Free papers, reports, et al. Vol.28

Here are tweets of great stuff retweeted by @_WorldSolutions.

Free papers, reports, et al. Vol.26

Here are tweets of great stuff retweeted by @_WorldSolutions.

Free papers, reports, et al. Vol.25

Here are tweets of great stuff retweeted by @_WorldSolutions.

Free papers, reports, et al. Vol.24

Here are tweets of great stuff retweeted by @_WorldSolutions.

UK Vol.106 (Post-EUref #Brexit Vol.31)

US Policy Changes Vol.67 (US law professors Vol.3)

Here is a part of U.S. law schools’ recent tweets on legal and political issues in which their professors are featured, quoted, et al. (mainly those in November 2017). Great stuff!
[We don’t have affiliations with these schools or professors.]

US Policy Changes Vol.66 (US law professors Vol.2)

Here is a part of U.S. law schools’ recent tweets on legal and political issues in which their professors are featured, quoted, et al. (mainly those in November 2017). Great stuff!
[We don’t have affiliations with these schools or professors.]

UK Vol.99 (Northern Ireland Vol.4)

Antrim and Newtownabbey

COUNTY ANTRIM and BELFAST – Mineral Resource Map of Northern Ireland (PDF) | @BritGeoSurvey @daera_ni @Economy_NI


Department for the Economy @nidirect
Belfast strongest UK city for economic growth in 2015 (15/12/2016) | John Campbell @BBC
Belfast Tourism continues to drive the NI visitor economy (07/07/2017) | @VisitBelfastOrg
Boeing/Bombardier trade war could have ramifications for Belfast economy (w Video; 09/27/2017) | @globalnews
Northern Ireland on target for 80,000 Knowledge Economy jobs by 2030 | @CatalystIncHQ
A new kind of trouble – With the guns mostly silent, Ulster can begin to deal with its lamentable economy (01/22/2015) | @economist
Competitive economy | @belfastcc
Belfast City Report (PDF; 2007) | Jorg Ploger @CASE_LSE
Economic expert Esmond Birnie leaving PwC to take up Ulster University post (09/28/2016) | Margaret Canning @BelTel
The Economic Impact of International Students on Northern Ireland (PDF; 27/11/2015) | Eoin Murphy @niassembly
How is the Belfast economy performing, and what are the key policy issues facing the city? | @CentreforCities
The History of Economic Development in Ireland, North and South (PDF; 1999) | John Bradley @britac_news
Queen’s University Centre for Economic History – QUCEH Working Paper Series | IDEAS @stlouisfed

Balkan Vol.3 (Bosnia & Herzegovina, Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia)

former Yugoslavia
Bosnia & Herzegovina




Free papers, reports, et al. Vol.7

Here are @_WorldSolutions’ RTs which include free papers, reports (citing others), et al.

Central Asia Vol.3


cf. Uzbekistan country profile (12/14/2016) | @BBC   Uzbekistan: Economy | @ADB_HQ   Uzbekistan | @StateDept   Uzbekistan | Observatory of Economic Complexity @MIT   Trains in Uzbekistan    UZBEKISTAN AND KAZAKHSTAN: A TALE OF TWO TRANSITION PATHS? (PDF; 2004) | Asad Alam and Arup Banerji @WorldBank   Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan Deploy Troops In Dispute Over Border Mountain (3/23/2016) | @pragpete @RFERL   Public health risk assessment and interventions – Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan (PDF; June 2010) | @WHO   Uzbekistan & Kyrgyzstan map (PDF) | @FAO   Uzbekistan, Tajikistan Flights Loom, And Prices Soar (2/1/2017) | Kamila Ibragimova @EurasiaNet   Central Asia: Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan | @WWF   Uzbekistan’s View of Security in Afghanistan After 2014 (PDF) | Matthew Stein @ Foreign Military Studies Office   Uzbek Railways awarded new Afghan operations and maintenance contract (3/22/2015) | @andrew_grantham   Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Iran Combined Tour 23 days | @NasrinInfo

(Excerpts are on our own.)

Brothers Again: Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan – Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev visited his Kazakh counterpart Nursultan Nazarbayev in Astana. (3/24/2017) | Catherine Putz @Diplomat_APAC   … Nazarbayev, a long-time proponent of regional integration initiatives, never quite found a receptive partner in Uzbekistan’s first president, Islam Karimov. … Nazarbayev said that the two leaders would sign 75 contracts worth nearly $1 billion at a Kazakh-Uzbek business forum on March 23. … Uzbekistan has the population advantage, with more than 30 million to Kazakhstan’s 17 million; but Kazakhstan has had the economic advantage with a GDP of $184.4 billion in 2015, to Uzbekistan’s $66.7 billion. …

Dammed or Damned: Tajikistan and Uzbekistan Wrestle Over Water-Energy Nexus (4/2/2013) | Shavkat Kasymov @WorldPolicy   … Tajikistan consumes an average of 39,000 barrels a day, mostly from Uzbekistan… A main point of contention is a controversial hydroelectric project, the Rogun Dam, in the works since the 1960s. The project has been advertised by Tajik leaders as a path to energy and economic independence, but Uzbeks claim it will stop their share of the flow of the Vakhsh River, a resource that is crucial to its cotton monocrop economy. … The bulk of it is consumed by the Tadaz aluminum plant, a major source of revenues for the state budget. …

Afghanistan, Uzbekistan Trade Relations Strengthened (1/3/2017) | @TOLOnews   … “When we import goods from Pakistan, it takes nineteen days, but when we import from Uzbekistan, it takes nine days,” said Rasa. …construction materials will be imported from Uzbekistan and that Uzbek companies will invest in road construction, bridges and railways in the country. …

Uzbekistan, key to Afghan war drawdown, to ban foreign military bases (8/30/2012) | Abdujalil Abdurasulov @csmonitor   … When Pakistan closed the main NATO supply route in November, the Northern Distribution Network (NDN), a route that relies on Uzbekistan, took up the slack – about 75 percent of all non-lethal cargo was shipped through the NDN supply route mostly via Uzbekistan. … Uzbekistan is trying to send a message to Russia and its neighbors that Tashkent is not going to make a U-turn and host US bases on its territory. … Tashkent-based political analyst Farkhod Tolipov says Uzbekistan’s ban is in an effort to prevent militarization in the region. “Any new base will only lead to a geopolitical competition.” …

Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan: Staying Away (PDF) | S. Frederick Starr @SilkRoadStudies   … Uzbekistan has the region’s largest military force and Turkmenistan one of the smallest. And Uzbekistan inherited from Soviet times the largest establishment of heavy industry, while Turkmenistan began with the smallest. … No sooner did the Uzbeks arrive in Central Asia in the thirteenth century than they began settling in the region’s ancient cities, with their capital at Bukhara. … In gestures directed against what they openly call Russian colonialism, both Latinized their alphabets (the only states in the region to do so) and have marginalized the Russian language. … With respect to Turkmenistan, it can push Iran to seize the initiative in supplying Pakistan and India with gas; create access problems at Turkmenistan’s expanded Black Sea port of Turkmenbashi… Russia can easily invent and apply other restrictions to prevent Uzbek goods such as fruits and vegetables from entering its market. Considering that Russian-Uzbek bilateral trade reached $7 billion in 2013… Russia has already begun to play the “water and electricity card” against both Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. …Kambarata hydropower plant and effectively controls the Toktogul reservoir and power plant, both in Kyrgyzstan. …democratization and human rights. … Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan are the main bellwethers for stability and instability in Central Asia as a whole. …they value their trade with Russia, which for each country is valued at approximately $7 billion per annum. …unclear whether Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, too, will be drawn into the Eurasian Economic Union, remain outliers constantly under pressure from Moscow, or become beacons of sovereignty, self-determination, coordination and cooperation in the region…

Free papers, reports, et al. Vol.1

Here are @_WorldSolutions’ recent RTs which include free PDFs of papers, reports, et al.

Canada Vol.32 (Prince Edward Island)

(There are some broken links…)

cf. Canada Vol.18 (PEI econ)    PEI Economy | @InfoPEI    Strategic Sectors | @Innovation_PEI    The Prince Edward Island Bioscience Cluster Economic Impact Analysis (PDF; 3/2014) | @PEIBIOALLIANCE @jupia   PROVINCIAL OUTLOOK: PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND (PDF; 3/2017) | @RBC   Open for Business: Sectors | @ChtownPE   Charlottetown, PEI home neighbourhoods, realtors, and movers | @movingincanada

Cf. #Easter  The Bunnies Are Ready For Easter Breakfast Tablesetting (4/15/2017) | @PEIBistro   Classic French Easter Menu Fresh Spring Flavor for Paques (4/10/2017) | Rebecca Franklin

Easter 2017

Here are articles on Easter. Excerpts are on our own.

The Economics Of Easter (4/12/2017) | Rutger Bloemenkarr @The_MarketMogul   … According to @NRFnews’s annual Easter Spending Survey, which surveyed 7411 American customers about their Easter Sunday plans at the beginning of March, the total amount that is expected to be spent in the US is $18.4bn in 2017, which is approximately $152 dollar a person. This is considered to be the highest amount in 14 years, up by about 6% compared to 2016. …consumers are expected to spend $5.8bn on food, $3.3bn on clothes, $2.9bn on gifts, $2.6bn on candy, $1.2bn on flowers, $1.1bn on decorations, and $788mn on greeting cards. … The majority of Americans, about 58% to precise, visit discount stores to purchase their gift of preference, while the remainder visit department stores (46%), local stores (26%), or online stores (27%). … Almost two out of three Americans (61%) will visit their family and/or friends for Easter, 57% will cook a holiday-oriented meal, a majority visit church (52%), and a small portion go to a restaurant (17%). Additionally, more than one-third of the consumers surveyed (35%) are expected to have a so-called Easter egg hunt. Lastly, 16%…  According to @smallbiztrends…

Easter in Canada | @dgreetings   … – Eggs are forbidden during Lent but after fasting they are consumed mixed with maple syrup. Also special Easter passion plays and songs are performed at the major theatres and community halls of the major cities of Canada.    – A typical Canadian Easter is characterized by its mouthwatering and sumptuous recipes of ‘Maple Baked Beans’, ‘Potatoes Nicoise’, ‘Cape Breton Scones’ and apple tart. Thus, Easter in Canada is an event worth enjoying for its wide festive activities.

The Easter Egg Hunt, the Economy and the New Game (6/4/2015) | @LearntSchool @HuffPostUK   … @charliehoehn,@FreeRangeHumans,@ajjuliani …

Britain to benefit from 1.8 per cent boost to economy this Easter:  BRITAIN’S economy will grow by 1.8 per cent this year according to upgraded forecasts from the EY ITEM Club, thanks to a recovery in global trade. (9/4/2017) | Geoff Ho @Daily_Express    Easter: Quarter of UK Christians do not believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, survey reveals (11/4/2017)     Irish business owners urged to be vigilant this Easter (13/4/2017) | Robert McHugh @BusinessWorldIE

Canberra’s experts divided over economics of Easter holidays (10/4/2017) | @DavidTuckwell3 @The_RiotACT   … According to @CBRBusiness, the territory’s top business lobby, the effect can be negative as public holidays mean penalty rates, and penalty rates mean unemployment. “Generally speaking, penalty rates on public holidays make businesses think staying open on a public holiday is just not viable,”… “Some businesses – particularly small businesses – look at their cost of operation compared to potential income and think it’s not commercially viable to open.” … “The problem with this entire penalty rates debate is the ‘fallacy of composition’,” says @MattGrudnoff, an economist at @TheAusInstitute, a left-leaning think tank based in Civic. … According to Professor Phil Lewis, an economist at @UniCanberra, there are both moral and economic considerations to keep in mind. “If you have a public holiday, employers who pay the award will be obliged to pay $45 an hour for a person on the lowest wage. …some businesses will stay open, especially family-owned businesses, as family members won’t demand penalty rate…

Retailers baffled by Easter trading laws (11/4/2017) | Matthew Theunissen @nzherald   … A recent law change gave local councils the authority to permit Easter Sunday trading and 25 mostly smaller councils have so far taken up the option. … Five councils have continued with the the ban while all major centres are yet to reach decisions. Shops which open in the restricted areas risk a prosecution and $1000 fine. … There are exemptions to the Easter trading laws, and some of them are quite unusual. Dunedin’s Carnegie Centre has an exemption to sell arts, crafts, children’s toys and books on Easter Sunday. “Toys and books sold only while performances happening on the mezzanine floor,”… In Nelson, crafts can be sold “whenever Founders Park is open”. @nelsoncitynz has been approached for clarification on whether this means any shop can sell crafts while the park is open, or only shops within the park. A clearer definition of “crafts” was also sought from the council. … Other exemptions include dairies, service stations, takeaways, bars, restaurants and cafes, duty-free stores and shops providing services rather than selling goods, such as a hairdresser. … The industry had fought hard to get the exemption and Odering could not understand why it didn’t include Friday, too. … Since 1992, Odering said the his business had paid in excess of $20,000 in fines, Department of Labour Fees and court costs because they had refused to shut shop over Easter. @RetailNZ spokesman… @MBIEgovtnz data shows that prosecutions for shops illegally opening over Easter steadily declined from 63 in 2006, to 34 in 2008, 28 in 2010, 25 in 2012, 0 in 2014 and 3 in 2016. …

