Showing posts with label Global. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Global. Show all posts

16 September 2017

THIS LAND IS THEIR LAND

BY SUKETU MEHTA

Immigration is inevitable. When will the West learn that it promises salvation — not destruction?
On Oct. 1, 1977, my parents, my two sisters, and I boarded a Lufthansa plane in the dead of night in Bombay. We were dressed in new, heavy, uncomfortable clothes and had been seen off by our entire extended family, who had come to the airport with garlands and lamps; our foreheads were anointed with vermilion. We were going to America. 

To get the cheapest tickets, our travel agent had arranged a circuitous journey in which we disembarked in Frankfurt, then were to take an internal flight to Cologne, and onward to New York. In Frankfurt, the German border officer scrutinized the Indian passports for my father, my sisters, and me and stamped them. Then he held up my mother’s passport with distaste. “You are not allowed to enter Germany,” he said. 

It was a British passport, given to citizens of Indian origin who had been born in Kenya before independence from the British, like my mother. But in 1968 the Conservative Party parliamentarian Enoch Powell made his “Rivers of Blood” speech, warning against taking in brown- and black-skinned people, and Parliament passed an act summarily depriving hundreds of thousands of British passport holders in East Africa of their right to live in the country that conferred their nationality. The passport was literally not worth the paper it was printed on; it had become, in fact, a mark of Cain. The German officer decided that because of her uncertain status, my mother might somehow desert her husband and three small children to make a break for it and live in Germany by herself. 

So we had to leave directly from Frankfurt. Seven hours and many airsickness bags later, we stepped out into the international arrivals lounge at John F. Kennedy Airport. A graceful orange-and-black-and-yellow Alexander Calder mobile twirled above us against the backdrop of a huge American flag, and multicolored helium balloons dotted the ceiling, souvenirs of past greetings. As each arrival was welcomed to the new land, the balloons rose to the ceiling to make way for the newer ones. They provided hope to the newcomers: Look, in a few years, with luck and hard work, you, too, can rise here. All the way to the ceiling. 

13 September 2017

The False Prophecy of Hyperconnection How to Survive the Networked Age


It is a truth universally acknowledged that the world is connected as never before. Once upon a time, it was believed that there were six degrees of separation between each individual and any other person on the planet (including Kevin Bacon). For Facebook users today, the average degree of separation is 3.57. But perhaps that is not entirely a good thing. As Evan Williams, one of the founders of Twitter, told The New York Times in May 2017, “I thought once everybody could speak freely and exchange information and ideas, the world is automatically going to be a better place. I was wrong about that.”

Speaking at Harvard’s commencement that same month, Facebook’s chair and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, looked back on his undergraduate ambition to “connect the whole world.” “This idea was so clear to us,” he recalled, “that all people want to connect. . . . My hope was never to build a company, but to make an impact.” Zuckerberg has certainly done that, but it is doubtful that it was the impact he dreamed of in his dorm room. In his address, Zuckerberg identified a series of challenges facing his generation, among them: “tens of millions of jobs [being] replaced by automation,” inequality (“there is something wrong with our system when I can leave here and make billions of dollars in ten years while millions of students can’t afford to pay off their loans”), and “the forces of authoritarianism, isolationism, and nationalism,” which oppose “the flow of knowledge, trade, and immigration.” What he omitted to mention was the substantial contributions that his company and its peers in Silicon Valley have made to all three of these problems.

8 September 2017

There's No Such Thing as 'the' Liberal World Order

Michael Lind

The new system that emerges from today’s domestic and geopolitical turmoil is likely to be an updated version of liberal world order, not its negation.

