All in Geopolitics

Why is the Israel-Palestine Conflict So Hard to Resolve?

“Look, this isn’t rocket science!” We hear the phrase from teachers when they want their students to know when an issue isn’t that complex. But there’s a problem with this phrase: it implies that rocket science represents the ceiling of human intelligence, and in using it we leave our rocket scientist professors without a complex problem of their own to which they can refer. So here’s a phrase that might be helpful: “Look, this isn’t the Israeli-Palestinian conflict!” Is it really that bad?

Why Don't Cuba and the USA Like Each Other?

For more than fifty years now, the US and Cuba have snarled at each other across the Florida Straits. Havana is one of the few airports in the world won’t come up on expedia. American credit cards don’t work there. US law prohibits all trade with the island—the United Nations has regularly said this is illegal, but the American government doesn’t care. The bad blood is thick and old. Why?

How Did China Become So Powerful?

Once upon a time there was a beautiful kingdom called China. It had stunning mountains, gorgeous valleys, and hundreds of miles of coastline. Its government was sophisticated and efficient. Its leaders dressed in silk.  It was the wealthiest country in the world. Alas, the beautiful kingdom’s glory did not last. Foreigners invaded the land and exploited it. The people tried to resist foreign domination—their failure only made their condition worse.

After a century of humiliation, China is once more a major player in world affairs.It is the world’s second largest economy. 700 million people have escaped poverty. How did China do it?

Why Do India and Pakistan Hate Each Other?

Pakistan and India don’t like each other at all. With good reason. Pakistan’s intelligence agency has given support to Pakistani terrorists in India, who have killed hundreds over the past decade. On the Indian side of the border, where many would prefer to live under Pakistan’s authority, Indian troops have killed tens of thousands. Both countries have nuclear missiles pointed at the other. They have fought four wars in living memory. The relationship between India and Pakistan is one of the most hostile in the world today. Why?

Why is Afghanistan So Hard to Control?

Every time Tom Collins returned to Chicago, people asked him the same question. They wanted to know why Afghanistan was such a mess. His friends and family followed the news from that part of the world more closely than most because Tom had been working there for more than a decade. He had a group chat to reassure people that he was OK after every tragedy.

Why is Tibet Not Free?

Tibet is not a country. It is a province of China. And that is deeply frustrating for Tibetans who believe they should be independent. This anger explains the bursts of violence that affect the region. More than a hundred people have burned themselves to death in the past ten years. So why is Tibet not free?

Why is Iraq So Unstable?

If you’re in search of bad news, you can rely on Iraq. Terrorists, internal conflict, poor government, lethal explosions—these are the all too familiar headlines. Iraq’s recent past is sad. Much of its distant past is sad, too. Why? What did Iraq do to deserve all this pain? Very little. Most of Iraq’s troubles have been caused by outsiders. But our story starts in the days when Iraq was powerful and majestic.

Can Communism Work?

In 1991, this question seemed like an easy one to answer. The Soviet Union had just come to an end, the other Communist states in Eastern Europe were no more. Since then, the remarkable growth of China has made the question more complicated. In 1991, the average person in China lived on US $360 a year. Now, the figure is US $8,500. When America’s capitalist economy dived into recession in 2008 and China’s didn’t, Chinese officials were quick to argue that their system was superior. So can Communism work?