On July 20th 1969, the dominoes were lined up for the first moon landing in the history of humankind. Impressive new technologies (illustrated by the Saturn V rocket launcher, still the most powerful ever built), an unconditional trust culture within NASA, political commitment and justification, and personal motivation of those involved were key components for the success of the mission. With 400,000 people working on the project, it took the NASA less than two years to go from Apollo 1’s deadly fires to 11’s moon landing.
There is no dearth of conflicts in West Asia. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has defied resolution for seven decades. The fight against the Islamic State and its offshoots in Iraq and Syria has drawn in the U.S., Russia, Iran and Turkey, while the civil war in Yemen has heightened tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran. U.S.
In President Donald Trump’s February 5 State of the Union Address, he all but strayed from his unwavering stance that there is a national crisis at the southern U.S.-Mexico border, due to the supposed illicit crossing of immigrants who threaten “the safety, security, and financial well-being of all America”. Trump did, however, voice his favor for legal immigration, and the responsibility the U.S. has to protect those who have entered the country legally.
2019’s Man of the Year in Latin America will be Andres Manuel López Obrador, the newly-elected President of Mexico. No-one has generated such huge expectations, both at home where Mexicans have showered him with votes and also abroad where he is expected to restore Mexico to the place among the concert of great nations which is its due but where it has found it hard to remain. As always, of course, some believe in him and others have their doubts; some are enthusiastic and others are worried. There are the optimists and the doom-sayers; and all have their good reasons.
In Europe and beyond, today populism is alive and kicking. Over the past few years, anti-establishment parties have made substantial strides. Some of them have reached the levers of governments, while others are consolidating their gains.
The escalating trade war between the United States and China will be one of the hot issues during the Buenos Aires G20 meeting. This trade conflict, probably the most important since the second world war, started last January with the US introducing safeguard tariffs on imports from the world of solar panels and tariff rate-quotas on imports from the world of washing machines. These tariffs have been introduced in response to requests by US manufacturers.
“I have a message for the people of Iran: The United States hears you; the United States supports you; the United States is with you.” It is July 22, Sunday night in California. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delivers a speech at the Ronald Reagan library in Simi Valley. The event title seems an eloquent call for action: “Supporting Iranian Voices”. Pompeo addresses the “Iranian people” 17 times in his speech.
In the contemporary history of US-Russia relations, practically every presidential meeting runs the risk of being pinned to a reference point in Cold War history. The coming summit between Presidents Putin and Trump - their third personal encounter but first as a separate meeting - is no exception. Some in Russia liken the importance of this summit to the face-to-face meetings between Nikita Khrushchev and Dwight Eisenhower during the first official visit by the Soviet leader to the US in September 1959.
Looking at political debates and perceived priorities, it seems that the coming NATO Summit will focus on the Eastern flank.
At the same time, the 11-12 July Summit will give the operative kick-start to the NATO Strategic Direction South (NSD-S) Hub, based in Naples and opened in September 2017.
This year’s G7 may mark a new milestone on the declining path of multilateralism. Despite all efforts by Mr. Trudeau, a strong supporter of multilateralism, the Canadian G7 Summit will likely achieve a very mild and short-sighted Final Declaration, if any. Just a few days before the Summit, President Trump announced his decision to let tariff exemptions expire, de facto imposing tariffs on all the other six G7 members.