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Project Syndicate

Project Syndicate produces and delivers original, high-quality commentaries to a global audience. Featuring exclusive contributions by prominent political leaders, policymakers, scholars, business leaders, and civic activists from around the world, we provide news media and their readers cutting-edge analysis and insight.

Articles by Project Syndicate

Problems from Hell

19 hours ago

In her 2002 Pulitzer Prize-winning book, “A Problem from Hell”: America and the Age of Genocide, Samantha Power condemned the United States’ failure to intervene to prevent or halt some of the twentieth century’s worst mass atrocities. But, as Power herself would later find out when she served as US Ambassador to the United Nations in the Obama administration, intervention is rarely a straightforward choice. Today, as growing tensions on the Korean Peninsula threaten to plunge the region into turmoil, that lesson looms larger than ever.In her book, Power captured the destructive dynamics that are often set in motion when national or religious chauvinism and state failure coincide. Her title borrows from Warren Christopher, the US Secretary of State during the

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Trump’s Economic Labyrinth

15 days ago

Donald Trump’s economic-policy agenda during the 2016 US presidential election campaign was a political Rorschach test: where his supporters saw a bold new design for robust growth and greater prosperity, many others in the United States and around the world saw only a cynical blob of dodgy proposals and crossed lines. Now that Trump must deliver to Congress an outline of his 2018 fiscal-year budget priorities, he and his advisers have no choice but to trade in the campaign inkblot for a governing blueprint. And yet, in his first address to Congress, Trump offered few policy details, even as he called on the assembled representatives and senators to help him “restart the engine of the American economy.” Trump may finally be coming to grips with the headaches that await

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Mourning in America

February 10, 2017

In her 1969 book On Death and Dying, the Swiss psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross famously described five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. After a tumultuous year in which the United Kingdom decided to quit the European Union and Donald Trump was elected President of the United States, many people have been left in a state of mourning. A deep sense of loss attends the realization that America might no longer serve as a pillar of global stability, economic openness, and social progress.Bereavement follows no singular formula, of course, but as politicians, businesspeople, and citizens around the world grapple with our new age of uncertainty, they are experiencing some – or perhaps all – stages of grief. These sentiments are

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PS On Air with Nina Khrushcheva

February 2, 2017

[Listen to the podcast here.] Nina
Khrushcheva, Professor at the New School, discusses truth, Russia, and
the future for US-Russian relations with PS contributing editor John
Andrews, Krister Paris from the Estonian newspaper
Eesti Pärvaleht, and
Arnout Brouwers from Holland’s
de Volkskrant.

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The God of Carnage

January 27, 2017

The Apocalypse didn’t arrive with Donald Trump’s inauguration as US president, but the rhetoric of divine wrath surely did. Rather than adopt the soothing or soaring cadences of Washington, Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt, Kennedy, or Reagan, Trump’s inaugural address invoked “carnage,” “God’s people,” and the “righteous public.” He sounded less like Andrew Jackson, the 1830s populist US president to whom his supporters compare him, than the Puritan theologian Jonathan Edwards preaching his terrifying sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.”For Trump, of course, the “sinners” are not the adulterers and idlers Parson Edwards had in mind. They are the businesses, domestic opponents, and foreign leaders who have rejected “America first.” They are, in short, the

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2017: Through the Populist Looking Glass

January 6, 2017

A new year is supposed to begin in hope. Even in the darkest days of World War II, New Year celebrations were sustained by the belief that somehow the tide would turn toward peace. There was vision then, too. Writing after the fall of France in 1940, Arthur Koestler insisted that the “whole problem was to fix [Germans’] political libido on a banner more fascinating than the swastika, and that the only one which would do is the stars and stripes of the European Union.” Others, too, were already imagining the international institutions and domestic reforms – enfranchisement of women in France, the British National Health Service, the United States’ GI Bill – that would ground the post-war global order.The start of 2017 offers no such consolations. This

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PS Ten Most-Read Commentaries on World Affairs 2016

December 31, 2016

Britain’s Democratic FailureKenneth Rogoff says that the real lunacy of the Brexit vote was the absurdly low bar for success.Putin is No Ally Against ISISGeorge Soros believes that Russia’s leader is intent on destroying the EU – and explains why he may succeed.The Closing of the Academic MindChris Patten warns that the main threat to universities in the West now comes from within.The Meaning of BrexitJeffrey Sachs views the UK’s decision to leave the EU as a signal of the need for a new kind of globalization.

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Trump and the End of the West?

