US-Soldaten in Afghanistan

The Atlantic


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"The U.S. Fights Terrorism — But Not School Shootings"

Nach dem erneuten Amoklauf eines Schützen in den USA kann Uri Friedman nicht verstehen, warum die US-Regierung diese Art der Gewalt im Gegensatz zur Terrorbedrohung scheinbar toleriere. "America has created or reshuffled more than 260 government organizations since the 9/11 attacks, including massive new entities such as the Department of Homeland Security and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. It has poured hundreds of billions of dollars into securing the homeland, from $1 million baggage-screening machines to a failed $1 billion camera-and-sensor network at the U.S.-Mexico border. It has invested vast sums in more intrusive surveillance activities and other means of intelligence gathering — precisely how vast, no one can say. (...) The U.S. government spends roughly $22 million a year on gun-violence research — a 'tiny fraction of what it spends on other major health threats,' according to NPR. It’s an even tinier fraction of what it spends on counterterrorism; we’re talking the equivalent of 22 baggage-screening machines. (...) These differences stem in large part from the disparate ways that terrorism and gun violence are perceived and experienced in the United States. While U.S. mass shootings took 117 lives in 2017 alone by one count, they haven’t caused the all-at-once devastation of 9/11, which killed nearly 3,000 people. (...) But when massacres like the one in Florida occur, that kind of justification raises a profoundly troubling question: Why has the government done so little to prevent a gun from going off in the nation’s schools?" Weiter...


"Russia Can Keep the Peace Between Israel and Iran"

Nach dem Abschuss einer iranischen Drohne und eines israelischen Kampfflugzeuges am vergangenen Wochenende meint Joost Hiltermann, dass Russland als dominante Macht in Syrien die Aufgabe übernehmen müsse, zwischen den beiden Rivalen zu vermitteln. "Moscow may be reluctant to assume a political role it has shown little capacity for playing. But as the dominant power in Syria that controls the skies, it has no choice. Unlike any other actor, moreover, it enjoys good relations with all the main actors: Israel, Iran, Hezbollah, and the Syrian regime. There is no reasonable alternative to Russia as balancing power and mediator. (...) Russian leaders will need to reckon with the reality that a major confrontation could occur on their watch in Syria, possibly triggering a larger conflict in the Middle East. It’s doubtful that this would be in their interest. Regardless of the latest incident’s precise nature, therefore, it is a wakeup call for Moscow to restore the mutual deterrence that, while not bringing a lasting peace, at least has kept things stable on Israel’s northern border for 12 years." Weiter...


"The Female Quran Experts Fighting Radical Islam in Morocco"

Bei den Bemühungen um das Zurückdrängen radikaler Koran-Interpretationen in Marokko spielen staatlich angestellte weibliche Koran-Experten eine wichtige Rolle, berichtet Dina Temple-Raston. In Rabat sei bereits vor elf Jahren eine Schule zur Ausbildung von Religionsgelehrten gegründet worden, die im Regierungsauftrag das Land bereisen, um sich radikalislamischen Ideen entgegenzustellen. "Making school visits and home visits, each woman — called a morchidat, or spiritual guide — talks to young Muslims and contests interpretations of the Quran that terrorist groups use for recruitment. For women to be employed by the government to do this kind of work within Morocco’s Islamic communities, where spiritual leadership is generally the domain of men, is unusual. Men are also trained at the Rabat school, but it’s the hundreds of female graduates who are having the most impact, according to the program director, Abdeslam El-Azaar." Weiter...