Easter to bring a million foreign tourists to Netherlands (4/13/2017) | Janene Pieters   About 950 thousand foreign tourists will spend Easter weekend in the Netherlands, according to calculations by @NBTC. “It is expected to be very busy”, a spokesperson said to @NOS. “In comparison with last year, we expect 100 thousand more tourists.” Most foreign visitors come from Germany, about 600 thousand. And over 200 thousand Belgians are expected to visit this weekend. …increasing since 2009… Last year 15.8 million foreigners visited our country. This can partly be attributed to the recovering economy in Europe and America. And due to the weak euro, it is relatively cheap for non-euro countries to visit the Netherlands on holiday. The threat of terrorist attacks in European cities such as Paris and Brussels also…

Norwegian Easter Traditions   … In old times, people would climb mountains on Easter Sunday morn to watch the sunrise as they thought the sun danced with joy for the resurrection of Christ.  It is suggested that this could have started the Norwegian habit of ‘going up the mounatins’ at Easter time.  This day was also a day to predict the weather for the Summer.  If it was a good day then the Summer would be good too.  If there was frost the night before the Sunday then the Summer would come late.  For some reason, the Bunad is not worn during Easter. Easter Sunday breakfast is a grand affair.  Anything and everything is put on the table, cured meats and especially eggs – boiled, scrambled, fried, (and even fish eggs!), you name it.  The boiled eggs are often dyed or painted before eating.  Traditionally the Winter stores are low from the long Winter, so there is not much cooking or baking, especially compared to Christmas time.  However, egg dishes are in abundance, especially when there has been a lot of egg decorating with lots of leftover whites and yolks.  Pancakes are also a popular treat at Easter. … The Easter egg hunt is a common tradition around the world and in Norway children look for a brightly decorated paper eggshell filled with small lollies.  The eggs used to be real chicken eggs…

Easter | @denmarkdotdk   …most Danes regard Easter as a holiday. A national survey in 2000 showed that 48% of the Danes attached particular importance to the family spending time together during Easter and 37% regarded it as a holiday; only 10% mentioned ‘attending Church’ and ‘the Christian message’ as the main feature of Easter. … Many homes and shops are decorated for Easter in green and yellow, especially with new-leaved branches and daffodils. The main symbol of Easter is still the egg. The eggs used for decoration may be ordinary hen’s eggs which have been blown out and coloured or they may be imitation eggs or various kinds of sugar and chocolate eggs. Other decorations include small artificial hens and chickens and gradually also the Easter hare, which formerly was almost exclusively common in the areas by the German border. There is a unique Danish Easter tradition, viz. the custom of sending teaser letters. In the weeks before Easter especially children cut out elaborate letters, on which they write a so-called teaser verse. The letter is anonymous, but signed with a number of dots corresponding to the number of letters in the sender’s name, so that the recipient has a chance of guessing who sent it. The pledge is a chocolate Easter egg redeemed at Easter. The letter is accompanied by a snowdrop, which is regarded as the first flower of the year. …

Easter in Sweden (4/12/2017) | @Sweden_Belgrade   …most people celebrate it at home with their families and relatives. … Nowadays, eggs are a favourite accompaniment to the dish of pickled herring that is the centrepiece of most Swedes’ Easter meals. And few associate the omnipresent birch twigs − nowadays decorated with brightly coloured feathers − with the suffering of Christ. Easter has its own rituals. Children dress up as Easter witches; clad in discarded clothes, gaily coloured headscarves and red-painted cheeks, they go from house to house in the neighbourhood and present the occupants with paintings and drawings in the hope of getting sweets in return. Having consumed all these sweets, they are then given Easter eggs filled with yet more. … A traditional Easter lunch is likely to consist of different varieties of pickled herring, cured salmon and Jansson’s Temptation (potato, onion and pickled anchovies baked in cream). … At dinner, people eat roast lamb with potato gratin and asparagus, or some other suitable side dish.

New Zealand Vol.10 (Wellington, Manawatu-Wanganui)


cf. Economic fall and rise: 1976 to 21st century | @Te_Ara   Key investment sectors | @Wellington_NZ   Profile of Wellington | @WgtnCC


cf. About our Region and Council | @HorizonsRC   Manawatu | @PureNewZealand   ‘Whanganui’ and ‘Wanganui’ | @VisitWhanganui

Cf. Easter and Beef Wellington. (4/6/2015)  

Good Friday (& Agreement)

Here are articles on #GoodFriday & the Good Friday Agreement (the Belfast Agreement).  Excerpts are on our own.

When is Easter weekend 2017? Key bank holiday dates and facts for Good Friday, Easter Sunday and Easter: Monday Why does the date for Easter Sunday change every year according to the lunar calendar? We’ve got all the answers to your questions (13/4/2017) | Ian Leonard & @jondeano @DailyMirror     Good Friday vs Easter: We Don’t Always Have to Win (5/4/2015) | @jontylangley @HuffPostUK

When is Good Friday in 2017 and is it a Bank Holiday? Easter celebrations and Christian festivals – here’s all you need to know: The important date in the Christian calendar is a national holiday (13/4/2017) | @LittleBitSoph @TheSun   … Good Friday is commemorated because the date marks the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and his death at Calvary. Accounts of the Gospel state that it was the day that the son of God was betrayed by Judas, before he was sentenced to death. The date falls during Holy Week on the Friday before Easter Sunday, and sometimes coincides with the Jewish celebration of Passover. Experts believe the event has been coined “Good Friday” because the word “good” means pious or holy. …

Who, What, Why: Why is Good Friday called Good Friday? (18/4/2014) | @BBCNewsMagazine   … according to Fiona MacPherson, senior editor at @OED, the adjective traditionally “designates a day on (or sometimes a season in) which religious observance is held”. The OED states that “good” in this context refers to “a day or season observed as holy by the church”… According to the Baltimore Catechism – the standard US Catholic school text from 1885 to the 1960s, Good Friday is good because Christ “showed His great love for man, and purchased for him every blessing”. … It also says that the day is known as “the Holy and Great Friday” in the Greek liturgy… Karfreitag (Sorrowful Friday) in German.

UK government committed to Good Friday agreement, says NI secretary: James Brokenshire said government supports re-establishing power-sharing devolved authority after assembly elections (17/1/2017) | @henrymcdonald @guardian     Northern Ireland’s system of government is broken. We must review the Good Friday Agreement (18/1/2017) | @lrobertsonmp @Telegraph

The Good Friday Agreement and today: The Good Friday Agreement is the cornerstone of our commitment to peace and stability on this island. It was agreed on 10 April 1998 and overwhelmingly approved in 2 referendums in both parts of Ireland in May 1998. | @dfatirl   Northern Ireland Assembly, North South Ministerial Council, British-Irish Council; St. Andrew’s Agreement (2006), Hillsborough Agreement (2010), Stormont House Agreement (2014), A Fresh Start – The Stormont Agreement and Implementation Plan (2015)

Good Friday is Ireland’s Brexit talks ace card (31/3/2017) | Jim Power @irishexaminer   … The optimal outcome would be a smooth process that would placate the UK and, thereby, set the scene for a decent trade deal once the UK has formally exited the system in two years. For Ireland, the potential challenges are obviously immense. We clearly have a special relationship with the UK from a political, economic and cultural perspective. Some 800 years of history cannot be eroded overnight, nor should it be. I have always been sceptical about the willingness of the EU to treat Ireland as a special case and do us special deals, but the Good Friday agreement is very definitely Ireland’s ace card. There is a strong realisation in Brussels of just how important that process has been in delivering peace and prosperity on the island of Ireland, and one assumes that the EU would not want to undermine that. This should be the central plank of Ireland’s approach to the EU meeting on April 29. …

Britain ‘will never be neutral’ on Northern Ireland, says Theresa May Jeremy Corbyn backs NI assembly’s right to hold border poll on a united Ireland (29/3/2017) | @reuters,@IrishTimes   … “We are of course, within that, fully committed to ensuring that the unique interests of Northern Ireland are protected and advanced as we establish our negotiating position, and our position has always been clear that we strongly support the Belfast Agreement, including the principle of consent that Northern Ireland’s constitutional position is a matter for the people of Northern Ireland to determine. “But as our manifesto made clear, we have a preference that Northern Ireland should remain part of the United Kingdom, and we will never be neutral in expressing our support for that. …

Good Friday Agreement: 10 April 1998 | @BBC   … A personal assurance from Tony Blair to UUP leader David Trimble smoothed these last ripples of discontent. … The Belfast Agreement (or Good Friday Agreement as it would become known) contained proposals for a Northern Ireland Assembly with a power-sharing executive, new cross-border institutions with the Republic of Ireland and a body linking devolved assemblies across the UK with Westminster and Dublin. … Referendums were held on the same day in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. In the north, voters were asked to ratify the deal. In the south, they were asked to approve a change to the constitution of Ireland. All sides agreed a credible majority was required if the deal was to survive. While most nationalists and republicans were clearly in favour, a unionist and loyalist majority was far from certain. … In Northern Ireland, 676,966 people voted in favour of the deal, while 274,879 voted against. The ‘yes’ vote was 71.12%. Turnout was a record 81.10%. In the Republic the recorded ‘yes’ vote was 94.39%, with 1,442,583 people voting in favour and 85,748 voting against. …

Good Friday and the wait for a new politics in Northern Ireland (15/4/2015) | David Mitchell @openDemocracy   … For unionists, it was simply a pragmatic response to ensure that pro-Union voters did not lose out in the “winner takes all” Westminster system. … A pall of negativity has rested on the Northern Irish political scene at least since the Belfast City Hall flag protests began in late 2012. There has been failure to make substantive progress on the three issues which are symptomatic of the underlying and ongoing identity conflict: flags, parades and the past. … According to the 2013 Northern Ireland Life and Times Survey the proportion of people who think relations between Protestants and Catholics are better now than five years ago has fallen from sixty-five percent in 2007 to forty-five percent in 2013. …

The Troubles Are Back (5/10/2015) | Eamonn McCann (@IrishTimes) @nytimes   … Yet the deal delivered by Senator Mitchell contained the seeds of its own destruction. In effect, the Good Friday Agreement assigned every person in Northern Ireland to either the unionist or nationalist camp, and the decision-making institutions it created, the Northern Ireland Assembly and its accompanying Executive, were designed to be balanced between the two camps. The plan was not to eliminate sectarianism, but to manage its manifestations. …

South Carolina Vol.2

cf. Adults in South Carolina – Religious composition of adults in South Carolina | @pewresearch    Breaking the Baha’i code: An in-depth report on South Carolina’s second most common religion (2/12/2016) | @MandyNoell @wmbfnews    The Easter Miracle at Temple Beth El in Camden, South Carolina (7/25/2016) | Bill Fitzpatrick @SavingPlaces         Boeing machinists in South Carolina reject unionization (2/16/2017) | @CBSNews,@AP    Charleston Harbor deepening project to expand industry’s window to world market (1/29/2017) | @David_Wren_ @postandcourier

Caucasus Vol.1 (Armenia)

cf. Stuck with each other: A Russian ally rues its dependence upon Moscow (3/20/2015) | @TheEconomist    Armenia’s Russia problem (12/13/2016) | CHRISTINA GATHMAN @thehill (@IntelTrak)

Support to the Armenia-Turkey Normalisation Process: Stage Two | @Armenia_Turkey    Armenia and Turkey: From normalization to reconciliation (2/24/2015) | Andrew Moffatt, Fiona Hill, and Kemal Kirişci @BrookingsFP

The potential and obstacles to Armenia-Iran strategic relations (3/16/2016) | Eduard Abrahamyan, The Central Asia-Caucasus Institute and Silk Road Studies Program Joint Center    Christian Armenia and Islamic Iran: An unusual partnership explained (1/14/2013) | HAROUT HARRY SEMERDJIAN @thehill … Its border with an often unstable Georgia remains open to the North as well as a tiny 22-mile Southern border with Iran – termed as a “lifeline” for the culturally-rich yet resource-poor country of 3 million. …northern Iran is inhabited by over 15 million Azeris (double the population of the Republic of Azerbaijan), driving Iran’s concern of a potential… Two seats in the Iranian Parliament are appointed for Armenian representation and northern Iran, once a part of several Armenian kingdoms… Russia remains Armenia’s strategic ally and Armenia has very warm and developing relations with the United States and the EU. …the United States should assist Armenian integration in regional economic and transportation projects and to energize U.S.-Armenia economic relations via a bilateral Trade and Investment Framework Agreement. …

The world’s first Christian country? (4/6/2017) | Amanda Proença Santos & Rodolfo Contreras @BBC (via @ARAMAC_DC)

Central Asia Vol.2


cf. Why are Russians Leaving Kazakhstan?   A quarter-century later… Ethnic Kazakhs…now represent nearly 70 percent… …the Kazakhstani government’s broader struggles at retaining the country’s ethnic minorities… …putatively Russophobic sentiments in Kazakhstan could incur a response from an expansionist Moscow…

Political map    The Migration Landscape of Kazakhstan’s Uyghur: A Historical Perspective    Kazakhs striving to prove Genghis Khan descent   Kazakhstan-Kyrgyzstan Economic Relations Make Progress    Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan: Competitors, Strategic Partners or Eternal Friends?    Delimitation of state border of independent Kazakhstan. Turkmenistan.

