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

(Image: Peter Strain for Politico)

UK awaits its Brexit Napoleon

Tom McTague


LONDON — Don’t get too comfortable, we have not even reached the Great Terror phase of the Brexit revolution yet.

In the bars and tea rooms of the Palace of Westminster, Conservative MPs have begun drawing playful comparisons between Britain’s chaotic exit from the European Union and the decades-long convulsion sparked by the French Revolution.

Roles have been assigned to leading Brexiteers. Michael Gove as Brissot, the hard-line republican who compromises to enter government and is the first to face the guillotine; Boris Johnson as Danton, the great orator who outlasts Brissot but also falls to the mob; and then there’s Jacob Rees-Mogg as Robespierre, the arch radical pursuing a “Republic of Virtue” but who also eventually faces the chop himself. (Read more)


How the US has hidden its empire

Daniel Immerwahr

The Guardian

There aren’t many historical episodes more firmly lodged in the United States’s national memory than the attack on Pearl Harbor. It is one of only a few events that many people in the country can put a date to: 7 December 1941, the “date which will live in infamy,” as Franklin D Roosevelt put it. Hundreds of books have been written about it – the Library of Congress holds more than 350. And Hollywood has made movies, from the critically acclaimed From Here to Eternity, starring Burt Lancaster, to the critically derided Pearl Harbor, starring Ben Affleck.

But what those films don’t show is what happened next. Nine hours after Japan attacked the territory of Hawaii, another set of Japanese planes came into view over another US territory, the Philippines. As at Pearl Harbor, they dropped their bombs, hitting several air bases, to devastating effect. (Read more)


Migration to Europe Is Down Sharply. So Is It Still a ‘Crisis’?

Patrick Kingsley

New York Times

On the beaches of Greece, thousands of migrants landed every day. In the ports of Italy, thousands landed every week. Across the borders of Germany, Austria and Hungary, hundreds of thousands passed every month.

But that was in 2015.

Three years after the peak of Europe’s migration crisis, Greek beaches are comparatively calm. Since last August, the ports of Sicily have been fairly empty. And here on the remote island of Lampedusa — the southernmost point of Italy and once the front line of the crisis — the migrant detention center has been silent for long stretches. Visitors to the camp on Monday could hear only the sound of bird song. (Read more)


Shamima Begum: why the IS teenager should be allowed to return to the UK

Katherine E. Brown

The Conversation

One of the so-called “Bethnal Green Girls”, Shamima Begum, is looking to return home to the UK. After nearly four years living with the so-called Islamic State (IS), the 19-year-old who is nine-months pregnant, was interviewed by The Times newspaper in a refugee camp in Syria.

Coverage has focused on whether or not she should be “allowed” home, but there is little legal basis to deny her – and her unborn child – that right. The security minister, Ben Wallace, told the BBC she could face possible prosecution if she returned to the UK. Now the debate needs to move forward, and consider how best to treat her if she does return. (Read more)


Elliot Abrams and the absurd paradoxes of American foreign policy

Damon Linker

The Week

Only in America could a man best known for enacting policies that led to mass murder, participating in a criminal conspiracy to subvert the will of Congress, and helping to plan and execute a war that destabilized an entire region and resulted in more than a hundred thousand deaths be chosen to lead yet another delicate foreign policy mission and then enjoy the fulsome support of the country’s bipartisan national security establishment who passionately defend him as “a leading advocate of human rights and democracy.”

I’m talking, of course, about Elliott Abrams, President Trump’s choice of special envoy to Venezuela, who faced blunt, sometimes rude questioning from Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) before the House Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday. The grilling sparked a tidal wave of outrage and umbrage among leading members of the foreign policy community, many of whom viewed Abrams’ treatment as a violation of decorum and an affront against a card-carrying member of the club of Very Serious Policy Intellectuals who have devoted their lives and careers to helping the United States lead the free world. (Read more)

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