Bruce Stokes

Is Laziness the Cause of Economic Inequality?

Americans and the British lean toward moral weakness, but the rest of the world blames government policies.

Once, laments over economic inequality were the sole purview of the left.  But now the growing gap between the rich and the poor is a mainstream concern. "The distribution of income and wealth in the United States has been widening more or less steadily for several decades, to a greater extent than in most advanced countries," Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen observed in a speech on October 17. And "I think it is appropriate to ask whether this trend is compatible with values rooted in our nation's history." 

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Keep Your Eye on Beijing

While the world focuses on the Middle East and Ukraine, China's neighbors worry about the fallout of brewing tensions along its borders. And so should we.

While the world focuses on the tragic downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 over Ukraine and the deepening Israeli-Palestinian conflict, tensions in another of the world's hot spots -- the periphery of China -- continue to simmer. There is widespread concern among many of China's neighbors -- including Japan, Vietnam, and India -- that Beijing's territorial ambitions could lead to military conflict. And that concern appears to be growing. Even the Chinese are now worried about whether such frictions could lead to war. The United States and Europe may be distracted by pressing events in Eastern Europe and the Middle East, but Asians don't have that luxury. Tensions closer to home preoccupy them, according to a new Pew Research Center survey of nearly 15,000 people in 11 Asian nations.

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No Difference a Year Makes

One year on from the NSA surveillance revelations, guess what: the world shrugged. People still, more or less, like America.

A country's brand is a valued commodity, especially when that nation is the world's largest economic and strategic power. And, despite the declinists, America's image remains strong in much of the world, according to a new Pew Research Center survey. Despite anger with Washington over U.S. spying on foreign leaders and foreign nationals, widespread opposition to U.S. drone strikes, disagreements about what to do in the Middle East, and other recurring tensions, majorities in 30 of 43 countries express a favorable opinion of the United States. And, 0verall, attitudes toward the United States are largely unchanged from 2013. This suggests that despite a perception at home that U.S. influence abroad is waning, there is little evidence of that erosion overseas.

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The Middle East Has Thrown in the Towel on Making Peace with Israel

New polls from across the region show a deep pessimism on the possibility of a non-violent, two-state solution.

Remember the Middle East peace process and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerrey's ultimately unsuccessful shuttle diplomacy to restart meaningful Israeli-Palestinian negotiations? In the wake of recent developments in Ukraine and Iraq such ambitions seem so much yesterday's news. The recent creation of a Palestinian "unity" government has made it even less likely that the talks will be resumed anytime soon. And now Martin Indyk, the Obama administration's special envoy for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, has resigned in frustration with the absence of any likelihood of meaningful progress in the foreseeable future.

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Between Assad and a Hard Place

The people of the Middle East don't want extremists or Syria's president either. But they want Western meddling even less.

The Obama administration's concern about extremists prevailing in the Syrian civil war and its desire to see Syrian President Bashar al-Assad gone are views that are widely shared in the Middle East. But the administration's ideas for how to deal with the Syrian situation are not, according to a new Pew Research Center survey. As Barack Obama's administration decides what to do about Syria, the White House must be careful not to confuse the region's support for its ends -- removing Assad and preventing extremists from taking power -- with Middle Eastern approval for its means -- that is, stepping in to provide support for the Syrian opposition.

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