Ireland Vol.22 (Connacht Vol.2 – Mayo, Galway)

Connacht, IE


cf. Ireland Vol.3 (Mayo)


Balkan Vol.2 (Macedonia, Kosovo, Montenegro, Albania)





Central Asia Vol.1



cf. Xinjiang | @iaunrc @IndianaUniv   KYRGYZ IN CHINA: HISTORY AND CULTURE | @FactsAndDetails   TIBET AND THE UNITED STATES (PDF; 2000) | A. Tom Grunfeld @SUNYEmpireState #EALAC @ColumbiaHum   Pakistan, Kyrgyzstan look to boost energy, trade ties (1/7/2017) | Zafar Bhutta @etribune   Pakistan, Tajikistan discuss rail link (11/24/2016) | AMIN AHMED @dawn_com   India, Kyrgyzstan sign six agreements (12/20/2016) | @ians_india @IndianExpress   India – Tajikistan Relations (PDF; 2016) | @IndianDiplomacy   TAJIKISTAN AND AFGHANISTAN | @TheStudyofWar

Canada Vol.25 (Trudeau administration Vol.1)

Here is a list of Current Ministry (Cabinet) | PARLIAMENT of CANADA (* CABINET SHUFFLE 2017.01.10; # Minister Mandate Letter from Prime Minister). Excerpts are on our own.

Innovation, science and economic development: NAVDEEP SINGH BAINS
Indigenous and Northern Affairs: CAROLYN BENNETT
International development and La Francophonie: MARIE-CLAUDE BIBEAU
Treasury Board president: SCOTT BRISON
Natural resources: JIM CARR
*Foreign affairs #: *Chrystia Freeland (Preceded by STÉPHANE DION)
Families, Children and Social Development: JEAN-YVES DUCLOS
Public services and procurement: JUDY FOOTE
*International trade #: *François-Philippe Champagne (Preceded by CHRYSTIA FREELAND)
Public safety and emergency preparedness: RALPH GOODALE
*Status of Women: *Maryam Monsef (Preceded by PATTY HAJDU)
Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence: KENT HEHR
Canadian Heritage: MÉLANIE JOLY
Small Business and Tourism: BARDISH CHAGGER
Government House Leader: BARDISH CHAGGER
Agriculture and agri-food: LAWRENCE MACAULAY
*Immigration, refugees and citizenship #: *Ahmed Hussen (Preceded by JOHN MCCALLUM)
Environment and Climate Change: CATHERINE MCKENNA
*Employment, Workforce Development and Labour #: *Patty Hajdu (Preceded by MARYANNE MIHYCHUK)
*Democratic Institutions: *Karina Gould (Preceded by MARYAM MONSEF)
Sport and Persons with Disabilities: CARLA QUALTROUGH
Infrastructure and Communities: AMARJEET SOHI
Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard: DOMINIC LEBLANC
Justice and attorney-general: JODY WILSON-RAYBOULD
THE TRUDEAU CABINET (1/5/2017) | @globepolitics
Here are all 30 cabinet ministers at a glance (11/5/2015) | @OttawaCitizen

The 3 new faces of Justin Trudeau’s Liberal cabinet (1/10/2017) | @JPTasker @CBCNews
Long-time Liberal MP John McCallum is leaving federal politics for Beijing, where he will become Canada’s ambassador to China, and he will cede his immigration post to Ahmed Hussen, the first black Canadian to serve in Trudeau’s cabinet. …
Gould’s appointment as minister of democratic institutions will lower the average age of cabinet ministers considerably. …
Gould, 29, is the youngest female cabinet minister in Canadian history. …
… Champagne takes over the hot file as support for global trade wanes in much of the Western world amid an ascendency of protectionist rhetoric.
Champagne has one notable supporter in his corner: former prime minister Jean Chrétien. …

New Hands, Not Enough Cards (1/21/2017) | @RLindenFraser @NATOCanada
… With rising nationalism in Belgium, France and Germany, Canada will have to play a nervous game of wait-and-see.
… She carries the cachet of successfully concluding CETA negotiations in Europe. …
… The US government is not Wallonia, and Canada’s trade negotiators won’t have 28 EU governments on their side, as they did in the final dash to conclude CETA. …
… The risk of renegotiating, then, is not that America will punish Canada directly. The danger is that an American administration dead-set on Mexican concessions (anything, for example, that could be spun as payment for a certain wall) will throw the Canadian baby out with the NAFTA bathwater. It leaves Canadian officials with a classic dilemma: do they band together with Mexico, and risk handing everyone a worse deal, or do they strike out on their own, aim at a better agreement for Canada, and leave their erstwhile partners out in the cold? John Nash would have been proud.

In a major shuffle, Justin Trudeau re-tools cabinet in preparation for the Donald Trump era (1/12/2017) | @davidakin @calgaryherald
… McCallum had been Trudeau’s immigration minister and distinguished himself on that file by executing, albeit a bit tardily, on Trudeau’s campaign promise to bring thousands of Syrian refugees out of harms’s way and into Canada. …
Trudeau, at a House of Commons press conference after Tuesday’s shuffle, said he has asked Dion to take on a “senior role” and hinted that it will involve some sort of diplomatic role. …
Trudeau’s pick of Freeland is particularly interesting given that Freeland, whose family has roots in Ukraine and who speaks fluent Russian, is persona non grata in Russia. …
Trudeau said it’s clear the Trump presidency is likely to focus on jobs and growth.
“So it makes sense for the person who is responsible for foreign relations in the United States to also have the ability and responsibility…
Trudeau preserves the gender balance with this cabinet shuffle but has broadend cabinet’s ethnic diversity. Gould and Hussen are, respectively, the second Jewish and Muslim members of cabinet.
Monsef, the other Muslim member of cabinet, had badly handled the electoral reform file…
The former status of women minister, Patty Hajdu of Thunder Bay, Ont., will be rewarded for what the PMO believes has been a strong performance by being promoted to the labour portfolio. …

*Chrystia Freeland (Foreign affairs – moved from International trade)
*Maryam Monsef (Status of Women – moved from Democratic Institutions)
*Patty Hajdu (Employment, Workforce Development and Labour – moved from Status of Women)
*François-Philippe Champagne (International trade) @FPCChampagne
*Ahmed Hussen (Immigration, refugees and citizenship) @AhmedDHussen
*Karina Gould (Democratic Institutions) @karinagould

UK Vol.65 (Post-EUref Vol.11 – including UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit speech)

Here are articles on Brexit including scholars’ analyses, UK Prime Minister’s speech, et al. Excerpts are on our own.

I was wrong on Brexit (12/12/2016) | Niall Ferguson @BostonGlobe
The three words you are least likely to hear from an academic are “I was wrong.” Well, I was wrong to argue against “Brexit,” as I admitted in public last week. …
…Europe became the world’s most dynamic civilization after around 1500 partly because of political fragmentation and competition between multiple independent states. …the rule of law ? and specifically the English common law ? was one of the “killer applications” of western civilization.
…the costs of Brexit would outweigh the benefits. …the doom-laden projections of a post-Brexit recession from the International Monetary Fund, the Treasury, and others. …
…Americans since the 1960s have wanted the Brits inside the EU to counterbalance the French…
… First, the warnings I and others gave about European monetary union back in the 1990s have been wholly vindicated.
Second, Europe’s supposedly common foreign policy has been a failure. …
Third, the EU institutions mishandled the financial crisis. …
Nor is that all. Last year EU leaders… Finally, they utterly misread the mounting public dissatisfaction ? not only in Britain ? with the consequences of unfettered free population movement.
… His mistake was to accept the risible terms that the European leaders offered him back in February on EU migrants’ eligibility for benefits, instead of marching out of the conference room and announcing that he would campaign for Brexit. My mistake was not to urge that.
… Many “Remainers” have dug in deeper and waste their time dreaming up ways of derailing Brexit. The Brexiteers meanwhile are dividing like 19th-century Protestant sectarians over how “hard” Brexit should be. …

Key points from May’s Brexit speech: what have we learned? (w Video; 1/17/2019) | @jonhenley @guardian
The single market
…her top two Brexit priorities are controlling EU immigration and withdrawing from the jurisdiction of the European court of justice.
… Single market membership, she said, would mean accepting the EU’s four freedoms – free movement of goods, services, capital and people – and “complying with the EU’s rules and regulations that regulate those freedoms”.
…Britain will seek “the greatest possible access to it through a new, comprehensive, bold and ambitious free trade agreement”.
The customs union
…goods from outside the area are charged a common external tariff to cross its border and enter it; goods already within it can circulate and cross borders freely.
…she did not want Britain to be bound by the common commercial policy and the common external tariff.
But she also said she wanted tariff-free trade with Europe and cross-border trade there to be “as frictionless as possible”…
… Car parts, for example, cross EU borders dozens of times before completion, and customs checks would be disastrous…
Parliamentary involvement and article 50 timing
… This deadline may be problematic if the supreme court rules, as expected, later this month that parliament must vote on the formal article 50 notification to the EU, and it could also be delayed by elections in Northern Ireland.
… “I can confirm today that the government will put the final deal that is agreed between the UK and the EU to a vote in both Houses of Parliament, before it comes into force.”
Controlling EU immigration
…while wanting to continue to attract “the brightest and best to study and work in Britain”…
… She has previously rejected the idea of a point-based regime, and ministers have hinted at the possibility of work visas, but no new system has yet been formally announced.
A transitional deal
…a “cliff-edge”: …with no future relationship defined.
…“implementation period”…
But she is opposed to the kind of interim arrangement favoured by some who want a lengthy…
Status of EU citizens in UK and UK citizens on continent
…“negotiating capital”. …the government wants to guarantee their rights – and those of British citizens on the continent – “as early as we can”. …
The EU budget
…“some specific European programmes… …it is reasonable that we should make an appropriate contribution.”
The EEA option
… “We do not seek to adopt a model already enjoyed by other countries.”
… Britain did not want “partial membership…or associate membership…
Ireland and the union
…maintaining the pre-EU common travel area between Britain and Ireland… …avoid a “hard border” between Northern Ireland and the Republic.
…describing the union between England, Scotland and Wales as precious. …
…“I want us to be … the best friend and neighbour to our European partners,”…
…“an act of calamitous self-harm for the countries of Europe. …
…“no deal for Britain is better than a bad deal for Britain”…

Theresa May’s Brexit speech in full: Prime Minister outlines her 12 objectives for negotiations: Britain is leaving the Single Market but will still cooperate in other areas (1/18/2017) | @independent

London Mayor Sadiq Khan in stinging attack on Theresa May’s Brexit plans, warning they could ‘rip Britain apart’ (w Videos; 1/18/2017) | @PippaCrerar @standardnews

How a British Court Ruling Could Delay Brexit Negotiations (w Podcast; 11/9/2016) | @whartonknows
… Olivier Chatain, professor of strategy and business policy at the HEC Paris business school, and a senior fellow at Wharton’s Mack Institute of Innovation Management, and Michelle Egan, a professor at American University’s School of International Service…
More Uncertainty
Economic Impact
Finding Common Ground
Brexit Referendum Will Stand
A Brexit Bill

Oxford academics warning of Brexit ‘disaster’ (1/11/2017) | @seanjcoughlan @bbc
A “hard Brexit” would be the “biggest disaster” to have hit the UK’s universities for many years, a university head told MPs.
‘Culturally allergic’
‘Manchester Utd problem’
Research funding
Unanswered questions

Can Brexit Be Achieved with Minimal Damage? (w Podcast; 10/7/2016) | @whartonknows
American University’s Michelle Egan…

How Brexit Could Boost the European Union (9/21/2016) | @whartonknows
Size Matters a lot
Then There Is Regulation
Talent Is Key
Real Investments
Yet More Uncertainty
Opportunities for the Rest of Europe
– Big is beautiful? promote it
– Boost the single market? but shift the focus to direct benefits for people
– Smart integration? do things that could not be done before
– Bring over banks, corporates and the ecosystem? make it appealing to move
– Leverage investment opportunities? follow the money
– Attract the leaders of tomorrow? EU-27 as the place to be
– Make it appealing for skilled workers to move back
– Finally, it is all about trust, stability and the reduction of uncertainty

Amid Brexit and Spotify threats, Stockholm adapts to remain globally competitive (9/20/2016) | Elizabeth Patterson and Marek Gootman @BrookingsInst

What Comes Next for Europe? (6/27/2016) | @DBachYSOM & ANDREW METRICK @AdvancedMgmt @YaleInsights
Andrew Metrick:… The bigger concerns are long run. … With the UK exiting, it’s the first time we’ve seen any significant pullback from this project, which had mixed success, but certainly kept alive its noble ideals. …
… Uncertainty discourages people from making long-term investments. …
David Bach:… Three million EU citizens live and work in the UK, and 1.5 million UK citizens live in Europe. …the European Union has to think, on the one hand, about how to manage this exit in a way that protects the interests of the stakeholders in the 27 continuing EU countries…
…at least three different groups within the “Leave” camp. You have conservative, neo-liberal types around Boris Johnson and others who feel that EU regulation was stifling business and want to control their own sovereignty. The second camp is around Nigel Farage and the UK Independence Party—the nativists who are anti-immigration. And then you have a third group, trade unionists who felt that Europe was too pro-business, and they want to go back to a model of greater protection. …
Metrick:… Northern Ireland is really tricky. It is the case that they’ve had no borders with the Republic of Ireland for a while, but I don’t know whether the religious issues that made this split in the first place are going to be any less potent.
Bach:… The presumption was that if we used Article 50, it was going to be some small Eastern European nation that couldn’t keep up with the regulations. …
Metrick: No one believes the optimal size of government is everybody under one government. There are always going to be certain things we want local control over. This is a battle we have a lot of experience with in the United States, and we fought a civil war over it. …

Ivan Rogers and the great British Brexit pantomime (1/4/2017) | @RGWhitman @ConversationUK @UKandEU

Scottish independence: Decapitate Britain, and we kill off the greatest political union ever (9/8/2014) | Boris Johnson @telegraph

US Policy Changes Vol.44 (National Security Vol.3 – Terrorism, Budget, Nukes, IS)

Here are articles on terrorism, budget, nukes, IS, et al. Excerpts are on our own.