"A Dangerous Immigration Crackdown in West Africa"

Peter Tinti berichtet in seiner Reportage aus Agadez in Niger, dass die europäischen Bestrebungen zur Eindämmung der Migration aus Westafrika zur Destabilisierung der gesamten Region führen könnten. "In 2016, the United Nations Migration Agency detected over 333,000 migrants, including Nigeriens themselves, passing through northern Niger and onto Libya and Algeria. With each migrant paying smugglers between $100 and $500 and purchasing food and lodging on their journey through the Sahara, even the most conservative estimates suggested a smuggling economy in the tens of millions of dollars. (...) By the end of 2017, the flow of detected migrants had fallen by 80 percent from the previous year. (...) Northern Niger’s economic crisis could destabilize a region that has already suffered through two civil wars over the past 30 years. While the European Union promotes development aid and security assistance as a recipe for stability in Niger, and individual countries like France, Italy, and the United States do the same, locals here insist that EU efforts to curb migration, combined with an increased foreign military presence, threatens to break an already fragile state." Weiter...


"When the Islamic State Came to Libya"

Frederic Wehrey hat sich für seine Reportage über den "Islamischen Staat" in Libyen mit mittlerweile verhafteten Anhängern der Terrormiliz unterhalten. Die Ursachen für deren Radikalisierung sind demnach keineswegs verschwunden. "(...) the paths to violence are varied and personal, often forged from narrow communities and peer groups. Common threads bind them: political and economic upheaval, foreign wars, and, especially, repression, corruption, and the absence of rule of law. The latter afflictions bedevil Libya today, under the countless militias who rule with impunity across the country. With no effective Libyan government and no capable police or security services, the chiefs of these militias present themselves to outside powers as counter-terror partners, much in the same way they have done in countering migration to Europe. The real challenge, then, is dealing with extremism in a way that does not empower these men at the expense of an inclusive, civic state." Weiter...


"China's Surveillance State Should Scare Everyone"

Anna Mitchell und Larry Diamond machen auf die Entstehung der Infrastruktur eines umfassenden Überwachungsstaates in China aufmerksam. Das perfektionierte digitale Spionagenetzwerk sei bereits jetzt ein Werkzeug sozialer Kontrolle, das auch von anderen autoritären Ländern aufgegriffen werden könnte. "Imagine a society in which you are rated by the government on your trustworthiness. Your 'citizen score' follows you wherever you go. A high score allows you access to faster internet service or a fast-tracked visa to Europe. If you make political posts online without a permit, or question or contradict the government’s official narrative on current events, however, your score decreases. To calculate the score, private companies working with your government constantly trawl through vast amounts of your social media and online shopping data. When you step outside your door, your actions in the physical world are also swept into the dragnet: The government gathers an enormous collection of information through the video cameras placed on your street and all over your city. If you commit a crime — or simply jaywalk — facial recognition algorithms will match video footage of your face to your photo in a national ID database. It won’t be long before the police show up at your door. This society may seem dystopian, but it isn’t farfetched: It may be China in a few years." Weiter...


"Is Trump Preparing for War With North Korea?"

Peter Beinart stellt fest, dass US-Präsident Trump in seiner ersten offiziellen Rede zur Lage der Nation die Bedrohung der USA durch Nordkorea besonders deutlich hervorgehoben habe. Dabei habe Trump die Möglichkeiten zur diplomatischen Lösung des Konflikts weitgehend ignoriert. "In his speech, Trump devoted a mere sentence to Russia and China. He devoted 23 words to Israel, 34 to Afghanistan, and 48 to Iran. Even the war against ISIS, which Trump cites as the main foreign-policy achievement of his first year in office, garnered only 302 words. North Korea received 475. Second, there are the things Trump didn’t say. The Olympics begin in South Korea in 10 days, and the South Korean government hopes participation by athletes from the North will ease hostility on the Peninsula. But Trump didn’t mention the games. In fact, he didn’t mention diplomacy at all. (...) Also notably absent was any clear sense of what North Korea would have to do to satisfy the United States. In his speech, Trump focused less on the regime’s nuclear weapons than on the nature of the regime itself. (...) Maybe Trump isn’t as serious about a 'bloody nose' military strike against Pyongyang as some reports suggest. But his State of the Union speech suggests, at the very least, that Congress should begin debating the risks of war." Weiter...


