Bruce Stokes

No Difference a Year Makes

One year on from the NSA surveillance revelations, guess what: the world shrugged. People still, more or less, like America.

A country's brand is a valued commodity, especially when that nation is the world's largest economic and strategic power. And, despite the declinists, America's image remains strong in much of the world, according to a new Pew Research Center survey. Despite anger with Washington over U.S. spying on foreign leaders and foreign nationals, widespread opposition to U.S. drone strikes, disagreements about what to do in the Middle East, and other recurring tensions, majorities in 30 of 43 countries express a favorable opinion of the United States. And, 0verall, attitudes toward the United States are largely unchanged from 2013. This suggests that despite a perception at home that U.S. influence abroad is waning, there is little evidence of that erosion overseas.

Continue Reading

The Middle East Has Thrown in the Towel on Making Peace with Israel

New polls from across the region show a deep pessimism on the possibility of a non-violent, two-state solution.

Remember the Middle East peace process and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerrey's ultimately unsuccessful shuttle diplomacy to restart meaningful Israeli-Palestinian negotiations? In the wake of recent developments in Ukraine and Iraq such ambitions seem so much yesterday's news. The recent creation of a Palestinian "unity" government has made it even less likely that the talks will be resumed anytime soon. And now Martin Indyk, the Obama administration's special envoy for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, has resigned in frustration with the absence of any likelihood of meaningful progress in the foreseeable future.

Continue Reading

Between Assad and a Hard Place

The people of the Middle East don't want extremists or Syria's president either. But they want Western meddling even less.

The Obama administration's concern about extremists prevailing in the Syrian civil war and its desire to see Syrian President Bashar al-Assad gone are views that are widely shared in the Middle East. But the administration's ideas for how to deal with the Syrian situation are not, according to a new Pew Research Center survey. As Barack Obama's administration decides what to do about Syria, the White House must be careful not to confuse the region's support for its ends -- removing Assad and preventing extremists from taking power -- with Middle Eastern approval for its means -- that is, stepping in to provide support for the Syrian opposition.

Continue Reading

Is Ukraine More Like Latvia or Greece?

This question might seem odd, but it's at the heart of what world leaders need to grapple with at the G7 summit this week.

As the leaders of the G7 meet in Brussels to discuss what to do to help Ukraine, the big foreign policy question they face is: "How many Ukrainians consider themselves Russians?"

Continue Reading

Americans Simply Don't Care About Peace in the Middle East

Can we really blame the president for not putting the full weight of his office behind the collapsing peace talks?

No one said a Middle East peace deal was going to be easy. Brokering such an agreement has been a lost cause for what's now a long line of U.S. presidents. So when Secretary of State John Kerry embarked on yet another attempt to get Israelis and Palestinians to finally resolve their differences over land, Jerusalem, and the right of return for Palestinian refugees, many skeptics wrote off the effort as a quixotic quest. Now that the talks appear to have irretrievably broken down, such skepticism about the seriousness of purpose of both the Israelis and Palestinians seems vindicated.

Continue Reading