How to fight terrorism in the Donald Trump era (12/30/2016) | @dbyman @TheNatlInterest @BrookingsInst
… First, job loss in manufacturing derives primarily from technological change, not from trade. Manufacturing’s share of U.S. production is quite stable, but its share of employment has declined at a steady rate because productivity growth in manufacturing is higher than in services. …
Hence, there would be a one-time shift of capital and labor from services to manufacturing. Then, the trend decline of manufacturing employment would continue as long as productivity growth in manufactures is faster than that in services. …
Second, the broadest measure of the trade balance, the current account, is equal to savings minus investment. Countries with a trade deficit, like the U.S., are borrowing from the rest of the world to support investment. …
… The 1970s and 1980s saw far more attacks than there were in the post-9/11 era. Recent years have seen horrendous attacks, like the 2015 shootings and bombings in Paris that killed 130 people—but 1988 saw 440 people die, most of whom perished when Libyan agents bombed Pan Am 103.
… Lebanon suffered a calamitous war in the 1970s and 1980s where Palestinian terrorists and Hezbollah were important players. Jihadists in Algeria fought a vicious civil war against the regime in the 1990s, where over one hundred thousand people died. Afghanistan, Nigeria, Sudan, and other countries in the region have long endured civil wars. … Terrorists have contributed to and exploited civil wars that have killed more than one hundred thousand in Afghanistan, tens of thousands in Pakistan, tens of thousands in Nigeria, thousands in Yemen, thousands in Libya, and hundreds of thousands in Syria.
… The first, of course, is the real risk to American lives and those of U.S. allies. In absolute terms, these are small in the United States and only slightly larger in Europe. The average American is more likely to be shot by an armed toddler than killed by a terrorist.
The next danger is political. … it also means defending American values, including being a home to peaceful people of all religions, and welcoming refugees. In Europe, the politics are even nastier as xenophobic movements gain notable strength. …
The biggest danger, however, is to U.S. interests in Muslim parts of Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. Stability and governance have collapsed in many countries and are under threat in others. In addition to the human cost, this threatens the stability of U.S. partners…with countries like Saudi Arabia intervening in Yemen and otherwise ratcheting up regional tension in competition with Iran. The danger also allows U.S. allies like Egypt to resist the pressure to democratize…
… In the 1960s and 1970s, the United States faced an array of national-liberation and left-wing movements… In the 1980s, Hezbollah killed hundreds of Americans, but focused its violence on American troops and diplomats overseas—not civilians at home. … Iran recognized that if it crossed too many lines it might lead to a devastating U.S. reaction. …
… European governments did not make direct concessions to left-wing groups, but pro-union policies and political parties that favored social freedoms that impressionable youth embraced often took the wind out of the radical Left’s sails. Spain granted considerable autonomy to the Basque region, and the British government showered development spending on Northern Ireland while drafting a political deal that ensured Catholic rights. In the Middle East, however, the radical constituencies do not want political reform and are likely to exploit any relaxation of police states to expand their operations.
… Jabhat Fatah al-Sham (al-Qaida’s Syrian and most important affiliate, formerly known as Jabhat al-Nusra), recently announced it was severing ties with al-Qaida and would not attack the United States in the hopes of working more closely with, and eventually uniting, other Syrian opposition groups.
…al-Qaida and the Islamic State have local allies—what the Islamic State would call “provinces”—throughout the Muslim world. … Al-Qaida’s Yemen affiliate, for example, almost succeeded in downing a U.S. passenger plane in 2009, while the Islamic State’s province in the Sinai downed a Russian plane in 2015, killing 224 people.
…Hezbollah even operates a television station. … Such technology has also enabled the Islamic State to aggressively employ so-called “lone wolves”—individuals not directly under its command, but inspired by its message—to strike at the United States and Europe.
… Hamas controls Gaza, Hezbollah has de facto sovereignty over much of Lebanon, al-Qaida affiliates like al-Shabaab in Somalia rule over parts of their country and, of course, the Islamic State at its peak in 2014 ruled lands roughly the size of Great Britain. …
… Americans are in no mood to accept that small attacks are difficult to prevent, that diplomats should be stationed in dangerous areas, and that low levels of terrorism at home are a sign of success, not failure.
…part of the reason that al-Qaida and now the Islamic State turn to lone wolves is because it has proven difficult to use more organized terrorists to strike the United States.
… Although the United States can and should push technology companies to hinder egregious terrorist recruitment and operations, protecting the right of free speech and the proliferation of communications technologies remains a boon for groups that cannot be avoided. …
… America needs more competent good guys—or at least less-bad guys—to support in the Middle East and other danger zones. …
… Ending civil wars must feature centrally in future counterterrorism policy.
… When the Islamic State took Mosul in June 2014, some thirty thousand well-armed Iraqi forces fled the city in the face of one thousand Islamic State fighters… The Islamic State’s expansion occurred, in part, because Iraqi military forces were primarily Shiite and had little interest in defending local Sunnis… In Sunni areas such as Mosul, residents often regarded the army as a puppet of Iran. The Iraqi officers did not command the respect of their troops and lacked professionalism. …
… Some might be better left to allies: France, for example, could continue to take the lead in parts of North and West Africa. …
The first is institutionalization. …
… One branch of government, perhaps the most important in the long term, has been AWOL under both Democratic and Republican leadership: the U.S. Congress. …
…even small attacks like the Boston Marathon bombings paralyzed a major city.
Finally… In contrast to Europe, the American Muslim community is far better integrated and regularly cooperates with law enforcement.
… Ideally, the new president should press state and local officials to work with Muslim communities, not just to stop radicalism in their ranks but to protect them from right-wing extremists. …
… In spite of failures, inefficiencies and hard lessons, it has accomplished its primary objective for the last fifteen years: averting another 9/11. …

Right-sizing the Trump defense buildup (12/28/2016) | @MichaelEOHanlon @USAToday @BrookingsFP
… Yet in framing defense choices, it is important to understand our starting point. The U.S. armed forces are not a disgrace, and their readiness is not in shambles. With the annual federal deficit already on track to top $1 trillion again next decade, even without counting any Trumpian plans for big defense buildups, infrastructure initiatives, or tax cuts, we need a measured defense buildup, not a massive one. Unit by unit, today’s armed forces are strong; the main problem is that they are just somewhat too few in number. …
Consider a few basic facts:…
… For example, instead of adding 70,000 soldiers to the active-duty Army, Trump could add 20,000 to 30,000. That would be enough to shore up new deployments that NATO is beginning in the Baltic states, among other needs. It would restore the Army to its size from the late Bill Clinton/early George W. Bush years. Rather than grow the Navy to 350 ships, Trump could aim for a fleet in the low 300s—10 percent larger than it was several years ago, and still enough to sustain a 2-to-1 advantage over China in fleet tonnage (as well as a big advantage in most types of technology). …

The Donald and nukes, again (12/22/2016) | @steven_pifer @BrookingsInst
… According to the latest data exchange mandated by the 2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), as of September 1 the United States had 1,367 deployed strategic nuclear warheads on 681 deployed submarine-launched ballistic missiles, intercontinental ballistic missiles, and heavy bombers. The vast bulk of these are warheads on ballistic missiles, which can be launched in a matter of minutes. The warheads have yields ranging from 100 to 455 kilotons (the bomb that devastated Hiroshima had a yield of just 14 kilotons).
In addition, the U.S. military has several thousand other nuclear warheads, making up a total stockpile of about 4,500. And that does not count another 2,000 to 2,500 weapons that have been retired and are in the dismantlement queue. …
… As of February 2018, the United States and Russia will each be limited by New START to no more than 1,550 deployed strategic warheads on no more than 700 deployed strategic missiles and bombers. Current Pentagon plans call for U.S. strategic forces at precisely those levels.
Expanding U.S. nuclear capabilities thus could mean busting out of New START. …
…to maintain New START and seek to do a deal on further nuclear arms cuts with Mr. Putin. …

The limits of air strikes when fighting the Islamic State (12/6/2016) | @dbyman @lawfareblog @BrookingsFP
… After years of surviving largely underground, in 2014 it took over vast swaths of Iraq and Syria, and it has established so-called “provinces” in Afghanistan, Egypt, Libya, and other countries.
… A poll taken in August showed that only 42 percent of Americans favored deploying a significant number of ground troops to Syria to fight the Islamic State, though a slight majority is comfortable with limited numbers of special operations forces.
… Yet air power, if not used carefully, runs all the risks of a one-night stand: it can create false expectations, drag America into unwanted relationships with flawed partners, and winds up meaning little in the long-term.
… Perhaps most important, adaptation in response to air strikes renders terrorists less effective. A tip sheet found among jihadists in Mali advised militants they could avoid drones by maintaining “complete silence of all wireless contacts,” “[avoiding] gathering in open areas,”… The indirect effects also matter. Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has been laying low since U.S. military operations began, diminishing his charismatic presence from Islamic State propaganda and, presumably, disheartening his beleaguered troops. Abu Mohammad al-Adnani, the spokesman who headed the group’s external operations, was also charismatic…
Air power is particularly valuable when it can be yoked with local allied fighters on the ground. In Afghanistan after 9/11, the rag-tag Northern Alliance quickly turned the tables on the Taliban after the U.S. Air Force entered the fray. NATO airpower stopped Gadhafi’s forces at the gates of Benghazi and then helped the Libyan opposition…
Yet air power has real limits.
… Bombers need bases near the conflict zone and access to the battlefield. … But to maintain a sustained battlefield presence, aircraft must be able to get to and from the conflict zone quickly and easily. Allies, of course, don’t provide access to their bases for free: they expect favors in return. …
Nor does air power address the biggest long-term challenges in fighting the Islamic State: governance. …
The trouble is that local allies are often themselves flawed instruments…

Saudi Arabia and terrorism today (9/29/2016) | @dbyman @BrookingsFP

What’s beyond the defeat of ISIS? (9/27/2016) | @dbyman @lawfareblog @BrookingsFP

US Policy Changes Vol.36 (Foreign Policy Vol.5 – Israel-Palestine, Russia, Iran, Syria)

Here are @BrookingsInst’s articles on foreign policy (Israel-Palestine, Russia, Iran and Syria). Excerpts are on our own.