"16 Years of Presidents Talking About the War in Afghanistan"

US-Präsident Trump hat sich in seiner Rede zur Lage der Nation auch zum Konflikt in Afghanistan geäußert. Krishnadev Calamur hat die entsprechenden Redepassagen der Amtsvorgänger Trumps zusammengetragen und schreibt: "Since 2002, Afghanistan has made appearances in each of the presidential speeches to Congress, corresponding to nearly every year the U.S. has been at war in the country. And while the rhetoric shifts, the story remains in some ways consistent - America keeps aiming to defeat the Taliban and help rebuild the country as one that won’t harbor terrorists, and it keeps coming up short while declaring progress. Obama went so far as to declare three years ago that 'our combat mission in Afghanistan is over.' His successor’s remarks on Tuesday show that that was not exactly true. Here’s how the previous two presidents have described the state of Afghanistan before Congress". Weiter...


"The Precarious Politics of the Joint Korean Hockey Team"

Aus politischer Sicht sei die Kooperation zwischen Nord- und Südkorea bei den kommenden Olympischen Winterspielen nicht völlig unproblematisch, so das Fazit von Max Kim nach Gesprächen mit einigen Experten. "In return for their peaceful participation, North Korea may demand something from South Korea in return — cash, or the resumption of profitable economic cooperation programs shut down in response to its missile tests. Such deal-making 'could give the impression that South Korea is deviating from its campaign of pressure and sanctions on North Korea,' Kim Sung Han, a former senior South Korean diplomat in the conservative Lee Myung Bak administration, told me. An atmosphere of reconciliation could undermine the U.S.-South Korea alliance by making Washington 'jealous,' which might then give North Korea greater leverage for its ultimate aim: formal recognition as a nuclear power. All in all, the joint team could put South Korea on precarious political footing. While sports can act as a diplomatic catalyst, 'they cannot alter the fundamental political calculus,' Kim Sung Han, the former senior South Korean diplomat, said. 'The best-case scenario would be this leading to high-level summit talks ... multilateral dialogue for the denuclearization of North Korea. But I’m pessimistic.'" Weiter...


"The Tragedy of Mahmoud Abbas"

Grant Rumley schreibt, dass der 82-jährige Palästinenserpräsident Mahmoud Abbas in den letzten Jahren seiner Amtszeit dabei sei, die Fehler des 2004 verstorbenen PLO-Chefs Yasser Arafat zu wiederholen. "Frustration, it seems, has led Abbas to reveal his true colors. In recent years, he’s accused Israeli rabbis of supporting the poisoning of Palestinian water wells, claimed Jews had 'fabricated' history, and insisted he would 'never recognize the Jewishness of the state of Israel.' This dalliance with anti-Semitism brings to mind his controversial PhD thesis, which downplayed the number of victims of the Holocaust and suggested a link between Zionism and Nazism. Though he later backtracked on the claims in his thesis, his recent diatribes call into question his sincerity. Abbas — the man who became president on the pledge to finally make a deal with the Israelis through public diplomacy and nonviolence — has morphed into Arafat, the very figure he pledged not to become. It’s a remarkable fall from grace for a leader who started with such potential." Weiter...


"Trust Is Collapsing in America"

Uri Friedman stellt fest, dass das öffentliche Vertrauen in Regierung, Medien und Wirtschaft in den USA einer neuen Umfrage zufolge einen neuen Tiefpunkt erreicht habe. Dies gelte auch für die sogenannte "informierte Öffentlichkeit" mit guter Ausbildung, relativ hohem Einkommen und regelmäßigem Medienkonsum. "America is now home to the least-trusting informed public of the 28 countries that the firm surveyed, right below South Africa. Distrust is growing most among younger, high-income Americans. (...) What’s changed, according to the Edelman report, is that it’s gotten much harder to discern what is and isn’t true — where the boundaries are between fact, opinion, and misinformation. 'The lifeblood of democracy is a common understanding of the facts and information that we can then use as a basis for negotiation and for compromise,' said Bersoff. 'When that goes away, the whole foundation of democracy gets shaken.' 'This is a global, not an American issue,' Edelman told me. 'And it’s undermining confidence in all the other institutions because if you don’t have an agreed set of facts, then it’s really hard to judge whether the prime minister is good or bad, or a company is good or bad.'" Weiter...


