James M. Lindsay

The Water's Edge

Lindsay analyzes the politics shaping U.S. foreign policy and the sustainability of American power.

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The World Next Week: Washington and Moscow Spar on Syria, Oslo Accords Twenty Years On, Lehman Brothers Collapse Five Years Later

by James M. Lindsay
September 12, 2013

Russian president Vladimir Putin walks past U.S. president Barack Obama during a group photo at the G20 summit in St. Petersburg (Kevin Lamarque/Courtesy Reuters). Russian president Vladimir Putin walks past U.S. president Barack Obama during a group photo at the G20 summit in St. Petersburg (Kevin Lamarque/Courtesy Reuters).

The World Next Week podcast is up. Bob McMahon and I discussed the continuing crisis in Syria, the twentieth anniversary of the Oslo Accords, and the state of the economy five years after the Lehman Brothers collapse.

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The highlights:

  • The debate over Syria continues to take new twists and turns. Two weeks ago U.S. airstrikes looked imminent. Last week immediate action was put on hold and the focus shifted to whether Congress would authorize airstrikes. This week the focus shifted yet again as President Obama put military action on hold in favor of pursuing diplomatic efforts to place Syrian chemical weapons under international control. The latest change occurred even though the administration remains skeptical that diplomacy can work; moving chemical weapons out of Syria would take considerable time given the size of Syria’s stockpile, and it’s unclear which countries would send troops into the middle of a civil war to secure Syria’s chemical weapons.
  • Tomorrow marks the twentieth anniversary of the signing of the Oslo Accords. Hopes were high on September 13, 1993 when Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin and PLO chairman Yasser Arafat shook hands under the watchful eye of Bill Clinton on the south lawn of the White House. Sadly, that promise hasn’t been fulfilled. The intervening two decades have produced much heartache and few successes. Secretary of State John Kerry is working diligently to breathe new life into the Middle East peace talks, but the prospects for success are dim.
  • Next week marks the fifth anniversary of the collapse of Lehman Brothers, which became the largest bankruptcy in U.S. history and set off a chain of events that nearly brought about a global financial collapse. Since then, the U.S. government, other leading financial powers, and various international financial organizations have enacted new rules and regulations to strengthen the global financial system and prevent a similar systemic threat in the future. But because major banks have gotten bigger and more interconnected, no one can be completely sure that the reforms have in fact put international finance on an unshakeable foundation.
  • Bob’s Figure of the Week is Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar. My Figure of the Week is 250. Our audience-nominated Figure of the Week comes from TWNW listeners @AcylAcyl and @mstacey9 who both picked Vladimir Putin. As always, you’ll have to listen to the podcast to find out why.

For more on the topics we discussed in the podcast check out:

Crisis in Syria: Russian president Vladimir Putin cautions the United States not to take military action in Syria. Steven Lee Myers writes that Putin has taken center stage in offering a solution to the Syria crisis. Al-Jazeera summarizes the United Nations report on Syrian war crimes. Richard Haass explains President Obama’s dilemma in Syria.

The Oslo Accords: Uri Savir assesses the lessons from the Oslo Accords. Al-Monitor evaluates the Oslo Accords twenty years later. Al-Jazeera explains the developments in the peace process since the Oslo Accords.  The Gulf Post explains why the goals of the accords have not yet been reached.

Lehman Brothers Collapse: NPR reviews the days leading up to Lehman’s downfall. Bloomberg explains the many risks still present in the banking system. The Economist searches for the next Lehman-style failure.  CNBC asks whether banks are safer now than they were five years ago.

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