Commentary

Poverty Beyond the Numbers

ASUNCIÓN – What is poverty? For decades, we have defined it with a number, which the World Bank currently puts at a personal income of less than $1.90 per day. But a single number fails to capture the complexity of poverty. Measuring more than just income is essential to understanding the needs of poor people and delivering optimal assistance.

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Au-delà des données sur la pauvreté

ASUNCIÓN – Qu’est-ce que la pauvreté ? Pendant des décennies, nous l’avons définie par un nombre, que la Banque mondiale situe à un niveau de revenu personnel actuellement inférieur à 1,90 $ par jour. Mais un simple chiffre ne peut saisir toute la complexité de la pauvreté. Il est essentiel de mesurer d’autres paramètres que le revenu pour connaître les besoins des populations démunies et offrir une assistance optimale.

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Extremism’s Strange Bedfellows

FLORENCE – Nowadays, we associate far-right politics with fervent Islamophobia. But this was not always the case. In fact, the relationship between the extreme right, particularly in Europe, and Islamist radicalism runs deep, with adherents of both groups sharing some important traits.

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The Emancipation Gap in Arab Education

PARIS – Discussion of education in the Arab world has focused only rarely on the role of schooling in changing social and political mores. This is unfortunate, because educated citizens of Arab countries tend to be much less emancipated politically and socially, on average, than their peers in other parts of the world. If Arab societies are ever to become more open and economically dynamic, their education systems will have to embrace and promote values appropriate to that goal.

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Anti-Trade America?

CAMBRIDGE – The rise of anti-trade populism in the 2016 US election campaign portends a dangerous retreat from the United States’ role in world affairs. In the name of reducing US inequality, presidential candidates in both parties would stymie the aspirations of hundreds of millions of desperately poor people in the developing world to join the middle class. If the political appeal of anti-trade policies proves durable, it will mark a historic turning point in global economic affairs, one that bodes ill for the future of American leadership.

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Living Free and Equal

MADRID – In the quarter-century since the publication in 1990 of the first Human Development Report, the world has made astounding strides in reducing poverty and improving the health, education, and living conditions of hundreds of millions of people. And yet, as impressive as these gains may be, they have not been distributed equally. Both between countries and within them, deep disparities in human development remain.

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Europe Versus the Islamic State

PARIS – After the November 13 terrorist attacks in Paris that left 130 dead, I wrote a commentary entitled “We Are At War” – and faced considerable criticism from readers, Europeans and non-Europeans alike. How dare I use the word “war” to describe the attacks! Words are weapons, and misusing them is irresponsible, even dangerous. Had I not learned anything from George W. Bush’s jingoism?

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Winning the War Against TB

SEATTLE – Humans have been battling tuberculosis since the Stone Age. But only in the last century has real progress been made against the disease. A vaccine, first used in humans in 1921, is still in use around the world today. And a series of antibiotics, beginning with streptomycin in the 1940s, has proven effective in treating infections.

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Debunking America’s Populist Narrative

BERKELEY – One does not need to be particularly good at hearing to decipher the dog whistles being used during this year’s election campaign in the United States. Listen even briefly, and you will understand that Mexicans and Chinese are working with Wall Street to forge lousy trade deals that rob American workers of their rightful jobs, and that Muslims want to blow everyone up.

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Reforming the Arab Security State

WASHINGTON, DC – Experience across the Arab world demonstrates that when it comes to security-sector reform, technocratic approaches are inadequate. Simply put, a technocratic focus on upgrading skills and operational capability, in the absence of improved governance of the security services, can be easily subverted by anti-reform coalitions, resulting in the continuation of regressive patterns of behavior.

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