"False Alarms of the Apocalypse"

Ankit Panda hält den offenbar versehentlich ausgelösten Raketen-Alarm in Hawaii für einen "katastrophalen Fehler", der das Vertrauen der Öffentlichkeit in die staatlichen Warnsysteme untergraben habe. "Given President Donald Trump’s emotional volatility and unitary nuclear-launch authority, paired with North Korea's breakneck technological developments on its ballistic-missiles and nuclear-weapons programs, nuclear anxieties are higher today than at any time since the end of the Cold War. A false alarm, as a result, can inflict serious and undue psychological stress, particularly for Americans already feeling quite vulnerable to an ICBM-armed North Korea. (...) One more possible alternative — and perhaps the most worrisome, from a nuclear-stability point of view — is some sort of system-sensor error, involving a critical flaw in the network of sea-, ground-, air-, and space-based sensors operated by the United States military. While at this point this doesn't appear to be the case with the Hawaii incident, given that NORAD, Strategic Command, or PACOM did not corroborate the EAS alert, this long used to be the kind of nuclear false alarm scenario that Cold War decision-makers had to wrangle with." Weiter...


"The Koreas Start Talking"

Nord- und Südkorea haben sich in den ersten direkten Gesprächen seit zwei Jahren auf die Entsendung einer nordkoreanischen Delegation zu den anstehenden Olympischen Spielen verständigt und zudem die Wiedereinrichtung einer Militär-Hotline vereinbart. Krishnadev Calamur schreibt, dass dies vor zwei Wochen angesichts der immer stärkeren Spannungen auf der Halbinsel noch undenkbar erschienen sei. Scott Snyder, Nordkorea-Experte vom Council on Foreign Relations, erwartet allerdings, dass diese Phase der Annäherung spätestens im April wieder vorbei sein könnte. "That brings up the question of the joint U.S.-South Korean exercises in April. Come April, Snyder said, everybody could pick up where they left off: The U.S. and South Korea resume military exercises and the North Koreans resume testing. 'The real challenge, I think, for Moon and company in South Korea is to provide a convincing rationale for Kim at this moment where he is actually talking to someone outside of North Korea to stay on the hook in terms of dialogue,' he said. 'Obviously, it’s an essential prerequisite for addressing and easing tensions — there has to be a dialogue channel. That’s what they will want. It’s actually what everybody, collectively, can support — and yet I’m still pessimistic about the prospect.'" Weiter...


"Why Do People Refer to a Nonexistent 'Nuclear Button'?"

Sowohl Kim Jong Un als auch Donald Trump haben sich in den vergangenen Tagen damit gerühmt, direkten Zugriff auf einen "roten Knopf" zur Anordnung eines atomaren Angriffs zu haben. Krishnadev Calamur erklärt die Herkunft dieser Redewendung. "The earliest mention that I could find was from Lester Pearson’s Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech in 1957. (...) The term 'nuclear button' might have outlived the Cold War, the fear of global destruction, 'duck-and-cover' drills, and even its original antagonists, the U.S., the Soviet Union, but as other countries, such as India and Pakistan, began developing their own nuclear-weapons programs, the metaphorical 'nuclear button' entered their lexicon of war, as it did in countries like Israel, which does not confirm or deny the existence of a nuclear program. It’s not known if Kim Jong Un possesses an actual nuclear button, as he claimed, or a metaphoric one — but he, like his father and grandfather before him, enjoys absolute power. Even if he doesn’t have an actual button to order a nuclear strike, it’s quite possible he has something like it — with fewer safeguards in place than in the more established nuclear-weapons states." Weiter...


