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The New York Review of Books


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16.10.2020

"The Syrian Mercenaries Fighting Foreign Wars for Russia and Turkey"

https://www.nybooks.com/daily/2020/10/16/the-syrian-mercenaries-fighting-foreign-wars-for-russia-and-turk
ey/

Der syrische Bürgerkrieg habe eine Generation junger Männer hervorgebracht, deren einzige vorzeigbare Kompetenz das Kämpfen sei, schreibt Elizabeth Tsurkov. "These are often young men who were still in school when the fighting started, whose education was then disrupted by the war. In my conversations with them, some insist on using only voice messages and calls, as they struggle to write even in the simplified version of Arabic used in speech. My interviews with dozens of men who departed to Libya to fight alongside the two warring sides, or who were deployed or registered to deploy in Azerbaijan, show that their primary motivation for joining is monetary."

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22.07.2020

"The New Nuclear Threat"

https://www.nybooks.com/articles/2020/08/20/new-nuclear-threat/

Jessica T. Mathews stellt vier Bücher vor, die sich mit den Merkmalen der heutigen nuklearen Bedrohung beschäftigt haben. Sie glaubt, dass der Welt selbst nach einer Niederlage Donald Trumps im November ein neues atomares Wettrüsten bevorstehen könnte. "The single step from which profound policy change could flow, domestically and internationally, would be formal endorsement by the five original nuclear powers — the US, Russia, the UK, France, and China — of the Reagan-Gorbachev principle, jointly articulated by the two leaders at their 1985 summit. It states simply, 'a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.' International adoption would simultaneously indicate the nuclear powers’ recognition of the rising dangers of nuclear conflict and the need to move toward nuclear forces around the world that are structured for deterrence, not war fighting. Words as principle have power. Eventually, these eleven words could underlie the next generation of arms control negotiations, strengthen the global nonproliferation regime, and help short-circuit a second nuclear arms race."

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16.01.2020

"Do the Democrats Have a Foreign Policy?"

https://www.nybooks.com/articles/2020/02/13/do-democrats-have-foreign-policy/

Jessica T. Mathews zufolge haben die demokratischen Präsidentschaftskandidaten der Außenpolitik in ihren bisherigen sechs Debatten zwischen 10-15 Prozent ihrer Zeit gewidmet. Im Vergleich zum öffentlichen Interesse sei dies sogar viel, da sich nur zwischen 4-5% aller Wählerfragen mit Außenpolitik beschäftigten. "It has become an article of faith for many Democratic politicians that Americans will only support a foreign policy if it is tied directly to their economic well-being, especially that of the middle class. It is impossible, however, to tie the importance of stopping the spread of nuclear weapons to middle-class pocketbooks, for instance, or to describe US strategic interests in Ukraine or Japan or the need for a balanced, long-term China strategy as a matter of near-term economic benefit. The belief that it is necessary to do so, or else to avoid foreign policy entirely, shunts aside a necessary conversation. It likely also underestimates the American voter who may be resentful of domestic policies that have created staggering levels of economic inequality and of foreign policies that seem overly militarized or without clear purpose, but who may be perfectly willing to support a foreign policy they feel makes sense."

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13.02.2019

"Undefeated, ISIS Is Back in Iraq"

https://www.nybooks.com/daily/2019/02/13/undefeated-isis-is-back-in-iraq/

Aziz Ahmad berichtet dagegen in seiner Reportage aus Erbil, dass der offiziell besiegte "Islamische Staat" unter sunnitischen Irakern erneut an Einfluss gewinne. "The reasons for the return of ISIS are obvious. For years, the conventional approach to stopping the group has depended on airstrikes and local proxy forces; stripping away territory and revenues from ISIS has been the marker of success. But this is a gross misunderstanding of the group. (...) It has adapted to the antipathy found among the millions forced to flee their homes or chafing under the yoke of Shia militia rule, certain of the Islamic State’s inevitable return. Mosul, for instance, is exactly where ISIS wants it to be, filled with popular resentment that will gradually push locals back into the group’s orbit without its active intervention. ISIS has instead put its resources into a campaign at the village level, in rural areas where security is nonexistent at night — and that has paid off. Through 2018, dozens of village chiefs have been killed across northern Iraq in assassinations, bombings, and kidnappings. At least thirteen have been killed since December, including four in Mosul."

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01.02.2019

"Imperial Exceptionalism"

https://www.nybooks.com/articles/2019/02/07/imperial-exceptionalism/

Jackson Lears stellt zwei Bücher vor, die sich mit der imperialistischen Geschichte der USA beschäftigen, die in den USA oft mit anderen Begriffen umschrieben werde. "Since the era of Theodore Roosevelt, politicians, journalists, and even some historians have deployed euphemisms — 'expansionism,' 'the large policy,' 'internationalism,' 'global leadership' — to disguise America’s imperial ambitions. According to the exceptionalist creed embraced by both political parties and most of the press, imperialism was a European venture that involved seizing territories, extracting their resources, and dominating their (invariably dark-skinned) populations. Americans, we have been told, do things differently: they bestow self-determination on backward peoples who yearn for it. The refusal to acknowledge that Americans have pursued their own version of empire — with the same self-deceiving hubris as Europeans — makes it hard to see that the US empire might (like the others) have a limited lifespan. All empires eventually end, but maybe an exceptional force for global good could last forever — or so its champions seem to believe. The refusal to contemplate the scaling back of empire shuts down what ought to be our most urgent foreign policy debate before it has even begun. That is why these two new books are so necessary, and so welcome".