December 9, 2016

“If Donald Trump’s victory in the United States’ presidential election was an earthquake, then the transition period leading up to his inauguration on January 20 feels like a tsunami warning,” says Spain’s former foreign minister, Ana Palacio. But the warnings have sounded the loudest across the Atlantic of late, with populists in Italy and Austria mounting fresh challenges to the stability of the European Union and its common currency.Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s defeat in the referendum he called to reform Italy’s creaking constitution had been anticipated, but the opposition’s margin of victory was unexpectedly large. While Renzi has submitted his resignation to Italy’s president, Sergio Mattarella, a caretaker administration is expected to be

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Waiting for Trump

November 25, 2016

Like the tramps in Samuel Beckett’s play Waiting for Godot, Americans and people around the world are nervously anticipating Donald Trump’s looming presidency. Of course, unlike Godot, Trump will arrive, and everyone knows when. But, like the stranded Vladimir and Estragon, emotions are running high and changing at dizzying speed, alternating between fear, resignation, black humor, and desperation for any ray of hope in the words and actions of the president-elect.Indeed, as with Beckett’s play, the meaning of the public display that Trump has made of forging his administration is hard to pin down. “Speculation about Trump’s likely foreign and domestic policies is rampant, but little if any of it is meaningful,” says Richard Haass of the Council on

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What Will Trump Do?

November 13, 2016

All US presidents come to power – and exercise it – by assembling and sustaining a broad electoral coalition of voters with identifiable interests. Donald Trump is no exception. Trump’s stunning election victory, following a populist campaign that targeted US institutions, domestic and foreign policies, and especially elites, was powered by voters – overwhelmingly white, largely rural, and with only some or no postsecondary education – who feel alienated from a political establishment that has failed to address their interests.So the question now, for the United States and the world, is how Trump intends to represent this electoral bloc. Part of the difficulty in answering it, as Project Syndicate’s contributors understand well, is Trump himself. “The US

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Does Economic Pain Really Explain Populism?

October 28, 2016

With the menacing prospect of a Donald Trump presidency in the United States fading fast, other problems – both economic and political – are reclaiming the world’s attention. This is no surprise for Project Syndicate’s commentators. Their analysis of populism has rarely been confined to particular examples like Trump, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, or Britain’s Brexiteers.Instead, most have understood the need to focus on populism’s defining traits, rather than dwelling on specific cases. As Andrés Velasco, a former finance minister of Chile, argues, the populist phenomenon, wherever it is found, “rests on a toxic triad: denial of complexity, anti-pluralism, and a crooked version of representation,” and each

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Is Populism Being Trumped?

October 15, 2016

Is the populist tide going out? The last fortnight has given democrats everywhere reason to cheer – or at least to sleep a little better.For starters, Donald Trump’s bid for the US presidency is being buried by a cascade of damning revelations, including that he has not paid any federal income tax for perhaps two decades, and that he feels entitled by his fame to assault women – call it droit de célébrité. Many Republican leaders have finally had enough, repudiating their party’s presidential nominee in an effort to preserve its House and Senate majorities.In Hungary, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s anti-immigrant referendum failed to attract sufficient turnout. Orbán says that he will nonetheless seek to constitutionalize the result; but the fact that

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A World Besieged

September 30, 2016

A week, it is said, is a long time in politics. It certainly proved far too long for Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Syrian client, Bashar al-Assad, to honor the ceasefire both had just accepted. Instead of humanitarian relief for Syria’s shell-shocked citizens, the world is seeing what the French philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy calls the “urbicide” of Aleppo: “massive, random, indiscriminate bombings” that Russia and Assad’s forces “have resumed with a vengeance in and around what was once Syria’s most populous city.”Of course, nothing in the world today compares to the horrors of Aleppo. But if any word best characterizes the world economy and geopolitics, “besieged” fits the bill. Europe, says Anatole Kaletsky of the consultancy Gavekal,

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Untruth and Consequences

September 16, 2016

How the almost mighty have fallen. For the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa), the past fortnight has been a series of reckonings for corners cut, untruths told, and hubris unchecked. Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff is the mightiest to fall, having been impeached and removed from office for fiddling the national budget. Yet despite her eviction from power, the country’s vast corruption scandal rumbles on, with former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva now indicted for corruption and Edoardo Cunha, the parliamentary speaker and the man who initiated Rousseff’s impeachment, himself now evicted from his post and facing his own corruption charges. In South Africa, the African National Congress, which has been in power without