"Trump's Belligerence Toward Pakistan Isn't Unreasonable"

Die neue Pakistan-Strategie der US-Regierung habe sich bereits im vergangenen Jahr abgezeichnet, schreibt Krishnadev Calamur. Angesichts der bestehenden Interessensunterschiede seien die amerikanischen Vorwürfe gegen Islamabad durchaus verständlich. "What is perhaps most significant is that Pakistan views the Taliban as an ally, and is believed to provide safe haven to many of its senior leaders. The U.S., which ousted the Taliban regime during the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, has been trying to bring stability to the country for the past 16 years. Yet the group now controls more of Afghanistan than at any point since the U.S.-led invasion. (...) Pakistan is not interested in being sandwiched between two unfriendly nations — Afghanistan and India. The Taliban gives Pakistan enough leverage inside Afghanistan to maintain its regional interests. It is this difference in how the Taliban is viewed — detrimental to Afghan stability versus pivotal to Pakistan’s regional interests — that underlie the misunderstanding between the U.S. and Pakistan." Weiter...


"Kim Jong Un's Trap for South Korea"

Das neue Gesprächsangebot Nordkoreas sei eine "Falle", um das Bündnis der Südkoreaner mit den USA zu unterminieren, warnt dagegen Scott Snyder. "Kim’s dialogue proposal is based on the North’s well-worn 'By Our Nation Itself' line — that South Koreans must abandon interference from outside powers, who have benefited from keeping the peninsula week and divided, and join with North Korean compatriots to achieve independent national unification. (...) And the gambit appeals directly to [South Korea’s progressive President Moon Jae In] goals, while trying to force a choice: a peaceful Olympics, or South Korea’s alliance with the United States. As part of his dialogue proposal, Kim explicitly criticized the Moon administration for 'joining the United States in its reckless moves for a North-targeted nuclear war' and requested the discontinuation of 'joint nuclear war drills they stage with outside forces.'" Weiter...


"How Religion Made a Global Comeback in 2017"

In der Außenpolitik von US-Präsident Trump spielen Nationalismus und Religion nach Ansicht einiger Experten eine sehr viel prominentere Rolle als bei früheren Administrationen. "Trump’s first year in office strongly suggests that nationalism is the dominant organizing principle in his understanding of global affairs — and it’s often washed in religious identity. This is a significant break from the Obama administration, which tended to view other factors as more significant drivers of foreign policy. But it’s still not clear what kind of strategy and tangible policies will result from Trump’s worldview, and even the religious groups he intends to benefit may end up worse off as a result. (...) The strongest evidence of Trump’s focus on religion is his language. 'There are certainly … shades of political discourse around this administration that have caused some people to remember Samuel Huntington’s famous 1993 article and subsequent book on 'The Clash of Civilizations,'' said Peter Mandaville, a professor at George Mason University who served on Hillary Clinton’s policy-planning staff when she was secretary of state." Weiter...


"The Jerusalem Announcement Won't Really Hurt America's Arab Alliances"

Shadi Hamid glaubt nicht, dass die Jerusalem-Entscheidung Donald Trumps das Bündnis der USA mit arabischen Staaten (mit der möglichen Ausnahme Jordaniens) dauerhaft belasten wird. "The official announcement, though, comes at an important and peculiar time, when Arab regimes — particularly Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Egypt — find themselves more aligned than ever with Israel on regional priorities. (...) Arab leaders have been content to use Palestine and Palestinians for rhetorical effect and to absorb or deflect popular anger over their own failures and missteps. But for Arab populations, Palestine still matters, even if primarily on a symbolic level (and if we’ve learned anything in recent years, it’s that symbols matter). (...) If only there were Arab governments that were confident, cared about actual Muslims, and could reflect and convey the frustration that no doubt many Arabs will be feeling in the days and weeks ahead. That Arab world, as we’ve been reminded this week, does not exist." Weiter...