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21.03.2018

"The New Military-Industrial Complex of Big Data Psy-Ops"

https://www.nybooks.com/daily/2018/03/21/the-digital-military-industrial-complex/

Der Skandal um die Auswertung von Facebook-Daten durch das Unternehmen Cambridge Analytica habe den Blick auf einen bislang kaum beachteten "neuen Militärisch-industriellen Komplex" gelenkt, schreibt Tamsin Shaw. "Carole Cadwalladr’s recent exposé of the inner workings of Cambridge Analytica shows that the company, along with its partner, SCL Group, should rightly be as a cautionary tale about the part private companies play in developing and deploying government-funded behavioral technologies. (...) But the revelations should also prompt us to ask deeper questions about the kind of behavioral science research that enables both governments and private companies to assume these powers. (...) I’ve written previously about the way in which a great deal of contemporary behavioral science aims to exploit our irrationalities rather than overcome them. A science that is oriented toward the development of behavioral technologies is bound to view us narrowly as manipulable subjects rather than rational agents. If these technologies are becoming the core of America’s military and intelligence cyber-operations, it looks as though we will have to work harder to keep these trends from affecting the everyday life of our democratic society."

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22.06.2017

"The Islamic Road to the Modern World"

http://www.nybooks.com/articles/2017/06/22/islamic-road-to-modern-world/

Malise Ruthven stellt zwei Bücher vor, die einen Blick zurück ins 19. Jahrhundert werfen und sich mit der damaligen Phase einer "islamischen Aufklärung" beschäftigen. Christopher de Bellaigue wende sich in seinem Buch "The Islamic Enlightenment" gegen die verbreitete Vorstellung, dass die Modernisierung islamischer Länder ausschließlich "von oben" durchgesetzt werden musste. "According to widespread assumptions, efforts to transform Islamic nations into modern societies were mainly imposed 'from above' by Western-leaning autocrats (...) the underlying premise being that the Enlightenment was an exclusively Judeo-Christian (or post-Christian) movement that had no parallel in Islamic societies. This 'historical fallacy,' in de Bellaigue’s view, has led 'triumphalist Western historians, politicians and commentators, as well as some renegade Muslims who have turned on the religion of their births,' to insist that 'Islam [still] needs its Enlightenment.' By contrast, de Bellaigue argues convincingly that efforts to bring modern political ideas to the Muslim world had a 'natural constituency' among the educated minority and that, despite opposition, they slowly gained general acceptance".

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11.04.2017

"Can China Replace the West?"

http://www.nybooks.com/articles/2017/05/11/easternization-can-china-replace-the-west/

Jessica T. Mathews stellt das Buch "Easternization: Asia’s Rise and America’s Decline from Obama to Trump and Beyond" von Gideon Rachman vor, in dem der Kolumnist der Financial-Times die Hintergründe des politischen und wirtschaftlichen Wandels in Asien analysiert. Rachmans These, dass der Aufstieg Asiens und insbesondere Chinas das Ende der vom Westen dominierten Weltordnung einleiten wird, wird von Mathews nicht geteilt. "Without doubt, Asia’s economic ascent has been extraordinary, but Westernization — the spread of the West’s influence and values — has rested on much more than its wealth and the military power derived from it. Those other elements — including open governments, readiness to build institutions, and contributions to others’ security and growth — are weak or absent in Asia today. Easternization is neither here nor coming soon. Asia is the world’s largest continent and home to 4.4 billion people. But its story is disproportionately about China’s economic growth. (...) Rachman writes that China’s long-term goal is 'overturning America’s global role.' If he means that Beijing sees itself as a strategic competitor and wants to replace the US as world leader, he has gone too far. China would like to see a weaker US where US policies threaten its interests, especially in its neighborhood, but it has shown no desire to possess America’s global preeminence."

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22.12.2016

"Russia, NATO, Trump: The Shadow World"

http://www.nybooks.com/articles/2016/12/22/russia-nato-trump-the-shadow-world/

Welchen Einfluss hat die geheimdienstliche Tätigkeit Russlands in seiner Vergangenheit auf die Politik und den Regierungsstil des ehemaligen KBG-Agenten Putin. Dieser Frage geht Robert Cottrell in seiner Rezension aktueller Bücher zum Konflikt zwischen der NATO und Russland nach. "Vladimir Putin is invariably tagged in the Western media as a former KGB officer, the implication being that he can best be understood as a product of that culture. But he was not a typical product in one respect at least. (...) That aside, the 'KGB' tag seems to fit well, as long as you remember that Putin mainly worked in counterintelligence, not foreign intelligence. He was a secret policeman. Look at Putin, and 'policeman' is indeed a word that comes easily to mind. But how much do we really know about the KGB and its 'culture,' if that is not too strong a term? If we accept the proposition that the KGB was among the most mendacious institutions in human history, then the historian confronts a Cretan paradox: all the best sources are liars."

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