Photographer: Eddie Seal/Bloomberg
A new age of abundant and cheap energy supplies is redrawing the world’s geopolitical landscape, weakening and potentially threatening the legitimacy of some governments while enhancing the power of others. Some changes already are evident. Surging U.S. oil production enabled America and its allies to impose tough sanctions on Iran without having to worry much about the loss of imports from the Middle Eastern nation. Russia, meanwhile, faces what President Vladimir Putin called a possibly “catastrophic” slump in prices for its oil as its economy is battered by U.S. and European sanctions over its role in Ukraine.
Sweden is arguably the most "European" of European countries by virtue of its historically cohesive nationhood ("one big family"), militaristic and socialist legacies, untrammeled immigration, unmatched political correctness, and a supercilious claim to the status of a "moral superpower." These features also make it perhaps the most alien of European countries to an American conservative. In this context, I offer a summary and paraphrase of my discussion with two senior members of the permanent bureaucracy in the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) held during a recent visit to Stockholm. Our affable but pointed discussion focused on the Middle East, on which we agreed on almost nothing; I might as well have been in Sudan's or Syria's MFA.
Arvfurstens Palats, an eighteenth century royal palace occupied since 1906 by the Swedish Foreign Ministry.
If any region of the world is the heart of modern Catholicism, it's Latin America. Some 425 million Catholics live there, more than 40 percent of the world's total Catholic population. Plus, for the first time in history, there is a Latin American pope — and he's quite popular, if you hadn't heard. Despite this, a new report on religion in Latin America from Pew Research Center has come to an unmistakable conclusion: Latin America, the world's most Catholic region, has become dramatically less Catholic over the past few decades.
How do we deal strategically with China’s rise, now that we are in a phase when China has dropped its “smile diplomacy” and is making increasingly belligerent and assertive territorial claims all over East Asia?