Is the liberal world order collapsing? In response to the wave of nationalism and populism that has produced Brexit and the election of Donald J. Trump as president of the United States, it has become fashionable to claim that “the liberal world order” is being replaced by a catastrophic spiral of protectionism, rising authoritarianism and great-power conflict that bring to mind the 1930s. Often this argument is accompanied by the claim that there existed a bipartisan consensus in favor of “the liberal world order” from 1945 until the populist wave of the last few years. For example, the Brookings scholar Robert Kagan warns, “The liberal world order established in the aftermath of World War II may be coming to an end, challenged by forces both without and within. . . . With the election of Donald Trump, a majority of Americans have signaled their unwillingness to continue upholding the world order.”

This may be effective antipopulist propaganda among elites, but it is poor history. The truth is that since 1945 there has not been just one fixed liberal world order, but several successive versions of liberal world order, each lasting only a couple of decades before giving way to a somewhat different system that can still be described as liberal. The new system that emerges from today’s domestic and geopolitical turmoil is likely to be an updated version of liberal world order, not its negation.

31 August 2017

*** The Patterns in Global Terrorism: 1970-2016

By Anthony Cordesman

Terrorism has become one of the dominating national security threats of the 21st century. It is also one of the most complex — mixing the actions of states, extremists, and other non-state actors in a wide range of threats and types of conflicts. Terrorists range from individuals carrying out scattered terrorist acts, to international terrorist networks of non-state actors, to state terrorism including the use of conventional forces and poison gas to terrorize portions of a civil population. Terrorism has also become a key aspect of civil war, insurgency/counterinsurgency, and asymmetric warfare, as well as ideological, ethnic, and religious warfare.

There is no easy way to categorize the resulting patterns of violence, to measure their rise, or to set national security priorities. For more than a decade, the U.S. has focused on the threat of terrorism in Afghanistan and Iraq, but it has dealt increasingly with the expansion of the threat into North Africa, other parts of the Middle East, Sub-Saharan Africa, and the rest of the world. Key warfighting threats like the Islamic State and its affiliates, and the Taliban and Haqqani Network, are only a comparatively small part of the rising threat in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), Sub-Saharan Africa, and South Asia.

It is clear from the current trends in other regions that the threat of religious extremism may soon expand rapidly into the rest of Asia, and there are many other causes of terrorism in Africa, Europe, Latin America, the United States. Terrorism is often heavily driven by ideology, but it also is often a reaction to major shifts in population, ethnic and sectarian tensions, failed and corrupt governance, and the failure to broadly develop a given economy and offer employment and a future. No area is immune to the threat, and internal instability can drive terrorism anywhere in the world.

20 August 2017

A Global Fish War is Coming


Nearly two decades into the 21st Century, it has become clear the world has limited resources and the last area of expansion is the oceans. Battles over politics and ideologies may be supplanted by fights over resources as nations struggle for economic and food security. These new conflicts already have begun—over fish.

Hungry World

The demand for fish as a protein source is increasing. The global population today is 7.5 billion people, and is expected to be 9.7 billion by 2050, with the largest growth coming in Africa and Asia. Fish consumption has increased from an average of 9.9 kilograms per person in the 1960s to 19.7 kilograms in 2013 with estimates for 2014 and 2015 above 20 kilograms. The ten most productive species are fully fished and demand continues to rise in regions generally with little governance and many disputed boundaries.

In 2014, there were 4.6 million fishing vessels on the world’s oceans: 75 percent were in Asia and 15 percent in Africa. High seas fishing capacity has grown significantly, and there are now 64,000 fishing vessels with lengths in excess of 24 meters, and Asia’s distant water fishing nations continue to add newer and larger ships.

The wild marine fish harvest remains steady at 80 million metric tons (MMT) while aquaculture or farmed fish now equals 73.8 MMT, with China responsible for farming 62 percent of that total. 1 Farmed fish is predicted to exceed wild capture as early as 2018, but the inputs to these farming operations require massive amounts of fish meal. 2 As a result, fishing vessels will scour the oceans going deeper and farther than ever before to try to feed the world.

6 August 2017

*** Chaos and order in a changing world

By Dr Henry Kissinger

Lady Thatcher was one of the most significant leaders of our period. Decisive, effervescent, courageous, loyal, she was dedicated to shaping the future rather than following the recommendations of focus groups.

