Peace.. A True Saudi Ideal
A Weekly Political News Magazine
Beijingâ€™s Nuclear Option
Issue 1720 - November 02/11/2018
First Government of Iran in Lebanon
A Weekly Political News Magazine
Issue 1720 - November 02/11/2018
How to Save Globalization
Space Telescope Ends its Service 40
Syria's National Museum Reopens Doors in War-Scarred Damascus
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Britain›s Prime Minister Theresa May (R) reacts as she is greeted by Britain›s Queen Elizabeth II (C) on the dias as they take their places for a ceremonial welcome for King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima of the Netherlands on Horse Guards Parade in London on October 2018 ,23, at the start of the Dutch King and Queen›s two-day state visit. (Getty) 4
Sahle-Work Zewde (L) walks with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (R) after being elected as Ethiopiaâ€şs first female President at the Parliament in Addis Ababa on October 2018 ,25. (Getty) 6
First Government of Iran in Lebanon Hezbollah Want a Majority Government, Where Beirut’s Political, Security, and Military Decisions Are Made in Tehran
by Hanin Ghaddar* Since May 6 - the recent parliamentary elections in Lebanon – PM designate Saad Hariri has been trying to form a government that is supposed to be a national unity government, with fair representation by all the parties that constitute the Lebanese political scene. However, as one complication is resolved, another comes out, and it now
seems that Hezbollah and its allies only want a majority government, where all Lebanon’s political, security, and military decisions will be made in Tehran.
A SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE CONDITIONS At the beginning, it was conveyed that the main issue
Worried about losing some of its funding from Iran – due to the increased US sanctions, and more shrinking of its services budget, especially the health services, Hezbollah believes that the Health Ministry can compensate for these potential losses Right after this decision, another complication aroused and brought the process back to square one. Hezbollah proposed a new condition: it wants to see one of its Sunni allies appointed as a minister in the new government. Hariri has so far resisted this demand. But Hezbollah insists, saying that Hariri has lost more than one third of his seats in the election, to Sunni allies of Hezbollah. In addition, Hezbollah is expected to take control of the health ministry, and to increase its number of ministers to three from two in the outgoing cabinet. After the Defense, Education, and Interior Ministries, the Health Ministry commands Lebanon’s fourth-largest budget at 338$ million per year. And while most of the money in the top three ministries is allotted to salaries, the majority of Health Ministry funds are given directly to the public.
Lebanon›s Prime Minister Saad Hariri gives a press conference during the Lebanon International Support Group meeting in Paris, on December 2017 ,8. (Getty)
was an intra-Christian problem, where the Free Patriotic Movement (Aounists) and the Lebanese Forces (LF) were in disagreement on some of the portfolios. LF leader Samir Geagea insisted that the ministerial portfolios offered to his party were a «very big injustice» when compared with the size of its enlarged parliamentary bloc and the ministries offered to other groups. But the LF had decided earlier this week to take part.
Hezbollah’s health services—which include five hospitals and hundreds of medical centers, infirmaries, dental offices, and mental health providers—can barely meet the needs of wounded soldiers and their families, according to many local reports. Based on the average ratio of killed to wounded in modern combat, the group may have upwards of 9,000 such casualties to take care of. Worried about losing some of its funding from Iran – due to the increased US sanctions, and more shrinking of its services budget, especially the health services, Hezbollah believes that the Health Ministry can compensate for these potential losses. However, Hariri does not object to Hezbollah getting this ministry, despite the many warnings coming from the US embassy in Lebanon and other international donors. The U.S. embassy in Beirut has reportedly threatened to
cut any American or international assistance for ministries allocated to Hezbollah. Although Washington does not provide direct aid to the Health Ministry, it is a major player in the World Bank and other organizations that do just that.
leadership and the perpetrators of the killing, including details on their movements and communications ahead of the attack. Two, the Syrian regime was also at the core of the plot.
Hezbollah – after all – is going to have the Health Ministry, and most of the sovereign ministries through its allies, the Amal Movement and the Free Patriotic Movement. Now that the intra-Christian complication is solved, Hezbollah seems to be more adamant than ever in appointing a Sunni ally in the next government.
Although the final verdict is not expected for another five to six months, the revelations in the prosecutor’s closing arguments should not be taken lightly. If found guilty by the tribunal for killing a prime minister, Hezbollah will be regarded as a criminal organization by countries worldwide. This includes European governments, which will find it more difficult to deal with Hezbollah’s “political wing” if an international court officially determines that its parent organization carried out the assassination. Likewise, international relations with Lebanon’s state institutions will become highly problematic if Hezbollah remains part of the government.
THE DEVIL IS NOT IN THE DETAILS In any case, whether this pro-Hezbollah Sunni minister is allocated to Hariri’s share, or that of the president, the bottom line is beyond these details. Hezbollah wants a majority government with a national unity title. As Iran’s arm in Lebanon, they prefer not to alarm the international community right before the sanctions of November 4 start. They need Hariri to stay as the Prime Minister, with a government that is marketed as a national unity one, while in reality, they control all decisions. With their allies in the Economy, Finance, and Justice Ministries, Hezbollah will have the necessary portfolios to manage the sanctions that will target their institutions and the state institutions. They can also use the Justice Ministry to avoid the upcoming verdict of the Special Tribunal of Lebanon, which is investigating the assassination of Lebanon’s former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri. The prosecution submitted in September its closing arguments, with two important disclosures. One, there is ample evidence to corroborate the link between Hezbollah’s
A new government that is tied to Hezbollah is not going to attract investments or financial assistance that would alleviate the economic crisis that is looming over Lebanon
Despite these warnings, it doesn’t seem that Hezbollah – or Hariri himself – are aware of the consequences of forming a government that is so tied to Hezbollah and its allies. In Washington, Hezbollah’s allies are no longer regarded as groups that could be approached to distance themselves from the party or Iran. This ship has sailed and they are seen as Hezbollah’s enablers. This will also have consequences on their parties and the ministries they will be heading and managing. Lebanon is wrestling with the world›s third largest public debt-to-GDP ratio, stagnant growth and what the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has said are increasing vulnerabilities within its financial system. A new government that is tied to Hezbollah is not going to attract investments or financial assistance that would alleviate the economic crisis that is looming over Lebanon. Add to that the other crisis that is approaching Lebanon and its very vulnerable security; that is a potential conflict with Israel. It seems Iran/Hezbollah’s priority at this point is to continue converting their missiles from regular missiles to precise weapons. Since it is no longer safe to continue doing this conversion in Syria (Israel is bombing them constantly), they are starting to move them to Lebanon, thinking that Israel will think twice before moving its operations against Iran/Hezbollah to Lebanon. That is certainly true, as Israel prefers not to start a war in Lebanon with Hezbollah at this point – for many reasons. However, these facilities are also Israel’s main red-line. And
A Lebanese Shiite woman flashes her ink-stained thumb and waves a flag of the Shiite Hezbollah movement after voting at a polling station in the capital Beirut on May ,6 2018, as the country votes in the first parliamentary election in nine years. (Getty)
at one point, when Hezbollah starts producing in masses, or when they get closer to the converting the missiles, Israel will not sit back and watch Hezbollah develop precise weapons that will target Israel. With the economy crisis and a potential conflict with Israel, what Lebanon today needs is a government that distances itself from Hezbollah as much as possible, to avoid both sanctions and a conflict that would destroy Lebanon. However, because Hezbollah is more aware of these upcoming challenges than anyone in Lebanon, they need to protect themselves. And it seems the best way to protect themselves is to hide within the government and state institutions. Hezbollah needs the state of Lebanon, and its institutions will be used to cover Hezbollahâ€™s financial and military challenges. Hezbollah knows how to play the long game and knows when to use or block the state institutions. Since their creation in 1982, the party and its leadership have used and abused the state to their advantage. The question is: why is Hariri and other Lebanese politicians playing their game? Does a seat in a government which will only function a cover for Hezbollah worth it? â€Š
With their allies in the Economy, Finance, and Justice Ministries, Hezbollah will have the necessary portfolios to manage the sanctions that will target their institutions and the state institutions Many Lebanese think that being part of the government is better than being outside as this will provide an opportunity to save Lebanon from the abyss. That has worked in the past, but this time the probability is very low. It is Iranâ€™s first government in Lebanon, and being in the inside will eventually feel like being an accomplice rather than a savior. *Hanin Ghaddar is the inaugural Friedmann Visiting Fellow at The Washington Institute.
Peace.. A True Saudi Ideal
Saudi Diplomacy and Its Role Settling International Conflicts by Mohamed Abd El Kader Khalil Ankara: For decades, Saudi diplomacy has built vital foreign relations that have helped the Kingdom maintain its role in both the regional and international stage. This accomplishment was no easy feat, as Saudi Arabia has faced a number of challenges that sought to undermine its diplomatic capabilities, and limit the Kingdomâ€™s international influence. Nevertheless, Saudi Arabia overcame these elements by maintaining asustained action to strengthen external ties and an intense presence on the global
theater of operations. Saudi Arabiaâ€™s diplomatic activities have been varied, and it was through this multiplicity of methods that enabled Saudi Arabia to adopt a progressive and moderate foreign policy, in which it avoids interfering in other statesâ€™ internal governance. Saudi Arabia has also become a bridge of communications between states that share their interests and states that oppose its policies; as such it often acts as a mediator between conflicting state actors. Moreover, Saudi Arabia has complied with and utilized the proper legal and diplomatic means of resolving international conflicts, especially when it deals with
Rather than relying on either isolationism or heated conflict, Saudi diplomacy uses “peaceful confrontation”. It does this through exhausting all the practical diplomatic means of conflict resolution, while respecting International Law and the diplomatic bodies of other state actors. resolution, while respecting International Law and the diplomatic bodies of other state actors. As such, Saudi Arabia is no longer waiting to perform its roles and have its actions assessed by regional and international actors; rather it has actively been imposing said proper diplomatic policies on all regional and international players. It should be noted that even if the Saudi Foreign Affairs Department has expanded the problems of the region to Yemen, Syria, Iraq and Lebanon, it did so in countering the threats that Iran imposes on the region.
THE ROLE OF SAUDI DIPLOMACY IN INTERNATIONAL CONFLICT RESOLUTION
elements that threaten the national security of Middle Eastern states. These ideals have been embodied in Saudi Arabia’s diplomatic approach through its long history, in which it relied on various peaceful tools and traditional and customary mechanisms of action, in accordance with international norms and laws. Saudi Foreign Minister, Adel Al Jubier, made these ideals apparent in his statement at the US State Department which declared that the King Salman, the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, Crown Prince Mohamed Bin Salman and he were overseeing a massive shift in their state’s foreign policy to ensure that the state maintains its balanced relations with various world powers, while simultaneously working within international law to resolve international conflicts between other states. Rather than relying on either isolationism or heated conflict, Saudi diplomacy uses “peaceful confrontation”. It does this through exhausting all the practical diplomatic means of conflict
Recently, Saudi Arabia has successfully resolved one of the most complex political conflicts, namely the one between Ethiopia and Eritrea. It should be noted that many regional and international players have tried and failed to resolve this political rift, yet a Saudi initiative led by King Salman Bin Abd El Aziz and Crown Prince Mohamed Bin Salman was able to bring the long winding conflict to a standstill. This peace initiative was based on the essence of Saudi Arabia’s foreign policy goals which in turn is based on supporting peace, evading violence as a means of conflict resolution and end clashes that might be present between or among states. The first priority of Saudi peace initiatives is the Horn of Africa region, which is an area of strategic interest among many international powers and is of strategic interest to Saudi Arabia, in particular. This is because by maintaining a stronghold in the Horn of Africa guarantees another arena in which Saudi Arabia can further deter the influence of another certain regional power. Saudi Arabia did not establish peace in the Horn of Africa by launching separate peace initiatives in the conflicting countries; rather the peace effort was the culmination of vigorous and arduous efforts initiated by the Kingdom years ago. These efforts were based on firm convictions that the sovereignty of peace between geographically close nations and the spread of security and safety were essential prerequisites for development and prosperity. This is especially true for a region that has suffered
and continues to suffer from the negative effects of the pragmatic and imperialist visions of the great powers, which only take a narrow approach when it comes to these countriesby focusing mainly on their own self-interest. Saudi Arabia’s relations with this region started at the dawn of the civil and tribal conflicts in Somalia, a state which has received Saudi political and economic aid for the past two decades, a state that the Kingdom worked tirelessly to end the cycle of ceaseless fighting there. These efforts eventually paid off in 2007, when Somalia’s fighting tribes and parties came together in Jeddah and signed a peace treaty in a ceremony presided over by the late King Abd Allah Bin Abd El Aziz. On the eve of the 88thanniversary of the founding of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Jedda became a landmark that hosted an important development for the Horn of Africa, as Eritrea and Ethiopia signed a treaty in that city. This was a vital first step in ensuring security for countries situated at the Red Sea and the two states that have been mired in conflicts since 1998. It is evident that such progresses in the Horn of Africa has clarified Saudi Arabia’s goals for pragmatic dialogue and has clarified that Saudi Arabia uses and will continue to use diplomatic means rather than violent confrontation to resolve regional and international conflicts. This treaty signing also led to a historic reconciliation between Djibouti President Ismail Omar Jila and his Eritrean counterpart Isaias Afewerki, as both aimed for a final solution to the border conflict. Saudi Arabia’s diplomatic efforts in the Horn of Africa did not stop there, on August 2018 ,9 Saudi Foreign Minister, Adel El Jebeir, visited both Adis Ababa and Asmara and met with both the countries’ leaders. Furthermore, Saudi Arabia’s Minister for African Affairs, Ahmed Qutan, visited Djibouti in July 2018 ,30 where he met their president Omar Ismail Jila and gave him a letter from the Custodian of the Holy Mosques, King Salman Bin Abdul Aziz. Such efforts have given joy to the people living in the Horn of Africa as the restoration of normal relations among these countries in now within touching distance. Saudi Arabia not only achieved political stability and security in the Horn of Africa, it also gave the region the opportunity to develop economically. As a result, the Red Sea region as a whole now produces 3.3 million barrels of oil daily. In the past, great powers attempted to achieve such stability in the region by setting up military bases. Alas, all that did was help the great powers’ self-interests, while the conflict would spillover to other countries. But all that changed once Saudi “peaceful confrontation” came to the region and ended the two decade long Ethiopian-Eritrean conflict and the ten year long EritreanDjiboutian conflict.