"Finally, a President Who Looks at Jerusalem Logically"

Auch der frühere Knesset-Abgeordnete Einat Wilf meint, dass US-Präsident Trump mit seiner Jerusalem-Entscheidung eine "widersinnige" Politik beendet habe. Israel habe als souveräner Nationalstaat natürlich das Recht, seine Hauptstadt auf eigenem Gebiet auszurufen. Trump hätte sich in seiner Erklärung Wilf zufolge zwar besser auf das Jerusalem in den Grenzen von 1967 berufen, er habe jedoch zugleich betont, dass der endgültige Grenzverlauf immer noch das Resultat von Verhandlungen sein werde. "(...) if the U.S. refrains from describing Israel’s capital as 'united' or 'undivided' Jerusalem, and if the U.S. continues to refrain from taking any steps that recognize Israel’s annexation of the territories east of the 1967 line, and assuming that the new embassy will be located in Jerusalem west of that line — then Palestinian, Arab, and Muslim leaders who are not itching for violence should be able to legitimately say that Trump’s declaration effectively changes nothing." Weiter...


"The Strange Case of Lebanon, France, and a Prime Minister's Unresignation"

Annabelle Timsit bringt die "seltsame" Geschichte des vom Rücktritt zurückgetretenen libanesischen Premierministers Hariri vor allem mit der neuen französischen Nahostpolitik von Präsident Macron in Verbindung. "Macron's decision to insert himself into this crisis surprised many. France, after all, is no longer the great power of the region, as it once was. But his motivations for doing so were rooted in a shared history, one based on mutual economic and strategic interests. (...) What Macron gets out of supporting Hariri is perhaps less obvious, but crucial to understanding his policy towards the Middle East and North Africa region. Hakim El Karoui, an expert on Africa at the Paris-based Montaigne Institute, argued in a recent paper that France should reclaim its historical role as a 'stabilizing force' in the Middle East, including through mediating regional conflicts, as it has in the past. 'Macron has understood that,' he stressed. Of Hariri’s shock resignation in Saudi Arabia, Karoui said, 'A few years ago, France would never have allowed this to happen.' In helping Hariri, and mediating between the Saudis, the Lebanese, and the Iranians, Macron seems to also be taking advantage of America’s seeming retreat from regional diplomacy." Weiter...


"Saleh's Death in Yemen Sends a Message to Other Dictators"

Der Tod des früheren Präsidenten Jemens, Ali Abdullah Saleh, signalisiere anderen Diktatoren in der Region, dass sie nach einem Machtverlust auch schnell ihr Leben verlieren könnten, meint Krishnadev Calamur. So werde der syrische Präsident Bashar al-Assad seine immer noch fragile Machtposition nun wohl noch entschlossener verteidigen. "As long as he remains in power, instability will almost certainly remain a feature of Syrian politics and life. But the fate of Saleh and Qaddafi before him is a powerful example of what dictators most fear — not just losing their power, but losing their lives. Assad could thus cling closer to his political benefactors in order to ensure he doesn’t meet the same fate. (...) Saleh’s killing dims the prospect of any political resolution of the Yemen conflict. Saudi Arabia and its allies, on one side, and the Houthis and Iran, on the other, are only likely to become further entrenched in their positions. The promise of the Arab Spring gave way to political nightmares in almost all of the countries where there were calls for political change. And in Yemen, one of the worst of those nightmares continues." Weiter...


"The 'Softer' Side of Jihadists"

Simon Cottee mit einer kritischen Besprechung des Buches "Jihadi Culture" von Thomas Hegghammer, der sich der Kultur radikalislamischer Extremisten aus soziologischer Perspektive genähert hat. "This is the 'soft' face of jihadism that Jihadi Culture aims to understand, drawing together a range of contributions — on poetry, music, iconography, cinematography, dream interpretation, and martyrology — from some of the world’s leading 'jihadologists.' As a work of scholarship, Jihadi Culture is original and groundbreaking, blazing the trail for a social anthropology of jihadi culture that doesn’t yet really exist. (...) At the heart of Jihadi Culture is a deep appreciation for the centrality of culture to jihadi groups, and how it serves not only to bind its members together but also to attract new acolytes. (...) In his classic work Folk Devils and Moral Panics, the sociologist Stanley Cohen warned against the danger of being 'too respectful' in decoding the 'subcultural detritus' of deviant groups — of being too reverential toward 'the musical notes, hair styles, safety pins, zips, and boots.' (...) For Cohen, the core task of the sociologist of deviance is to 'understand without being too respectful.' If there is a tension in Jihadi Culture, it is that it leans too far toward the latter." Weiter...