I first met her in the early 1970s, when she was serving as Minister of Education in the Cabinet of Edward Heath. At our first meeting, Mrs Thatcher conveyed her disdain for the then conventional wisdom that political contests were about winning the centre. For her, leadership was the task of moving the political centre towards defined principles rather than the other way around.

In implementing this philosophy, she generated over a long career a new political direction in her society. She did so by a combination of character and courage: character because the seminal choices demanded by the political process are usually taken in a very narrow passage; and courage to go forward on a road not travelled before.

Margaret Thatcher displayed these attributes articulately in the Findley address at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri, the site of Winston Churchill’s “Iron Curtain” speech 50 years earlier. She put forward challenges which, in their essence, are even more urgent today: 

29 July 2017

The Immense, Eternal Footprint Humanity Leaves on Earth: Plastics

By TATIANA SCHLOSSBERG

Scientists have estimated that between 5 million and 13 million metric tons of plastic are put into the ocean each year. CreditGuillermo Cervera

If human civilization were to be destroyed and its cities wiped off the map, there would be an easy way for future intelligent life-forms to know when the mid-20th century began: plastic.

From the 1950s to today, 8.3 billion metric tons of plastic have been produced, with around half of it made since 2004. And since plastic does not naturally degrade, the billions of tons sitting in landfills, floating in the oceans or piling up on city streets will provide a marker if later civilizations ever want to classify our era. Perhaps they will call this time on Earth the Plastocene Epoch.

A new study in Science Advances published Wednesday offered the first analysis of all mass-produced plastics ever manufactured: how much has been made, what kind and what happens to the material once it has outlived its use.

Roland Geyer, the lead author of the study, said, “My mantra is that you can’t manage what you don’t measure, and without good numbers, you don’t know if we have a real problem.”

24 July 2017

Earth Is Choking on 8.3 Billion Metric Tons of Plastic Waste

BRYSON MASSE

For the first time, scientists have calculated how much plastic we've produced, and its fate. It isn't pretty.

If you think about it, plastics should be considered one of the defining technologies of the 20th century. Their flexibility, cheap manufacturing costs, and resistance to degradation has meant the use of plastics outpaced most other man-made materials. Today, many of us can't remember a world without plastic, which went into large-scale production in the 1950s. But we're now learning the costs of this wonder material—oceans full of indestructible micro-particles that are harming sea life and polluting waterways. We have no idea how to get rid of them.

With a study published on Wednesday in Science Advances, we know how much plastic we've created, and where most of it has gone. This represents the first global analysis of all the plastics ever made on the planet, and big surprise, it isn't pretty.

As of 2015, it finds, humanity has produced over 8.3 billion metric tons of plastic. Of that, 6.3 billion metric tons has become waste. With just over 7 billion peopleon the Earth as of 2015, this would represent more than one metric ton per human being. Most plastics don't really biodegrade, and can hang around for hundreds or thousands of years.

18 July 2017

AI, people, and society


In an essay about his science fiction, Isaac Asimov reflected that “it became very common…to picture robots as dangerous devices that invariably destroyed their creators.” He rejected this view and formulated the “laws of robotics,” aimed at ensuring the safety and benevolence of robotic systems. Asimov's stories about the relationship between people and robots were only a few years old when the phrase “artificial intelligence” (AI) was used for the first time in a 1955 proposal for a study on using computers to “…solve kinds of problems now reserved for humans.” Over the half-century since that study, AI has matured into subdisciplines that have yielded a constellation of methods that enable perception, learning, reasoning, and natural language understanding.

“Excitement about AI has been tempered by concerns about potential downsides.”

Growing exuberance about AI has come in the wake of surprising jumps in the accuracy of machine pattern recognition using methods referred to as “deep learning.” The advances have put new capabilities in the hands of consumers, including speech-to-speech translation and semi-autonomous driving. Yet, many hard challenges persist—and AI scientists remain mystified by numerous capabilities of human intellect.