President Trump’s options for Israeli-Palestinian dealmaking (12/1/2016) | @Martin_Indyk @BrookingsFP (Big Ideas For America)
…three possible approaches to negotiations—a provocative, high-risk “top-down” approach that would focus on the contested status of Jerusalem; a more measured “bottom-up” approach that would work with regional players to change the situation on the ground; and a summit-driven “outside-in” approach that would establish internationally supported terms of reference for negotiating a two-state solution. …
…but he would be the first real estate developer to try to reach for the “brass ring,” and his experience with making land deals as well as his unconventional, disruptive approach to diplomacy might just generate new possibilities when all other efforts have failed. However, President Trump would be taking on the task at a uniquely difficult moment when neither side trusts in the peaceful intentions of the other or believes in the possibility of a peace deal based on the establishment of a viable Palestinian state living alongside the Jewish state of Israel in peace and security.
This “two-state solution” has been thwarted by two abiding realities… The first is the power of the Israeli settler movement and its supporters in…right-wing coalition government. They regard all West Bank territory as part of the Land of Israel and firmly reject the two-state solution. Consequently, they are pursuing apace an effort to annex the 60 percent of the West Bank that remains under complete Israeli control (known as “Area C” in the Oslo Accords…)… attempting to legalize some 50 outposts that are illegal under Israeli law, and preventing any Palestinian development of the land.
The second reality is a politically and physically divided Palestinian polity in the West Bank and Gaza Strip… Hamas remains dedicated to the destruction of Israel and is consolidating its grip on Gaza while building its influence in the West Bank. Meanwhile, Fatah…has left its leadership preoccupied…
… The alternative of forming a more flexible centrist coalition with the Labor Party would leave him dependent on parties to his left while his rivals to his right robbed him of the support of his natural constituency. Meanwhile, Abbas’s electoral mandate expired some six years ago, and he no longer feels he has the legitimacy to make compromises over what his people believe are their inalienable rights. …
…current circumstances do not permit the achievement of a negotiated resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and yet failure to pursue that resolution now will make it even less possible to achieve it in the future. …
1. “Jerusalem first”
… One of the basic rules of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations is that the status of Jerusalem is an issue that should be left until all the other issues are resolved. …
…neither side accepts the legitimacy of the other’s claims. Arab east Jerusalem was annexed to Israel in 1967, and since then every Israeli government has claimed undivided Jerusalem as “the eternal capital of Israel.” … Conversely, Palestinians claim all the area of east Jerusalem that Israel occupied in 1967, including the Old City, as the capital for their state, and view the Jewish suburbs built there as illegal. …
… The area bounded by the walls of the Old City, which contains the sites holiest to the three great religions…would be declared a special zone where neither side would exercise their claims to sovereignty… However, such rational compromises have not proven remotely acceptable to either side.
… Hamas might resume rocket attacks from Gaza, but because of fear of an Israeli response they would more likely seek to stoke the fires of violent resistance in the West Bank and Jerusalem. …
Alternatively, in parallel with moving the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, the president could also announce that he has decided to establish a U.S. embassy to the state of Palestine in east Jerusalem…
To ensure that both sides negotiated in good faith, President Trump could declare that if they fail to turn up or fail to reach agreement, the Quartet, Egypt, and Jordan would resort to a UN Security Council resolution setting out the parameters of the rational solution on Jerusalem, in effect threatening to impose it on the two sides. …
2. Bottom-up
… In his first two years, he would instead focus on arresting the negative dynamics on the ground in the West Bank and work with Egypt and Jordan to promote a united Palestinian leadership with a mandate to negotiate peace with Israel.
Under this option, he would need to insist at the outset that Israel stop all construction east of the security barrier… Construction in east Jerusalem could also continue but on a 1:1 basis for building in Arab as well as Jewish suburbs. There could be no construction in E1 or other sensitive areas…
… In return, the building of state institutions and the development…should be boosted by a new injection of funds from the United States, the Arab states, and the international community.
3. Outside-in
…might consider taking up “outside in” approach, which would involve Trump convening the leaders of the Quartet (the United States, Russia, the EU, and the UN) and the Arab Quartet (Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates)… …to draw on the collective will of the international community to jumpstart direct negotiations based on these agreed principles.
-…end the conflict, end all claims, and establish two states living side by side in peace and security.
-…the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps.
-…ensure that Israel can defend itself against any threat…
-…the shared capital…
-…UN General Assembly resolution 181…
… Neither Israelis nor Palestinians at this moment believe that peace is either possible or desirable because the costs seem too high and the benefits too small. For both leaders, the status quo is quite sustainable, even as outside parties fret that the two-state solution is being buried in the process. …
… Likewise, Palestinian weakness makes it particularly difficult to move them since, like a business venture that is close to bankruptcy, they can always threaten collapse if they are forced to compromise. Meanwhile, the Arab states are all preoccupied with other more serious threats to their security and stability. They will be reluctant to risk Palestinian ire or, for Egypt and Jordan, the unhappiness of their Israeli security partner, to assist the president…
President Trump will therefore have to be prepared to overcome all the local resistance that is now baked into the situation. He will also need to resist the advice of his experts…
… Despite all the friction with the Obama administration, Russia has been fully supportive of Secretary Kerry’s efforts, so President Trump can easily find common ground with President Vladimir Putin. Similarly, he will find a willing partner in the EU, which believes that the failure to solve the Palestinian problem exacerbates the other Middle Eastern conflicts that threaten stability in Europe. While the Arab states will be more reluctant to take risks, President Sissi and King Abdullah both strongly believe in the importance of a resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for their own well-being. The Gulf Arabs are less persuadable, but will be attracted by the ability to engage openly with Israel…

Draw red lines on Russia (11/30/2016) | @steven_pifer @TheNatlInterest @BrookingsFP
… Part of the problem is that domestic political factors drive much of Vladimir Putin’s foreign policy. With a stagnant economy, he cannot base regime legitimacy on rising living standards, as he did in 2000–2008. He instead has turned to nationalism at home and the restoration of Russia as a power-player abroad. …
– Reaffirmation of NATO’s decision to modestly boost its military presence in the Baltic states and Poland in the face of Russia’s more aggressive stance, coupled with an offer to explore ways to reduce tensions between the alliance and Moscow. …
– Support for Ukraine and the German-led effort to end the fighting in eastern Ukraine. …
– Readiness to cooperate on areas where U.S. and Russian interests converge. …beyond the New START treaty.

Why small steps on Russia are better than attempts at a grand bargain (11/30/2016) | Angela Stent @TheNatlInterest (@CarnegieCorp) @BrookingsFP
… First, every U.S. administration since 1991 has come into office seeking to improve ties with Russia and each of these resets has ended in disappointment… Second…a reprise of the Yalta agreement that divides the world into spheres of influence and does not challenge what he considers are Russia’s legitimate interests. …
… It might involve recognizing Crimea as part of Russia and lifting the economic sanctions on Russia imposed after the launch of a war in the Donbass that has claimed 10,000 lives so far. …

Trump could gut the Iran deal—but it was vulnerable all along (11/17/2016) | @MaloneySuzanne @BrookingsFP
…@RNephewCGEP…described Trump’s election as “the end game for the deal,” noting the centrality of the executive branch in implementing American obligations—specifically, waivers that provide for U.S. sanctions relief that is required by the JCPOA. …
On the other side of the spectrum are those—including the Iranians themselves—who highlight that the deal was negotiated by seven states and the European Union (not to mention endorsed by the U.N. Security Council)…
… Serious Republican national security figures such as Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker…recognize the dangers of alienating U.S. allies, most of whom are deeply committed to preserving the nuclear deal (with initial opponents like Israel and Saudi Arabia grudgingly accepting its utility). …
… Senior Republicans on the Hill have pledged to reverse Obama’s contentious efforts to go above and beyond the deal’s requirements for sanctions relief in hopes of preserving support for the deal within Iran. …
… New sanctions could stymie Iran’s efforts to attract foreign investment and rebuild trade ties with Europe and Asia. Even better, from the standpoint of the Republicans, they might prompt Tehran to abrogate the deal, since the Iranian leadership maintains—inaccurately, but with a voluble echo chamber in Europe and the United States—that any American sanctions contravene the nuclear deal.
… Finally, he has pledged to respond forcefully to any future Iranian provocation, such as harassment of American naval forces in the Gulf…
… With an impulsive and unschooled American president, counseled by a constellation of trigger-happy ideologues, the prospect of a military confrontation between Washington and Tehran…
… Since last week, a range of Iranian officials have insisted that the JCPOA—and its more important byproduct, Iran’s international rehabilitation—are “irreversible.”
… Many of the red flags of the Iranian nuclear program—the Arak plutonium reactor, the stockpiles of near 20 percent enriched uranium, the industrial-sized enrichment capability—have been demobilized in a fashion that will take time to reconstitute. …
… However, the deal’s architects failed in one difficult but vital task: ensuring the agreement’s sustainability beyond the administration’s lifespan. …
…the deal incorporated sufficient ambiguity on sanctions to ensure that every future application of American pressure on Iran would be strenuously contested by Tehran—and that concerns about eroding Iranian commitment to the deal would compromise Washington’s vigilance in enforcing the residual measures. …
…the deal’s success never really rested on the terms and provisions…but rather in the ambitions that the agreement embodied.
This is in large part a consequence of the way that leaders on both sides framed the deal to generate domestic support. …
…the influx of capital remains sluggish—in part because of residual American sanctions as well as low oil prices…

Should we work with the devil we know against the Islamic State? (11/21/2016) | @dbyman @lawfareblog @BrookingsFP
…Ryan Crocker…
… Bashar Assad and his father before him imposed a brutal order on the country in the past. Assad the elder killed thousands during a civil war from 1978-1982, leveling parts of the city of Hama, a key opposition hotbed, as a lesson to those he defied him, particular Islamists tied to Syria’s Muslim Brotherhood. Both he and his son ruled as dictators, where torture and other human rights abuses were common. But say what you will, the jihadist problem in Syria was largely contained…
…Assad is pragmatic—for example, in 2013 he agreed to rid himself of chemical weapons in a successful effort to avoid U.S. air strikes (though…his regime reportedly used chemical weapons in the battle for Aleppo earlier this fall). …
… Diplomatically, U.S. allies like Turkey and Saudi Arabia would strongly oppose this policy and would probably work to undermine it. … Saudi Arabia has proven a major source of terrorist recruits and financing, while the Syria-Turkey border was a major crossing point for Islamic State recruits. …
… Russia and Iran are loathed in the Arab world because of their embrace of Assad, and a U.S. alliance with Syria and these powers would “prove” to already-suspicious Sunnis that the United States seeks to subvert their traditional dominance of the Arab world and encourage Iranian influence to spread. …terrorism is justified because the United States is at war with Sunni Muslims.
Additionally, although U.S. air power and other support would help Assad’s forces advance, the regime would be unlikely to pacify all of the country, at least in the near-term, given the size of the opposition. …even with support from the Lebanese Hezbollah and Shiite fighters from Iraq and Afghanistan…
…an Assad victory would be widely, and correctly, seen as a triumph for its biggest friend—the clerical regime in Iran.
Most important, morality matters. It is one thing to ally with Stalin against Hitler when engaged in a total war; it is another to make such a devil’s bargain in a lesser conflict when the U.S. enjoys overwhelming power. …
… The United States can continue the incremental but steady efforts to work with local factions in Iraq and Syria to shrink the Islamic State’s haven and put pressure on the group. It can continue the global intelligence effort…

US Presidential Election 2016 Vol.7 (polls up to early morning 11/7)

One day left. Here are articles mainly on polls up to early morning 11/7 EST.

How Much Did Comey Hurt Clinton’s Chances?: And is it too late for his second letter to help her? (11/6) | @NateSilver538 @FiveThirtyEight

Election Update: Don’t Ignore The Polls — Clinton Leads, But It’s A Close Race (11/6) | @NateSilver538 @FiveThirtyEight

Elections Podcast Countdown: House And Senate Preview (11/6) | @jodyavirgan,@redistrict,@forecasterenten @FiveThirtyEight

@foxnewspoll: Clinton ahead of Trump by two points (11/5) | @danablanton_nyc

Election Update: The Campaign Is Almost Over, And Here’s Where We Stand (11/5) | @NateSilver538 @FiveThirtyEight

Battle for White House | @RealClearNews

No Toss Up States | @RealClearNews

Who will win the presidency? | @FiveThirtyEight

2016 Eletion Forecast Update – President | @FiveThirtyEight

POLL UPDATE: 2016 General Election – Clinton 49%, Trump 46% (UPI/CVOTER 10/30-11/5) | @pollsterpolls

@PollHeadlines (11/6)

2016 October New Hampshire Poll of Likely Voters (10/26; w PDFs) | @UMassPoll

Perceptions of Clinton’s Honesty Unchanged After FBI Letter (11/4) | @Frank_Newport, Michael Smith @GallupNews

Most Still Say Clinton Broke The Law (11/4) | @Rasmussen_Poll

Is 99% a reasonable probability? (11/6) | @SamWangPhD @Princeton

Senate No Toss Ups 2016 – RACE CHANGES | @RealClearNews

Rubio Up In Florida Senate Race, GOP Holding Ohio, Dem Edge In North Carolina And PA Too Close To Call, @QuinnipiacPoll Finds (11/3)

The final stretch: Spending in key Senate races tops $800 million (11/4) | Josh Stewart @SunFoundation

U.S. Voters Prefer GOP Congress if Clinton Is Elected (11/4) | Jeffrey M. Jones ‏@GallupNews

Battle for the House 2016 | @RealClearNews

2016 Governor Races | @RealClearNews

Presidential, governor’s races too close to call in N.C., voters worried about decisions next president will make: The survey conducted Oct. 23-27 is the final survey by @elonpoll before Election Day on Nov. 8. (11/1)

[National] 2016 Brought Out Worst in People: Seven percent report ending friendship over presidential race (w PDF; 9/28) | @MonmouthPoll

Which Issues Are the Most Critical for Trump, Clinton? (11/4) | Dan Witters, @Frank_Newport, ‏@LydiaSaad1 ‏@GallupNews

Demographic and Economic Profiles of Hispanics by State and County, 2014 – Latinos as percent of population, by state, 2014 | @PewHispanic

3. Where Hispanic population growth is driving general population growth (9/8) | @ReneeAStepler,@mhugolopez @PewHispanic

Obamacare Has Increased Insurance Coverage Everywhere (9/22) | @BurritoBracket,‏@bencasselman @FiveThirtyEight

2016 Election [Archives: reports, publications, et al.] | ‏@pewresearch

2. Factors underlying voter preferences, positive and negative voting (10/27) | ‏@pewresearch

3. Views of candidate ‘insults,’ criticism and political divisions (10/27) | ‏@pewresearch

4. How voters view Clinton and Trump’s respect for men and women, racial and religious groups (10/27) | ‏@pewresearch

6. Views of domestic issues: race, immigration, health care, abortion, Supreme Court (10/27) | ‏@pewresearch

7. Opinions on U.S. international involvement, free trade, ISIS and Syria, Russia and China (10/27) | ‏@pewresearch

The Politics of Climate (10/4) | @surveyfunk & Brian Kennedy ‏@pewinternet
Polarized views about climate issues stretch from the causes and cures for climate change to trust in climate scientists and their research. But most Americans support a role for scientists in climate policy, and there is bipartisan support for expanding solar, wind energy

A gender gap in views of Hillary Clinton, even among her supporters (11/5) | SAMANTHA SMITH ‏@pewresearch

Religion And Education Explain The White Vote (9/23) | @milobela @FiveThirtEight

How religious is your state? (2/29) | @MikeLipka,@benjiwo @PewReligion

U.S. religious groups and their political leanings (2/23) | @MikeLipka @PewReligion

The most and least educated U.S. religious groups (11/4) | @CaryleM ‏@FactTank

1. Regular local voting, community attachment strongly linked to news habits (11/3) | MICHAEL BARTHEL, JESSE HOLCOMB, JESSICA MAHONE & AMY MITCHELL @pewjournalism

Clinton And Trump Are Both Promising An Extreme Supreme Court (8/1) | @ollie @FiveThirtyEight

With just days to go, Triumph has some shocking new revelations on Donald J. Trump and Hillary Clinton.

