Insights – Week of January 14th, 2019

TCG Insights for Week of January 14th, 2019


After more than 17 years, the time has come to accept two important truths about the war in Afghanistan. The first is that there will be no military victory by the government and its American and NATO partners. Afghan forces, while better than they were, are not good enough and are unlikely ever to be capable of defeating the Taliban…The second truth is that peace negotiations are unlikely to work. Talks have taken place on and off over the years, but diplomacy is never far removed from facts and trends on the ground. Both work against a negotiated settlement. The situation on the ground is something of a slowly deteriorating stalemate.” – Richard Haass [Past TCG Speaker], Project Syndicate, MORE

As we watch Britain go through the paroxysms of Brexit, it is easy to view its decision to leave the European Union as an act of foolishness, a self-inflicted wound that will impoverish Britons for years. Europe is Britain’s largest market, taking in almost half of the country’s exports. Losing special access to it is a high price to pay for some symbolic gains in sovereignty. But the Brexit debacle also shines a light on Europe itself, and what one sees is a continent and a political project that have stopped working — at least for many of the people at its Western European core…The United States and the E.U. have been the two main engines behind a world based on open markets, democratic politics, liberty and law, human rights, and global welfare. These values will probably be eroded worldwide if the strength and purpose of either of these centers wane further.” – Fareed Zakaria [Past TCG Speaker], Washington Post, MORE

We are American politicians. We are running for president. We are dancing and drinking beer. We are on a road trip, dilating on our mind-loops, hoping to make new friends. We are singing “One Nation Under a Groove.” We are announcing we’re exploring a run on Colbert as we giggle and hold his hand, as if we were announcing stardom in a new sitcom. And maybe we are. We have absorbed the lesson of the Trump era: You can do anything. And before this is over, you will. Beto O’Rourke live-streamed a dental visit as he queried his hygienist about life in her border town…Why do they do this? Because they know a candidate now is a mood. Not a thought, a stand or a statement, but a mood.” – Peggy Noonan, Wall Street Journal, MORE

While NATO’s key purpose remains to guarantee the security of its members, it has never been a purely military alliance. It is a political alliance as well, based on the common aspirations of its members who, as the NATO Treaty says, ‘are determined to safeguard the freedom, common heritage and civilization of its peoples, founded on the principles of democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law.’ These principles are under assault today. Russian aggression in Eastern Europe, Chinese assertiveness in the South China Sea, the terrorism of the Islamic State spreading from the Middle East to the capitals of Europe, authoritarian regimes developing nuclear weapons…they have one thread in common…They try to undermine or even change the rules that have governed the age of democracy and prosperity since World War II.” – Ursula von der Leyen, German Defense Minister, New York Times, MORE