American risks and rewards in the anti-Iran coalition

Brian M Downing The United States has entered into a portentous strategic partnership with Israel and a host of Sunni powers led by Saudi Arabia. The new Triple Entente was nominally formed to fight terrorism but actually to weaken Iranian-Shia influence from Lebanon and Syria to Iran. An initial move was Read More …

The Uighur movement and world politics in coming years 

Brian M Downing  Few people had heard of the Tuareg before the wars in Libya and Mali. The Kurds were better known but the fighting in Iraq and Syria brought them to prominence. The Uighurs, a Muslim Turkic people, will make themselves better known in coming decades. Chinese policies and Read More …

Can the US and China cooperate in Afghanistan?

Brian M Downing  Concern that North Korea is endangering regional security and prosperity is bringing unexpected cooperation between the US and China. An outcome isn’t at hand, nor is an era of Sino-American partnership in world affairs. However, the two powers, though at odds on matters of trade and territoriality, share Read More …

The US and China take aim at North Korea

Brian M Downing  Presidents Trump and Xi met last week at the former’s estate in Florida and discussed bilateral trade and world conflicts. Conversation was interrupted briefly as word came of the missile strikes on Syria. It was an opportune moment as the two powers discussed North Korea during the meeting. Shortly Read More …

President Trump wants a bigger military 

Brian M Downing  The Trump administration is looking for a steep increase in military spending. It also wants significant cuts in social spending and the State Department budget to help pay for it. More guns, less butter. Less diplomacy too. The budget will be contested in Congress; the cuts and boosts might well be Read More …

The rivalry for influence in the Persian Gulf

Brian M Downing Moscow and Washington vied for influence around the world in the first Cold War. They are doing the same in the second. In the first, the Soviet Union’s reach into the Gulf was limited. The USSR was atheistic, opposed to monarchy, and aligned with secular republics such Read More …

The (worrisome) Putin-Trump partnership 

Brian M Downing  The Trump administration talks of a new era of cooperation with Russia. The historical rivals, it believes, can work together in fighting ISIL and developing oil and gas fields, especially in the forbidding trans-Ural and Arctic regions. The partnership may be facilitated by the affinities between two Read More …

Russia and China look at Afghanistan

Brian M Downing  The war in Afghanistan has dragged on for fifteen years now. The conflict has been complicated by the rise of ISIL in the region. Its Afghan franchise, ISIL-Khorasan Province, has established itself in eastern Afghanistan, where it has coalesced with and recruited from other jihadi groups, including Read More …