17 July 2017

2017 Third-Quarter Forecast


Tempering Trump Policy: Ongoing federal investigations and intensifying budget battles with Congress will make for another distracting quarter for U.S. President Donald Trump. But these disruptions won't mitigate the rhetoric of White House ideologues, or broader speculation that the United States is retreating from the global stage. The reality of the superpower's role in global governance, of course, is far more complicated. Meanwhile, the administration's more extreme policy initiatives, particularly on matters of trade and climate, will be tempered at the federal, corporate, state and local levels. And though the United States will maintain its security alliances abroad, it will also generate enough uncertainty to drive its partners toward unilateral action in managing their own neighborhoods.

Sparks Fly in the Middle East: Qatar's standoff with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates will persist throughout the quarter amid intensifying battles among regional powers' proxies across the region. More visible competition within the Gulf Cooperation Council and growing distrust between Turkey and its Gulf neighbors will reveal the weaknesses of the White House's strategy to conform to Riyadh's increasingly assertive foreign policy in an attempt to manage the region. The risk of clashes among great powers is also on the rise in eastern Syria: As Iran works to create a land bridge from Tehran to Damascus and the Mediterranean coast, Syrian loyalists and U.S.-backed rebels are racing toward the Iraqi border, all while Russia uses the Syrian battlefield to jockey with the United States for influence.

10 July 2017

The World's Most Populous Nations In 2050


Currently the world has a population of nearly 7.6 billion people and that's increasing, though at a slower pace than in the recent past.

The population is growing at a rate of 1.1 percent, meaning an extra 83 million people are being added to the planet's population every year. The global population is going to surpass 8 billion by 2030 and hit 9.8 billion by 2050, according to a new report from the United Nations. There's an estimated 962 million people aged 60 and over around the globe (13 percent of the population), and that is going to expand steadily over the coming years. In 2030, 1.4 billion people will be aged over 60 and and that could reach 3.1 billion by 2100.

Ten countries are set to account collectively for over half the world's projected population increase between now and 2050: India, Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Pakistan, Ethiopia, Tanzania, the United States, Uganda, Indonesia and Egypt. Within the next seven years, India is expected to surpass China as the most populous nation. The United States is also going to be overtaken by Nigeria by 2050 to become the world's third most populous nation - Nigeria is currently posting the fastest rate of population growth worldwide. The following infographic shows the world's most populous nations in 2050 and it was created using the UN's data.
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6 July 2017

A Survey of Ongoing Wars Around the World


While Islamic terrorism continues to dominate the news, it is but one example of an ancient curse that has reappeared recently in multiple forms; calls for the revival of empires. Some of these efforts are more media friendly than others but all share the same characteristics; mobilizing popular support for rebuilding lost empires. There are numerous examples. The most obvious one (the Islamic caliphate) grabs most of the headlines because Islamic terrorism has been a common symptom of desperate, longshot efforts to restore the caliphate for a long time (over a thousand years). As a religion based empire (“Islam” literally means “submission”) that has been hostile to any kind of progress (especially technology, economic or religious) past revival efforts have been unsuccessful. Thus the quick and brutal demise of ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) because it also tried to use self-righteous fanaticism as its primary weapon and motivation in a world that was largely hostile to such a brutal and simplistic ideology. ISIL was one of the few Islamic radical movements that mobilized nearly all Moslems to unite and violently oppose it. Yet even with ISIL gone (or suppressed) there are plenty of other Islamic empire revivalists who all seek to not just make Islam great again but to do it on a global scale.

4 July 2017

** Globalists, Nationalists and Patriots


In times of global angst, we tend to organize ourselves into rival camps and casually hurl political epithets at each other as a matter of practice and principle. A couple of similarly angst-ridden generations ago, identifying yourself as a communist or capitalist could provide you with a medal or land you in jail, depending on where you were in the world and the company you kept. Now, it is self-proclaimed globalists and nationalists who are pitted against each other in a battle to passionately defend or radically reconstruct the global order.

