PARIS – The small landlocked Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan, which lies between China and India, is not only a tourist mecca. The country has also long pioneered the concept of “gross national happiness” (GNH), which its architects regard as far more comprehensive and accurate than the conventional measure of an economy, gross national product, or GNP.
PARIS – “America loves India,” declared US President Donald Trump on his recent visit to the Indian state of Gujarat, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s power base. Before a crowd of more than 100,000 in the world’s largest cricket stadium, the two leaders triumphantly celebrated the deepening friendship between their countries—or, to be more precise, between their brands of charismatic populism. Not even Trump’s repeated mangling of Indian names during his speech could dampen Modi’s glow.
PARIS – The 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz by the Red Army is an occasion marked by angst as well as sadness. Anti-Semitism is back with a vengeance around the world, as if the lessons of the Holocaust had evaporated with time—or, even worse, had never been fully integrated into our collective consciousness.
JERUSALEM – If any Western country is suffering from democratic dysfunction, it is Israel. With the country’s political leaders having again failed to form a government following the most recent parliamentary election in September, voters will head back to the polls in March 2020 for the third time in less than a year. Yet, given Israel’s inflamed, polarized politics and its highly proportional electoral system, what else can one expect from this next national vote except more deadlock?
PARIS – As in 1848, 1968, 1989, and 2010-2012, a wave of popular protests has taken the world by surprise. Ongoing mass revolts-in Beirut, Santiago, Hong Kong, Algiers, Baghdad, and other cities—are gaining strength and wrong footing governments. But although the temptation to seek historical comparisons is understandable, the 2019 uprisings also have a distinct flavor of their own.
PARIS – In the late 1970s and early 1980s, prominent international relations experts such as the late French political philosopher Pierre Hassner argued that the world was witnessing a process of competitive decay between the United States and the Soviet Union. For the latter, the conflict in Afghanistan was about to become an even costlier failure than the Vietnam war had been for America. By 1989, the verdict was clear: The Soviet Union had atrophied much faster than the US, and its empire collapsed, the victim of its own errors and contradictions.
PARIS – French President Emmanuel Macron recently launched his platform for the upcoming European Parliament elections. Official reactions to his approach—outlined in a commentary published simultaneously in every European Union country—were mostly positive, with even the Euroskeptic prime minister of Hungary, Viktor Orbán and Liviu Dragnea of Romania, endorsing his agenda (for tactical reasons). But, in the chorus of approval, one notable voice was missing: Germany.