How Teens In The Balkans Are Duping Trump Supporters With Fake News | @CraigSilverman,@LawrenceA_UK @BuzzFeed @NiemanLab
BuzzFeed News identified more than 100 pro-Trump websites being run from a single town in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia

Passing the Baton (11/2) | @LeeMiringoff @maristpoll

The Political Process Isn’t Rigged — It Has Much Bigger Problems (8/4) | @Redistrict @FiveThirtyEight

Why Democrats Must Not Underestimate Donald Trump (3/23) | @PollHeadlines

What The Yankees-Red Sox Rivalry Can Teach Us About Political Polarization | @eitanhersh (@Yale) @FiveThirtyEight

Why Republican Voters Decided On Trump (5/4) | @NateSilver538 @FiveThirtyEight

The End Of A Republican Party: Racial and cultural resentment have replaced the party’s small government ethos.(7/18) | @ClareMalone @ForecasterEnten,@davidnield @FiveThirtyEight

US Presidential Election 2016 Vol.6 (articles on policies)

Here are articles and podcasts including those concerning policies in various areas.

Politics In the Workplace (Podcast) | @mitsloanexperts @MITSloan

Middle-skilled workers still making up for lost ground on earnings | @berubea1 @BrookingsInst

Not just the 1%: Upper middle class income separation | @nathansjoo & @RichardvReeves @BrookingsInst

Recommendations for federal budget policy | Douglas W. Elmendorf @BrookingsInst

The Crash and the Fix of (Podcast) | @HarvardHBS

Penn @Wharton Budget Model: Dynamic Scoring the Presidential Candidates’ Tax Proposals (You Tube)

Trump’s tax plan will make America’s debt great again | William G. Gale, Hilary Gelfond & Aaron Krupkin @BrookingsInst

Tax reform needed now! | William G. Gale & Aaron Krupkin @BrookingsInst

Venn diagram of the day: If a 20% tax reduces consumption of sugary drinks, what about a 107% increase in min. wage? | Carpe Diem @AEI

Recess is over: Time to confirm judges | Russell Wheeler @BrookingsInst

Trade and Toughness | @ChicagoBooth IGM Forum

Increased Trade: A Key to Improving Productivity (w PDF) | Gary Clyde Hufbauer & Zhiyao Lu @PIIE @ANZ_BlueNotes

The Architecture of Innovation: Institutionalizing Innovation in Federal Policymaking (PDF) | @McCourtSchool & @BeeckCenter

Election Promises, Trade Policy Ripples: Behind New @PIIE Study | @pdacosta & @eurkowitz

[INTERACTIVE] Metro North America: Metros as Hubs of Advanced Industries and Integrated Goods Trade (w PDFs) | @joeparilla & @berubea1 @BrookingsInst

The case for the Trans-Pacific Partnership | @solis_msolis @BrookingsInst

Trump and Clinton Have Criticized Obama’s Trade Deal, But For All The Wrong Reasons | @garrett_geoff @Wharton

Surely, failure to ratify TPP will hurt US credibility & ability to write new trade rules. | @CarolineFreund @PIIE
(The truth about trade | @JeffDSachs @BostonGlobe)

RIP, TPP | @BarneyFrank @BostonGlobe

The JCPOA should be maintained and reinforced with a broad regional strategy | Robert Einhorn @BrookingsInst

Making sense of NATO on the US presidential campaign trail | @publichistory @BrookingsInst

Don’t Expect Russia To Cut Oil Production Voluntarily | @BakerInstitute

Hey, Kremlin: Americans can make loose talk about nukes, too | @steven_pifer @BrookingsInst

Iraq: A policy proposal for the next administration | Kenneth M. Pollack @BrookingsInst

Deconstructing Syria: A confederal approach | @MichaelEOHanlon @BrookingsInst

How an Introvert with a passion for religion and soccer became Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi – leader of the Islamic State | @will_mccants @Rackspace

Rousseau on Economic Liberty and Human Flourishing | JOHN T. SCOTT @AEI

US Presidential Election 2016 Vol.5 (articles on policies)

Here are just a part of articles concerning the two candidates’ policies. Excerpts are on our own.

2016 US elections Scenario One: A new female face in the White House but same old gridlock in Washington | Michael Moran @Control_Risks
…while Clinton is not the economic nationalist that her rival Trump is, her presidency marks the end of an era in which Democratic presidents championed free trade accords. With Republicans, too, now unwilling to make the case for free trade publicly, January 2017 in effect ends the post-war era of US leadership on global trade liberalization.
Clinton presidency in nine lines…
Clinton presses new rules on the financial services sector, proposing a follow-on to the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reforms aimed at preventing further consolidation in the banking industry, imposing a ‘risk fee’ on large financial institutions, imposing new capital and reporting requirements on broker-dealers and examining the break-up of systemically significant banking institutions after new, vigorous stress testing.

2016 US elections Scenario Two: Trump wins | Michael Moran @Control_Risks
…Trump, without need to consult Congress, could use executive powers to repeal a host of Obama-era regulatory schema in the financial services, energy, mining and corporate sectors. With Congress, he would seek to push through a modified austerity plan that includes sweeping cuts of the public sector workforce, the elimination of the federal departments of Labour, Energy and Education, and steep cuts in corporate and individual tax rates. @OxfordEconomics, our macroeconomic joint venture partner, reckons Trump’s plan would lead to a major shortfall in government revenue…
In keeping with his campaign promises, Trump would launch new complaints against China at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) that amount to ultimatums, and would impose new tariffs on China, Mexico and other low-wage nations. He would have the ability to withdraw the US from the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), but again, will use that threat to demand changes in the terms of trade that add to the cost of items imported from Mexico. The resulting retaliatory incentives would threaten a general downturn in global growth. …

Analyzing the 2016 election: Insights from 12 @MIT scholars | @MIT_SHASS

Surreal Politics: How Anxiety About Race, Gender and Inequality is Shaping the 2016 Presidential Campaign (w Video) | Dean Brady, Prof @JackGlaserPhD, Prof Sarah Anzia & @_jonathanstein @GoldmanSchool @uctelevision

Bill Clinton is right about ‘crazy’ Obamacare | @johnrgraham @FraserInstitute

What could we expect in terms of foreign policy from Pres Trump or Pres Clinton? Watch @stephenWalt assessment | @carnegiecouncil

The Superpower Cyber War and the US Elections | @GabiSiboni & David Siman-Tov @INSSIsrael @CSS_Zurich

Russia-US cyber tensions show the true threat of cyberwar | Petr Bohacek @risk_insights

Challenges for the Next President: The Crisis with Russia | @HarvardIOP

Trump and the Pope: ‘I’ vs. ‘We’ Visions | E. J. Dionne & Catherine Brekus @HarvardDivinity

The Next Four Years: The Middle East | @MikeatPrinceton & @brosehuber @WilsonSchool

Admiral @stavridisj: The Iran Paradox | @Time

Syria in Crisis: A Secondary Thought | @aronlund

The 2016 presidential campaign and the crisis of US foreign policy (w PDF) | @LowyInstitute

Refugees, Immigrants, and the Polarization of American Foreign Policy | A. TREVOR THRALL @CatoInstitute

Michael Mandelbaum on US Foreign Policy | @DavidAndelman @OUPPolitics @WorldPolicy

NAFTA’s Economic Impact | James McBride & Mohammed Aly Sergie @CFR_org

Trumping Trade (w PDF) | @SMerler @Bruegel_org
– What’s at stake: Trade is a central topic in the US presidential campaign, with both candidates expressing some degree of criticism about past trade policy. But while Hillary Clinton’s position could be described as a cautious scepticism, Donald Trump’s trade plans are more openly protectionist. His proposals include high tariffs on imports, renegotiating trade agreements and possibly US withdrawal from the WTO. After the first presidential debate, we review economists’ reactions and their assessment of Trumps trade policies.

Trump’s outdated trade policy | @clingendael83

Germany Prepares for Possible President Trump | @holger_stark & @schultchristoph @SPIEGELONLINE

TRUMP’S MUSE ON U.S. TRADE WITH CHINA | @adamdavidson @newyorker

Possible Presidents and their Possible Justices (PDF) | Lee Epstein, Andrew D. Martin & Kevin Quinn

Must America become more like Scandinavia? A long-read Q&A with @stanveuger | @JimPethokoukis @AEI

Xi Jinping might delay call on a successor, defying script | @ChuBailiang @TT_Features

Nuke or No Nuke? Japan’s Long Dilemma | Yo-Jung Chen‏ @Diplomat_APAC


Donald Trump and the Implications for Australia | Michael Clarke & @anthonyricketts @WorldPolicy

Hillary Clinton and the Implications for Australia | Michael Clarke & @anthonyricketts @WorldPolicy

Why is Trump better than Clinton for Arabs? | Mamdouh AlMuhaini @AlArabiya_Eng
…he may turn out to be better than the polished but somewhat artificial Hillary Clinton.
In order to see Trump in the right perspective, it is important to understand the answers to three questions: Why do Americans hate him or, to be more specific, why is the American media united against him? Why is Trump resorting to this controversial method that shocks us? Finally, and most importantly, what is the impact of Trump’s policies on our region? …
…Hence we find many Americans – due to their hatred of Trump – turning into “political Salafists” and dreaming about a glorious past. It is also an elitist and arrogant attitude because the president must be a good orator, mobilizing the masses during crisis situations and making them laugh on light-hearted occasions. …
…Trump presents himself as a horse – or a bull if you like – a wild new horse that was not affected by politicians’ corruption in Washington. He refuses to be controlled and used for their interests. He represents a new persona that was not trained but yet can change the lack of action and break the inertia in the US capital and its politicians who have been corrupted by money and interests.
With this dynamic uncontrollable character, Trump has been able to break old traditions and touch the heart of the white middle class Americans that were forgotten, during the past eight years, when a black president was in power. …
…Famous thinker Samuel Huntington wrote an oft-quoted article before his death, in which he warned about the Latin invasion of America. Huntington called for the imposition of conditions that would push the Latin community to be integrated into American society, including the need to learn English and believe in Protestant values, which has characterized the American spirit since the beginning.
It would be stupid to believe that Trump did not understand this predicament and did not know how to cleverly exploit it, even though his words make us laugh. Trump says these sentences includes special symbols and codes. When he said that he would imprison Hillary, he was not naïve; he wanted to say that he will help the weak and the marginalized and would waive the immunity of the corrupt political class, in order to ensure justice.
… What is more important than the above-mentioned factors is Trump’s Middle East policy in comparison to Hillary’s approach. In the most important two areas, Trump seems much better than Hillary. He rejects the Iranian nuclear deal, which is strongly supported by Hillary, and strongly criticizes political Islam, which is also backed by the Democratic candidate (Clinton believes that the Muslim Brotherhood can tame the monster of terrorism and provide a new alternative that is more moderate).
Trump has threatened Iran in Syria and has repeatedly criticized the nuclear agreement, stressing that it is a failed agreement. He pointed out that the sanctions would have overwhelmed the regime in Tehran. He was right when he criticized political Islam saying that it was a source of terrorism. This is a valid point that we (Arabs) understand more than others do. …

Why the U.S. President Needs a Council of Historians | Graham Allison & @nfergus @TheAtlantic
…“almost no administration’s leading figures know the history of what we have done in the Middle East.” Neither do they know the history of the region itself. In 2003, to take one example, when President George W. Bush chose to topple Saddam Hussein, he did not appear to fully appreciate either the difference between Sunni and Shiite Muslims or the significance of the fact that Saddam’s regime was led by a Sunni minority that had suppressed the Shiite majority. He failed to heed warnings that the predictable consequence of his actions would be a Shiite-dominated Baghdad beholden to the Shiite champion in the Middle East—Iran.
The problem is by no means limited to the Middle East or to Bush. President Obama’s inattention to the deep historical relationship between Russia and Ukraine led him to underestimate the risks of closer ties between Ukraine and Europe. “I don’t really even need George Kennan right now,” President Obama told The New Yorker for a January 2014 article, referring to the great Cold War–era diplomat and historian. By March, Russia had annexed Crimea. …
…We believe it is time for a new and rigorous “applied history”—an attempt to illuminate current challenges and choices by analyzing precedents and historical analogues. We not only want to see applied history incorporated into the Executive Office of the President, alongside economic expertise; we also want to see it developed as a discipline in its own right at American universities, beginning at our own. When people refer to “applied history” today, they are typically referring to training for archivists, museum curators, and the like. We have in mind a different sort of applied history, one that follows in the tradition of the modern historian Ernest May and the political scientist Richard Neustadt. Their 1986 book, Thinking in Time, provides the foundation on which we intend to build. …

The U.S. Vice President and Foreign Policy | @MastersJR @CFR_org

UK Vol.59 (Religion and the patterns of conflict in Northern Ireland)

Here is a (draft, 2008?) paper, Religion and the patterns of conflict in Northern Ireland (PDF) | Prof Jennifer Todd @ucdpolitics @YaleMacMillan. Excerpts, underlines, italicization, et al. are on our own.