PEACE……A TRUE SAUDI IDEAL Working to achieve peace with and between countries reflects an old Saudi ideal that rejects policies of exclusion and isolation, which are practised by other neighboring countries. This is why Saudi embassies and consulates all around the world have had an instrumental role in helping to resolve conflicts that the host country might be facing. Saudi ambassadors all over the world take this approach that both support and reject Saudi Arabia’s policies and ideals. Given all these factors, it should not come as a surprise that most Saudi ambassadors and diplomats get praised by the host country when they end their service. Many Saudi embassies have led initiatives which sought to unite Islamic and Arab policies on a number of international issues. Furthermore, Saudi diplomacy has also established initiatives of “bridges” that aimed to achieve reconciliation between political leaders and parties. These “bridges” are based on principles of mutual respect and acceptance and the achievement of common interests through the values of dialogue and coexistence. These activities reflect Saudi values of peaceful foreign policy, rather than exclusion and exploitation, and this is an approach that Saudi Arabia always took even when dealing with malicious individuals, groups and states that want to disrupt its internal stability and its role in the regional and international stage. Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince, Mohamed Bin Salman, represents a new era of Saudi diplomacy that seeks to build new political and economic bridges around the world. According to the 2018 Asda’a Burson-Marsteller Arab Youth Survey, young Arabs think that in comparison to other Arab leaders, Mohamed Bin
Recently, Saudi Arabia has successfully resolved one of the most complex political conflicts, namely the one between Ethiopia and Eritrea. Institutional proliferation: Saudi diplomacy has spread through its various missions to strengthen its presence on the international scene and to increase its political and economic capabilities.
Salman will have the biggest influence on the region in the coming ten years. Dia El Din Said, Saudi ambassador to Djibouti, has expanded on some of the Crown Prince’s diplomatic achievements. For one thing, he played a part in the reconciliation ceremonies of Ethiopia and Eritrea and Eritrea and Djibouti that took place in Jeddah. He has also constantly been following up on the relations among those states. Additionally, Mohamed Bin Salman is also the mastermind behind the “Saudi Vision 2030” plan, which aims to diversify the country’s economy as to make it a leader in the global stage. Moreover, Dia El Din Said claimed that the Crown Prince has the leadership qualities of his father, King Salman, and the founder of Saudi Arabia King Abd El Aziz. Such potential from the Crown Prince promises a bright future for the Kingdom as a big player in international affairs. Saudi Arabia's foreign policy has historically been based on specific principles: good-neighborliness, non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries, strengthening Gulf Arab and Islamic relations to serve common interests, pursuing non-aligned policies and playing key roles within regional and international organizations. The regional vacuum that the region has suffered over the past years has forced Saudi Arabia to intervene to solve many of the region's crises and problems. This has burdened Saudi diplomacy with many afflictions, which had to be dealt with professionally and efficiently. This is where the "key fulcrums" for the Kingdom's activities in its regional and international environment come into play. These key fulcrums include:
The role of diplomacy in Saudi foreign policy has greatly increased in recent years. As such, Saudi Arabia has increased the number of embassies and consulates the world. Some of the countries that have received new Saudi embassies are ones that have been under difficult political pressures, such as the former Soviet states. Therefore, it can be said that Saudi foreign policy has had a recent focus on either launching diplomatic relations for the first time or reactivating them more intensively, directly and effectively. The Kingdom's foreign policy enabled it to become the centre of influence in the Islamic world, the focal point in the international energy industry and the world's largest oil producer, one of the most important emerging economies, and also the largest market in the Middle East. Saudi Arabia’s new role as a regional and international leader resulted in its emergence as an important player in the establishment of new economic and investment markets. This in turn increased the Kingdom’s presence in South America, Scandinavia, Africa and Eastern Europe. Diversification of international alliances:Saudi Arabia, led by King Salman bin Abdul Aziz, adopted strategies to diversify alliance patterns as a strategic choice, leading to an eastward direction. The Kingdom launched a new phase of relations with Russia, China, Japan and many other Asian countries. The developments of Saudi Arabia's smooth-moving diplomatic moves can be seen in the diversity of relations with the major powers and not only in a central strategic ally. This approach has brought to the Kingdom stable foreign relations with many European countries. For instance, relations with Moscow have shifted from weak economic and political ties to a strategic relation backed by dozens of deals and many economic partnerships across diverse projects. Mikhail Bogdanov, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister and representative to the Arab League, has recently said that he is continuing his effort to organize a future visit by Vladimir Putin to Saudi Arabia. Such efforts were initiated after King Salman invited him to Saudi Arabia so that the relationship between both
states can reach its `z. This invitation also came after the Saudi King’s first visit to Moscow, a visit that the Russian government described as a “historic development” that pushed Saudi-Russian relations to a higher level. It was during this visit that both countries signed an array of important agreements. Putin would also go on to say that he looks forward to his visit to Riyadh where he can continue his dialogue with the Saudi King on “enforcing their signed agreements and opening new aspects for Saudi-Russian cooperation”. Moreover, on 30 May, 2017, the Saudi Foreign Minister and Crown Prince Mohamed Bin Salman met with Vladimir Putin and both parties agreed to ease energy relations and to cooperate on the Syrian issue. During the visit, Mohamed Bin Salman said: “There are many issues that bring us together, we both also know how to quickly resolve issues that we disagree on.” The Kingdom is taking various steps to strengthen its foreign relations and its international alliances, recognizing that these approaches are paramount to ensuring the kingdom's status in the international arena. As relations with Moscow have witnessed positive developments, Saudi-Chinese relations have also experienced great growth since 2016 when both states signed a comprehensive strategic partnership. The Saudi diplomatic effort, in addition to the development of relations with the major powers, also strengthened the international role of the Kingdom intensifying its efforts to resolve conflicts. This role was consistent with the UN Charter, in which the Kingdom uses its proactive diplomacy to prevent these crises from escalating into military conflicts resulting in disasters. . That is why the Kingdom has participated in the tasks of international organizations and has cooperated with states that believe in collective action in the pursuit of international peace and security. It can be safely and undoubtly said that Saudi Arabia's regional and international policy is based on certain principles such as good-neighborliness, non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries, cooperative relations with friendly countries and actively playing a role in the framework of regional and international organizations. One of the key reasons why Saudi Arabia has such a progressive and humitarian approah to diplomacy is because it was one of the founding members of the United Nations in 1945. Additionally the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has a deep belief that world peace is one of the objectives of its foreign policy as it consistently calls for a more transparent basis for justice in dealing with states, as it sees this as the only way to stabalize the world. The Kingdom affirms that it fights extremism and terrorism in all its forms and promotes international peace and security through its leading position in both the Islamic and Arab worlds.
The balance between work and accomplishments:Saudi diplomacy is working continuously to avoid confrontation and reduce disagreements with other forces that take different approaches to foreign policy issues, which evidently raises tensions and unrest with such states. In this context, Saudi diplomacy seeks to play a concrete and active role in the Syrian issue, which has caused some escalations with other powers. This is based on the fact that the Syrian issue, despite its importance, has been ignored by various Arab countries for years until all the foreign powers and some regional parties, including Iran, Israel, Turkey, militias and other countries started getting involved in Syria. The reason behind their massive involvements was due to the decline of the American role in the region during the reign of former US President Barack Obama, and President Donald Trump’s initial plan to withdraw US troops from there before the White House reconsidered its policy on the Syrian crisis. Saudi Arabia is still resuming its diplomatic role in the Syrian issue, and it does so in international summits and negotiating tables not just as a representative of the Arab region, but as an actor that is effected by what has been happening in Syria. It should be noted that through Saudi Arabia’s calculated and silent diplomacy these past few months have caused a major shift in a number of hot topic issues in the region, including the Syrian issue. Re-aligning the Arab Forces:While the Kingdom seeks to reestablish the Syrian state as a unified state in which all its citizens live with guaranteed and just rights, the Saudi diplomacy aims to reorient Arab relations towards Iraq as to counter Iranian policies in the region. Therefore, Saudi diplomacy seeks a new phase of bilateral relations, based on comprehensive coordination in many issues between Riyadh and Baghdad. This is also a time in which the Kingdom is seeking to strengthen interregional Arab relations and Arab-international relations to face the threats posed by Iranian policies in the region. It is these Iranian policies that have had negative impacts on Yemen, Syria and Lebanon. Riyadh foreign policy in the region can
be considered the antithesis of the Obama’s administration’s Middle East policy. Riyadh had a leading role in alerting Washington to the disasters of the Iranian nuclear deal. Saudi Arabia also refused to participate in Barack Obama's vision of establishing what the White House called a "new geopolitical equilibrium" in the Gulf region. Saudi Arabia has formulated a different policy with the Iranian state. This policy resulted in the confrontation of the Houthi rebellion in Yemen and the ensuing confrontations in the region, which included Syria, Iraq and Lebanon. This is because Saudi Arabia did not leave the playing field for Iran, lest Arab national security would have been in a dire situation. Countering extremism and militancy:Saudi Arabia succeeded in confronting the forces of extremism and militancy through different forms and approaches. Such approaches included focusing on absorbing and containing the extremist ideologies while promoting moderate religious thought. On the foreign arena, the Kingdom's diplomacy launched alliances to counter the forces of extremism . On the level of the Kingdom's relations with international powers, Saudi diplomacy succeeded in hosting three successive international summits: the SaudiAmerican, Gulf-American and Arab-Islamic-American Summits, respectively. In the presence of a large number of leaders and heads of participating countries, the Kingdom has proved to the world its role as a leader in the Arab and Islamic worlds, and its dedication for the consolidation of world peace. Saudi foreign policy has also taken a more proactive approach to prosecute and dismantle terrorist networks and cells. Saudi Arabia has formed a coalition of Muslim countries bent on fighting terrorist groups in the region. Furthermore, Riyadh was designated as the coalition’s center of operations to coordinate and support military missions to combat terrorism and to develop the programs and mechanisms necessary to support these efforts. All these efforts enhance the capacity and efficiency of Saudi security and diplomacy forces which help support both regional and international security. Diplomatic Dignity:Although Saudi Arabia tries its best to form the best possible relations with regional and international neighbors, there are times in which certain states can be unfriendly towards the Kingdom, and unfortunatly Saudi Arabia has faced many hostile policies from different regional and international forces. Saudi relations with Germany, Canada and Turkey have suffered from tensions ranging from disciplined tensions to direct political and media confrontations. However, the Kingdom has proven to be balanced in the face of threats and pressure, with Riyadh and Berlin relations reverting to normalcy and Saudi-Canadian tensions decreasing thanks to Saudi Arabia's reciprocity policies. The previous tensions with Germany can be summed up as this: Riyadh recalled its ambassador to Germany in November 2017 in protest against a statement made by then German Foreign
Saudi Arabia’s diplomatic activities have been varied, and it was through this multiplicity of methods that enabled Saudi Arabia to adopt a progressive and moderate foreign policy, in which it avoids interfering in other states’ internal governance. Minister Sigmar Gabriel in which he discussed Saudi Arabia's policies towards Lebanon and its Prime Minister Saad Hariri. However, the inaccuracy of these statements prompted current German Foreign Minister Haiku Maas to hold a meeting with his Saudi counterpart Adel al-Jubeir on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York. In this meeting Maas highlighted that "Our relations have seen differences over the past months, resulting from a misunderstanding that strongly contradicts the strong and strategic relations that bind us, and we deeply regret it”. For his part, Al-Jubeir pointed to "the leading role of the two countries in international security and economy" and called on his German counterpart to visit the Kingdom "as soon as possible" to give new impetus to bilateral cooperation between the two countries. Saudi policies have also helped in restoring relations with Spain after the latter tried to intervene in Saudi politics. Saudi Arabia has also been known to support the progression of developing countries through its donor institutions, particularly the Saudi Fund for Development, which contributes to financing development projects and infrastructure development in many countries around the world. Saudi Arabia's diplomacy reflects the Kingdom's growing capabilities and the nature of its principles. This comes at a difficult time, given the magnitude of the challenges facing the region, which makes the task of forging relations with various regional and international actors a difficult yet necessary task. While the Kingdom is taking a serious and honest approach, it seeks to continue its efforts especially since its rapidly growing economy and political apparatus has helped make it a world leader in diplomacy. Therefore Saudi must, and will, continue to use its growing power in a responsible manner that reflects its own values as to help the world become a more peaceful and stable place for generations to come. The peace treaty between Ethiopia and Eritrea, and Eritrea and Djibouti, respectively are examples of the values, ideals and goals that this diplomacy carries.
