Things Fall Apart

Democracy can be messy. In the northeast corner of Spain this week, democracy was downright chaotic. Catalans went to the polls on Sunday to vote in a referendum on whether to stay in Spain or go their separate way. The Spanish authorities, however, declared the vote illegitimate and sent in the national police to disrupt the referendum. In many locales, as the police swept into the polling...
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The Semtex President

Every few years — sometimes four, sometimes eight — America’s political mood swings from one pole to another. It’s a not-uncommon disorder for democracies. Voters get disgusted with one flavor of politics and opt for another. For better or worse, the United States doesn’t have a Baskin-Robbins democracy. So, the vacillations in Americans’ political taste can only pendulum between...
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Engaging North Korea Successfully on Human Rights

North Korea has the worst human rights record of any country in the world except perhaps Eritrea and Syria. There is, however, a curious exception to this record: disability rights. This case offers a powerful counter-example of successful engagement in an arena where the country normally experiences nothing but universal condemnation. For nearly two decades, outside NGOs have been working with...
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Germany and the Rise of a “Fascist International”

Germany got its very own electoral shock this week when the far right won 13 percent of the vote in country’s parliamentary elections. For the first time in more than half a century, the far right will be represented in the German parliament, with more than 90 seats. Although it’s now Germany’s third most popular party — behind the Christian Democrats (CDU) and the Social Democrats (SDP)...
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Time to Make a Deal with North Korea

The United States faces a new nuclear power ruled by a communist dictator. Washington is worried that the leadership of that country is crazy enough to use its new weapons — even against the United States. Meanwhile, other countries fear that the “madman” in the Oval Office might just launch a pre-emptive nuclear attack. This description captures the situation today, with U.S. President...
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The Rohingya and the Responsibility to Ignore

They were Muslims, and they were leaving the country in droves. Their homeland, a remote corner of a multiethnic country, had become a warzone. Militants had taken up arms to fight for their rights, and the central government retaliated in force. Human rights abuses, mostly by the government, were rampant. Caught in the gunfire, hundreds of thousands of people became refugees. The central...
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