On 20 March, I met Ilya V. Ponomarev at a Starbucks near Federal Triangle metro station for coffee. It was a gloomy day but thankfully neither of us was caught in the rain. Ponomarev, just coming from a slew of meetings, did not order anything. He came in alone and looked like his picture, tall, blue eyes, and bearded. This is true save for the weariness from days meeting with business people and entrepreneurs.
Few cities can evoke the same sense of promise as Shanghai can. For more than a century, the sprawling metropolis, now teeming with more than 25 million people and home to the world’s busiest transport hub, has been the crucible of modern China. There, on the Yangtze River estuary, the old world blends incongruously with the new amid a glittering riot of steel and glass and incandescent light.
New Zealand and Brazil are separated by more than 7,500 miles. The two countries seem to have little in common, apart from long white beaches and lush rainforests. But for decades both have struggled with similar developmental challenges, and that struggle has made Wellington and Rio de Janeiro important voices in the global debate on poverty.
Has the growth of global civil society promoted popular self-government, and most particularly in developing countries? Many advocates of progressive social change have championed civil society—the “third sector”—as an arena of virtue, which has the capacity to overcome domination in government and exploitation in the free market economy.
One after another, they fill front-page headlines—Tehran, Tahrir, Wall Street, Puerta del Sol, Gezi Park, Euromaidan, Hong Kong.
The Accidental Admiral: A Sailor Takes Command at NATO is a memoir of Admiral James Stavridis’s experience as NATO’s supreme allied commander. The first half of the book is essentially a chronological account of his experiences as NATO’s military leader, from learning of his appointment from Secretary Robert Gates to navigating through the crises that faced Adm. Stavridis throughout his tenure—everything from managing NATO operations in Afghanistan, the intervention in Libya, the Syrian civil war, and more.
It is curious that those leading oppressive and corrupt regimes fail to realize that they carry the seeds of their own destruction, if not for themselves then for their offspring. These regimes are properly castigated for their impact on individuals, but their disrespect for the Rule of Law permeates the whole culture of such a country. When government does not obey rules, the people come to believe that rules do not matter. And if rules do not matter, then people are free to behave as they wish. The result is chaos and an existence in which the powerful are free to prey on the vulnerable. All of which leads to an erosion in fundamental elements of human conditions such as employment, education, and housing.
Each year, the Institute for Economics and Peace releases the Global Peace Index, which determines numerical rankings of peacefulness between nations around the globe. The Index is based on three main determinants, of which there are many subcategories: the level of safety and security in the society, the extent of domestic or international conflict, and the degree of militarization. Beyond that, the nations are ranked according to 22 quantitative and qualitative assessments of peace, including weapons imports and exports, levels of organized conflict, incarceration rates, and the number of armed service personnel occupying a nation, among many others.
On March 12th, in the Turda city hall where a grandiose marble staircase leads to a Baroque-style meeting room, about 40 students are preparing to speak to five council members about improvements to their school system. Turda is a city of about 30,000 in Romania’s Transylvania region, and used to be an important industrial center in Romania. The Ratiu Center for Democracy, a foundation committed to strengthening the research and practice of democracy in Romania, has organized this special meeting to give the youth of Turda a rare opportunity to take change into their own hands.
February and March were dark days for Ukraine. Photos from Kiev showed a city center blackened by infernos, and reports from protestors described a grim but determined mood. Increasingly violent clashes between protestors and riot police—whom the new head of Ukraine’s SBU intelligence service Valentyn Nalivaichenko and Ukraine’s interim Attorney General Oleh Makhnitsky told reporters in early April were advised and armed by Russian FSB intelligence officers—resulted in the deaths of at least 88 anti-government protesters in Kiev’s Independence Square in 48 hours starting on February 20th. Many were killed by long-distance sniper rounds.
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