Confronting Iran The Trump Administrationâ€™s Strategy by Michael R. Pompeo The end of the Cold War forced new thinking among policymakers and analysts about the greatest challenges to U.S.
national security. The emergence of al Qaeda, cybercriminals, and other dangerous entities affirmed the threat of nonstate actors. But equally daunting has been the resurgence of outlaw regimesâ€”rogue states that defy international norms,
Because Iran knew that the Obama administration would prioritize preserving the deal over everything else, the JCPOA created a sense of impunity on the part of the regime, allowing it to increase its support for malign activity President Barack Obama told him that this would be his greatest national security challenge. With Iran, likewise, the deal that the Obama administration struck in 2015—the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA—failed to end the country’s nuclear ambitions. In fact, because Iran knew that the Obama administration would prioritize preserving the deal over everything else, the JCPOA created a sense of impunity on the part of the regime, allowing it to increase its support for malign activity. The deal has also given Tehran piles of money, which the supreme leader has used to sponsor all types of terrorism throughout the Middle East (with few consequences in response) and which have boosted the economic fortunes of a regime that remains bent on exporting its revolution abroad and imposing it at home.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks at the United Against Nuclear Iran Summit in New York on September ,25 2018. (Getty)
fail to respect human rights and fundamental freedoms, and act against the security of the American people, U.S. allies and partners, and the rest of the world. Chief among these outlaw regimes are North Korea and Iran. Their transgressions against international peace are many, but both nations are most notorious for having spent decades pursuing nuclear weapons programs in violation of international prohibitions. Despite Washington’s best efforts at diplomacy, Pyongyang hoodwinked U.S. policymakers with a string of broken arms control agreements going back to the George H. W. Bush administration. North Korea’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs continued apace, to the point where after Donald Trump was elected,
That the threats from North Korea and Iran grew in the post– Iraq war era has further complicated the question of how best to counteract them; Americans are rightly skeptical of the costs of a protracted military commitment in the name of protection from weapons of mass destruction. With the difficulties of Iraq fresh in mind, and with previous agreements to restrain the threats from North Korea and Iran having proved impotent, stopping these recalcitrant regimes from doing harm demands new diplomatic paradigms. Enter President Trump. For all of the Washington establishment’s fretting over his style of international engagement, his diplomacy is anchored in a deliberate approach that gives the United States an advantage in confronting outlaw regimes.
THE TRUMP DOCTRINE Both on the campaign trail and in office, President Trump has been clear about the need for bold American leadership to put the United States’ security interests first. This commonsense principle reverses the Obama administration’s preferred posture of “leading from behind,” an accommodationist
strategy that incorrectly signaled diminished American power and influence. Leading from behind made North Korea a greater threat today than ever before. Leading from behind at best only delayed Iran’s pursuit of becoming a nuclear power, while allowing the Islamic Republic’s malign influence and terror threat to grow. Today, both North Korea and Iran have been put on notice that the United States will not allow their destabilizing activities to go unchecked. The aggressive multinational pressure campaign that the United States has led against North Korea, combined with the president’s clear and unequivocal statements that the United States will defend its vital interests with force if necessary, created the conditions for the talks that culminated in President Trump’s summit with Chairman Kim Jong Un in Singapore this past June. It was there that Chairman Kim committed to the final, fully verified denuclearization of North Korea. North Korea has made similar commitments in the past, but unlike those, this was the first time there was a personal, leader-to-leader commitment on denuclearization. That may or may not signal a major strategic shift on the part of Chairman Kim, and we have much work to do to gauge his intentions and make sure his commitment is implemented. But President Trump’s approach has created an opportunity to peacefully resolve an issue of vital national security that has long vexed policymakers. The president, our special representative for North Korea (Stephen Biegun), and I will continue to work with clear eyes to seize this opportunity. With Iran, similarly, the Trump administration is pursuing a “maximum pressure” campaign designed to choke off revenues that the regime—and particularly the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), part of Iran’s military that is directly beholden to the supreme leader—uses to fund violence through Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in the Palestinian territories, the Assad regime in Syria, the Houthi rebels in Yemen, Shiite militias in Iraq, and its own agents covertly plotting around the world. Yet President Trump does not want another long-term U.S. military engagement in the Middle East—or in any other region, for that matter. He has spoken openly about the dreadful consequences of the 2003 invasion of Iraq and the 2011 intervention in Libya. Pundits may gin up fear over the idea that this administration will get the United States into a war, but it is clear that Americans have a president who, while not afraid to use military power (just ask the Islamic State, the Taliban, or the Assad regime), is not eager to use it, either. Overwhelming military force will always be a backstop for protecting the American people, but it should not be the first option.
Another important aspect of the president’s diplomacy is his willingness to talk to the United States’ staunchest adversaries. As he said in July, “Diplomacy and engagement is preferable to conflict and hostility.” Consider his approach to North Korea: his diplomacy with Chairman Kim diffused tensions that were escalating by the day. Complementing the president’s willingness to engage is his instinctual aversion to bad deals. His understanding of the importance of leverage in any negotiation eliminates the potential for deeply counterproductive agreements like the JCPOA. He is willing to forge agreements with U.S. rivals, but he is also comfortable walking away from negotiations if they don’t end up furthering U.S. interests. This is in stark
A picture taken on August 2010 ,20 shows an Iranian flag fluttering at an undisclosed location in the Islamic republic next to a surface-to-surface Qiam1- (Rising) missile which was test fired a day before Iran was due to launch its Russianbuilt first nuclear power plant. (Getty)
contrast to the Obama administration’s approach to the JCPOA, in which the deal itself became an objective to be obtained at all costs. When considering a future North Korea deal that is superior to the JCPOA, we have described our objective as “the final, fully verified denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, as agreed to by Chairman Kim Jong Un.” “Final” means that there will be no possibility that North Korea will ever restart its weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs—something the JCPOA did not provide for with Iran. “Fully verified” means that there will be stronger verification standards than were required under the JCPOA, which, among other weaknesses, did not require inspections at key Iranian military facilities. The exact contours of a North Korea agreement remain to be negotiated, but “final” and “fully verified” are centerpieces on which we will not compromise.
THE IRANIAN THREAT President Trump’s commitment to the American people’s security, combined with his aversion to the unnecessary use of military force and his willingness to talk to adversaries, has provided a new framework for confronting outlaw regimes. And today, no regime has more of an outlaw character than that of Iran. That has been the case since 1979, when a relatively small cadre of Islamic revolutionaries seized power. The regime’s revolutionary mindset has motivated its actions ever since—in fact, soon after its founding, the IRGC created the Quds Force, its elite special forces unit, and tasked it with exporting the revolution abroad. Ever since, regime officials have subordinated all other domestic and international responsibilities, including their obligations to the Iranian people, to fulfilling the revolution. As a result, over the past four decades, the regime has sown a great deal of destruction and instability, bad behavior that did not end with the JCPOA. The deal did not permanently prevent Iran’s pursuit of a nuclear weapon—indeed, the statement in April by Iran’s top nuclear official that the country could restart its nuclear program in days suggests that it may not have delayed that program very much at all. Nor did the deal curtail Iran’s violent and destabilizing activity in Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Yemen, and Gaza. Iran still supplies the Houthis with missiles that are fired at Saudi Arabia, supports Hamas’ attacks on Israel, and recruits impressionable Afghan, Iraqi, and Pakistani youth to fight and die in Syria. Thanks to Iranian subsidies, the average Lebanese Hezbollah fighter earns two or three times per month what a fireman in Tehran brings home. In May 2018, President Trump withdrew from the nuclear deal because it was clearly not protecting the national security interests of the United States or our allies and partners, nor
The Trump administration will continue to reveal the regime’s illicit revenue streams, malign activities, crooked self-dealing, and savage oppression was it making Iran behave like a normal country. In July, an Iranian diplomat based in Vienna was arrested for supplying explosives to terrorists seeking to bomb a political rally in France. It is telling that while Iran’s leaders try to convince Europe to stay in the nuclear deal, they are covertly plotting terrorist attacks in the heart of the continent. Taken together, Iran’s actions have made the country a pariah, much to the despair of its own people.
THE PRESSURE CAMPAIGN In place of the Iran nuclear deal, President Trump has initiated a multi-pronged pressure campaign. Its first component is economic sanctions. The president recognizes the power of sanctions to squeeze the regime while incurring a low opportunity cost for the United States. Under the Trump administration, the United States has imposed 17 rounds of Iran-related sanctions, targeting 147 Iran-related individuals and entities. The goal of these aggressive sanctions is to force the Iranian regime to make a choice: whether to cease or persist in the policies that triggered the measures in the first place. Iran’s decision to continue its destructive activity has already had grave economic consequences, which have been exacerbated by officials’ gross mismanagement in pursuit of their own self-interests. Extensive meddling in the economy by the IRGC, under the guise of privatization, makes doing business in Iran a losing proposition, and foreign investors never know whether they are facilitating commerce or terrorism. Instead of using what wealth the JCPOA has generated to boost the material well-being of the Iranian people, the regime has parasitically consumed it and shelled out billions in subsidies for dictators, terrorists, and rogue militias. Iranians are understandably frustrated. The rial’s value has collapsed in the past year. A third of Iranian youth are unemployed. Unpaid wages are leading to rampant strikes. Fuel and water shortages are common. This malaise is a problem of the regime’s own making. Iran’s elite resembles a Mafia in its racketeering and corruption. Two years ago, Iranians rightfully erupted in anger when leaked
pay stubs showed massive amounts of money inexplicably flowing into the bank accounts of senior government officials. For years, clerics and officials have wrapped themselves in the cloak of religion while robbing the Iranian people blind. Today, protesters chant to the regime, “You have plundered us in the name of religion.” According to the London-based newspaper Kayhan, Ayatollah Sadeq Larijani, the head of Iran’s judiciary, who the United States sanctioned this year for human rights abuses, is worth at least 300$ million, thanks to the embezzlement of public funds. Nasser Makarem Shirazi, a grand ayatollah, is also worth many millions of dollars. He became known as “the Sultan of Sugar” for having pressured the Iranian government to lower subsidies to domestic sugar producers while flooding the market with his own, more expensive imported sugar. This type of activity puts ordinary Iranians out of work. Ayatollah Mohammad Emami Kashani, one of the leaders of Friday prayers in Tehran for the last 30 years, had the government transfer several lucrative mines to his personal foundation. He, too, is now worth millions. The corruption goes all the way to the top. Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has his own personal, off-the-books hedge fund called the Setad, which is worth 95$ billion. That untaxed and ill-gotten wealth, often earned by expropriating the assets of political and religious minorities, is used as a slush fund for the IRGC. In other words, Iran’s leading holy man captains the kind of plundering characteristic of Third World strongmen. The regime’s greed has created a chasm between the people of Iran and their leaders, making it difficult for officials to credibly persuade young Iranians to be the vanguard of the next generation of the revolution. The theocratic ayatollahs can preach “Death to Israel” and “Death to America” day and night, but they cannot mask their rank hypocrisy. Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran’s foreign minister, has degrees from San Francisco State University and the University of Denver, and Ali Akbar Velayati, the supreme leader’s top adviser,
The deal has also given Tehran piles of money, which the supreme leader has used to sponsor all types of terrorism throughout the Middle East
studied at Johns Hopkins University. Khamenei himself is chauffeured around in a BMW, even as he calls for the Iranian people to buy goods made in Iran. This phenomenon is similar to what occurred in the Soviet Union in the 1970s and 1980s, when the spirit of 1917 began to ring hollow on account of the hypocrisy of its champions. The Politburo could no longer with a straight face tell Soviet citizens to embrace communism when Soviet officials were themselves secretly peddling smuggled blue jeans and Beatles records. Iran’s leaders—especially those at the top of the IRGC, such as Qasem Soleimani, the head of the Quds Force—must be made to feel the painful consequences of their violence and corruption. Given that the regime is controlled by a desire for self-enrichment and a revolutionary ideology from which it will not easily depart, sanctions must be severe if they are to change entrenched habits. That’s why the Trump administration is reimposing U.S. sanctions that were lifted or waived as part of the nuclear deal; the first of these went back into effect on August 7, with the remainder coming back on November 5. We intend to get global imports of Iranian crude oil as close to zero as possible by November 4. As part of our campaign to crush the Iranian regime’s terrorist financing, we have also worked with the United Arab Emirates to disrupt a currency exchange network that was transferring millions of dollars to the Quds Force. The United States is asking every nation that is sick and tired of the Islamic Republic’s
Iranian Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani (C) attends Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei›s (not seen) meeting with the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) in Tehran, Iran on September 2016 ,18. (Getty)
We do not seek war. But we must make painfully clear that escalation is a losing proposition for Iran; the Islamic Republic cannot match the United States’ military prowess, and we are not afraid to let Iran’s leaders know it.
