Anti-Semitic Violence in France Part of Broader Political Unraveling

The recent attacks against synagogues and Jewish-owned businesses on the margins of pro-Palestinian demonstrations in France have shocked many, despite being only the latest in a string of anti-Semitic incidents and violence in the country over the past few years. But to focus only on the anti-Semitic nature of the violence is to make the mistake of paying attention only to the tip of the iceberg.

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Lacking Security Strategy, EU Counts on Nearby Crises to Absorb Threats

The EU’s security may actually benefit from ongoing crises in cases such as Ukraine, Mali and even Syria. The longer these conflicts absorb the efforts of potential foes, the less likely they are to menace the EU directly. EU members have no appetite to get involved in these wars, leading critics to grumble that it refuses to fight for its interests. But it may be in its interests to let others keep fighting.

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The Realist Prism

On Iran and Russia, Obama Gambling for More Time

By Nikolas Gvosdev
, , Column

Though it is axiomatic that almost any foreign policy action taken by President Barack Obama will be reflexively criticized by the Republican opposition, in recent months congressional Democrats have been more willing to publicly voice critiques of the president’s performance. But Obama appears to be willing to swallow his pride and suffer domestic political attacks if it buys him time and maneuvering room.

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Sweden No Longer Immune to Rise of Nationalist Populism

By Karl Lallerstedt
, , Briefing

Rising immigration, failed integration and the radicalization of a small minority of young Muslims have fueled the ascent of populist parties across Europe. Sweden is not immune. Of all the Nordic countries, Sweden has the highest proportion of immigrants, and yet it has registered the lowest level of support for nationalist parties. But that has begun to change with the rise of the nationalist Sweden Democrats. more

Global Insights

Putin’s South American Trip Hides Russia’s Strategic Weaknesses

By Richard Weitz
, , Column

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to South America this month garnered considerable attention. In the U.S., some saw the trip as a tit-for-tat display of influence in Washington’s strategic backyard. However, it is best to keep Moscow’s machinations in perspective. Russia is presenting a number of challenges to important U.S. global interests, but its activities in South America are not among them. more

Diplomatic Fallout

West Needs New Rules to Contain Proxy Wars With Russia

By Richard Gowan
, , Column

The events of the past week in Ukraine have confirmed three painful facts about the state of international affairs. The first is that the West is trapped in a cycle of proxy wars with Russia, running from Libya through Syria to Ukraine. The second is that there is no real rulebook for managing these conflicts. The third is that these confrontations are liable to escalate with unnerving frequency. more

The Realist Prism

U.S. Watches From Sidelines as Global Leaders Gather in Brazil

By Nikolas Gvosdev
, , Column

The U.S. missed out on a rare geopolitical opportunity this past week. Vice President Joe Biden, who has emerged in Barack Obama’s second term as more of an alter ego for the president on the international stage, should have taken a short trip to Brazil for the World Cup final. Sure, the U.S. team had already been eliminated, but Biden still had good reasons to drop in at the close of the tournament. more

Downing of MH17 in Eastern Ukraine Underscores Risks of Arming Syrian Rebels

By David Klion
, , Trend Lines

In the downing of a Malaysian airliner over eastern Ukraine, all signs point to a surface-to-air missile launched by rebels who have been armed by Russia. There are sobering lessons here for the U.S. Part of the Obama administration’s hesitation to arm Syrian rebels was the fear that they would be unaccountable. If atrocities or accidents were committed with American weapons, the fallout could be disastrous. more

Diplomatic Fallout

Despite Risk of Escalation, West and Russia Keep Ukraine Crisis Limited

By Richard Gowan
, , Column

Ukraine a model for the management of future international crises? At first glance, it looks like nothing of the sort. Kiev is in the middle of a bloody military campaign against pro-Russian rebels in the east, with more and more civilians caught in the crossfire. There is still a danger that this conflict could escalate further. Yet the most striking feature of the crisis is just how limited it remains. more

Symbiotic Germany-China Relations Risk Becoming Dependency

By Maria Savel
, , Trend Lines

German Chancellor Angela Merkel was in China last week, her seventh official trip to China since she took office in 2005, underscoring the growing importance of Berlin’s special relationship with Beijing. All signs indicate that symbiotic Germany-China relations will continue. However, Germany seems aware of potential cracks in their relationship—from human rights concerns to the risk of economic dependency. more

The Realist Prism

As Ukraine Looks West, EU Seeks Russia Accommodation

By Nikolas Gvosdev
, , Column

After the Cold War, there was a sense of optimism that the Euro-Atlantic community could be expanded at little risk and without significant cost. Western policymakers did not consider the possibility of a Russia both hostile to Western expansion and with the strength to stymie it. Now the Ukraine end game is challenging assumptions of European security that have guided policymakers for the past two decades. more

Growing Threat of European Fighters in Syria Highlights Need for EU Cooperation

By Benoît Gomis
, , Briefing

Almost all European Union member states have seen some of their citizens, often Muslims between the ages of 18-29, leave their countries to join the jihad against the Assad regime in Syria. There has been a range of national responses to stem the flow of European jihadi fighters, including prevention, management, monitoring, prosecution and reintegration measures. But the EU still has an important role to play. more