Religious distinctions are key to social and symbolic boundaries in many societies, and most certainly so in Northern Ireland. The historical patterning of religious opposition, most particularly perhaps in the conservative character of the forms of Protestantism and Catholicism in Ireland, is clear. Recent works have traced the many ways religion has fed into conflict in the present, and the groups for whom it is important for conflict. Building on this research, I will point to some general tendencies or mechanisms which have kept religion mattering for conflict, and to show the particular character this has given to conflict. This is intended to contribute to the analysis of the way multiplex symbolic boundaries can strengthen singular social boundaries and political oppositions and to help clarify the role religion can play in a multiply constituted conflict.

The Northern Ireland conflict 

The conflict in what is now Northern Ireland lies in a direct line of descent from the English reconquest and colonisation (plantation) of Ulster in the early 17th century. This colonisation was never separable from religious differences.  Counter reformation, via Irish priests trained on the continent, came to Ireland before the English reformation had taken hold, so that by the early 17th century, when the bulk of plantation took place, religious conflict was already underway. …

The result was a multiply-constituted conflict, where power relations… were partially organised by formal and informal religious organisation and networks, and where symbolic boundaries were multiplex, with religion, moral-political norms and civilisational values, historical narratives of plantation, and ethno-national identities overlapping if never quite coinciding. This configuration generated interests among Protestants, Catholics and the British state which reproduced the broad contours of the social and symbolic distinctions through the radical social, institutional and constitutional changes of the eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and led to endemic conflict between the groups so constituted. In this paper, I focus on the period I know best, late 19th century to present, and within this on the contemporary phase of conflict and settlement, 1969-present.   Conflict between Protestants and Catholics was persistent from the late 19th to the end of twentieth century. It varied in intensity and in institutional and organisational form. There were periods of more or less extreme violence (actual or threatened) from 1912-22, and 1969-94, with intermittent violent episodes throughout. As actors attempted to secure their interests, they entrenched symbolic and social boundaries, while they also came to define their interests in terms of these distinctions. It was a tightly structured conflict, with mutually reproducing feedback between symbolic distinction, social organisation and power relations, giving the conflict an intractable quality. Within this pattern I will argue that religion played a role in making conflict more meaningful, more intense, more totalising. The 1998 settlement, which signalled an end to violence and a more pervasive relaxing of conflict and beginning of a new political order, could have left symbolic and social boundaries intact. It didn’t. Instead it saw a remaking of the symbolic packages, with different roles for religion. …

I want briefly to justify my focus in this paper on religion and conflict rather than religion and violence.  Religion is not an important factor in explaining why some individuals opted for violent means while others didn’t, nor in explaining when they so opted, nor in explaining what they did when they so opted: neither the actors nor the targets of violence were overtly or primarily religious. Joining the IRA after 1969 was a strategic choice in a situation perceived as deeply unjust in which there was neither exit nor voice. Law abiding Catholic citizens shared the same experiences and many of the same aims as republicans and understood their motivations. Rev. James McEvoy, Professor of Scholastic Philosophy in Queens University Belfast, pointed out that both the Catholic church and republican paramilitaries believed that Catholics in Northern Ireland faced a stark alternative – to accept a measure of injustice and live with that, or to revolt – they simply made different choices. The IRA itself was informed by a political rather than primarily religious ideology, and its stated aims were constitutional rather than religious or cultural. Loyalists, for their part, judged that effective repression of the republican threat to the union required informal paramilitary as well as state security response.  Unionists and Protestants shared the aim but rejected the paramilitary means: indeed many joined and almost all supported the state security forces in this task. … The most interesting question is not why, in this situation, a minority of people resorted to violence, but why the mass of the population was so polarised in its politics and perspectives, and how religion contributed to this.

Disentangling the role of religion in conflict

If, in the contemporary period, religion plays one part in conflict, it does not play the determining part. The same religious oppositions coexist with quite different patterns of social relations and political organisation in, for example, the Irish state or in some areas of France. Religious opposition is at most one strand of causal patterning, where institutionalised power differentials, inequalities, ethnic differences and nationalist aims also play a part. …

There is a strong tendency in the contemporary literature not even to attempt such a task. Contemporary comparative political science takes a broad concept of ethnicity, which bundles together ethnicity narrowly conceived as people-hood, as a descent defined group with a distinctive origin myth, and religion, race, caste, region and sometimes even class. In the presently dominant interpretation of the Northern Ireland conflict, it fits neatly into this conceptualisation, with religion understood as an ‘ethnic marker’. This, in my view, is a mistake, cutting short analysis before adequate explanations are reached.

First, to take a broad and inclusive notion of ethnicity is to focus on boundaries rather than on the meaning of those boundaries (religious, or racial, or narrowly ethnic). This dissociation of boundary from content is, I would argue, a wrong turn in the social sciences. Symbolic boundaries and symbolic content are intrinsically interrelated. Barth who insisted that ethnic groups had no homogenous or unique set of cultural practices or beliefs and refused to reduce ethnicity to ‘cultural stuff’, also described the ‘basic value orientations: standards of morality and excellence’ which defined boundaries.  In Northern Ireland, whether (and which) actors define themselves in terms of theological beliefs and religious practices, or in terms of ethnic descent groups, in terms of nationality or of key moral-political values affects not only the persistence of difference and the prospect of eventual integration (via immediate conversion, or long-term intermarriage, or gradual convergence) but also the precise place of boundaries, those marginals who are included and those excluded.

Second, once one acknowledges the relevance of content to boundaries, one would expect conflicts informed by religious distinctions to have a distinctive symbolic logic different from other forms of conflict. This of course leaves open how such conflicts are patterned, how symbolic distinctions do or don’t translate into patterns of behavior, a question that becomes the trickier as we look at real conflicts which have ethnic/religious/national/class/political/civilisational components in different degrees.

Third, the dominant view tends to slip between a broad, inclusive (and therefore empty) concept of ethnicity – where it makes good sense to ask if ethnicity matters for conflict – and a narrow concept of ethnicity as descent, lineage, quasi-kin consciousness which, it is believed, trumps all other categories. This slippage is justified in terms of a socio- psychological or socio-biological explanation of why broadly-conceived-ethnicity has these narrowly-conceived-ethnic-characteristics. This sort of explanation not only elides those cases where it doesn’t have such characteristics but also, in my view, fails adequately to describe or explain those cases where it does.

However, to start to pull apart the role of religion in a multiply constituted conflict like that in Northern Ireland, is exceeding difficult. On all objective indicators, divisions in Northern Ireland are deep: there are comparatively strong correlations between religion of origin, party-political support, constitutional preference, national identification and a set of political views about security, law and equality of treatment.  When one makes finer tuned distinctions within the broad categories of Protestant/Catholic, unionist/nationalist, British/Irish there are no evident correlations of type of religion with type of politics. …

Qualitative and interactional studies show a radical variety of ways of combining positions on religious, political, ethnic, national and moral dimensions, and of giving meaning to these categories. Multiply constituted conflicts invite symbolic tradeoffs where blurring on one boundary (eg a Protestant with an Irish identity) is compensated for by insistence on another (eg that same Protestant’s strong unionism). In everyday discussions there are consistent shifts in emphasis and slippage between categories of nationality, religion, and ethnicity. Clustering exists but it also changes over time: Catholic unionists are interesting in this regard, but the better researched are Protestant evangelicals who cluster into two, relatively balanced, groups of, on the one hand, liberals and radicals, and, on the other, conservatives, and the political positions of each have changed very significantly in the last decade.

In light of these well-known facts, some have argued that religion does not matter for conflict, that it is essentially an ethno-national conflict. However very similar arguments – relying on slippage, symbolic trade-offs, everyday cultural variation, and the lack of correlation between varieties of Britishness, Irishness and Northern Irishness, ethnic-self-definitions and political views – can be used to argue that ethnicity (understood in a substantive cultural sense) does not matter for conflict, that national political division is imposed on a cultural plurality and that scholarship inappropriately echoes this imposition of binary categories on a plural cultural reality. …

… Once one opens this path, the prospect of showing how religion contributes to conflict is clear. First, however, it is useful to show why a direct analysis of the material and political incentives to bloc formation is insufficient to explain the continuation of conflict.

That the political system in the period of unionist rule (1921-72) gave incentives for bloc formation, benefitting the Protestant population in terms of division of the spoils and access to influence, is not in any doubt.  It also gave Catholics incentives to associate together in defence, and the church was their only well-resourced organisation. Significant though lesser benefits for bloc formation continued through the period of British direct rule, diminishing more rapidly post 1985.  Today the benefits are slight: a bias in the Assembly voting system (key votes can be passed with a bare majority of self-designated nationalists and self-designated unionists and an overall majority) which may give a slight incentive to voters to vote for the unionist and nationalist blocs. In addition, the desire of the British and Irish governments to keep the major parties in agreement gives those parties considerable bargaining power and capacity to distribute resources to their supporters. Can bloc formation and behaviour be explained solely by the actual or anticipated material benefit?  One test is what happens when the benefits decrease. The result, in the 2000s when benefits and expectations of benefit have definitively decreased, is that the political cleavage is even clearer and more defined than before, even while political conflict is less intense.

If, however, we need to look at the socio-cultural patterning of conflict, we need to look at cultural trajectories, not simply empirically observable (synchronic) cultural plurality. In Northern Ireland, as elsewhere, the categories of division are only one set of categories used in daily life, and oppositional interpretations of them are only one set of available repertoires. Other things equal, one would expect experimentation with new ideas, a blurring of symbolic boundaries, gradually over time the development of a range of different religious, political, national, historical perspectives and a range of different ways of combining them, a move away from oppositional perspectives. Instead, despite consistent experimentation and boundary blurring which is obvious from a micro-interactional perspective, oppositional perspectives have persistently been reaffirmed whenever collective decisions are necessary. For example, in a whole series of small and large decisions over the last forty years, ordinary people began by blurring boundaries, experimenting with new ideas, moving towards compromise, then wavered, then opted for opposition and division. No obvious material interests were involved, nor was this a following of leaders: the Northern Irish are notorious for rejecting their one-time leaders. … In what follows, I sketch some very general mechanisms which explain this type of reaction, and emphasise the role of religion. To test the value of these schema in explaining these particular decisions would require a longer empirical analysis.

Multiplex symbolic boundaries and the tendency to opposition 

Given the plurality of dimensions or categorisations by which distinctions are made – Protestant/Catholic, unionist/nationalist, British/Irish, even settler/native – the plurality of repertoires within the religious, national-political, ethno-national and historico-colonial fields, and the constant experimentation with new views which goes on in Northern Ireland as elsewhere, what leads towards an emphasis on opposition? I suggest that there is a practical-cognitive mechanism which provides a weak tendency towards opposition. …

This is neither a structuralist argument nor a Weberian one. It is not structuralist in that the binary oppositions are empirical, historical – rooted in the fact that the same or closely linked groups of people in each generation were making and remaking political, religious and historical narratives; the experience of them in practical life varies between groups, as does the internalisation of them; the tendency to internalise is weak rather than strong, and can be counteracted in predictable ways…

The forms of religion which evolved in Northern Ireland have been on the extreme ends of the reformation division: Calvinism or low church, evangelically oriented Anglicanism; Roman Catholicism with little anti-clericalism and no routine challenge to hierarchical authority. Protestants tended to see themselves as rational, progressive, modern, as opposed to Catholic superstition and backwardness. Within this, brands of Protestantism emphasised old testament chosen-people themes, and the covenantal tradition. The parallels with the dominant brand of unionism are striking: unionism sees nationalism as superstitious, traditionalist, backward, and itself as global, progressive, modern, rational. … Akenson shows how the religious sense of chosen people was historically intertwined with the sense of being a settler, and how this tends to make recessive those aspects of the religion that could criticise inequality and injustice. …

Catholics, on the other hand, saw themselves in the one true church with the one truth. In parallel, the nationalist tradition has a singular, concentred self-understanding with a coincidence of ethnic background, religious faith and national belonging. Particular brands of nationalism emphasise a messianic vision of history, with golden age, fall and redemption through suffering. The concepts of justice and equality used to criticise the Northern state were often informed by Catholic social thinking, and sometimes by a more generalised and simple ‘basic’ Christianity: the Campaign for Social Justice (CSJ) policy statement in 1964 concludes: ‘Our aim is, we think, both basic and Christian but, nevertheless, has not been realised here for hundreds of years, namely equality for all’. It is highly significant that the same concepts (for Protestants, rationality, modernity, loyalty) are used to distinguish different classes and sub-groups within the community as are used to distinguish the communities, thus reinforcing overall communal opposition.

