AMERICANS don’t have a vocabulary to describe the pernicious behavior of political crowds, but our forefathers did. John Adams favored a strong executive to guard against “the mob.” He thought that partisans of popular democracy like Thomas Jefferson or Tom Paine ignored the dangers of populist passion. The people, he wrote, can be as tyrannical as any king. That division contributed to the formation of the first parties — Adams’s Federalists and Jefferson’s Democrats.
As a bloody offensive by the Taliban spreads in Afghanistan and with American combat operations there officially ended, anxious Chinese leaders find themselves under pressure to take a more active role in the long-stalled peace process, according to scholars and current and former diplomats.
President Ashraf Ghani of Afghanistan is proposing to improve Afghanistan’s contentious relations with Pakistan in the hope of paving the way toward both peace with the Taliban and regional economic cooperation.
Ban Ki-moon, in his seventh year as the secretary general of the United Nations, has a full plate of unsolved problems, from a widening war in Syria to conflicts in the Central African Republic and South Sudan — to say nothing of climate change. Now comes Ebola.
Diplomats are facing a “100 times good” temptation as they work to establish new United Nations global objectives for development, known as Sustainable Development Goals, that will help set an overarching narrative for the world’s progress for the next 15 years.
Worlds apart, two leaders are planning to intervene in worsening conflicts outside their borders, and citing humanitarian concerns as their rationale. In Iraq, President Barack Obama and his administration are considering how to contain the violent march of radical Islamist militants and provide help to those whom the Islamists threaten with extermination. In the conflict in eastern Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin sent a convoy of 280 trucks with what the Russians describe as “humanitarian aid” for the embattled region.