Foreign Policy

Foreign Policy Winter 2019


FOREIGN POLICY is the premier, award-winning magazine of global politics, economics, and ideas. Our mission is to explain how the world works -- in particular, how the process of global integration is reshaping nations, institutions, cultures, and, more fundamentally, our daily lives.

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Foreign Policy
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Eve Fairbanks is a writer based in South Africa. Her work has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, Washington Post, BuzzFeed, and FOREIGN POLICY. She has received grants from the Institute of Current World Affairs, the Daniel Pearl Investigative Journalism Initiative, and the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, among others, and has been nominated for a Livingston Award. She is working on a book about post-apartheid South Africa. Robert Kagan is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and a contributing columnist for the Washington Post. From 1984 to 1988, he held various positions within the U.S. State Department, including principal speechwriter for Secretary of State George P. Shultz and deputy for policy in the Bureau of Inter-American Affairs. He is the author, most recently, of The Jungle Grows Back:…

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a jury of peers

IN MAY 2018, the Irish people voted overwhelmingly to amend the country’s constitution to allow the government to legalize abortion. A bill that made it legal up to the 12th week of pregnancy has passed both houses of the Irish parliament and, at press time, had been sent to the president to be signed into law. It will bring an extraordinary end to a bitter, decades-long national fight over one of Ireland’s most divisive issues. This seismic change was made possible in large part because of a unique experiment in Irish democracy: the Citizens’ Assembly, a 99-person panel of randomly selected citizens (plus a chairperson) who were assigned to thrash out contentious policy issues and offer recommendations for action to the government. The assembly’s work offered the legislature a means of…

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street smart

“YOU NEED TO SEE MY FRIEND’S GUN,” Mophethe Thebe said in a gas station parking lot in Soweto, the famous swath of townships southwest of Johannesburg. He promised this was a good way to understand the meaning of a South African word coined more than a half-century ago: ekasi. Today, the word—sometimes rendered as kasi—serves as the name for bars and restaurants, finds its way into hip-hop lyrics, and makes up the moniker for one of Johannesburg’s top radio stations. But ekasi’s ubiquity isn’t simply cultural; its fluid definition mirrors political debates about South Africa’s future. Technically, ekasi is just the Zulu term for “township,” a segregated neighborhood where black people were forced to live under apartheid. But it also functions the way the word “soul” or “home-cooked” does in front…

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the small war that wasn’t

THE YEARS BETWEEN the collapse of the Soviet Union and the 9/11 attacks are largely thought of as a footnote to history—one eventually interrupted by Islamist terrorism, economic crisis, and genuine geopolitical competition from China and Russia. The meager legacy of Washington’s military intervention in Kosovo is a case in point: It is seen as a brief, successful, and low-stakes war, remembered as insignificant when it’s remembered at all—which it rarely is by Americans, even as the war’s 20th anniversary approaches in March. The consensus, however, is wrong. The Kosovo war was short (just three months), but it wasn’t small. In fundamental ways, it was a turning point for international politics. The crisis pitted military forces led by Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, already infamous for his murderous actions in the Bosnian conflict,…

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the new face of terrorism in 2019

THE WAY WESTERNERS THINK ABOUT ISLAMIST TERRORISM has grown dangerously outdated. For decades, officials have focused on attacks launched by Middle Easterners. Today, however, the real threat increasingly comes from further east. In the former Soviet states and beyond, militants who once harbored mostly local grievances are turning their attention to the West. They will be the menace to watch in 2019. The threat posed by Middle Eastern terrorists has been shrinking for some time. Even during the war against the Islamic State, Russian speakers from former Soviet countries were already committing many of the major attacks in the West. Those included relatively simple lone-wolf events, such as the 2017 truck strikes on pedestrians in New York and Stockholm—both conducted by Uzbeks—but also more complicated operations, such as the 2016 suicide…

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welcome to the world’s least ugly economy

ECONOMIC COMPETITION AMONG NATIONS is more of a beauty contest than a footrace. In reality, every economy performs under its own spotlight. By that reckoning, as the new year dawns, it’s already obvious which economy is likely to be crowned Miss World 2019. Yes, it’s last year’s pageant winner, the still-booming U.S. economy. Despite problems with income inequality, debt, market turmoil, and policy paralysis—and the tariff war launched by President Donald Trump—most economists say the United States is far outpacing all rivals in growth and stability. At the very least, “the U.S. keeps coming out tops in the least ugly contest,” said Adam Posen, the president of the Peterson Institute for International Economics (PIIE). “It gets uglier all the time, but it’s still winning. “The world will be a worse place under many…