This Week’s Top 5 Picks in International History and Diplomacy


(Image: © AP)

Putin support for Assad paints Russia into a dangerous corner (£)

Kathrin Hille

Financial Times 

Four months ago, Vladimir Putin appeared in firm control of the agenda in Syria: Moscow’s military intervention, the Russian president confidently declared, had accomplished its aim of crushing Isis and all parties needed to move on to a political resolution. But the US-led missile strikes on Syria have underlined the risks Moscow’s staunch support for Syrian president Bashar al-Assad carries, as it pushes Russia into an increasingly dangerous corner and is damaging Moscow’s broader interests, diplomats say. “They cast themselves as the protector of Syria’s sovereignty, the fighters against western schemes to push for regime change and partition that country, but they risk becoming partners with Assad in being international outlaws,” said a diplomat from a European country whose government is usually seen as Russia-friendly. “They are beginning to look like a pariah state, and more and more they are behaving like one.”

In aftermath of the suspected gas attack in Douma that killed dozens of people, US president Donald Trump made a point of criticising Mr Putin, saying Russia, along with Iran, was responsible for backing Mr Assad, while warning there would be a “big price to pay”. (Read more)


Prince Charles to be next Commonwealth head


The Prince of Wales will succeed the Queen as head of the Commonwealth, its leaders have announced.

The Queen had said it was her “sincere wish” that Prince Charles would follow her in the role.

Leaders of the Commonwealth have been discussing the issue at a meeting behind closed doors at Windsor Castle.

The head role is non-hereditary so is not automatically passed on when the Queen dies, with suggestions it might have rotated among the 53 leaders. (Read more)


How Germany’s refugee dream soured

Kenneth R. Rosen

New Statesman

There is a moment in the play Get Deutsch or Die Tryin’, currently showing at the Maxim Gorki Theater in Berlin, when the harsh realities faced by many modern migrants hit home. The story of its protagonist, Arda, a young German-Turkish man, sets the scene. At a doner kebab shop, patrons order food in a foreign language. On the wall hangs a useless degree from a foreign university. In a back room, a young woman hangs herself; her wrists have also been slashed open. She wanted to make sure that she would die. “You are 18 and you know: you’ve lost,” Arda says later.

Powerlessness quickly turns into bad luck throughout the play, which explores the history of Turkish migration in Germany but also deliberately alludes to the struggles of refugees who have arrived in the country more recently. (Read more)


The wrong Brexit: what happened to ‘Global Britain’? (£)

Fraser Nelson

The Spectator

A few months ago, Britain’s most senior ambassadors gathered in the Foreign Office to compare notes on Brexit. There was one problem in particular that they did not know how to confront. As one ambassador put it, the English–language publications in their cities (it would be rude to name them) had become rabidly anti-Brexit: keen to portray a country having a nervous and economic breakdown. Their boss, the Foreign Secretary, later summed it up: many believe that Brexit was the whole country flicking a V-sign from the white cliffs of Dover. The job of his ambassadors is to correct this awful image. But how? (Read more)


The Trumpification of the Latin American Right

Omar G. Encarnación

Foreign Policy

Since Donald Trump became President, much has been said about the”Latin Americanization” of U.S. politics. The Washington Post, remarking on Trump’s nationalist demagoguery, referred to him as “the U.S.’s first Latin American president,” while an essay I wrote in Foreign Affairs shortly after the 2016 election termed Trump “A Caudillo in Washington,” a reference to the prototype of Latin American strongman.

Decidedly less has been said about the reverse phenomenon: the increasing salience of “Trumpism” in Latin American politics. This is taking place as the right in Latin America is staging a stunning comeback after a long sojourn in the political wilderness. In the last two years alone, right-wing candidates have ascended to the presidency in Brazil, Argentina, and, last month, Chile. For the first time in decades, South America’s three leading economies are in the hands of conservative governments. (Read more)


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