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Summer’s Unhappy Returns

September 2, 2016

The end of August is, across much of the northern hemisphere, the time for what the French call la rentrée – the return to work and resumption of normal routine that comes with summer’s end. It is typically a period that alloys melancholy with renewal and gusto for what lies ahead.Not this year. For policymakers, August failed to bring about a return to anything like normalcy in the global economy or world politics, much less to generate a sense of renewal. On the contrary, most Project Syndicate commentators see a policy landscape littered with old ideas that don’t work, and even older ideas known to cause significant harm.Unorthodoxy UnlimitedBy the time central bankers from around the world convened last week at their annual gathering in Jackson Hole,

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The Governance Games

August 19, 2016

As happens every four years, the world is transfixed by the Summer Olympic Games. Yet even the brilliance of Usain Bolt, Simone Biles, Wayde van Niekerk, Katie Ledecky, and so many others has not obscured the dirty underside of the Olympic Movement – the self-serving governance of the International Olympic Committee. Lucy Marcus of IE Business School gets straight to the point: “Thanks to the IOC,” she says, the Olympics now “embodies some of the most prominent problems the world is facing today, from inequality to exploitation to sheer hypocrisy among our leaders.” The IOC disregards the athletes’ interests, to the point that it permitted the Russian team to compete in Rio de Janeiro, despite recent revelations about Russia’s official doping program and the World

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Globalization RIP?

August 6, 2016

Beyond the rancor and taunts heard at last month’s Republican National Convention, something even more ominous could be heard: the last rites for globalization. To adoring hoots, Donald Trump, the party’s presidential nominee, denounced US participat…

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Lies, Liars, and Lawlessness

July 22, 2016

When it comes to contempt for democracy, the rule of law, and simple fidelity to truth in public life, examples have crowded in from around the world in recent weeks: a failed coup in Turkey; China’s rejection of an international tribunal’s decision …

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Britain’s Long Goodbye

July 10, 2016

Two weeks after Britain voted to withdraw from the European Union, the shock waves rumble on unabated. Prime Minister David Cameron’s resignation triggered a contest for the leadership of the Conservative Party that is as vicious and duplicitous as t…

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The Resistible Rise of Populism

June 10, 2016

What’s behind the swelling tide of populism-cum-nationalism seen in almost every corner of the globe? Why do so many yearn for rule by strongmen (or, in the case of France’s Marine Le Pen and Peru’s Keiko Fujimori, strong women)? For Project Syndicat…

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Populists and Productivity

June 3, 2016

NEW YORK – Since the global financial crisis erupted in 2008, productivity growth in the advanced economies – the United States, Europe, and Japan – has been very slow both in absolute terms and relative to previous decades. But this is at odds with …

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The Donald Trump Show

May 27, 2016

Bill Emmott, who, during his years as Editor of The Economist, endured numerous legal spats with Trump’s Italian doppelgänger, Silvio Berlusconi, thinks that countries “must hope for the best but prepare for the worst” in the event of a Trump adminis…

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China’s Pakistani Outpost

May 26, 2016

BERLIN – Like a typical school bully, China is big and strong, but it doesn’t have a lot of friends. Indeed, now that the country has joined with the United States to approve new international sanctions on its former vassal state North Korea, it has …

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Education Cannot Wait

May 19, 2016

LONDON – “Recall the face of the poorest and weakest man you have seen, and ask yourself if this step you contemplate is going to be any use to him.” These words, spoken by Mahatma Gandhi in 1948, should be taken as a test of our sincerity, and as a …

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The Evidence on Education Reforms

May 17, 2016

DHAKA – It is almost universally agreed that more education is good for society. But it turns out that some popular educational policies achieve very little, while others that are often overlooked can make a huge difference.

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The Queen’s Chinese Guests from Hell

May 17, 2016

NEW YORK – “Her Majesty’s a pretty nice girl, but she doesn’t have a lot to say,” Paul McCartney sang nearly a half-century ago. Now, in her 90th year, Queen Elizabeth II suddenly seems determined to put the lie to that idea.

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Clarifying Europe’s Refugee Problem

May 16, 2016

MADRID – Even by European Union standards, the response to the so-called refugee crisis is a mess. This seems to defy logic: While the crisis is certainly a challenge, human rights – and, indeed, refugee protection – are embedded in Europe’s DNA. Mor…

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Turning Crisis into Success in Germany

May 13, 2016

BERLIN – According to an early May opinion poll by ARD DeutschlandTREND, the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party’s popular support now stands at 15%, up from around 5% a year ago. Can this dangerous trend be reversed?

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Fairness and Free Trade

May 12, 2016

CAMBRIDGE – The global trade system faces an important turning point at the end of this year, one that was postponed when China joined the World Trade Organization almost 15 years ago. The United States and the European Union must decide whether they…

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