The views expressed by the authors in the Commentary section are not those of Reuters News.
Citizens in authoritarian states know what they can read or publish, see or hear. In places such as China, Russia, Iran, Turkey and Egypt, semi-free private discussion and small-circulation publishing is permitted. But the dissident talk can’t become opposition action. That is cut off, either at the root or when it appears on the streets.
After months of threatening to undo the Iran nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Donald Trump once again opted to extend the deal by waiving economic sanctions on Iran. This was the “last chance,” he declared in a Jan. 12 statement, “to either fix the deal’s disastrous flaws, or the United States will withdraw.”
Fifth-generation (5G) wireless networks promise to blow away existing 4G connections. According to the U.S. government, the new systems will deliver 1,000 times more traffic, with far superior reliability and faster response times. Movies will glisten in ultra-high definition, while cities become smart, autonomous cars safe, and the Internet of Things ubiquitous. Mobile broadband may out-perform fiber optics, as The Economist notes, putting “your phone on steroids.”
In recent weeks, Iran has again been in the throes of an uprising. Signs of the regime change America had long hoped to see are on the horizon. In the unlikeliest cities — once the strongholds of the conservatives — Iranians have taken to the streets, demanding, not just reform, but a referendum.
Two men of the right were pulled from pedestals this past week: one, American, for being a source; the other, British, for having been a columnist. Their rationalizations and attempts at exculpation raise the question: does journalism operate in a space increasingly divorced from sober fact and judgment? Is most of it being enfolded, ever more completely, into entertainment or political intolerance?
Europe’s currency union - not so long ago on its sickbed - has started the year in rude health. The winning streak looks set to continue since economic confidence in the euro area is at its highest for almost two decades, but it will have an unwelcome side-effect. The more the euro zone economy thrives, the less pressure there will be on European politicians to take steps to prevent future crises.
Last year Kim Jong Un shocked the world with the unexpected speed of his nuclear missile development, his brutal crackdown on apparent rivals and suspicions that he ordered the assassination of his half-brother with a chemical nerve agent. This year, the North Korean leader is opening January with a diplomatic offensive – but that doesn’t mean a change of strategy.
China’s rise over the last generation has been impressive, with the country moving from the periphery to the center of the global system, and climbing from impoverished backwater to a position of substantial wealth and power. But the strategic environment in which China’s “lay low” approach to international affairs has helped to make it the world’s second-largest economy is changing – and a broader backlash against China is beginning.
Iran and Russia have made no secret of their mutual desire to sideline the United States in the Middle East. “Our cooperation can isolate America,” Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei told Vladimir Putin during the Russian president’s recent visit to Tehran. Putin, for his part, has praised the Moscow-Tehran relationship as “very productive.”
The European political year, grinding back into gear for 2018, is full of doubt, even woe. In the continent’s major countries politics are stuck, or likely to stick, in cul-de-sacs from which exit is difficult. Only in France, under the banner not so much of the tricolor as the injunction En Marche! (Let’s Go!), is there official optimism and vigor.
Amid ever-heightening tensions over North Korea’s nuclear weapons program, there are finally some positive diplomatic signals. On Jan. 3, Pyongyang reopened a long-closed border hotline with South Korea – one day after Seoul proposed bilateral negotiations and two days after Kim Jong Un said in his New Year address that he was open to speaking with the South.
This will be a big year for the Paris climate agreement. The broad outlines of the deal were figured out in 2015, but the specific rules governing what it requires countries to do will have to be written by the end of 2018.
There’s little difficulty in showing that some of the most venerable political parties of the democratic world may be facing terminal crises. The difficulty is in determining if government by a party or parties – the sustaining base of administrations the democratic world over – can last.
Ambassador Nikki Haley pulled no punches at her Dec. 14 media conference in a U.S. Air Force hangar at Anacostia-Bolling. Taking what she called the “extraordinary step” of displaying missile parts that had been declassified for the event, she told reporters that it was Tehran that had supplied the equipment used by Houthi militants trying to attack the civilian airport in the Saudi capital of Riyadh. “The evidence is undeniable,” she said. “The weapons might as well have had “Made in Iran” stic
Professional forecasters like to say that making predictions is difficult, particularly about the future. As we reach the end of 2017, however, here are some of the key themes – and questions – that look set to shape global events next year.
In the early hours of Tuesday in the northern UK cities of Sheffield and Chesterfield, armed police blew open doors of homes and a Muslim community center, arresting four men aged between 22 and 41. Scanty information given to the news media spoke of a planned “Christmas bomb attack,” now presumably averted. The police, it emerged, were acting on information given by the secret services, probably the domestic service, MI5.
Doug Jones' remarkable victory in the Alabama Senate special election on Dec. 12 is the strongest sign yet that Republicans will lose seats in Congress in 2018 because of their unpopular president and extremely unpopular agenda. And yet a close reading of the Alabama result also highlights just how American democracy can thwart the will of the majority rather than serve it.
Pyongyang is ramping up its cyber warfare. Just this week, a White House official blamed North Korea for the WannaCry attack that took down hospitals, banks and businesses in May and noted that Facebook and Microsoft recently took action against the infamous North Korean Lazarus hacker group. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Donald Trump's formal recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, reversing some seven decades of American policy, is arguably the most unnecessary decision of his time in office and one that will have consequences lingering far past his tenure. The decision may yield some domestic political advantage among Jewish and evangelical Christian voters for the president, but at irrationally high expense globally.