui Rio attend a meeting of European conservative party leaders in Brussels, March 21 (EPP)

For years, hardly any good news came out of Greece. Now it is one of the few places in Europe where the future looks bright. What happened? Read more