Download PDF In the December–January issue, Hal Brands argues that Donald Trump is damaging the core values that constitute effective US global leadership; Erik Jones examines the threat posed to democracy by identity politics following the Catalan referendum; Richard G. Whitman discusses the potential impact of a ‘hard Brexit’ on foreign policy; Nelly Lahoud considers the future of the Islamic State as a non-territorial entity; Ian Anthony warns that abandoning the INF Treaty could lead to destabilisation; Jeffrey Lewis and Bruno Tertrais examine the response to the 2013 Syrian chemical-weapons attack and its impact on transatlantic relations; Alex Grigsby analyses the difficulties...


Percentage of people who voted in a referendum on Catalonian independence who supported a break from Spain


Percentage of the overall electorate that voted in the referendum1


Approximate number of people who died from war and other forms of violence in 2015, according to a study published in the Lancet in October 2017


Number who died from diseases caused by pollution2

Strong man

‘The Chinese nation … has stood up, grown rich, and become strong.’

Chinese leader Xi Jinping speaks at the opening of the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China on 18 October 2017.3

‘Five years ago I said he would be China’s most powerful leader since Deng Xiaoping. I was wrong. He is now China’s most powerful leader since Mao Zedong.’

Former Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd comments on Xi Jinping’s consolidation of power.4

Korean spiral

‘We are probing, so stay tuned … We can talk to them. We do talk to them. Directly – we have our own channels.’

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson acknowledges that the White House is making efforts to open a dialogue with North Korea.5

‘I told Rex Tillerson, our wonderful Secretary of State, that he is wasting his time trying to negotiate with Little Rocket Man … Save your energy Rex, we’ll do what has to be done!’

US President Donald Trump tweets his objection to the possibility of negotiating with Pyongyang.6

‘I will surely and definitely tame the mentally deranged U.S. dotard with fire.’

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un responds to Trump’s threat to ‘totally destroy North Korea’ if Kim provokes a confrontation.7

‘To date, we have had wars which have been initiated after a well thought-out decision. But we also know that other conflicts have started through an escalation caused by sleepwalking. We have to hope that the seriousness of this threat puts us on the path of reason before it is too late.’

UN Secretary-General António Guterres comments on the prospect of military conflict with North Korea in an interview on 10 September 2017.8

Hostile environment

‘The planet will not negotiate with us.’

French President Emmanuel Macron defends the Paris climate accord at the UN General Assembly.9


Percentage of Mexicans who had a favourable view of the United States in 2015


Percentage of Mexicans who had an unfavourable view of the United States in 201710

Cutting loose

‘Is it a crime to ask our people to express themselves over what they want for the future? It was surprising to see the reaction from the international community. Where is your democracy now? Where are the UN charters? Where is the respect for freedom of expression? After the big sacrifice of the Peshmerga and breaking the myth of Isis, we thought they would respect this right.’

Iraqi Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani defends the decision to hold a referendum on Kurdish independence on 25 September 2017.11

‘It will be over when we close the oil taps, all [their] revenues will vanish, and they will not be able to find food when our trucks stop going to northern Iraq.’

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan responds to the vote.12

‘The United States does not recognize the Kurdistan Regional Government’s unilateral referendum held on Monday.’

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.13

Pyrrhic victory

‘More than 90 percent of Raqqa is in S.D.F. control.’

US Central Command confirms that the Syrian city of Raqqa, used by the Islamic State as the de facto capital of its self-declared caliphate, has been mostly retaken by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces.14

Unpleasant alternative

‘We will take our people and our country back.’

Alexander Gauland, the top candidate of the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, celebrates his party’s success in becoming the third-largest party in the Bundestag following elections held on 24 September 2017.15

‘Nobody on their own represents the people.’

Wolfgang Schäuble, president of the German parliament.16

Choosing sides

‘I have children and grandchildren to answer to, and so, Mr President, I will not be complicit.’

US Republican Senator Jeff Flake announces he will not run for re-election in 2018, citing the behaviour of US President Donald Trump during a fierce attack on his character.17

‘We’re seeing nationalism distorted into nativism.’

Former US president George W. Bush speaks at a conference in New York on 19 October 2017.18

‘To fear the world we have organised and led for three-quarters of a century, to abandon the ideals we have advanced around the globe, to refuse the obligations of international leadership and our duty to remain “the last best hope of earth” for the sake of some half-baked, spurious nationalism cooked up by people who would rather find scapegoats than solve problems is as unpatriotic as an attachment to any other tired dogma of the past that Americans consigned to the ash heap of history.’

US Senator John McCain speaks in Philadelphia on 16 October 2017.19


1 Stephen Burgen, ‘Catalonia Crisis Escalates as Spain Set to Impose Direct Rule Within Days’, Guardian, 21 October 2017,

2 Philip J. Landrigan et al., ‘The Lancet Commission on Pollution and Health’, Lancet, 19 October 2017,

3 Tom Phillips, ‘Xi Jinping Heralds “New Era” of Chinese Power at Communist Party Congress’, Guardian, 18 October 2017,

4 Kevin Rudd, ‘Xi Jinping Offers a Long-Term View of China’s Ambition’, Financial Times, 22 October 2017,

5 David E. Sanger, ‘U.S. in Direct Communication with North Korea, Says Tillerson’, New York Times, 30 September 2017,

6 Donald Trump, via Twitter, 1 October 2017,; and

7 ‘Full Text of Kim Jong-un’s Response to President Trump’, New York Times, 22 September 2017,

8 ‘North Korea’s Kim Jong-un Hosts Huge Celebration after Nuclear Test’, Guardian, 10 September 2017,

9 Rick Gladstone, ‘At U.N., Trump Singles Out “Rogue” Nations North Korea and Iran’, New York Times, 19 September 2017,

10 Margaret Vice and Hanyu Chwe, ‘Mexican Views of the U.S. Turn Sharply Negative’, Pew Research Center, 14 September 2017,

11 Martin Chulov, ‘Iraq: Kurdish Leader Barzani Claims Win in Independence Referendum’, Guardian, 26 September 2017,

12 Martin Chulov and Paul Johnson, ‘Barzani on the Kurdish Referendum: “We Refuse to Be Subordinates”’, 22 September 2017, Guardian,

13 US Department of State, ‘Iraq Kurdistan Regional Government’s Referendum’, 29 September 2017,

14 Anne Barnard and Hwaida Saad, ‘Raqqa, ISIS “Capital”, Is Captured, U.S.-Backed Forces Say’, New York Times, 17 October 2017,

15 Philip Oltermann, ‘AfD Leaders Vow to “Hound Angela Merkel” after Strong Showing at Polls’, Guardian, 24 September 2017,

16 Melissa Eddy, ‘Far-Right Upsets Tradition of Consensus in New German Parliament’, New York Times, 24 October 2017,

17 ‘Jeff Flake: Republican Senator Quits with Attack on Donald Trump’, 24 October 2017, BBC News,

18 Peter Baker, ‘Mueller’s First Indictments Send a Message to Trump’, 30 October 2017, New York Times,

19 Chris Cillizza, ‘John McCain Just Delivered a Total and Complete Takedown of Trumpism’, CNN, 17 October 2017,

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Survival: Global Politics and Strategy

December 2017–January 2018

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