This piece originally appeared on newstatesman.com.
These charts should give pause to any dictator considering an Internet blackout
The Syrian city of Aleppo briefly regained access to the Internet yesterday, ending an information blackout that lasted well over a month. As of this afternoon, though, it looks like the city is back offline. During the brief window of access, people on the ground issued celebratory tweets even as fighting continues in the city, one of the main battlegrounds of Syria's civil war.
In a certain sense, the Obama administration’s decision to withhold much of the $1.3 billion in annual aid given to Egypt isn’t surprising. U.S. law mandates cutting off aid to countries in which a coup has taken place, and the Egyptian military’s ouster of President Mohamed Morsi this summer was, analytically speaking, exactly that.
What I learned at Beijing Design Week 2013
What one American writer learned at Beijing Design Week 2013
Because we haven't spent enough time plumbing the depths of the psyche of Vladimir Putin this month, he offers us more diagnostic fodder. Speaking at the international conference at Valdai, Russia—which, if we're honest, is just a glorified session of reading the magic eight ball that is Putin—he let us know some things.
A vote by Congress to reject the resolution sought by President Barack Obama to authorize military force in Syria will add to the long list of unintended consequences already produced by bad policy choices on Syria.
Following the recent chemical strikes in Damascus, some analysts began to focus on whether Iranian president Hassan Rouhani had the will or ability to change the Islamic Republic's policy toward Syria (see PolicyWatch 2123). In the past few days, the "will" part of that question may have been answered: Rouhani and his allies seem to be using the chemical weapons controversy to pick their first major fight with domestic opponents.
As the White House struggles, agonizingly, down the road to striking Syria, Moscow has put on its own sideshow, railing against yet another American misadventure in a mysterious and tangled region. Russian ships have started churning the Mediterranean's waters again, ostentatiously getting into position. Russian officials warned obliquely of "catastrophic consequences" should the U.N. Security Countil be bypassed.
I have a pretty broad view of presidential power to use military force abroad without congressional authorization. On that view, which is close to the past views of the Office of Legal Counsel, the planned use of military force in Syria is a constitutional stretch that will push presidential war unilateralism beyond where it has gone before. There are many reasons why it is a stretch even under OLC precedents.
The regime's cadres have held together through two years of war, and they will likely continue doing so unless Washington and its allies present them with a stark choice: leave and live, or stay and die.