By Fareed Zakaria
“Western policy [on Russia] is driven by a combination of economic self-interest and increasing timidity. The EU mishandled much of the early strategy on Ukraine, sending mixed messages to Kiev and Moscow,” writes John Kampfner for The Guardian. “Since the shooting down of the Malaysian airliner, the approach has become more consistent. Putin had assumed that the west, and particularly Germany and France (disproportionately dependent on trade with Russia) would buckle. And with the eurozone economies in an increasingly parlous state, Putin still assumes that Angela Merkel and François Hollande will resist, and ultimately remove, the sanctions that are causing growing damage.”
“To anyone who appreciates the beauty of Russia, the power of its creativity and the potential it has to offer, the events of the past year, indeed past several years, have been dispiriting. In the 1990s Russia had the opportunity to open up, to become integrated into the international community. The goodwill on both sides was intoxicating.”
“[A]nalysts agree one of the video’s key functions for ISIS is to illustrate how far the group’s seductive reach is extending globally,” writes Tracy McNicoll for the Daily Beast. “As France took in the shock news that one of its own sons may be a throat-slitting, decapitating terrorist, the Islamist specialist Romain Caillet told Le Monde, “In putting forward soldiers from the four corners of the world, Da’esh [as the French call the group, using the Arabic acronym for ISIS] is looking to create a ‘United Colors of Jihad’ effect. The message is simple: there are hundreds of Jihadi Johns.”
“Already frustrated by too many false starts, Japan’s private sector is likely to become even more skeptical and risk averse,” writes Mohamed El-Erian for Bloomberg View. “If this pattern continues, the private sector could end up in what economists call Ricardian equivalence – that is, it will act to negate the stimulus efforts of Japanese officials. Households and businesses could curtail their consumption and investment today as they wait for the higher taxes that are coming in the future.”
“If Western nations don’t do a better job of internalizing the lessons of Japan, some of these economies may find themselves in even deeper trouble. And if they aren't careful, they could well end up in an even worse position, since they lack Japan's social cohesion, sense of collective action and its cushion of wealth.”
“ISIS also pairs its brutality with social service provision: they provide food, electricity, medical care, and some semblance of a justice system. Buy people's loyalty when you can, and force it when you can't,” writes Zack Beuchamp for Vox.
“So far, this might actually be working. A recent New York Times report suggested Raqqa residents were angry about American strikes on ISIS targets because they made it harder for ISIS to maintain order and public services in the city. But ISIS's absurd brutality has provoked backlashes before. In 2006, back when ISIS was al-Qaeda in Iraq, a rebellion that was partly inspired by the group's brutality nearly destroyed it.”