Are things cooling off in the Persian Gulf?

Brian M Downing  After months of denunciations, maneuvers, and boycotts, the Saudis are expressing doubts about its march to war with Iran. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, once a hawk, is said to favor ending the proxy war in Yemen. He is also thought to be seeking the good offices Read More …

The Trump administration’s options for Afghanistan

Brian M Downing Armies have come and gone from Afghanistan over the centuries. Alexander came through, saw no reason to stay, then wheeled south into the Indus valley, which he mistook for the Nile. A British army under WGK Elphinstone was annihilated in 1842 as it retreated from Kabul toward Read More …

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 …