26 November 2016   Leave a comment

Fidel Castro has died at age 90.  He led a revolution that overthrew the dictator, Fulgencio Batista, in 1959 and ruled Cuba until his retirement in 2008.  Although he was initially greeted as a potential ally by the US, the circumstances changed quite quickly and Castro ultimately embraced the Soviet Union as his primary ally.  Throughout the Cold War, Cuba was a flashpoint and the US invaded the country in 1961 in the Bay of Pigs invasion.  Hostilities reached a dangerous point in 1962 with the Cuban Missile Crisis.  In recent years, US-Cuban relations have slowly thawed and it remains to be seen how the new American Administration will react to the changes in Cuba today.

Fidel Castro and Che Guevara

Image result for fidel castro

It is often difficult to rank foreign policy priorities.  The mere act of trying to rank such priorities overestimates the degree of choice policy makers actually have–the world constantly intrudes upon the chain of events.  But some issues are more immutable.  Paul Pillar makes the argument that the irreversible nature of climate change gives it the top ranking.  The argument is persuasive, but it is also remarkable how easy it is to ignore.  The short term almost always trumps the long term.

Charts from the Economist

          

The Economist has a very nice essay on the distinction between what it calls “universal, civic nationalism” and “blood-and-soil, ethnic” nationalism.  The former is represented best by the aspirations of the French Revolution and the latter by the nationalism ushered in by German unification under Bismarck in 1871.  The essay develops the current growth of ethnic nationalism as a response to the process of globalization in the late 20th century.  The essay covers much of the world and is definitely worth c very close read.

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Posted November 26, 2016 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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