IRAN EXPOSED Another critical component of the U.S. pressure campaign against Iran is a commitment to exposing the regime’s brutality. Outlaw authoritarian regimes fear nothing more than having the lid blown off their true workings. The Trump administration will continue to reveal the regime’s illicit revenue streams, malign activities, crooked self-dealing, and savage oppression. The Iranian people themselves deserve to know the grotesque level of self-interest that fuels the regime’s actions. Khamenei and his ilk would not be able to tolerate the domestic and international outrage that would ensue if everything they were up to came to light. Beginning last year, protesters have taken to the street saying, “Leave Syria, think about us!” and “The people are paupers while the mullahs live like gods!” The United States stands with the Iranian people.
destructive behavior to stand up for the Iranian people and join our pressure campaign. Our efforts will be ably led by our new special representative for Iran, Brian Hook. Economic pressure is one part of the U.S. campaign. Deterrence is another. President Trump believes in clear measures to discourage Iran from restarting its nuclear program or continuing its other malign activities. With Iran and other countries, he has made it clear that he will not tolerate attempts to bully the United States; he will punch back hard if U.S. security is threatened. Chairman Kim has felt this pressure, and he would never have come to the table in Singapore without it. The president’s own public communications themselves function as a deterrence mechanism. The all-caps tweet he directed at Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in July, in which he instructed Iran to stop threatening the United States, was informed by a strategic calculation: the Iranian regime understands and fears the United States’ military might. In September, militias in Iraq launched life-threatening rocket attacks against the U.S. embassy compound in Baghdad and the U.S. consulate in Basra. Iran did not stop these attacks, which were carried out by proxies it has supported with funding, training, and weapons. The United States will hold the regime in Tehran accountable for any attack that results in injury to our personnel or damage to our facilities. America will respond swiftly and decisively in defense of American lives.
U.S. President Ronald Reagan understood the power of exposure when he cast the Soviet Union as “an evil empire.” By throwing a spotlight on the regime’s abuses, he was pledging solidarity with a people who had long suffered under communism. It is likewise for the sake of the Iranian people that the Trump administration has not been afraid to expose the regime’s merciless domestic repression. The regime is so wedded to certain ideological principles—including the export of the Islamic Revolution through proxy warfare and the subversion of fellow Muslim-majority countries, implacable opposition to Israel and the United States, and stringent social controls that restrict the rights of women— that it cannot endure any competing ideas. Hence, it has for decades denied its own people human rights, dignity, and fundamental freedoms. That is why in May, for example, Iranian police arrested Maedeh Hojabri, a teenage gymnast, for posting an Instagram video of herself dancing. The regime also regularly arrests religious or ethnic minorities, including Bahais, Christians, and Gonabadi dervishes, when they speak out in support of their rights. Untold numbers of Iranians are tortured and die in Evin Prison—a place no kinder than the basement of the Lubyanka, the dreaded headquarters of the KGB. Those imprisoned include several innocent Americans detained on spurious charges, victims of the regime’s use of hostage taking as a tool of foreign policy. Beginning last December, demonstrators took to the streets of Tehran, Karaj, Isfahan, Arak, and many other cities to peacefully call for a better life. In response, the regime welcomed in the new year in January by arbitrarily arresting up to 5,000 of them. Hundreds reportedly remain behind bars, and more than a dozen are dead at the hands of their
own government. The leaders cynically call these deaths suicide. It is in keeping with the character of the United States that we expose these abuses. As President Reagan said in a speech at Moscow State University in 1988, “Freedom is the recognition that no single person, no single authority or government, has a monopoly on the truth, but that every individual life is infinitely precious, that every one of us put on this world has been put there for a reason and has something to offer.” In May, the Trump administration enumerated 12 areas in which Iran must make progress if there is to be any change in our relationship, including fully halting its uranium enrichment, providing a full account of the prior military dimensions of its nuclear program, ending its proliferation of ballistic missiles and provocative missile launches, releasing imprisoned U.S. citizens, ending its support for terrorism, and more. President Trump has made clear that the pressure will only increase if Iran does not live up to the standards the United States and its partners and allies—and the Iranian people themselves—want to see. That is why Washington is also demanding that Tehran make substantial improvements on human rights. As the president has consistently said, he remains open to talks. But as is the case with North Korea, the United States will continue its pressure campaign until Iran demonstrates tangible and sustained shifts in its policies. If Iran makes those shifts, the possibility of a new comprehensive agreement will greatly increase. We think a deal with the regime is possible. In the absence of one, Iran will face increasing costs for all its reckless and violent activity around the world.
As part of our campaign to crush the Iranian regime’s terrorist financing, we have also worked with the United Arab Emirates to disrupt a currency exchange network that was transferring millions of dollars to the Quds Force
President Trump prefers not to conduct this campaign alone; he wants U.S. allies and partners on board. Indeed, other countries already share a common understanding of the threat Iran poses beyond its nuclear aspirations. French President Emmanuel Macron has said, “It is important to remain firm with Iran over its regional activities and its ballistic program”; British Prime Minister Theresa May has said that she is “clear-eyed about the threat that Iran poses to the Gulf and the wider Middle East.” This widespread agreement about the Iranian threat leaves no room for countries to remain ambivalent about whether to join the global effort to change Iran’s behavior, an effort that is big and getting bigger.
THE POWER OF MORAL CLARITY President Trump inherited a world in some ways as dangerous as the one faced by the United States on the eve of World War I, the one right before World War II, or that during the height
US President Donald Trump signs a document reinstating sanctions against Iran after announcing the US withdrawal from the Iran Nuclear deal, in the Diplomatic Reception Room at the White House in Washington, DC, on May 2018 ,8. (Getty)
of the Cold War. But his disruptive boldness, first on North Korea and now on Iran, has shown how much progress can be made by marrying clarity of conviction with an emphasis on nuclear nonproliferation and strong alliances. President Trump’s actions in confronting outlaw regimes stem from the belief that moral confrontation leads to diplomatic conciliation. This was the blueprint for one of the great foreign policy triumphs of the last century: the American victory in the Cold War. In the first week of his presidency, President Reagan described Soviet leaders, saying, “The only morality they recognize is what will further their cause, meaning they reserve unto themselves the right to commit any crime, to lie, to cheat.” Foreign policy analysts derided his comments, believing their candor would hinder progress toward peace. But the president had also emphasized a commitment to negotiate with the Soviets, a fact that went largely ignored. President
Reagan’s combination of moral clarity and diplomatic acuity laid the groundwork for the 1986 talks in Reykjavik and, later, the downfall of Soviet communism itself. Those who still bow to the same totemic conviction that candor impedes negotiations must recognize the effect that targeted rhetorical and practical pressure have had—and are having—on outlaw regimes. At the rate that the Iranian economy is declining and protests are intensifying, it should be clear to the Iranian leadership that negotiations are the best way forward. MICHAEL R. POMPEO is U.S. Secretary of State. This article was originally published in the November/ December 2018 issue of Foreign Affairs Magazine and on ForeignAffairs.com.
Beijing’s Nuclear Option Why a U.S.-Chinese War Could Spiral Out of Control
by Caitlin Talmadge As China’s power has grown in recent years, so, too, has the risk of war with the United States. Under President Xi Jinping, China has increased its political and economic pressure on Taiwan and built military installations on coral reefs in the South China Sea, fueling Washington’s fears that Chinese expansionism will threaten U.S. allies and influence in the region. U.S. destroyers have transited the Taiwan Strait, to loud protests from Beijing. American policymakers have wondered aloud whether they should send an aircraft carrier through the strait as well. Chinese fighter jets have intercepted U.S. aircraft in the skies above the South China Sea. Meanwhile, U.S. President Donald Trump has
brought long-simmering economic disputes to a rolling boil. A war between the two countries remains unlikely, but the prospect of a military confrontation—resulting, for example, from a Chinese campaign against Taiwan—no longer seems as implausible as it once did. And the odds of such a confrontation going nuclear are higher than most policymakers and analysts think. Members of China’s strategic com¬munity tend to dismiss such concerns. Likewise, U.S. studies of a potential war with China often exclude nuclear weapons from the analysis entirely, treating them as basically irrelevant to the course of a conflict. Asked about the issue in 2015, Dennis Blair, the former commander of U.S. forces in the Indo-Pacific, estimated the likelihood of a U.S.-
Even if Cold War concerns about a preventive nuclear strike do not apply to U.S.-Chinese relations today, one other trigger remains: a conventional war that threatens China’s nuclear arsenal forces would likely also threaten its nuclear arsenal. Faced with such a threat, Chinese leaders could decide to use their nuclear weapons while they were still able to. As U.S. and Chinese leaders navigate a relationship fraught with mutual suspicion, they must come to grips with the fact that a conventional war could skid into a nuclear confrontation. Although this risk is not high in absolute terms, its consequences for the region and the world would be devastating. As long as the United States and China continue to pursue their current grand strategies, the risk is likely to endure. This means that leaders on both sides should dispense with the illusion that they can easily fight a limited war. They should focus instead on managing or resolving the political, economic, and military tensions that might lead to a conflict in the first place.
A NEW KIND OF THREAT
Taiwan soldiers take part in a military drill in Taoyuan on October 2018 ,9. - The drills were held ahead of the island›s National Day celebrations on October 10. (Getty)
Chinese nuclear crisis as “somewhere between nil and zero.” This assurance is misguided. If deployed against China, the Pentagon’s preferred style of conventional warfare would be a potential recipe for nuclear escalation. Since the end of the Cold War, the United States’ signature approach to war has been simple: punch deep into enemy territory in order to rapidly knock out the opponent’s key military assets at minimal cost. But the Pentagon developed this formula in wars against Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and Serbia, none of which was a nuclear power. China, by contrast, not only has nuclear weapons; it has also intermingled them with its conventional military forces, making it difficult to attack one without attacking the other. This means that a major U.S. military campaign targeting China’s conventional
There are some reasons for optimism. For one, China has long stood out for its nonaggressive nuclear doctrine. After its first nuclear test, in 1964, China largely avoided the Cold War arms race, building a much smaller and simpler nuclear arsenal than its resources would have allowed. Chinese leaders have consistently characterized nuclear weapons as useful only for deterring nuclear aggression and coercion. Historically, this narrow purpose required only a handful of nuclear weapons that could ensure Chinese retaliation in the event of an attack. To this day, China maintains a “no first use” pledge, promising that it will never be the first to use nuclear weapons. The prospect of a nuclear conflict can also seem like a relic of the Cold War. Back then, the United States and its allies lived in fear of a Warsaw Pact offensive rapidly overrunning Europe. NATO stood ready to use nuclear weapons first to stalemate such an attack. Both Washington and Moscow also consistently worried that their nuclear forces could be taken out in a bolt-from-theblue nuclear strike by the other side. This mutual fear increased the risk that one superpower might rush to launch in the erroneous belief that it was already under attack. Initially, the danger of unauthorized strikes also loomed large. In the 1950s, lax safety procedures for U.S. nuclear weapons stationed on NATO soil, as well as minimal civilian oversight of U.S. military commanders, raised a serious risk that nuclear escalation could have occurred without explicit orders from the U.S. president.
The good news is that these Cold War worries have little bearing on U.S.-Chinese relations today. Neither country could rapidly overrun the other’s territory in a conventional war. Neither seems worried about a nuclear bolt from the blue. And civilian political control of nuclear weapons is relatively strong in both countries. What remains, in theory, is the comforting logic of mutual deterrence: in a war between two nuclear powers, neither side will launch a nuclear strike for fear that its enemy will respond in kind. The bad news is that one other trigger remains: a conventional war that threatens China’s nuclear arsenal. Conventional forces can threaten nuclear forces in ways that generate pressures to escalate—especially when ever more capable U.S. conventional forces face adversaries with relatively small and fragile nuclear arsenals, such as China. If U.S. operations endangered or damaged China’s nuclear forces, Chinese leaders might come to think that Washington had aims beyond winning the conventional war— that it might be seeking to disable or destroy China’s nuclear arsenal outright, perhaps as a prelude to regime change. In the fog of war, Beijing might reluctantly conclude that limited nuclear escalation—an initial strike small enough that it could avoid fullscale U.S. retaliation—was a viable option to defend itself.
