In policy planning, there's a lot of effort involved when planning for conflict. Research papers and briefings, certainly, but also "war games" -- simulations of conflicts with experts on the various parties to the conflict acting out their roles. If Group A invades and takes this military base, how does Group B respond (or Group C, D, or E)? What if policymakers put as much thought into thinking through diplomatic scenarios as they do war scenarios?
That was the question posed by PeaceGame, a simulation of diplomatic efforts around the Syrian civil war organized by the U.S. Institute of Peace and Foreign Policy Monday. The discussion brought together 45 experts, including former ambassadors and State Department officials, academics, and Arab activists, all together representing 19 groups influencing the war. It's the first of what is planned as a series of similar events. The next one is scheduled for Spring 2014 in the United Arab Emirates.
President Vladimir Putin's Kremlin always had a very sly, if transparent, way of creating the illusion that Russia has independent media -- at least until now. Walking a thin line, state-owned or state-backed news services would be allowed to report just enough on the shortcomings of the Russian political system to keep up the appearance of free speech but would never go too far in their criticisms.
But the Kremlin just couldn't take it anymore. With one swift signature the president himself ended the golden days of independent-ish Russian media.
On Monday, Putin, with no notice whatsoever, signed a decree dissolving the state-owned agency RIA Novosti and Voice of Russia radio, which had become known for providing relatively balanced reporting about the country in 14 languages. Novosti, founded in 1941 as a Soviet news agency, and Voice of Russia will be substituted by a new, consolidated agency called Russia Today. It will be separate from another state-backed news organization known as RT.
It's a big day today at Foreign Policy.
Not only are we launching our fifth annual Global Thinkers issue, but we're also unveiling a new website. FP has come a long way since its days as an academic journal founded in 1970, and with the redesign of the website, we take one further step toward revitalizing the magazine for the digital era. The new site is built for the social web, with sharing tools built right into article pages. (For example, try highlighting the text of this piece -- you'll see a pop-up tool that allows you instantly share on Twitter, Facebook, and Reddit.) A new gallery function beautifully displays FP's photojournalism offerings. And the "My FP" customization feature (look for the thumbprint in the right sidebar, or at the bottom of the page on mobile) will take reader interests into account to deliver content tailored just for you. The new homepage puts all of FP's featured content in one gorgeous, easy-to-navigate space, with a "Breaking News" feed from FP's reporters and a "Stories We're Watching" bar that provides a snapshot of news from international papers.
The World Trade Organization lives to fight another day. Amid concern that last week's trade talks would end in failure and render the WTO obsolete after two decades of ineffectual negotiations, member countries finally reached a global trade reform deal Saturday -- for the first time in the WTO's history, and 12 years into the Doha Round of negotiations. In Bali, where the deal was reached, there was a lot of back-patting: European Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht exclaimed that "we have saved the WTO," the WTO's Director-General Roberto Azevedo concluded that "for the first time in our history: the WTO has truly delivered," while the president of Indonesia attributed the meeting's success to "the mystique of Bali." But what the group actually accomplished is up for debate.