Why this seeming gravitational pull to opposition, even while there are so many nonoppositional strands in the (contemporary) Christian religions? Steve Bruce explains it in terms of the need for a clear sense of belonging which is given (for Protestants) in evangelical Protestantism and the sense of being a chosen people. But the sense of belonging (and the felt need for such a sense) varies very dramatically. The extremes within Northern Ireland have shown little sense of solidarity or belonging beyond their immediate group: republicans, in particular, have little solidarity with or affection for their fellow nationals. I have suggested a simpler cognitive explanation: logical coherence is found in the oppositional interpretations of religion, politics, ethnicity, history, not in the inclusive interpretations: there is a clear coherent oppositional ‘package’, whereas breaking with opposition on any one dimension does not imply a particular way to break with it on others. …

Of course these are socialised rather than intellectualised understandings, a practical sense of coherence, not a coherently articulated ideology. The embodied practical concepts of rationality and modernity allow a merging of religious and other distinctions. The young modern liberal Protestant girl filmed by Desmond Bell in the late 1980s goes into a Catholic church and is visibly shocked and displeased by ‘all the statues’. Meanwhile Catholics are shocked by the ‘polish’ of Protestants in their religious practices as if formality and showy-ness is all, and this spills over into judgement of Protestant dress and make-up. Such embodied religious differences, can exist without being generalised to politics or wider social attitudes. In Northern Ireland, however, they are so generalised. Harris describes how there is a Protestant and Catholic position on just about everything, including international relations. … Work places were largely informally segregated until the last decade. There was strong opposition to exogamy, and where it (fairly frequently) took place, mixed marriage couples moved firmly into one community and all but severed linkages with the other. This had the following consequences:

(a) social capital was within each religious group. With this went reliance and trust: who one was likely to believe in a situation of contestation was firmly determined by religion.

(b) communication patterns were within each group. This was of particular importance as violence began and as information flows became specific to each side. It is well attested that rumours play a major role as triggers and precursors to violence, in particular to riots. The prevalence of single-religion organisations and meeting places in Northern Ireland facilitates two sets of rumour-networks. …

(c) The social basis for mobilisation was given by these working, socialisation and communication patterns and this affected the form of mobilisation. For unionists, the interlocking networks of unionism and the Orange Order allowed province-wide mobilisation which marginalized modernisers within the Protestant community. For nationalists, it meant that mobilisation took place by leafleting areas with GAA halls, parish halls and de facto excluding Protestants… the centrality of religion to social division allows that division to ‘penetrate everyday life’, and permits the clergy to play an important role in socio-political organisation. Taken by itself, religious organisation of social division does not necessarily affect the political goals of the mobilised population. It is, however, likely to highlight the religious dimensions of political opposition: the funerals for the hunger strikers were mass religious rituals with immediate political connotations: terrible suffering and grief, hope of resurrection. Once interrelated with the cognitively-based tendency to generalise religiously-informed oppositions, however, it has greater effects. It gives immediate social confirmation to this fusion of religious-political-social values and embeds it in group-belonging. It separates ‘people like us’ from those who breach the most basic norms of rationality and morality…

Institutional confirmation  

Religious division has also been formally and institutionally sedimented. There is an extensive literature showing how Protestantism, Protestant values and Protestant habitus came to permeate the British state and nation.  The devolved state in Northern Ireland was more explicitly Protestant in a Calvinist vein, with enforced sabbatarianism, and immediate and easy access and influence of the Protestant clergy on decisionmaking. Employment in the public sector (as in private firms) favoured Protestants, and the reasons for this merit attention: Barritt and Carter report Protestant views that Catholics were ‘not to be trusted‘, they were ‘shifty, idle and unreliable, fit only to be employed on unskilled work‘… Protestants might not ‘work well under Catholic supervision’. In the public sector, Catholics were not considered good candidates for promotion because in tough cases they would obey their church rather than their superior… Later again it was said that Catholics, and particularly republicans, could not be employed in industries of strategic importance because they would leak secrets. …continued underrepresentation of Catholics in the civil service and in public bodies well into the 1980s, …

As state institutions slowly changed, they gave differential incentives to different subgroups of unionists and nationalists to differentiate politics from culture, ethnicity and religion, or to re-connect it. …

Later ‘structural unionists’ who differentiated unionist politics from religious belief and ethnic belonging and argued for fuller integration into a changing British state, were wrong-footed by the increasingly bi-communal and bi-national policies and institutions set in place from 1985. In the 2000s, the unionist public – recognising that a bi-communal politics was now irreversible – left the UUP, plumping decisively for the communalist, religiously influenced DUP, to fight their corner within new institutions which they now also plumped for.

Different worlds. 

This intersection of symbolism, social practice and institutions created two separate worlds, with different – opposed – values and assumptions, which intersected only occasionally and at risk of violence. Conflict became more intense in the 1960s as the state increasingly penetrated the Catholic social world, and as Catholics increasingly asserted their position in the public (Protestant) world. …

In Catholic theology, God is present in the Communion, and the clergy play a mediating role between individual and God: in Protestant theology, the individual has a direct relationship with God who is not closer to the believer in church than outside. Church-going thus has quite different religio-social meanings in each community. For Protestants, it is a display of respect to God and to the religious community; it is a formal occasion of display, shown in clothing, stance, seriousness of demeanour, control of children in the family group. In some families, if the car is not washed or the clothes not properly ironed, church attendance has to wait. For Catholics on the other hand, the important thing is to attend, whatever the appearance. Moreover there is a radical asymmetry in church organisation and practice. In each small town or city neighbourhood, there are multiple Protestant churches each with a single long Sunday morning service. The congregation arrives at each church at a defined time, whole families together. Catholics, in contrast, have one large local church which holds multiple morning services, so there are always people coming and going, usually walking, and different family members may attend different services, finding seats whereever available. Some arrive late and leave early.

These differences cohere well with the different class and authority profiles of Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland. Protestants often display their position in the community in and through church attendance; the best clothes, the dignified and upright stance appropriate to people of authority and substance. Church is also an occasion to show one’s own respect for authority – the authority of the state, of the security forces, of the monarchy, symbols of which may be displayed in the form of flags or plaques.  Mass-going plays a role in community bonding for Catholics. It does not, however, have the same status resonances as it does for Protestants, not least because social position has not been a source of pride for most Catholics, and the churches never display symbols of the state. Behavior in church varies accordingly. In Protestant churches, children are kept with their families, under strict control; in Catholic churches, children are omnipresent, babies crying, toddlers climbing.

Church-going thus expresses and reproduces much more than simply religious difference. It is of crucial importance in forming perceptions of difference-as-opposition, since it is where Catholics and Protestants were – and are – seen in large numbers, as communities rather than as individuals. In the past, part of what Catholics disliked about unionist rule was being governed by the sort of people they saw going to church on Sunday, dark, polished, formal, humourless, and being made fit into a society in their image. Part of what Protestants feared was being governed by the sort of people they saw walking to church, as if randomly, at all hours, without clear order or formality, in all sorts of clothes, in great numbers, or later pouring out of church, or later again going to the Gaelic football match (not much distinguished from church-going in terms of clothing or style but even more threatening because of the numbers, predominantly male attendance and lack of formal authority).

Secularisation is important less because it makes religious values unimportant to individuals – Mitchell argues that they outlast the ending of religious practice by more than a generation – than because it removes religious practice from the public eye and it becomes easier to privatise and segment its values.


If – as sketched above – the generalisation of oppositional religious concepts and values through the political and social sphere is a product of symbolic and social mechanisms, certain predictions follow.

1. Argument and evidence alone will be insufficient to break the cognitive frame. The very meanings of terms like ‘rationality’, ‘progress’, ‘modernity’ are communally-loaded. [An example of this is the capacity of even the most intellectually able and sophisticated of unionists and nationalists to describe their respective states in utterly opposing ways. Until very recently, unionists perceived the Irish state, in David Trimble’s words, to be ‘sectarian, mono-ethnic and mono-cultural’, economically weak and globally inconsequential compared to the British state. For nationalists like Garret FitzGerald, on the other hand, the British state is seen as traditionalist, conservative and class-bound, incapable of fully participating in the European and global economy; the Irish state is a small, independent open economy and polity with strong guarantees of human rights, providing the sort of institutional context and social capital that allows full use to be made of its resources.]

2. Secularisation alone will not break the pattern, since the oppositional concepts are already embodied in politics, notions of identity, views of history, thus creating a continued openness to religion. …

3. Since the ‘practical-cognitive-coherence’ mechanism depends in turn on other social mechanisms, it may routinely be set aside where these mechanisms don’t exist, for example where individuals’ social practices in one field involve a quite different set of concepts and values than in others. …

4. Change is more likely to be provoked by a breach of institutional and social networks than directly by a challenge to the symbolic equivalences. …

5. Where change is radical, there is likely to be a tendency to look for new coherences, and to embed these in new social networks. …


Since 1998, quite radical institutional and social changes have given widespread incentives to change/breach the cognitive equivalences noted above. The ways this is being done casts light on the specific role of religion in the past and present.

1. The political system and power relations have been radically changed with the following as the key events: 1985 (Anglo-Irish Agreement), 1989 (Fair Employment Act) 1998 (Good Friday Agreement), 1999-2003 (reform of policing). Since 1998 this has begun to percolate down to everyday experience, for example in republican participation at all levels of decision making and in a visible nationalist presence in every aspect of the public sphere.

2. Social networks have been diffused. This has occurred in three ways. First, by increased funding for cross-community venues and integrated schooling, although such cross-networking remains relatively small-scale (only 4% of students attended integrated schools in 2002). Secondly… fair employment legislation has stimulated more widespread change in work relations. Third… general cultural trends and consumerism (from foreign holidays to non-place shopping malls to home cinema) have led to greater individualisation, a lesser reliance on social capital, although separate religio-leisure networks remain.

3. The older social worlds are challenged and increasingly problematised. For Protestants, the new political order disconfirms their previous expectations and rules out their habitual ways of acting: they can no longer march where they want, their world (and their control of it) has changed. For Catholics, once isolated ‘Catholic’ and ‘republican’ worlds are increasingly integrated into the public world: for them, their beliefs (in the need for public equality) are confirmed but their practices are changed.

These changes give individuals incentives to rethink and reframe their worlds, to cast adrift older assumptions and conceptual equivalences, to pull apart the cultural matrix or to change it altogether. …

1. One-time Protestant fundamentalist extremists have changed much more quickly than was expected, as is seen by the DUP’s cohabitation with Sinn Féin in the new executive. Recent research shows phases of this change: first a clear sense of political defeat, a prioritisation of religious values over political and a ‘purifying’ of religion of its failed political resonance; second a changing of political assumptions – which no longer matter so much to them; third, a finding of new religious opportunities as well as economic ones in the new cross-border structures or in moral activism (‘saving Ulster from sodomy’) within the newly egalitarian Northern Ireland.

2. One-time Protestant extremists who have no explicit religious belief find it harder to orient themselves to the new situation. They fear being swallowed up by Catholic, nationalist, republican expansion The new opportunities in Northern Ireland, however, require engagement with erst-while opponents (republicans) with clear public projects by whom they feel easily outmanoevred.  Some reassert the old values in increasingly desperate protest.

3. Some attempt to adapt, moderate, come to a strategic compromise. But this too raises moral issues which are not easy to resolve: if they can compromise now, what of the principles that they fought for in the past? Were they not important? …

Republican electoral success and international favour has been gained by a public silencing of the questions. It remains as yet unclear if the older oppositional mind-sets are being worn away by the practice of peace and compromise…

4. a helter-skelter of change, with initial movement leading to new levels of cognitive dissonance and further change. This group typically refound aspects of their familial and religious traditions which allowed them to legitimate these changes, and to reinvent a continuity with their personal and wider historical past. Many were in mixed marriages. Even in non-conflictual societies, mixed marriage respondents often narrate a refinding of more open aspects of their religious tradition, using ecumenical networks as support. …

when religiously informed conflict ends, the individuals who most quickly come to terms with both conflict and settlement are those who re-find aspects of the religious tradition by which to reinterpret it.


I have argued that religion has played a key symbolic role in the Northern Ireland conflict, where opposition is generalised between the religious, political, ethnic, normative, historical spheres. This is not primarily driven by the actions of clerics, or the events in particular churches, or even by changing religious orthodoxies. The generalisation was made likely by the historical development of the traditions, and the highlighting of the same or very similar conceptual oppositions within each. The process of generalisation is in turn underpinned by social networks and communication patterns which prevent the ‘normal’ change and challenge of key sets of beliefs. In the past it was sedimented by state and institutional norms, although as these norms and related practices have changed, so too have the incentives for changing the oppositional understandings and identities in Northern Ireland. The religious values and concepts involved are sometimes explicit, sometimes already secularised, religion-ising values in the political tradition. They are – perhaps paradoxically – the more changeable when they are reconnected to religious tradition than when they are embedded in secularised ethno-political particularity.

Religion, I have suggested, makes conflict much more than a conflict about constitutional claims or political policies. It makes it into a conflict that touches on, resonates with and is informed by whole ways of life, with their constitutive assumptions and values. It makes it an existential conflict. … not all religious conflicts are ethnic, in the sense of being between historically defined and distinctive ‘peoples’. Nor are all ethnic conflicts are about ways of life. Some are about getting ‘our men’ into power, or grabbing resources for ‘us’, with the ‘we’ defined instrumentally, whichever way gets most ‘pork’. Nor are all national conflicts about ways of life: many are about territory and resources. To use Sharma’s categories, ethnic and national conflicts may be about which group rules, rather than about the rules themselves. When they are informed by religion, if this case can be generalised, they become about the content of those rules. The recent history of Northern Ireland also makes clear that while religiously informed conflicts may be fought to protect or to gain recognition for ways of life and identities, the fighting of them, and the process of institutional change involved in settlement, itself changes those ways of life and identities.