STRAIT SHOOTERS The most worrisome flash point for a U.S.-Chinese war is Taiwan. Beijing’s long-term objective of reunifying the island with mainland China is clearly in conflict with Washington’s longstanding desire to maintain the status quo in the strait. It is not difficult to imagine how this might lead to war. For example, China could decide that the political or military window for regaining control over the island was closing and launch an attack, using air and naval forces to blockade Taiwanese harbors or bombard the island. Although U.S. law does not require Washington to intervene in such a scenario, the Taiwan Relations Act states that the United States will “consider any effort to determine the future of Taiwan by other than peaceful means, including by boycotts or embargoes, a threat to the peace and security of the Western Pacific area and of grave concern to the United States.” Were Washington to intervene on Taipei’s behalf, the world’s sole superpower and its rising competitor would find themselves in the first great-power war of the twenty-first century. In the course of such a war, U.S. conventional military operations would likely threaten, disable, or outright eliminate some Chinese nuclear capabilities—whether doing so was Washington’s stated objective or not. In fact, if the United States engaged in the style of warfare it has practiced over the last 30 years, this outcome would be all but guaranteed. Consider submarine warfare. China could use its conventionally armed attack submarines to blockade Taiwanese harbors or bomb the island, or to attack U.S. and allied forces in the region. If
that happened, the U.S. Navy would almost certainly undertake an antisubmarine campaign, which would likely threaten China’s “boomers,” the four nuclear-armed ballistic missile submarines that form its naval nuclear deterrent. China’s conventionally armed and nuclear-armed submarines share the same shore-based communications system; a U.S. attack on these transmitters would thus not only disrupt the activities of China’s attack submarine force but also cut off its boomers from contact with Beijing, leaving Chinese leaders unsure of the fate of their naval nuclear force. In addition, nuclear ballistic missile submarines depend on attack submarines for protection, just as lumbering bomber aircraft rely on nimble fighter jets. If the United States started sinking Chinese attack submarines, it would be sinking the very force that protects China’s ballistic missile submarines, leaving the latter dramatically more vulnerable. Even more dangerous, U.S. forces hunting Chinese attack submarines could inadvertently sink a Chinese boomer instead. After all, at least some Chinese attack submarines might be escorting ballistic missile submarines, especially in wartime, when China might flush its boomers from their ports and try to send them within range of the continental United States. Since correctly identifying targets remains one of the trickiest challenges of undersea warfare, a U.S. submarine crew might come within shooting range of a Chinese submarine without being sure of its type, especially in a crowded, noisy environment like the Taiwan
This picture taken on February ,21 2017 shows a tourist visiting the ‹816 Nuclear Military Engineering› installation in the mountains of Fuling district, in southwest China›s Chongqing Municipality. It was a top-secret Chinese nuclear facility with a deadly Cold War mission -- to make plutonium for an atomic bomb -- but these days its doors are wide open as a tourist attraction. (Getty)
If a conventional war were to break out between the United States and China, any U.S. military strategy would inevitably endanger Beijing’s nuclear deterrent, intentionally or not
Strait. Platitudes about caution are easy in peacetime. In wartime, when Chinese attack submarines might already have launched deadly strikes, the U.S. crew might decide to shoot first and ask questions later. Adding to China’s sense of vulnerability, the small size of its nuclear-armed submarine force means that just two such incidents would eliminate half of its sea-based deterrent. Meanwhile, any Chinese boomers that escaped this fate would likely be cut off from communication with onshore commanders, left without an escort force, and unable to return to destroyed ports. If that happened, China would essentially have no naval nuclear deterrent. The situation is similar onshore, where any U.S. military campaign would have to contend with China’s growing land-based conventional ballistic missile force. Much of this force is within range of Taiwan, ready to launch ballistic missiles against the island or at any allies coming to its aid. Once again, U.S. victory would hinge on the ability to degrade this conventional ballistic missile force. And once again, it would be virtually impossible to do so while leaving China’s nuclear ballistic missile force unscathed. Chinese conventional and nuclear ballistic missiles are often attached to the same base headquarters, meaning that they likely share transportation and supply networks, patrol routes, and other supporting infrastructure. It is also possible that they share some command-and-control networks, or that the United
States would be unable to distinguish between the conventional and nuclear networks even if they were physically separate. To add to the challenge, some of China’s ballistic missiles can carry either a conventional or a nuclear warhead, and the two versions are virtually indistinguishable to U.S. aerial surveillance. In a war, targeting the conventional variants would likely mean destroying some nuclear ones in the process. Furthermore, sending manned aircraft to attack Chinese missile launch sites and bases would require at least partial control of the airspace over China, which in turn would require weakening Chinese air defenses. But degrading China’s coastal air defense network in order to fight a conventional war would also leave much of its nuclear force without protection. Once China was under attack, its leaders might come to fear that even intercontinental ballistic missiles located deep in the country’s interior were vulnerable. For years, observers have pointed to the U.S. military’s failed attempts to locate and destroy Iraqi Scud missiles during the 91–1990 Gulf War as evidence that mobile missiles are virtually impervious to attack. Therefore, the thinking goes, China could retain a nuclear deterrent no matter what harm U.S. forces inflicted on its coastal areas. Yet recent research suggests otherwise. Chinese intercontinental ballistic missiles are larger and less mobile than the Iraqi Scuds were, and they are harder to move without detection. The United States is also likely to have been tracking them much more closely in peacetime. As a result, China is unlikely to view a failed Scud hunt in Iraq nearly 30 years ago as reassurance that its residual nuclear force is safe today, especially during an ongoing, highintensity conventional war. China’s vehement criticism of a U.S. regional missile defense system designed to guard against a potential North Korean attack already reflects these latent fears. Beijing’s worry is that this system could help Washington block the handful of missiles China might launch in the aftermath of a U.S. attack on its arsenal. That sort of campaign might seem much more plausible in Beijing’s eyes if a conventional war had already begun to seriously undermine other parts of China’s nuclear deterrent. It does not help that China’s real-time awareness of the state of its forces would probably be limited, since blinding the adversary is a standard part of the U.S. military playbook. Put simply, the favored U.S. strategy to ensure a conventional victory would likely endanger much of China’s nuclear arsenal in the process, at sea and on land. Whether the United States
actually intended to target all of China’s nuclear weapons would be incidental. All that would matter is that Chinese leaders would consider them threatened.
LESSONS FROM THE PAST At that point, the question becomes, How will China react? Will it practice restraint and uphold the “no first use” pledge once its nuclear forces appear to be under attack? Or will it use those weapons while it still can, gambling that limited escalation will either halt the U.S. campaign or intimidate Washington into backing down? Chinese writings and statements remain deliberately ambiguous on this point. It is unclear which exact set of capabilities China considers part of its core nuclear deterrent and which it considers less crucial. For example, if China already recognizes that its seabased nuclear deterrent is relatively small and weak, then losing some of its ballistic missile submarines in a war might not prompt any radical discontinuity in its calculus. The danger lies in wartime developments that could shift China’s assumptions about U.S. intentions. If Beijing interprets the erosion of its sea- and land-based nuclear forces as a deliberate effort to destroy its nuclear deterrent, or perhaps even as a prelude to a nuclear attack, it might see limited nuclear escalation as a way to force an end to the conflict. For example, China could use nuclear weapons to instantaneously destroy the U.S. air bases that posed the biggest threat to its arsenal. It could also launch a nuclear strike with no direct military purpose—on an unpopulated area or at sea—as a way to signal that the United States had crossed a redline. If such escalation appears far-fetched, China’s history suggests otherwise. In 1969, similar dynamics brought China to the brink of nuclear war with the Soviet Union. In early March of that year, Chinese troops ambushed Soviet guards amid rising tensions over a disputed border area. Less than two weeks later,
A war between the two countries remains unlikely, but the prospect of a military confrontation— resulting, for example, from a Chinese campaign against Taiwan—no longer seems as implausible as it once did
the two countries were fighting an undeclared border war with heavy artillery and aircraft. The conflict quickly escalated beyond what Chinese leaders had expected, and before the end of March, Moscow was making thinly veiled nuclear threats to pressure China to back down. Chinese leaders initially dismissed these warnings, only to radically upgrade their threat assessment once they learned that the Soviets had privately discussed nuclear attack plans with other countries. Moscow never intended to follow through on its nuclear threat, archives would later reveal, but Chinese leaders believed otherwise. On three separate occasions, they were convinced that a Soviet nuclear attack was imminent. Once, when Moscow sent representatives to talks in Beijing, China suspected that the plane transporting the delegation was in fact carrying nuclear weapons. Increasingly fearful, China testfired a thermonuclear weapon in the Lop Nur desert and put its rudimentary nuclear forces on alert—a dangerous step in itself, as it increased the risk of an unauthorized or accidental launch. Only after numerous preparations for Soviet nuclear attacks that never came did Beijing finally agree to negotiations. China is a different country today than it was in the time of Mao Zedong, but the 1969 conflict offers important lessons. China started a war in which it believed nuclear weapons would be irrelevant, even though the Soviet arsenal was several orders of magnitude larger than China’s, just as the U.S. arsenal dwarfs China’s today. Once the conventional war did not go as planned,
Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Donald Trump attend a welcoming ceremony November 2017 ,9 in Beijing, China. (Getty)
The threat of escalation may make war less likely, but it also makes war radically more dangerous if it does break out
the Chinese reversed their assessment of the possibility of a nuclear attack to a degree bordering on paranoia. Most worrying, China signaled that it was actually considering using its nuclear weapons, even though it had to expect devastating retaliation. Ambiguous wartime information and worst-case thinking led it to take nuclear risks it would have considered unthinkable only months earlier. This pattern could unfold again today.
KEEP THEM GUESSING Both the United States and China can take some basic measures to reduce these dangers. More extensive dialogue and exchange— formal and informal, high level and working level, military and political—could help build relationships that might allow for backchannel de-escalation during a conflict. The two countries already have a formal military hot line in place, although it does not connect political leaders. A dedicated and tested infrastructure for senior military and political leaders to reliably and easily communicate during wartime would provide at least one off-ramp in the event of a crisis. But better communication can only do so much for a problem that ultimately stems from military doctrine and grand strategy. Some analysts have proposed coercing China through a distant naval blockade, and others have suggested confining any U.S. campaign to air and naval operations off China’s coast. The goal in both cases would be to avoid attacks on the Chinese mainland,
where the bulk of Chinese nuclear forces reside. The problem with these alternatives is that the mainland is also where the bulk of Chinese conventional capabilities are located. The United States is unlikely to voluntarily leave these capabilities intact, given its predilection for reducing its own casualties and rapidly destroying enemy forces. If China is using its mainland bases to lob ballistic missiles at U.S. troops and allies, it is hard to imagine a U.S. president ordering the military to hold back in the interest of de-escalation. U.S. allies are particularly unlikely to accept a cautious approach, as they will be more exposed to Chinese military power the longer it is left intact. No one wants a U.S.-Chinese war to go nuclear, but a U.S. campaign that avoids escalation while letting China’s conventional forces turn Taiwan—not to mention Japan or South Korea—into a smoking ruin would not seem like much of a victory either. Of course, Beijing could also take steps to ameliorate the problem, but this is just as unlikely. China has chosen to mount both conventional and nuclear warheads on the same missiles and to attach both conventional and nuclear launch brigades to the same bases. It likely sees some strategic advantage in these linkages. Precisely because these entanglements raise the prospect of nuclear escalation, Beijing may believe that they contribute to deterrence—that they will make the United States less likely to go to war in the first place. But just as China benefits if the United States believes there is no safe way to fight a war, the United States benefits if China believes that war would result not only in China’s conventional defeat but also in its nuclear disarmament. In fact, the United States might believe that this fear could give it greater leverage during a conflict and perhaps deter China from starting one at all. In short, neither side may see much value in peacetime reassurance. Quite the opposite: they may be courting instability. If this is the case, however, then U.S. and Chinese leaders should recognize the tradeoffs inherent in their chosen policies. The threat of escalation may make war less likely, but it also makes war radically more dangerous if it does break out. This sobering reality should encourage leaders on both sides to find ways of resolving political, economic, and military disputes without resorting to a war that could rapidly turn catastrophic for the region and the world. This article was originally published in the November/December 2018 issue of Foreign Affairs Magazine and on ForeignAffairs.com.
How to Save Globalization Rebuilding America’s Ladder of Opportunity by Kenneth F. Scheve and Matthew J. Slaughter We live in a time of protectionist backlash. U.S. President Donald Trump has started a trade war with China, upended the North American Free Trade Agreement, imposed tariffs on the United States’ closest allies, withdrawn from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and talked endlessly about building a wall on the U.S.-Mexican border. But the backlash against globalization goes far beyond Trump himself. In fact, his presidency is more a symptom of it than its cause. Even as they may decry Trump’s
particular methods, many voters and politicians in both parties approve of his objectives. By now, it is well known that this backlash followed a dramatic rise in inequality in the United States. Whether one looks at the percentage of income going to the highest earners (the top ten percent earn 47 percent of national income now, versus 34 percent in 1980), differences in income across educational groups (the premium that college-educated workers earn over high-school-educated workers nearly doubled over the same period), or stagnating real wage performance for many workers
To save globalization, the United States will need to erect a lifelong ladder of opportunity that goes from early childhood education to employment-based training throughout an individual’s working life
A welder for Stewarts Inc., an oilfield service company, works on a tank that will be used in the fracking industry in the Permian Basin oil field on January ,20 2016 in the oil town of Andrews, Texas. (Getty)
(the median real weekly wages for men working full time have not grown at all since 1980), the United States has become markedly more unequal over the past four decades. That period was also characterized by rapid globalization and technological change, which, as a large body of research demonstrates, helped increase inequality. Still, the strength of the backlash continues to take many observers by surprise. That’s because focusing only on the increase in income inequality misses the full extent of the dissatisfaction driving the reaction. For many Americans, a deteriorating labor market brings not just lower wages and less job security; it also
cuts to the heart of their sense of dignity and purpose and their trust and belief in their country. That is especially true for those workers who can no longer provide for their family’s basic needs or have dropped out of the labor market altogether. In a series of recent studies we conducted in communities across the United States, we heard the same sentiments from a range of respondents in a variety of circumstances: anxiety and anger about globalization and change that was not related to income alone but more broadly concerned whether Americans can still secure meaningful roles in their families and communities. There is good reason to find a way to counter the backlash: it threatens to reverse a trend toward global openness and integration that, even with its drawbacks, has delivered real gains in the United States and around the world while bringing global inequality—as opposed to inequality within countries—to its lowest level in centuries. But because the problem goes beyond income inequality, the usual policy solutions are inadequate. It is not enough simply to redistribute income to financially compensate the losers from globalization. Addressing the backlash requires giving all Americans the tools they need to carve out the sense of security and purpose they have lost amid change. That can happen only if the United States completely transforms the way it invests in and builds human capital. No longer can those efforts be limited mostly to the early years of a person’s life, with minimal public expenditures. The country needs to rethink the role of government in developing human capital and invest substantially in doing so. The goal must be to erect a lifelong ladder of opportunity that goes from early childhood education to employment-based training throughout an individual’s working life—saving globalization in a way that appeals to people from across the political spectrum.
