Week of February 26

While much of this week was rightly dedicated to problems at home, here are three major actions that occurred abroad and what they mean.

Presidential Term Limits in China

This week the Chinese politburo moved to remove term limits for the office of president, effectively giving President Xi Jinping unlimited rule over the country. This move could be a double edged sword. The first and most glaring result is that President Xi now has a de facto life appointment to the office of president. In doing this, Xi makes no pretense about who is in power, and further erodes whatever faint strands of democracy China had left. The second and more subtle point, is that Xi is now in charge of both good and bad times. This means under his absolute rule, he is also forced to take absolute blame if anything goes wrong. Whether this move is a sign of further consolidation of power, or a sign of trying to cover weakness is difficult to say. What is certain, however, is that China has once again embraced their history of socialism and absolute authoritarian power.

Syrian Civil War Massacre

This week the Syrian citizens of Eastern Ghouta, a suburb outside Damascus, have been attacked on a scale that hasn’t been seen since the beginning of the war. Over five hundred civilians, including well over one hundred children, were killed in the shelling over the course of the week. A tentative ceasefire passed unanimously by the UN Security Council was only partially effective, as shelling continued even after the resolution was handed down. In addition, Al Jazeera published reports of gas attacks committed by regime backed forces Sunday. The barbaric use of barrel bombs against civilians, constant shelling, and even potentially gas attacks are par for the course for the Assad regime and its Russian backers. Unfortunately, there does not seem to be any movement in the international community or at the UN to take any measurable steps to solve this crisis. The cease fire, while a nice gesture, can only work if it is able to be enforced. Because the Russians have a vested interest in making sure that doesn’t happen, and no other major powers are in a position to stop them, it is likely that nothing will change in the wake of this slaughter.

American Embassy in Israel

This week the United States made a commitment to push up the timeline on the construction of the new embassy in Jerusalem. Naturally, the move was both praised by its supporters and condemned by its detractors. In reality, the move will most likely pose little threat to the stability in the region. Oddly enough, while it seemed to be a very controversial movement at the time, the reality is that most of the old Arab alliance care little about American posturing over the Israel-Palestine negotiation. With Egypt working with the Israelis on terrorism in the Saini peninsula, and the Saudis seeking to curb Iranian influence in the region, none of the historic backers of the Palestinians seem to have the stomach for a fight on their behalf. Rather, it would appear they will be content with performing the almost ritualistic public condemnation of Israel, while simultaneously working with them for their own personal gain.