"These Baltic Militias Are Readying For War With Russia"

Der italienische Fotograf Tomaso Clavarino ist fast einen Monat durch das Baltikum gereist und hat paramilitärische Milizen begleitet, die sich für den Fall einer russischen Invasion auf eine bewaffnete Konfrontation vorbereiten. "Between April and June of this year, he followed several Baltic paramilitary groups, including the Lithuanian Lietuvos Šaulių Sąjunga ('Riflemen’s Union'), the Estonian Defense League, and the National Guard, which was recently folded into Latvia’s 1,500-strong National army. While these groups have existed for decades, their ranks have swelled in recent years in response to Russian aggression. Among the paramilitary volunteers are bikers, ex-soldiers, hunters, and stockbreeders. Each group has its own division dedicated to training young men and women in military tactics and patriotism; some volunteers are as young as 12 years old. These groups insist they are apolitical. They seek to defend their borders and train the warriors of tomorrow to prepare for whatever Putin has planned next." Weiter...


"The Meaning of Robert Mugabe's Stunning Non-Resignation"

Trotz des ausbleibenden freiwilligen Rücktritts Robert Mugabes sind Todd Moss und Jeffrey Smith der Ansicht, dass der politische Sturz des Präsidenten von Simbabwe nur noch eine Frage der Zeit sei. Eine wirklich demokratische Zukunft werde das Land zunächst wohl trotzdem nicht haben. "Now that Mugabe is likely headed for retirement, despite his last-ditch efforts to hang on, Zimbabweans must reckon with difficult choices that will decide their fate. Will their country remain an autocracy, run primarily by the same old men who will simply trade in their military fatigues for expensive designer suits? Or can the country put itself on a path toward inclusive democracy? The immediate issue of concern is what shape the political transition takes. Unfortunately, the most likely outcome is a military junta that retains only a fig leaf of legitimacy." Weiter...


"What It Takes To Make Saudi Islam 'Moderate'"

Sigal Samuel erläutert, warum einige Experten die Ankündigung Saudi-Arabiens zur künftigen Förderung einer moderaten Interpretation des Islams skeptisch beurteilen. "If Saudi Arabia tackles the problem only superficially, there’s no reason to expect it will effect deep change. Worse, it could backfire. (...) Saudi Arabia has so successfully promoted a particular version of Islam that if it tries to change that now, it risks empowering fringe voices who will claim to be sticking up for the old version. (...) If a new hadith center can’t really disentangle Islam in Saudi Arabia from extremist Salafism, what can get the job done? (...) For his part, [H.A. Hellyer, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council and a scholar of religion and politics,] says the real solution lies in deep intellectual and theological reform. 'It would require a recognition that the purist Salafi heritage that comes from Ibn Abd al-Wahhab—which is the underpinning of the Saudi religious establishment—is not normative, that it’s a minority approach within the Sunni universe,' he argued." Weiter...