NO NEW DEAL Just over a decade ago, we argued in this magazine that stagnant income growth among American workers was leading to a protectionist drift in public policy. As we saw it, “a New Deal for globalization,” with a significant income redistribution that would allow globalization’s gains to be shared more widely, was required to prevent a harmful backlash. There was, of course, no such deal. Instead, what followed was
the financial crisis and a set of inadequate policy responses to globalization and technological change. The stew of vast success for a few, uneasy stagnation for the great majority, and an actual decline for many others came to a boil in the 2016 election. Leading presidential candidates for both parties called for less globalization, not more. Our diagnosis a decade ago emphasized that income growth in the United States had become extremely skewed. That trend has continued. From 2000 through 2016, the inflation-adjusted total money income (the broadest official measure of worker compensation) of most Americans fell. The only two educational categories to enjoy an increase were workers with advanced professional degrees and those with doctorates. For the vast majority of American workers, earnings fell: by 0.7 percent for high school graduates and high school dropouts, by 7.2 percent for those with some college, by 4.3 percent for college graduates, and by 5.5 percent for those with a nonprofessional master’s degree. In 2016, the median household’s real income stood at 59,039$—only 374$ higher than it had been a generation earlier, in 1999. Both globalization and technological change have contributed to this trend. (The financial crisis exacerbated the effects: because of the plunge in home prices, the net worth of the median U.S. household in 2016 was 30 percent less than it was in 2007.) As research by David Autor, David Dorn, and Gordon Hanson found, about 40 percent of the decline in U.S. manufacturing employment between 2000 and 2007 was due to surging U.S. imports from China—with persistent income losses in the communities most exposed to this trade competition. Of course, technology has also played a role. But so far, the backlash has focused on globalization, at least in part because citizens see technological change as both inevitable and fair—and globalization as neither.
IDENTITY AND FAIRNESS Even as income inequality has grown over the past decade, it explains only part of the anxiety and dissatisfaction. Changes in labor markets have undermined people’s ability to fulfill their expected roles in their families and their communities. And so people have grown angry at globalization for eroding both their identity and their basic sense of fairness. People care not just about their absolute levels of income but also about their incomes over time—relative to their expectations and relative to what their parents made and other reference points. In the United States today, fewer children are growing up to earn more than their parents. For the cohort of Americans born in 1940, more than 90 percent earned more at age 30 than their parents did at the same age. For the cohort of Americans born in 1984, this share had fallen to barely 50 percent. Moreover, a growing number of Americans have stopped seeking work
altogether. Labor-market participation, especially among the groups with stagnant incomes, has fallen dramatically in recent years. From 1970 to 2015, among American men with only a high school degree, the labor-force participation rate fell from 98 percent to 85 percent. For American male high school dropouts, that rate fell from 94 percent to 79 percent. The human consequences of these changes have been devastating. The economists Anne Case and Angus Deaton have shown that many of the groups with the poorest labor-market outcomes (and non-Hispanic whites without a college degree, in particular) have seen their health deteriorate markedly, with surging “deaths of despair”—suicide, drug overdoses, alcohol poisoning—raising overall mortality rates. Other researchers have connected tradeinduced income changes to poor health; Justin Pierce and Peter Schott, for example, have shown that counties whose economic structures gave them greater exposure to Chinese competition had higher rates of suicide. There has also been growing inequality across physical space. For most of American history, different regions have grown more equal in relation to one another over time, as firms and workers have taken advantage of variations in cost. But more recently, this convergence has slowed or reversed. As the value of new ideas has dramatically increased, the value of living or locating a business in a large, high-talent city has grown; an accumulating body of research shows that workers are more productive when they are surrounded by other highly skilled workers. The metropolitan areas already doing well have thus started to do even better, while areas that are suffering have had a harder time catching up. As of 2016, there were 53 metropolitan areas in the United States with a population of at least one million. From 2010 through 2016, their output grew by an average of more than 14 percent, compared with under seven percent for cities with populations
A man covers himself with plastic sheets as he begs for money during a winter storm in New York on February 2017 ,9. (Getty)
under 250,000. Total employment in the largest cities grew by 15 percent, compared with just four percent in small cities and two percent in rural areas. Those 53 cities have accounted for 93 percent of the United States’ population growth over the past decade, even though they account for only 56 percent of the overall population. From 2010 through 2016, they also accounted for about two-thirds of total GDP growth and nearly three-quarters of total job growth. And even among the largest cities, there has been growing divergence. Over the last three and a half decades, the difference in GDP per capita between the ten wealthiest and the ten poorest large cities more than doubled in real dollars. Amid such divergences, Americans have lost faith in the future. For decades, The Wall Street Journal and NBC have periodically asked, “Do you feel confident or not confident that life for our children’s generation will be better than it has been for us?” Even during the two recessions that preceded the financial crisis (in 1990 and 2001), more Americans said they felt confident than said they felt not confident in their children’s future. But more recently, that confidence has evaporated. Even in August 2017— the start of the ninth year of the current economic recovery— nearly twice as many Americans were not confident about the future as were confident.
THE CASE FOR GLOBALIZATION If the backlash against globalization is driven by such developments, that does not mean that simply letting the backlash proceed—shutting down trade, cutting off imports, putting up walls—will solve the underlying problems. Despite its very real role in increasing inequality, globalization does, as its champions argue, still do more good than harm. The United States’ connections to the global economy through trade, investment, and immigration have spurred gains for millions of American workers, families, and communities that, in total, exceed the losses. One study by the Peterson Institute for International Economics estimated that U.S. national output and income today would be about ten percent lower had the United States not liberalized international trade and investment as it did over the past two generations. A United States that is cut off from the world would be a less prosperous place. An economy behind walls must generate its own ideas, technologies, and techniques rather than relying on innovations from around the world. It must provide its own savings for investment in new ideas and opportunities rather than tapping into savings abroad. And it must produce all its own goods and services rather than specializing in its particular strengths. Indeed, the research shows that global engagement is correlated with innovation—which, by driving productivity, is the key factor in raising incomes. Companies that export and import or are part of a multinational enterprise tend to outperform their purely domestic counterparts, and global companies pay higher wages. Consider the performance of U.S.-based multinational
Focusing only on the rise in income inequality misses the full extent of the popular dissatisfaction driving the backlash to globalization companies. In 2015 (the last year for which data are available), they spent 700$ billion on new capital investment, 43 percent of all private-sector nonresidential investment in the United States; exported 794$ billion worth of goods, 53 percent of all U.S. goods exported; and spent 284$ billion on research and development, a remarkable 79 percent of total U.S. private-sector R & D. That translates directly into good jobs. In 2015, U.S. multinationals employed 28 million Americans (making up 23 percent of all private-sector jobs), paying them a third more than the average private-sector job. And contrary to conventional wisdom, academic research has repeatedly found that expansion abroad in these companies’ foreign affiliates tends to create jobs in their U.S. parents, not destroy them. Perhaps the most immediate and long-lasting damage from walling off the United States would come from new restrictions on the immigration of high-skilled workers. Immigrants have long made substantial contributions to American innovation. Immigrants, only 13 percent of all U.S. residents today, made up 39 percent of the U.S.-resident Nobel Prize winners in chemistry, medicine, and physics over the past 20 years; 31 percent of the U.S.-resident Nobel winners in all categories during that time; and 37 percent of all the U.S.-based MacArthur Foundation “genius award” winners since 2000. One recent study by the Kauffman Foundation concluded that immigrants accounted for 25 percent of all new high-tech companies founded from 2006 through 2012. As of 2017, immigrants or their children had founded 43 percent of Fortune 500 companies. On top of the economic case for saving globalization, there is a national security case. Open markets contribute to peaceful relations between countries by raising the costs of military disputes. As trade fosters economic development, it also contributes to greater state capacity and political stability, preventing civil conflict and state failure, which can create the conditions for terrorism and other threats. And the United States’ outsized role in launching and governing institutions such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Trade Organization has projected U.S. power and values in peaceful ways unprecedented in world history.
A LIFELONG LADDER OF OPPORTUNITY If globalization has substantial benefits but is contributing to the problem of growing inequality, what can be done? The political establishment is offering Americans three alternatives: the status quo, walls that limit engagement with the world, and income
redistribution. The status quo sparked the backlash and thus will only further inflame it. Walls will leave the country poorer and less secure. Redistribution should be part of the solution. It is a policy we recommended a decade ago, when we proposed making the U.S. tax system more progressive by eliminating payroll taxes for all workers earning below the median income while requiring high earners to pay the tax on a greater percentage of their income. But redistribution is not sufficient, because the problem extends beyond money. Saving globalization requires restoring to tens of millions of Americans the dignity and the trust and faith in the United States that they have lost. This, in turn, requires building a lifelong ladder of opportunity that will give all citizens the human capital needed to adapt to the forces of globalization. Such a ladder would not guarantee success for everyone. But it is human capital, more than any other asset, that determines an individual’s chances of thriving in a dynamic economy. The United States should expand its investments in human capital at every stage of every American’s life. The first rung of this ladder should be a collection of early childhood education programs for every American child from birth to kindergarten, funded by the federal government and based on evidence of what works. Recent research confirms the enormous private and social gains from investing in children’s human capital—and, conversely, the costs of neglecting to do so. A series of studies by the Nobel laureate James Heckman and other researchers, for example, looked at two early childhood interventions in North Carolina and concluded that the benefits were seven times as large as the costs. Today, there are about 25 million children in the United States between the ages of zero and five. Every one of these children should each year receive an average of 4,000$ worth of early childhood programming, for a total annual fiscal cost of about 100$ billion. This programming should focus on activities that have well-documented cognitive benefits, including classroom instruction for parents on language development and high-quality prekindergarten childcare. The second rung of the ladder of opportunity should be federal funding for two years of community-college tuition for every high school graduate who is not pursuing a bachelor’s degree, which would ensure that each could earn an associate’s degree. The economic case for this is compelling. In the United States today, the median lifetime earnings of a high school graduate is about 1.3$ million in constant dollars. The figure for someone with an associate’s degree is 1.7$ million, nearly a third higher. That additional 400,000$ in income comes from spending only about 30,000$ on the typical two-year associate’s degree—a substantial return on investment, which is even larger for many in-demand programs, such as radiation therapy. Last year, about 1.6 million of the United States’ 2.9 million
high school graduates did not go on to a four-year college or university. Every one of them should receive full tuition, limited income support, and assistance for other related costs to attend a two-year community college, for a total annual cost to the federal government of about 50$ billion. Providing income support and covering other costs beyond just tuition are important to substantially boost graduation rates, which are widely acknowledged to be far too low. (This investment would more directly address the needs of those most harmed by globalization than would current proposals to make four-year public colleges tuition free.) The third rung should be a lifetime training scholarship for every working American who does not have a four-year college degree. Each person would get 10,000$ a decade through his or her 20s, 30s, 40s, and 50s for use as a tax credit by his or her employer to invest in that person’s skills. Eligible investments would include online courses, in-person programs at local colleges, and inhouse training crafted by the employer. Rather than rely on the ability of the government or higher education institutions to identify the skills needed by workers across the U.S. labor force, this program would harness the insights that businesses uniquely have about which skills they need the most. (Since the program would be available to every worker without a college degree, the stigma that has been attached to many similar training programs would be removed; those programs often fail to boost earnings because companies infer that individuals chosen for them suffer from some shortcoming.) Companies should prove willing to make these once-a-decade, 10,000$ investments in their employees because of the tax credit and because of the competitive pressures. Today, there are about
Graduating students arrive for the Columbia University 2016 Commencement ceremony in New York May 2016 ,18. (Getty)
100 million U.S. workers who never graduated from college. With a tax credit of up to 10,000$ per decade for every one of these workers, about ten million of whom can be expected to take up the scholarship a year, the annual price tag would be about 100$ billion. The three rungs together would cost the U.S. government about 250$ billion each year, which would represent the largest federal investment in human capital in American history. (For comparison’s sake, the 2018 budget of the U.S. Department of Education is 68$ billion.) But there is a way to fund this new federal spending. First, Congress could reverse the 2017 tax cuts for individuals, which are estimated to have cost the government an annual average of over 125$ billion in revenue. Second, it could partially cut the exemption that allows employers to deduct the money they spend on health insurance premiums from their taxable income—an exemption that costs the federal government 250$ billion a year in lost revenue. That exemption is both regressive, in that it benefits high-income taxpayers more than low-income ones, and economically inefficient, in that it fuels higher health-care costs. There are, of course, other ways to come up with 250$ billion. The important point is that this investment in the human capital of Americans would be not just feasible but also economically productive.
