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The second coming of Nato

In November 2019, from the salon doré of the Élysée Palace, where Charles de Gaulle once held court, Emmanuel Macron warned his fellow Europeans that Nato, the transatlantic alliance that had secured Europe since 1949, was on the point of “brain death”. President Donald Trump’s administration, to the horror of America’s own soldiers, had just unilaterally withdrawn support from the Kurdish forces in northern Syria, sacrificing them to Bashar al-Assad and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Within a year, the US would impose sanctions on Turkey, a member of Nato since 1952, for its purchase of Russian anti-aircraft missiles. Disunity reigned. In 2017 Angela Merkel had returned from a chaotic meeting with Trump to declare that Europe could clearly no longer count on America as an ally and must look to its own resources for its security. Macron’s concern over two years later was that little had happened to make good on that realisation. The antics of leaders such as Trump and Erdoğan would be hard to contain in any formal alliance. But Nato’s problems went deeper

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It’s Africa’s Century—for Better or Worse

Asia gets the attention, but the real economic revolution is the inevitable growth of an overlooked continent. In the coming decades, we face a revolutionary shift in the balance of world affairs—and it is likely not the one you are thinking of. Since the 1990s, the idea that we might be entering an “Asian century” has preoccupied and disorientated the West. However, once we take in view the long sweep of history, the return of China and India to the center stage of world affairs is less a revolution than a restoration. For most of the last 2,000 years, the great Chinese and Indian empires were the center of world trade and home to the most sophisticated civilizations. Their growing influence in the world today is the rectification of the anomaly that arose in the 1700s as a result of the yawning divergence in per capita income between “the West” and “the rest.” Successive industrial revolutions and waves of colonial conquest created a world in which economic and military power was radically misaligned with population.

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After the Zeitenwende: Jürgen Habermas and Germany’s new identity crisis

Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has upended world politics and nowhere more so than in Germany. Addressing an emergency session of the Bundestag on 27 February, German chancellor Olaf Scholz declared a Zeitenwende, a turning point in history. Russia’s attack on Ukraine meant Europe and Germany had entered a new age. But what direction is history turning in? Scholz promised to raise Germany’s defence spending and in March placed a large order for America’s exorbitant F-35 fighter jets. Since then, sanctions on Russia have been tightened and Germany has even agreed to deliver heavy weapons to Ukraine. But Berlin has baulked at an all-out boycott of Russian oil and gas, and what it has to offer Kyiv militarily is limited even compared to other European nations, let alone the United States. Always there is a suspicion of delay, reluctance and fear. In Germany and elsewhere this has been read as nothing less than a crisis of political identity. More than anywhere else in the West, the entire German intellectual class, and every TV talk show

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Is escalation in Ukraine part of the US strategy?

The aim of the billions committed through the Lend-Lease plan could tip the geopolitical balance. History may be about to repeat itself In the spring of Russia’s war on Ukraine, Washington DC seems haunted by the ghosts of history. The US Congress has passed the Ukraine Democracy Defense Lend-Lease Act of 2022 to expedite aid to Ukraine – just as Franklin D Roosevelt did, under

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Does Ukraine need a Marshall Plan?

Amid the twisted girders, ruined walls and underground tunnels of the Azovstal plant, Ukraine’s defenders are making their last stand in the siege of Mariupol. The steel factory dates to 1933 and the era of high-Stalinism. It was ruined by Hitler’s Wehrmacht before his forces retreated in 1943, and restored in the postwar period as one of the hubs of Soviet industry. Now the steel

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War at the end of history

Will Putin’s invasion of Ukraine lead to a new world order, or an era of grinding compromise? It was the French Revolution that defined the stakes in modern war as an existential clash between nations in arms, in which fundamental principles of rule were in question. War was the world spirit on the march. That is what the German poet Goethe thought he witnessed at

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Sign up below for Adam’s bi-weekly newsletter, which includes economic data, images, & stories that matter.

at the mic
on bookshelves

Look out for Adam’s next book, Carbon, out in 2023.

on air

Discussion with Wolfgang Schäuble

WEF 2020: Why Protests Are An Integral Part Of Democracy

GZERO World with Ian Bremmer – Is a 2nd Great Depression Coming?

on record
on the blog