In the midst of the current maelstrom, it is important to deal with the emergencies at hand. But even more important, we mustn’t lose sight of deeper structural problems and challenges.
The March 11 earthquake and tsunami that struck the northeastern coast of Japan may well become the costliest natural disaster in history. But it’s not the black swan capable of bringing a country, and the rest of the world, to its knees.
It’s still too early to assess what went wrong and what didn’t at the Fukushima Daiichi plant. But there are lessons to be learned, both technical and political.
The West vs Gaddafi
Europe’s approach to military crises has been characterized by dithering, wavering, and tortuous consensus-seeking. Now with the US taking a back seat in the Libyan crisis, this pattern has already set the scene for what is likely to be a long, complicated adventure.
By now it’s too late to hope for a quick fix to the conflict in Libya. The international community has to make up for time lost dithering, during which Gaddafi’s forces launched a counteroffensive.
As autocratic regimes fall and the foundations of the nation-state in those ancient lands become more tenuous, we might do well to reconsider the thriving social structures that date back before civilization.
Now that a no-fly zone has been implemented, the newly formed coalition’s political and strategic objectives will need to adapt to the changing situation. But first everyone has to agree about what those objectives are.
How governments and international institutions handle the crisis in the greater Middle East will be a litmus test not only for future international cooperation, but most of all for the future of democratic institutions.
The first step in any attempt to oust a tyrant is usually to freeze his foreign assets and impose sanctions on his regime. Shortly after the turmoil in Libya erupted, the international community’s legal teams went into action.
As the turmoil spreads to Libya and possibly other oil and gas producing nations, prices will spike. But so far, what has been making the markets nervous more than anything else is having to come to terms with uncertainty.
The dust has yet to settle and the world is already intoxicated by a revolutionary spirit. But a sober look makes one wonder: what will be swept away in the end.
Islamic fundamentalist movements have been keeping a conspicuously low profile throughout the turbulence on their home turf. Are they regrouping, or have the masses definitively rejected their nihilistic ideology?
The North African crisis has magnified the migratory waves towards southern Europe. But the opportunities and prosperity the migrants seek are no longer there. What they’ll find, in fact, is growing structural unemployment.
The multicultural approach to absorbing foreign immigration has come under fire recently. As a result, there has been a reassessment of France’s traditional assimilationist model, which has also been frequently criticized.
When former colonial subjects flooded into Great Britain, the approach toward integration was tinged with a sense of guilt. Faced with homegrown terrorism the new government is having a rethink.
The debates in Europe about what to do with immigrants inevitably draw comparison with the United States. But the American approach to teeming masses huddling on its shores has been anything but systematic.
Even though the number of Muslims, as a percentage of the world’s population, continues to rise. A closer look at demographic trends, such as a lower birth rate, helps explain the recent upheavals in the Arab world and points to increased secularization.
With a real estate market in shambles, savings banks dropping like flies, and a fifth of the country out of work, Spain has been hit hard. While Zapatero’s policies may have only exacerbated the crisis, there is little doubt he will have to take the blame.
The demise of communism conjures images of freedom-hungry East Germans flooding to the West. Over time, though, some of them – working mothers in particular – realized that it wasn’t all that bad.
With Japan reeling from a major nuclear accident and one of the world’s largest producers of oil and gas getting bombed, turning to renewable energy would seem to be a no-brainer. But is it economically feasible yet?