July 14, 2017 China’s ambitious One Belt, One Road initiative, unveiled in 2013, is really two plans combined to form a larger framework of new trade routes. The first of these is One Belt, which refers to the development of new infrastructure, particularly railroads and highways, to connect China’s interior provinces with Europe by way of Russia, Central Asia and the Middle East.
Of course, insufficient regional infrastructure has tempered expectations of increasing overland exports. But the bigger problem with One Belt is geopolitical: Eurasia is in a state of crisis, and several of the countries China borders will feel the crisis particularly acutely in the coming years.
Central Asia, a patchwork of states whose borders were drawn to make the countries more easily controlled from Moscow during the Soviet era, is hardly a promising market for Chinese goods. Furthermore, it is one of the most politically unstable regions in the world. One Belt is not a long march into prosperity – it’s a long march into disaster.
Dec. 9, 2015 Since 2011, Syria has been torn apart by the ongoing civil war. This conflict created an opportunity for the Islamic State to take hold of some territory in the country and even establish its own de facto capital in Raqqa. Different parts of Syria are now being controlled by government forces, the Islamic State, the al-Qaida-linked Jabhat al-Nusra, Kurds and various rebel groups.
Sept. 17, 2016 This map reflects the current Taliban battlespace in Afghanistan. Districts shaded in red are under Taliban control, meaning that the district headquarters in the main town, as well as the majority of surrounding areas, are controlled by the Taliban. The districts in yellow are partly under Taliban control. Although the Afghan government still holds the district headquarters, the Taliban holds power in surrounding areas. The Afghan government confirmed in late July that roughly a third of Afghanistan’s 384 districts are under serious threat from insurgent groups. Our research suggests that 44 districts are under Taliban control and 101 are under partial Taliban control.
The Taliban have been able to successfully push forward and capture territory all across Afghanistan for several reasons. Firstly, the Afghan government and its security forces are weak and fragile, facing internal dissention and unable to combat the Taliban on more than one front at a time. Secondly, the Taliban have been able to reach across the ethnolinguistic and tribal barriers that have historically kept Afghanistan’s population divided, allowing it to garner support and establish footholds all over the country. Lastly, the Taliban are well organized and effective, despite having three leaders in as many years. It has a hierarchical leadership structure, with regional commanders that have support and knowledge of the areas they control. Because of this, the group is able to execute surges and take territory on multiple fronts simultaneously.
Dec. 23, 2016 All national economies are regionalized at some level. The U.S. Department of Commerce divides the U.S. into nine regions for bureaucratic purposes. What stands out in this week’s graphic is that, while the U.S. certainly has regions that account for a greater share of GDP, economic activity is more spread out than some might think. The Southeast region actually contributes most to total GDP. The Mideast and the Far West are not far behind. New York City is the U.S.’ largest city, and its greater metropolitan area accounts for about 7 percent of the country’s GDP.
Dec. 1, 2017 Russia boasts both a consolidated budget and a federal budget. The consolidated budget is a combination of the federal budget, which is controlled by Moscow, and Russia’s regional budgets. The federal budget, which is only one part of the consolidated budget, is developed, approved and spent by the central government.
March 15, 2016 This week’s graphic shows American perceptions about immigrants based on their region of origin. Recent studies reveal that a portion of U.S. society increasingly mistrusts immigrants. In the last year, multiple polls have shown a rising concern over immigration among Americans. While these surveys asked slightly different questions, the collective results illustrate that a notable amount of Americans are wary of immigrants in the country. Such mistrust of and opposition to immigration is nothing new in U.S. history. Groups and political movements promoting some element of nativism – a political or social preference for the established inhabitants of a country over immigrants – have existed almost as long as the country itself.