Previous columns have examined the underlying forces — from aging populations in the advanced industrial world, to technological change compensating for lagging productivity, to major evolutions in global trade — that have put this most recent global rebalancing in motion. This rebalancing will take generations to play out but is growing more visible by the day. Just watch the battle lines being drawn by the "globalists" and "nationalists" from within the tense corridors of the White House to the flag-lined stage of the upcoming G20 summit in Hamburg, where host German Chancellor Angela Merkel will once again face off against U.S. President Donald Trump.

3 July 2017

Globalists, Nationalists And Patriots

-- this post authored by Reva Goujon

In times of global angst, we tend to organize ourselves into rival camps and casually hurl political epithets at each other as a matter of practice and principle. A couple of similarly angst-ridden generations ago, identifying yourself as a communist or capitalist could provide you with a medal or land you in jail, depending on where you were in the world and the company you kept. Now, it is self-proclaimed globalists and nationalists who are pitted against each other in a battle to passionately defend or radically reconstruct the global order.

Previous columns have examined the underlying forces - from aging populations in the advanced industrial world, to technological change compensating for lagging productivity, to major evolutions in global trade - that have put this most recent global rebalancing in motion. This rebalancing will take generations to play out but is growing more visible by the day. Just watch the battle lines being drawn by the "globalists" and "nationalists" from within the tense corridors of the White House to the flag-lined stage of the upcoming G20 summit in Hamburg, where host German Chancellor Angela Merkel will once again face off against U.S. President Donald Trump. 

2 July 2017

*** Rolling Back Democracy

By Jay Ogilvy

Contributor Perspectives offer insight, analysis and commentary from Stratfor’s Board of Contributors and guest contributors who are distinguished leaders in their fields of expertise.

What must Angela Merkel be thinking? What must Xi Jinping be thinking? What must Vladimir Putin be thinking?

In the wake of America's withdrawal from both the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement and the Paris Accord on climate change, to say nothing of Washington's alienation of NATO allies, there lurks a mix of fear, bafflement, anger… and opportunity. Isn't there a little more room on the world stage now that one of its major players has shuffled off into the wings?

Merkel announced to a beer hall rally, "The times when we could completely rely on others are, to an extent, over." With the United States out of the TPP, the influence of Xi's China in Asia and across the globe can only increase. As for Putin, as former Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee Mike Rogers put it on CNN when another commentator suggested they would be "giggling" in the Kremlin, "I don't think they're giggling. I think they are consuming large volumes of vodka in celebration," over Trump's troubles with a special prosecutor.

So how are the great powers going to seize this opportunity? And how will lesser powers adapt to a new geopolitical regime? These are not just questions about trade blocs like NAFTA, the European Union and the TPP; these are questions about how we human beings relate to one another.

30 June 2017

** The World Is Even Less Stable Than It Looks

BY STEPHEN M. WALT

I’m normally leery of the pervasive threat inflation that tends to dominate discussions of foreign policy. Because the United States is so strong and in such a favorable geopolitical location, pundits and policymakers have to pretend the sky is falling to justify bigger military budgets and convince the public to keep meddling in distant lands. And whether the threat is falling dominos, “creeping Sharia,” the “axis of evil,” or even “violent extremism,” the actual threat these faraway dangers pose is usually exaggerated.

Right now, however, we’re at a moment when I think genuine concern is warranted. This is not to say that we’re on the brink of a major war, let alone a global clash of great powers. But flammable material is accumulating and it is hard to have high confidence in the political leadership in several key countries (including here in the United States). We would all do well to take stock of the global order: Is the world more secure than it was a year ago? Specifically, is the risk of war increasing or decreasing? Is the danger of a serious economic crisis higher or lower? Are the institutional arrangements and norms that help smooth and resolve conflicts of interest and enhance the prospects for international cooperation more or less robust than they were in June 2016?