"'Then What Happens?': Congress Questions the President's Authority to Wage Nuclear War"

Im US-Kongress sei am Dienstag in einer Anhörung zum ersten Mal seit 41 Jahren untersucht worden, auf welche Weise die US-Regierung den Einsatz von Atomwaffen anordnen würde, berichtet Uri Friedman. Dabei habe sich bestätigt, dass der Autorität des US-Präsidenten in dieser Frage kaum Grenzen gesetzt sind. "It was a raw, existential exercise in something that has become routine in Washington since Donald Trump’s election: unearthing and scrutinizing long-buried assumptions about U.S. foreign policy. 'Donald Trump can launch nuclear codes just as easily as he can use his Twitter account,' marveled the Massachusetts Democrat Ed Markey (...). The witnesses emphasized that this authority doesn’t mean the president pushes a button or calls up one commander and the military automatically follows the order. Peter Feaver, a political scientist at Duke University, distinguished between 'scenarios where the military wake up the president versus scenarios where the president is waking up the military.' (...) But when the president 'wakes up the military,' perhaps 'in an extreme funk saying 'I’m angry and I want something done' … he requires the cooperation of a lot of people who would be asking' a lot of questions about the context and justification for the strike, which would 'slow down' the process, Feaver said." Weiter...


"The Future of Kenya's Democracy Is Hanging in the Balance"

Neha Wadekar schreibt angesichts der politischen Unruhen in Kenia, dass der enge Verbündete der USA vom demokratischen Pfad abweichen könnte. "As the cornerstone of East African democracy, Kenya is an important economic and political force in the region and a critical U.S. ally in the fight against terrorism. But worrying signs, including a crackdown on press and civil society, police killings committed seemingly with impunity, and threats and attacks on election officials and judges, suggest that Kenya may be veering off its democratic path." Weiter...


"How the War in Yemen Explains the Future of Saudi Arabia"

Der saudi-arabische Kronprinz Mohammed bin Salman werde Jemen auch künftig als Bühne für die Konfrontation mit dem Iran nutzen, erwartet Simon Henderson. "For the 32-year-old MbS, dealing with Iran is as important as transforming the Saudi economy and, under the cover of an anti-corruption campaign, sorting out royal rivalries. (...) Instead of viewing Yemen as a poor peripheral country of little importance, the princes of the House of Saud seem to see it as a dagger aimed at their heart — MbS’s grandfather Ibn Saud supposedly warned of the threat of Yemen on his death bed. As long as the regional proxy war with Iran continues, Yemen will remain a key theater for that war, and a vital piece of MbS’ regional ambitions." Weiter...


"Why Does Uzbekistan Export So Many Terrorists?"

Der am Dienstag festgenommene mutmaßliche Attentäter von New York stamme wie viele Terroristen vor ihm aus Usbekistan, stellt Julia Ioffe fest. In der früheren Sowjetrepublik gehe die Regierung mit "drakonischen" Maßnahmen gegen die radikalislamische Terrorgruppe Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) vor. Damit werde das Problem jedoch nur verdrängt, u.a. auch ins Ausland. "Saipov’s Uzbek roots (...) highlight the complex interplay of factors that go into an individual’s radicalization. In Uzbekistan, as it has been noted, Islamist extremism is often a stand-in for anti-authoritarianism and discontent with the violence and corruption of the Karimov clan. It also indicates that the authoritarian environments of the post-Soviet states - Uzbekistan in particular - have proven that cracking down on religious practice and ideology are ineffective. The measures not only fail to stop extremism, they seem to be its chief incubators. And with no caliphate to travel to, the extremism born in places like Uzbekistan will find other places to spread." Weiter...


"What the Attack in New York Revealed About the Islamic State's Supporters"

Nach Ansicht von Graeme Wood sollte die von ihr festgestellte Inkompetenz des mutmaßlichen Attentäters von New York nicht als Entwarnung missverstanden werden. "As long as the Islamic State’s attackers are idiots like Saipov, our societies can probably handle them. (...) The Idiots’ Crusade is a manageable problem. Much less tolerable would be a campaign of competent terror — the kind of mayhem enabled by training, like the 2015 Bataclan killers in Paris had, or by patient planning, as Stephen Paddock in Las Vegas did. There is not much to be done about the idiots, but their idiocy provides a natural limit to the damage they can do. As the Islamic State loses territory, the greatest danger remains the prospect that some of the battle-hardened fighters will return home, raising the average IQ of attackers, and making possible attacks that would be many times more deadly than this one." Weiter...

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