BEYOND BACKLASH There is good reason to think that Americans will see a lifelong ladder of opportunity as a response both suited to the problem and in line with their particular goals and values—giving it a chance to help reestablish a political consensus in favor of globalization. We recently conducted a representative online survey of over 5,000 U.S. adults across the country and asked them to think about how the U.S. economy could better deliver good jobs and incomes in today’s world. We presented three broad policy options. The first was walls: “Implement policies that reduce international trade, prevent firms from going overseas, and decrease immigration.” The second, safety nets: “Adopt new policies that substantially tax those firms and individuals that benefit from globalization and then spend the new revenue on government income programs for everyone else.” And the third, ladders: “Adopt new policies that substantially tax those firms and individuals that benefit from globalization and then spend the new revenue on programs—for example, training and education—that provide more people with greater opportunity to benefit from globalization.” The third option, ladders, was overwhelmingly the preferred strategy: 45 percent of respondents selected it, versus just 29 percent opting for walls and 26 percent choosing safety nets. We also held focus groups in several cities and asked about the preference for ladders. Several points stood out in the discussions. First, participants emphasized that globalization does make significant contributions to overall growth. “I think the
It is not enough simply to redistribute income to compensate the losers from globalization. Addressing the backlash requires giving all Americans the tools they need to carve out the sense of security and purpose they have lost amid change whole economy has become a world economy, so I don’t think you can start cutting off international trade,” said one respondent. “It’s going to hurt everybody.” Many also expressed ambivalence about programs that redistribute income, articulating a desire to help those in need but also concerns about the fairness and incentive effects of such programs; some of these respondents also stressed that such programs can sometimes generate as much resentment as globalization itself. Most important, a majority of the members of these focus groups recognized the ladders strategy as a way to help people share in the benefits of a dynamic economy rather than just mitigate its harms. As one respondent put it, “You’re not just spreading revenue across to everybody; you’re using it to provide greater opportunity and training and education—which then, in theory, should bring everybody up, also, to where they benefit from trade.” Many also stressed that the strategy would not just address income disparity but also help workers fulfill their perceived duties to their families and communities. “I want to take care of my family,” one told us. “I can start my own business if I want to. I think there are too many people who don’t feel that way, who can’t.” The large number of Americans who believe that the United States’ economic and political institutions are no longer delivering enough opportunity are right. It should be no surprise that they are anxious, angry, and open to proposals to build walls to keep out the rest of the world. But the right response to these trends is not complacently accepting the status quo or simply letting the backlash against globalization proceed. By investing seriously in ladders of opportunity, the United States can give all its citizens the human capital that will let them take part in a changing economy—not just saving globalization but also ensuring that Americans benefit from it. KENNETH F. SCHEVE is Professor of Political Science at Stanford University and a Senior Fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies. This article was originally published in the Foreign Affairs.
Don’t Write Off Merkel Just Yet She May Look Wounded, But That Doesn’t Make her Weak
by Leonid Bershidsky I have warned repeatedly against writing off Chancellor Angela Merkel as she faced challenge after challenge in recent years. I’m going to issue another such warning now, even though it might seem counterintuitive given her announcement Monday that she’d give up the leadership of her Christian Democratic Union in December and not run for a parliament seat in 2021. Those decisions make Merkel a lame duck. They also make it more obvious than ever that she risks ending her final term as chancellor before 2021. Her predecessor, Gerhard Schroeder, stepped down as leader of the Social Democratic Party in 2004 while staying on as chancellor. Merkel has long said she didn’t want to follow his example, perhaps because he lost his post to her in a snap election in 2005. And yet Merkel said Monday that she’d decided over
the summer to quit the party post without giving up the chancellorship because the circumstances were right. She didn’t explain her reasoning, but it’s worthwhile to try to reconstruct it. It’s possible that Merkel, a risk-taker despite her reputation for stolid caution, wants to be a lame duck whose wings haven’t been clipped. It’s often been noted that despite her political longevity, she hasn’t really secured a positive legacy because her most important and successful policy decisions were rarely of her own initiative. She went along with the Greens’ vision of Energiewende, Germany’s transition to sustainable energy; she bowed to leftist parties’ momentum on marriage equality; the introduction of a minimum wage was a concession to the Social Democrats; the legislation requiring a balanced budget was the idea of Wolfgang Schaeuble, a patriarch of her party who is currently parliament speaker. Merkel has always been
German Cahncellor Angela Merkel attends an event to receive three Christmas trees at the Chancellery on November 2017 ,30 in Berlin, Germany. (Getty)
It’s often been noted that despite her political longevity, she hasn’t really secured a positive legacy because her most important and successful policy decisions were rarely of her own initiative
good at working within political constraints. “I’m somebody who can work with many, many people,” she said Monday. “I’m known for that.” A politician with that kind of history might be tempted to work for a few years without being constrained by horse-trading and intraparty politics. Merkel unbound could surprise Germany and the world. After all, no one else can take credit for her riskier, more controversial decisions, such as phasing out nuclear energy after the Fukushima disaster or letting in 1.2 million asylum seekers in 2015 and 2016. Instead of trying to smooth things out within the CDU or with its conservative Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union, Merkel the lame duck can move faster and more decisively on the European Union’s post-Brexit consolidation, including a common immigration agenda and a tighter financial union; on conflict resolution in Syria, Ukraine and the Balkans; on building up the EU as a sober counterweight to President Donald Trump’s
U.S.; and on domestic infrastructure investment and fixing the pension system. That the coalition government she leads includes the SPD, which has been doing horribly in the polls, may give her a chance to leave her mark. Pulling out of the coalition and forcing an early election appears suicidal for that party; on the other hand, Merkel’s positions on the EU and important domestic issues are close to those of SPD leaders, and working with the chancellor after she stops looking over her shoulder to her party base could be to the Social Democrats’ advantage. This could be why Andrea Nahles, the SPD leader, went out of her way to praise Merkel on Monday, saying she was glad the “hidden conflicts” within the conservative camp were in the open now. Merkel has a stake in how those conflicts pan out. She could face a rebellion in the CDU’s parliamentary faction if the next party leader is a critic such as Health Minister Jens Spahn or former CDU faction head Friedrich Merz. An uprising could force her to resign as chancellor before her term runs out or stall any agenda she might have for the next three years. On the other hand, if a Merkel ally such as Annegret KrampKarrenbauer, now CDU general secretary, or some other loyalist wins the top party job, the chancellor would be free to pursue her goals while insulating the new party leader from risky decisions. (An anti-Merkel leader would have that kind of protection, too, but would be less inclined to use it without making her life difficult.) Depending on your point of view, this scenario might turn out to be overly optimistic. Merkel could be so worn out by her recent battles that she’ll take no risks and simply attempt to give her allies time to take over the party and score some political points for the next election. She could also be ousted quickly if her political adversaries force the CDU to the right in an attempt to win back the support of nationalist voters. In political terms, 2021 is an eternity away, and Merkel is taking a gamble in trying to serve that long. But, as I’ve said many times, it’s always a mistake to write her off. She may look wounded, but that doesn’t make her weak. She may not be allowed a last run, denied an ability to say her last word, but no one will be able to blame her for not having tried. This article was originally published in Bloomberg.
Space Telescope Ends its Service After Discovering More Than 2,600 Planets, Kepler Space Telescope is Headed for Retirement
by Deborah Netburn and Karen Kaplan NASA’s revolutionary planet-hunting Kepler space telescope has run out of fuel and will be retired, the
During its nine-year mission, Kepler found more than 2,600 planets orbiting stars outside the solar system — including many with the potential for harboring life.
space agency announced Tuesday. During its nine-year mission, Kepler found more than 2,600 planets orbiting stars outside the solar system — including many with the potential for harboring life. Thanks to the spacecraft, scientists have learned that the Milky Way galaxy has more planets than stars. “Before we launched Kepler, we didn’t know if planets were common or rare,” said Paul Hertz, director of the National Aeroonautics and Space Administration’s astrophysics division in Washington, D.C. Scientists have poured over Kepler’s data and concluded that between 20 percent and 50 percent of the stars we can see are accompanied by planets that have much in common with Earth. These planets are about the same size as ours and orbit at a distance
Scientists have poured over Kepler’s data and concluded that between 20 percent and 50 percent of the stars we can see are accompanied by planets that have much in common with Earth.
This artist's concept obtained October 2018 ,30 courtesy of NASA/Ames/JPLCaltech/T. Pyle, shows Kepler16-b, the first planet around a double-star system. This artist's concept obtained October ,30 2018 courtesy of NASA/ Ames/JPL-Caltech/T. Pyle shows Kepler186-f, the first Earth-size planet in the habitable zone.
where any water that might be on the surface would be stable in liquid form. Even more common is a type of planet that is missing from our own solar system — so-called super-Earths that are larger than our planet but smaller than Neptune. Kepler has also revealed that many solar systems are far more crowded than our own. One of its most tantalizing discoveries was the TRAPPIST1planetary system, home to seven rocky Earth-sized worlds a mere 39 light-years away. All seven of these planets are closer to their star than Mercury is to the sun. Kepler has overcome mechanical difficulties in the past. But without the fuel needed to conduct further science operations, NASA opted to end the mission. “I thought of it as the little spacecraft that could,” said
Jessie Dotson, a Kepler project scientist at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Mountain View, Calif. “It always did everything we asked for, and sometimes more.” The space telescope will remain in its current orbit, which is a safe distance from Earth, officials said. Though Kepler is retiring, NASA will continue its search for planets outside the solar system. In April, the space agency launched the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, or TESS, to look for planets around 200,000 nearby stars. Future missions, such as the James Webb Space Telescope, will further investigate these planets to see if there are any indications of life. *Originally Published in LA Times Deborah Netburn is a science reporter for the LA Times. Karen Kaplan is a science and medicine editor for the LA Times.
Syria's National Museum Reopens Doors in WarScarred Damascus Seven Years After War Forced Them to Close by Kinda Makieh Syria’s National Museum of Damascus opened its rich trove of antiquities to visitors again on Sunday, seven years after war forced them to close and months after the government recaptured all rebel areas near the capital. Only part of the museum, and its collection drawn from the civilizations that have ruled Syria over the millennia, will be reopened immediately, its deputy director Ahmad Deeb said. “We will exhibit a group of artefacts from all periods from prehistory, the ancient east and the classical and Islamic eras in this section,” he said. The reopening is a sign of the government’s attempts to restore normality in the capital after a succession of Russia-backed army victories since 2015 that
have ended the threat to President Bashar al-Assad’s rule. A bloody army offensive this spring forced the rebels to surrender eastern Ghouta in April, and the remaining insurgents enclaves near Damascus capitulated in the following weeks. The conflict continues, with swathes of the country still outside Assad’s control, but it has stabilized with a Russian-Turkish deal over the last rebel bastion in the northwest, and U.S. backing for Kurdish-led forces in the northeast. The fate of Syria’s ancient heritage has hung in the balance for much of the conflict, as fighting erupted in major sites such as the Old City of Aleppo and others, including the desert ruins of Palmyra, fell into the hands of iconoclastic jihadists. As the insurgency began to spread in 2011, the
government evacuated the museum’s collection, one of the most important in the Middle East, along with those of provincial museums, hiding their artefacts far from the battlefield. In Aleppo, where the museum lay near the front line, the huge ancient statues outside were too large to transport, and were boarded up in giant crates filled with cement against shrapnel damage. “The masterpieces were hidden straight away,” said Deeb. Army trucks carried antiquities from sites across the country to stash in safety, he said. The collection of Deir al-Zor museum, isolated by fighting, was airlifted to Damascus. In the capital, the empty museum continued to be used by the General Directorate of Antiquities as an office, and was hit by mortar fire, but not badly damaged. As the rebel presence around Damascus weakened
As the insurgency began to spread in 2011, the government evacuated the museum’s collection, one of the most important in the Middle East in recent years, some statues were put on display to the public in the museum garden, including the Lion of Elat, a massive piece from Palmyra that was damaged by Islamic State and later restored. Other objects, recovered by the government after they were seized by insurgents or smuggled overseas, were put on display this month in the Damascus Opera House, a testament to the looting of heritage that has characterized much of the war.
Can Organic Food Help You Reduce Your Risk of Cancer? A New Study Suggests the Answer May be Yes by Karen Kaplan To reduce your risk of cancer, you know you should quit smoking, exercise regularly, wear sunscreen, and take advantage of screening tests. New research suggests another item might be added to this list: Choose organic foods over conventional ones. A study of nearly 70,000 French adults who were tracked for an average of 4.5 years found that those who ate the most organic foods were less likely to develop certain kinds of cancer than the people who ate the least. Because of the way the study was conducted, it is impossible to say that the organic foods people ate were the reason why they had fewer cases of cancer. But the results are significant enough to warrant follow-up studies, the researchers wrote. “Further research is required to identify which specific factors are responsible for potential protective effects of organic food consumption on cancer risk,” they wrote Monday in the journal
JAMA Internal Medicine. The researchers have an idea about what factors those may be: pesticides. At least three of them — glyphosate, malathion and diazinon — probably cause cancer, and others may be carcinogenic as well, according to the International Agency for Research on Cancer. “Organic products are less likely to contain pesticide residues than conventional foods,” they wrote. That’s because the rules farmers must follow in order to use the organic label generally prohibit the use of synthetic pesticides (although pesticides based on natural compounds like hydrogen peroxide and soaps are allowed). Previous studies have found that pesticide residue is more prevalent on conventionally grown produce than on its organic counterparts. For instance, a report out this year from the European Food Safety Authority found residue from one or more pesticides on 44 percent of the conventionally produced food samples that were tested. Meanwhile, 6.5 percent
Brian Taplin feeds the free-range Norfolk Black organic turkeys on Laverstoke Park Farm. (Getty)
of the organic food samples tested had detectable pesticide residues. And thereâ€™s evidence that those pesticides are metabolized in the body. The urine of people who eat few (if any) organic foods contains higher concentrations of chemicals derived from pesticides than the urine of people who eat organic food regularly. In the U.S., more than 9 out of 10 people have measurable amounts of pesticides in their urine or their blood, and these concentrations are known to fall when people switch from conventionally produced foods to organic ones. Consuming fewer pesticide-related chemicals certainly seems like a good idea. But whether thatâ€™s associated with an actual health benefit is unclear. So a team from Inserm, the French equivalent of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, went looking for data.