Stratfor Worldview’s 2017 Third-Quarter Forecast

June 27, 2017

Based on the principle that transformative world events are not random, but are in fact predictable, Stratfor develops decade, annual and quarterly forecasts. These forecast are built upon Stratfor’s geopolitical methodology, our framework for identifying and forecasting the fundamental trends shaping the international system. Below are the global trends highlighted in Stratfor’s forecast for the third-quarter of 2017. The complete forecast is available at Stratfor Worldview.

The U.S. Exits Stage Left?

When world leaders gather in Germany for the approaching G-20 summit, they will no doubt make a slew of assertions — some alarmist, others justified — about a U.S. retreat from the global stage. Talk of leaders like German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron and Chinese President Xi Jinping stepping in to fill the void and uphold global governance on major issues such as free trade, climate change and security can be expected. But there is an underlying reality to that narrative that should be kept in mind.

28 June 2017

The Demographic Timebomb: A Rapidly Aging Population


Partner Perspectives are a collection of high-quality analyses and commentary produced by organizations around the world. Though Stratfor does not necessarily endorse the views expressed here — and may even disagree with them — we respect the rigorous and innovative thought that their unique points of view inspire.

Editor's Note

At Stratfor, we often look at how demographic shifts impact the economic outlook and geopolitical imperatives of countries around the world. Here, our partners at Visual Capitalist do the same as they explore the economic challenges created by a rapidly aging global population.

With record-high amounts of student debt, questionable job prospects, and too much avocado toast in their bellies, many millennials already feel like they are getting the short end of the stick.

25 June 2017

*** This Is How Great-Power Wars Get Started


In the last month, for the first time since the civil war in Syria began in 2011, the United States has directly attacked Syrian government forces or proxies — not just once, but at least four times. The urgent question now is less about Syria than Russia, which in response to the latest of these incidents, in which a U.S. fighter plane shot down a Syrian jet, threatened to target any U.S.-led coalition aircraft flying over Syria.

Are the U.S. and Russia being sucked into war in the Middle East, and if so, how can escalation be averted?

The present political dynamics in the Middle East are unsettled and kaleidoscopic. But in the interests of brevity, leaving aside smaller players, and before we think about the role of the United States and Russia, the basic configurations of power in the region since the 2011 Arab Spring can be simplified in terms of five loose groupings.

First, a grouping of Sunni monarchies (Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, and Bahrain); Arab secular nationalists (Egypt since President Abdel Fatteh el-Sisi took over in 2013, Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia); and Gen. Khalifa Haftar’s faction in eastern Libya.

** On Leadership, Virtue and Vice

By George Friedman

Last week there was a fire in a high-rise building in London that killed dozens. British Prime Minister Theresa May was slow to issue a statement, and it was another day before she visited the scene – and then only to meet with members of the emergency services. It was not until day three that she paid a visit to the survivors. Her explanation was that she was busy overseeing the management of the disaster and therefore couldn’t go sooner. She was met by a storm of criticism.

Two questions arise from this affair. First, why would anyone think an empty gesture like visiting the site of a fire – no matter how many died – to be important? Perhaps the prime minister ought to be doing something productive? Second, why did May answer that she was busy overseeing the crisis? Exactly what was it about the disaster that she could oversee? She faced what seemed to be unreasonable condemnation and replied with a preposterous justification.

But it is the first question that I want to discuss because it raises another, more important question: that of leadership.

More Than Policy

The simple answer to the first question is that May ought to have visited the site of the fire because that’s what prime ministers do. They engage in gestures, and whatever they may privately feel or not feel, they show themselves to be grieving the dead. A prime minister, a president, a king or a queen represents the country at moments such as these, and their responsibility is to convey to the country the gravity of the event, the sorrow they feel, and that the state – personified by them – is not indifferent to the suffering of its citizens.