February 8th, 2013
10:11 PM ET

Weekend reading

By Fareed Zakaria

Secretary of State John Kerry shouldn’t push too hard, too fast in the Middle East in search of a peace deal, argues Aaron David Miller.

“The last thing we need (or Kerry needs) is another abortive effort to get talks going,” he writes in The New Republic. “The inconvenient truth is that if you put Benjamin Netanyahu and Mahmoud Abbas in a room tomorrow, their talks would fail galactically. The gaps on the two least contentious issues (borders and security) are large; the divide on the identity issues (Jerusalem and refugees) are yawning. What’s required now are separate discussions conducted by the U.S. – low key and quiet – not noisy enterprises generated by secretarial trips and visits to the White House. Diagnose the problem before you rush toward fixing it. Maybe you’ll have a chance of producing a better outcome.”

Anne Applebaum has a commentary looking at what the post-Communist Europe experience can tell us about the future of the Arab Spring:

In post-communist Europe, countries that faced similar problems took very different paths after electing democratic governments in 1990, argues Anne Applebaum in The National Post. “Yet some fell into economic stagnation or political turmoil while others thrived.”

Neither politics nor economics alone explains the differences. On the contrary, the factor most closely linked to stability and growth is human: Those countries that had an ‘alternative elite’ – a cadre of people who had worked together in the past, who had thought about government and who were at some level prepared to take it over — were far more likely both to carry out radical reforms and to persuade the population to accept them.”

And are the current tensions between China and Japan reminiscent of 1914? We shouldn’t be too complacent about the possibility of the great powers tumbling into war, argues Gideon Rachman in the Financial Times.

“America’s security guarantee is meant to reassure Japan, but there is also a danger is that it might tempt Japanese politicians to take unnecessary risks. Some historians argue that in 1914, the German government had concluded that it needed to fight a war as soon as possible – before it was encircled by more powerful adversaries. Similarly, some Japan-watchers worry that nationalists in the government may be tempted to confront China now – before the gap in power between the two nations grows too large, and while the US is still the dominant military force in the Pacific.”

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soundoff (5 Responses)
  1. 100 % ETHIO

    The World we are living in, is a bloodbath.

    The people who lives in this World are pre-setted-up, to live with endless wars.

    So, where in the World, could we go?

    The new Pacific war is more likely to happened and it will blow-up, for the big time.
    But, before it will exploded, it will killing us, softly.

    So, where in the World, could we go?

    February 9, 2013 at 6:50 am | Reply
  2. Linda Swisher-Smiley

    See paragraphs 4 and 5 in regard to our trip to Europe. Love, Mom

    February 9, 2013 at 10:25 am | Reply
  3. rightospeak

    I think the media needs to study history more. Most wars in the last 120 years were preengineered, particularly since 1945. We are now in a perpetual war mode to bring in profits to the elites and misery to the rest of people. Talk of growth is meaningless when there is a real danger of WW III because the "War On Terror" is a war of world domination and will backfire if not stopped.

    February 9, 2013 at 2:25 pm | Reply
  4. j. von hettlingen

    Aaron David Miller was right to point out that "noisy enterprises generated by secretarial trips and visits to the White House" wouldn't help the Palestinian peace process much. In this respect John Kerry might achieve more by putting on his poker-face and being taciturn.

    February 11, 2013 at 3:33 am | Reply
  5. j. von hettlingen

    Anne Applebaum oversaw that in the post-communist Eastern Europe, there were no religious fanatics that wanted to derail the democratisation process, which took various paths in different countries.

    February 11, 2013 at 3:37 am | Reply

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