They found that the people who ate organic food most frequently were 25 percent less likely to develop any kind of cancer than the people who ate organic food the least In an ideal world, they would recruit thousands of volunteers and randomly divide them into two groups: one that follows an organic diet and one that doesnâ€™t. They would monitor these volunteers to make sure they were keeping to their assigned diets and observe the other things they do that could influence their cancer risk. Then, after many
years, they would count up the number of cancers diagnosed in each of the groups and see if there was a difference that could be explained only by the amount of organic food they ate. But this is not an ideal world, so the researchers had to make do with the data that were available. They focused on people who joined a large, ongoing health and nutrition study starting in 2009. They were questioned about 16 categories of foods — including fruits, vegetables, eggs and wine — and how often they ate organic versions of them. Once a year, they provided health updates, including whether they had been diagnosed with cancer. By the end of 2016, there were 68,946 French adults who met all of these criteria and were included in the analysis. Their average age when they joined the study was 44, and 78 percent of them were women. Between 2009 and 2016, cancer was diagnosed in 1,340 of the volunteers. The most common type was breast cancer (459 cases), followed by prostate cancer (180 cases), skin cancer (135 cases), colorectal cancer (99 cases), nonHodgkin’s lymphoma (47 cases) and other types of lymphomas (15 cases). The study authors ranked the volunteers according to how frequently they ate organic foods and divided them into four equally sized groups. This revealed that the people who ate organic food most often had higher incomes, more education and higher-status jobs. They were also more likely to exercise, to have quit smoking, and to eat higher amounts of healthful foods such as fruits
The French researchers assumed that the more organic foods a person ate, the lower their exposure to pesticide residue would be. This may be true, but there is no data to back it up
and vegetables. All of these things are associated with a lower risk of cancer. After they took these and other demographic factors into account, they found that the people who ate organic food most frequently were 25 percent less likely to develop any kind of cancer than the people who ate organic food the least. The overall effect of choosing lots of organic foods was similar in magnitude to having a family history of cancer. When they considered each type of cancer separately, they found that only three had a statistically significant association with organic food consumption. One of them was postmenopausal breast cancer: The women who ate organic foods most often were 34 percent less likely to receive this diagnosis than women who ate organic foods the least. (There were hints of reduced risk for premenopausal breast cancers as well, but the difference was smaller and could have been due to chance.) Another was non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma: The most frequent eaters of organic foods were 86 percent less likely to get this form of cancer than their counterparts on the other end of the spectrum. The difference between the two groups was just barely big enough to be statistically significant. The last category was all lymphomas: People who ate organic food most often were 76 percent less likely to get cancers of the lymph system than people who ate organic foods the least. Some of these findings were in line with past studies, and some were not. In particular, the French researchers compared their results with data from the Million Women Study in the United Kingdom. In the Million Women Study, participants who ate organic food regularly had a 21 percent lower risk of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma than participants who didn’t eat organic food at all. However, there was no reduction in overall cancer risk, and the risk of breast cancer was slightly higher among women who ate organic food routinely than it was for women who didn’t eat it at all. “It now seems important to evaluate chronic
effects of low-dose pesticide residue exposure from the diet,” the French researchers concluded. A team from the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health noted several strengths of the new report in a commentary that was also published Monday. Glyphosate, malathion and diazinon have all been associated with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, so the researchers may be on to something, the Harvard authors wrote. They also praised the study for including tens of thousands of people and following them prospectively instead of retrospectively. But there are also several shortcomings that limit the strength of the study’s results, they added. For instance, no attempt was made to confirm people’s claims about the amount of organic food they ate. The French researchers also assumed that the more organic foods a person ate, the lower their exposure to pesticide residue would be. This may be true, but there is no data to back it up.
“At the current stage of research, the relationship between organic food consumption and cancer risk is still unclear,” the Harvard researchers wrote. What’s “urgently” needed is a more detailed study that would address some of the problems in the French report, according to the commentary. “If future studies provide more solid evidence supporting the consumption of organic foods for cancer prevention, measures to lower costs and ensure equitable access to organic products will be crucial,” the Harvard authors wrote. In the meantime, “concerns over pesticide risks should not discourage intake of conventional fruits and vegetables,” they advised. “The benefits of consuming conventionally grown produce are likely to outweigh the possible risks from pesticide exposure.” This article was originally published in the Los Angeles Times
A Hiker Explores His Father’s Homeland Peak by Peak It’s Not World Class Yet, But the Views…
by Ralph Vartabedian My son, Marc, and I had tromped through shin-deep snow for several hours, and by the time we reached the blustery top of the peak, we couldn’t see more than 25 feet because of a whiteout. Somewhere in front of us was a deep crater and the surrounding peaks of a volcanic rim we had hoped to reach. But as we stood on one of the highest peaks in the Armenian
Caucasus Mountains, we were satisfied we’d made it this far. For much of the last century, nobody would have considered the former Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic a hiking destination. But a few decades of independence and a strengthening democratic government have given the little nation a growing reputation as an interesting, safe hiking place. We met hikers from France, England, Canada, Belgium and Australia in just a few days on the trails.
The Garni Temple was built in about 100 AD, before Armenia became the world's first country to adopt Christianity. The temple is a short drive from Yerevan. (LA Times)
Smithsonian magazine earlier this year identified Armenia as one of the next world-class hiking destinations. The nation’s beautifully wooded Dilijan National Park resembles Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The plateaus of volcanic Mount Aragats look something like the Sierra Nevada’s high country, with barren igneous rock, gravelly slopes and snow-covered peaks. Lake Sevan is twice as large as Lake Tahoe and a thousand feet higher in elevation. Although its waters don’t have
the clarity that makes Tahoe so spectacular, you won’t find a traffic jam around the lake’s perimeter or dense neighborhoods of mansions. What the country lacks in affluence is offset by the warmth of the people, whose identity is anchored to its long history. Yerevan, the capital, was founded in 782 B.C., decades before Rome. Between hikes, you can visit ancient temples and some of the oldest Christian churches in the world. But anyone who frequents California’s well-traveled
mountains would find a few surprises and challenges in hiking or climbing in Armenia. You often won’t find marked trail heads. The weather will be unpredictable. The flora will be foreign. You might end up driving your rental car across a boulder-strewn mountain river to get near a trail. If you find a topographic map, it will probably be written in Armenian — which doesn’t use the Latin alphabet. Just how surprising traveling around Armenia could get dawned on me when Marc and I rented a car in early June in Yerevan, and the rental agent warned me that my California driver’s license wasn’t strictly legal. If I was stopped by police, he said, just offer money. How much, I asked? About 10$ would be more than enough. Now that’s the kind of advice you don’t get at a U.S. rental counter. Fortunately, it wasn’t needed. Just to get to Armenia requires a long flight that takes you to a place that’s 11 hours ahead of California. That’s important in planning strenuous hiking, because it takes awhile to get over that day-to-night jet lag. But the country rewards those who make the effort. It will be a liberating experience from the crowded trails, packed parking lots and scarce back-country permits in California. In fact, you won’t need any permits in Armenia. I had long searched for a good reason to visit Armenia. As I grew up in Detroit, my father often reminisced about growing up in the Caucasus Mountains in the early 20th century. Marc had just completed graduate school and had a one-week window to join me in Armenia. He spent a week surfing in Indonesia and flew west, and I flew east. After a day of exploring Yerevan on foot, we planned for three or four days of hiking. On the way to Dilijan National Park, we stopped at the Sevanavank Monastery, two -1,100year-old stone churches overlooking Sevan Lake. We went on two hikes in Dilijan National Park, one to pleasant back-country Gosh Lake, along the Transcaucasian Trail, or TCT. At the lake, we met a Canadian hiker who
A few decades of independence and a strengthening democratic government have given the little nation a growing reputation as an interesting, safe hiking place
seemed lost. He joined us, and we gave him a ride back to the city of Dilijan. A few days later, I met park superintendent Armen Abrahamyan at the park’s headquarters just outside Dilijan. The park now has 124 miles of trails, about half of them on the TCT, he said. Some of them are Jeep roads, although we didn’t encounter vehicle traffic on our hikes. The TCT will eventually extend from Georgia through Armenia, covering 1,864 miles and connecting existing and future national parks. The second hike took us to the ruins of the 11th century Jukhtak Monastery, deep in a forest. I imagined how people, isolated from the rest of the world, would hike to that mountaintop 1,000 years ago. It seemed such a far cry from driving to a church parking lot these days. The main objective of our trip was Mount Aragats, the highest peak in the country, about an hour’s drive east of
The Geghard Monastery, which translates to the Monastery of the Spear, originates from the spear that wounded Jesus. The main chapel was built in the 13th Century. (LA Times)
Yerevan. I found a crude digital topographic map of Aragats on the internet that a graphic artist at the Los Angeles Times was kind enough to print. I wasn’t sure there was an actual trail, and we didn’t have time to find our own route. I quickly realized we would need a guide. A hiking brochure, produced under the sponsorship of the U.S. Agency for International Development, advised guides for many of the much less ambitious hikes in Armenia. The only problem was finding a good one. I talked with Armenian travel agents, Armenian journalists and Armenian aid officials. I found hiking guides online and tried to email them. I talked with a couple of guys with the Armenian Hiking Society whom I’d met on the Sam Merrill Trail above Altadena, Calif. It wasn’t until I got to Armenia that things fell into place and I met Hovik Mizrakyan, a jewelry designer and strong
hiker affiliated with FindArmenia.com. Marc and I camped the night before at sub-alpine Kari Lake. There were no fire pits, picnic tables, fee stations or infrastructure you’d expect when car camping. Mizrakyan would meet us the next morning. We met a group of Belgians camping nearby, led by Nver Avetisyan, a friendly mountain guide. He drove the only Dodge Caravan we saw on our trip. (“I like American cars,” he said.) He invited us into his dining tent for some tea and coffee. We brought a bag of ripe cherries we had bought earlier and talked about the future of democracy in Armenia. Mount Aragats has four peaks, the highest being the North summit, at 13,420 feet. It was still snow-covered in midJune and would have required a -6,000foot vertical climb in one day or an overnight stay in the crater. Either way, we would be traversing deep, soft snow. The weather wasn’t cooperating. The Caucasus Mountains
can be unpredictably stormy, with violent lightning. In the morning, the storm clouds roiled. So we nixed climbing Aragats North and chose the much tamer Aragats South, at 12,756 feet. We weren’t disappointed. Our hiking trip barely scratched the surface of what Armenia’s four national parks have to offer. I ran out of time before we could get to Arevik National Park along the southern border. Maybe some day I’ll try again for Aragats North, knowing I’ll need more time. Even in the Sierra, you sometimes have to try more than once to reach a peak. If you go
THE BEST WAY TO YEREVAN, ARMENIA From LAX, Aeroflot, Air France, Qatar, Austrian, Lot, KLM and Delta offer connecting service (change of planes) to Yerevan. (There are no nonstop flights from Los Angeles, so you will have a layover.) Restricted round-trip fares start at 1,122$, including all taxes and fees.
TELEPHONES To call the numbers below from the United States, dial 011 (the international calling code), 374 (the country code for Armenia) and the local number. My Verizon iPhone did not work in Armenia. My son’s AT&T iPhone did. Be sure to arrange an international calling plan ahead of time or, if your your phone is unlocked, a local SIM card.
WHERE TO STAY Ibis Yerevan Center Hotel, 1/5 Northern Ave., Yerevan: 59-59-59-10, lat.ms/ibisyerevan hotel. Discount European hotel; doubles from 65$. Avan Dzoraget Hotel, 1st Street, Building 127, Village Dzoraget; 89-78-94-93, tufenkianheritage.com/en/ accommodation/avan-dzoraget-hotel. Awesome hotel north
What the country lacks in affluence is offset by the warmth of the people, whose identity is anchored to its long history
of Yerevan. Part of the Tufenkian Heritage Hotels chain. Doubles from 151$.
WHERE TO EAT Lahmajun Gaidz, 5 Nalbandyan, Yerevan; 18-21-33-77, lat. ms/lahmajungaidz. Terrific lunch fare (we tried lamb and beef lahmajun, a kind of Armenian pizza) just off Republic Square. Lunch for two
Our last dinner in Yerevan included a trout from Lake Sevan, a tomato salad and stuffed grape leaves. (LA Times)
was less than 10$. For the hikes, we had brought energy bars with us. When we camped, we bought some shawarma wraps (meat wrapped in pita).
want the standard equipment: day pack, lightweight boots, good rain gear, water bottles, sunscreen and lots of moisture-wicking clothes. If you are backpacking, keep in mind that camping stove gas will be difficult to find and that you canâ€™t take it with you on the plane.
If you are planning to day hike, youâ€™ll obviously
This article was originally published in the Los Angeles Times.