December 10, 2015 | By Ivo H. Daalder

This Week’s Reads

European Council President Donald Tusk (R) and European Commission President Jean Claude Juncker at the EU council headquarters in Brussels. REUTERS/Yves Herman

In a recent essay by Anne Applebaum, she writes that “dysfunction has sucked Brussels dry of any foreign-policy power or relevance.” Such a view is understandable given recent headlines—but I believe it misses the point. Look at some of the challenges around the globe. ISIS. Russian aggression. A hungry world. The rise of China. Far from irrelevant, Europe has a critical role to play in crafting solutions alongside the United States to these pressing challenges. We saw renewed evidence of this with the United Kingdom’s recent vote to conduct airstrikes against ISIS in Syria. With that in mind, here are my top reads for this week:

Does Europe Even Matter?

Anne Applebaum/Foreign Policy

Anne Applebaum argues that the crises of 2015—Greek debt, the worst refugee emergency in 70 years, the Syrian civil war and Russia’s intervention, the Paris attacks—may mark the year the European Union started to fail. It’s clear, she says, that most of the EU’s failure stem from member countries’ refusal to pool resources and share sovereignty. However, Applebaum believes the EU still has the potential to reinforce its institutions by acting more ambitious and decisive.

On the Front Line against Islamic State

Sohrab Ahmari/The New York Times

Kurdish Peshmerga forces have effectively reclaimed 7,700 square miles of territory and “broken the myth of ISIS.” But the United States does not provide aid the forces say they need. Washington worries the civil militia has allegiances to Kurdish political parties, not the Kurdish government, and doesn’t want to jeopardize a unified, federal Iraq. Kurdish Intelligence Chief Masrour Barzani says Peshmerga forces have been denied the support they deserve as the most effective force fighting ISIS. For their efforts, the Kurds hope to win respect and recognition of their independence from the international community when the dust over ISIS settles.

The Big Hole in Obama’s Islamic State Strategy

David Ignatius/The Washington Post

President Obama’s stated path to victory against ISIS relies on local Sunni fighting on the ground. However, Ignatius argues there’s a dearth of reliable Sunni forces to fill that role. While Kurdish fighters have seen the most success, Ignatius thinks their focus on claiming their own territory limits their commitment to defeating ISIS—especially without US help. Iraqi, Saudi, and Turkish Sunni forces have also failed to prove themselves as strong, reliable partners. Ignatius believes Sunnis don’t trust America after the Iraq war, and it may take more than a generation to shift that attitude. Unfortunately, the future of Iraq and Syria likely depend on strong Sunni partnerships with the West.

Hilary Benn Speech in Full: 'We Must Now Confront This Evil'

The Guardian

Hilary Benn’s powerful House of Commons speech stakes out the rationale and moral obligation to confront ISIS with airstrikes in Syria. In the speech, Benn asserted the Labour Party’s claim to be the party of activist, hard-edged internationalism. He granted concerns about civilian casualties and addressed questions about the effectiveness of airstrikes, but concluded the imperative to bomb ISIS in Syria was similar to "why this entire House stood up against Hitler and Mussolini." On December 2, the Commons voted in favor of authorizing airstrikes in Syria.

Months after Russian Annexation, Hopes Start to Dim in Crimea

Ivan Nechpurenko/The New York Times

Crimean residents who voted to secede from Ukraine and join Russia have begun to question their odds of escaping the chaos and corruption they felt in Ukraine. Authority may have transitioned to Moscow, but many of the same corrupt and incompetent officials remain. “The circus is gone, but the clowns stayed,” as one resident put it. Crimea may now face years in limbo as municipal life and utility services have stalled.

2050 Demographic Destiny: Tastes like Chicken

The Wall Street Journal

Experts believe chickens will be the key to providing protein to 9.7 billion people in the year 2050, especially as the world gets richer and demands more meat. The Wall Street Journal provides an interactive digital tour of a Cargill chicken processing plant and delves into the science, processes, challenges, and benefits of such a solution. Some say production on this scale will have enormous consequences, others say it will be necessary to feed the global population’s appetite.

China Creates a World Bank of Its Own, and the US Balks

Jane Perlez/The New York Times

China created a new bank—the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank—to finance infrastructure and investments needed in Asia. The US fears China will use the bank to set the global economic agenda without regard to environmental, human rights, and anti-corruption concerns. Most US allies have joined the bank, demonstrating that they increasingly operate in China’s economic orbit. This article explains the history of the bank’s development, the shifting reaction from Washington, and what the undertaking means for China’s future.

If you are interested in related content from the Council on Global Affairs please see:

Video: Syria and the Global Refugee Crisis, Expert Panel Discussion

Gene Editing: Moving Beyond GMO, Research Associate Marcus Glassman on Global Food for Thought

Upcoming Events

02/23 – Europe: What Next?
University of Chicago professor Luigi Zingales explores the economic future for a continent strained by increased security concerns, the migrant crisis, a slowing economic recovery, and rising populism.

01/19 – The New Asian Order: And How America Can Compete
Evan Feigenbaum, vice chairman of the Paulson Institute, discusses the emergence of Asian economic powerhouses, and the new political and economic institutions across the Asia-Pacific region.


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