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: Crimea Standoff Continues, Tibetans Commemorate Uprising Day, and the World Wide Web Turns Twenty-Five

by James M. Lindsay
March 7, 2014

Pro-Russian demonstrators rally in the Crimean town of Yevpatoria. (Mark Levin/Courtesy Reuters) Pro-Russian demonstrators rally in the Crimean town of Yevpatoria. (Mark Levin/Courtesy Reuters)

The World Next Week podcast is up. Bob McMahon and I discussed Russia’s intervention in Crimea, Tibetan Uprising Day, and the World Wide Web’s twenty-fifth birthday.

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The highlights:

  • The thousands of Russian troops that deployed to Crimea over the weekend show no signs of leaving. The pro-Moscow Crimean Parliament now plans to hold a referendum on March 16 on whether the region should remain within Ukraine. The referendum violates the Ukrainian constitution and international law, and given the context, it is anything but a free and fair vote. Russian officials for their part insist that the overthrow of Viktor Yanukovych was illegitimate, note that Crimea was part of Russia until sixty years ago, and observe that the United States and Europe used force to sever Kosovo from Serbia. As U.S. and EU officials search for ways to pressure Moscow to reverse course, they are also scrambling to develop a rescue plan to stabilize Ukraine’s faltering economy—and to keep Kiev from taking steps that might escalate the conflict. The risk with that strategy is that it could embolden Moscow to take even more of Ukraine.
  • March 10 marks the fifty-fifth anniversary of the Tibetan uprising against Chinese rule. The revolt failed, and the Dalai Lama went into exile, where he has remained ever since. Beijing insists that Tibet is part of China, a point on which the United States and most other countries agree. Beijing still bristles, however, whenever foreign leaders meet with the Dalai Lama, whom it regards as a separatist. Britain found itself facing a Chinese diplomatic deep freeze after Prime Minister David Cameron met with the Dalai Lama in May 2012. That incident did not deter President Barack Obama from meeting with the Dalai Lama last month. U.S. policy has been to urge Beijing to engage in a genuine dialogue that addresses Tibetan grievances and respects Tibet’s unique culture. That culture is under stress as more ethnic Han Chinese move into Tibet in search of jobs. Beijing cracked down on Tibet around the time of Uprising Day in 2008 and has kept up the pressure ever since. The result has been that some Tibetans have turned to self-immolation as a way to protest Chinese rule. More than 130 Tibetans have self-immolated over the past five years.
  • Next week marks the twenty-fifth birthday of the World Wide Web. Few technologies have been as revolutionary. In just twenty-five years the Internet has changed politics, economics, and society around the world—and mostly in good ways. People have access to more knowledge, entire new industries have been born, and new communities have been spawned. But the Internet as we know it today could soon be a thing of the past. Countries disagree on how the Web should evolve, and in particular whether the American vision of an open Internet that operates with little or no government oversight is the right model. What a new governance model for the Internet should look like triggers heated debate. Experts talk about the rise of a Splinternet that operates differently in different parts of the word, complicating economic exchange and putting political dissidents of all stripes at risk.
  • Bob’s Figure of the Week is 814 million. My Figure of the Week is Pope Francis. Our audience-nominated Figures of the Week come from TWNW listeners: Dallas McCash (‏@LittleMcCash), who nominated Oleksandr Turchynov; Faika Kabir ‏(@faiinnocent), who offered up “Ukraine president”; and E-TRXN (@ETRXN), who went with 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:

Crimea, Russia, and Ukraine: Richard Haass explains how to respond to Ukraine’s crisis. The New York Times reports that the EU is meeting as Crimea moves to join Russia and that the United States has imposed new sanctions in response to the crisis in Ukraine. Stewart Patrick argues that the future of world order is at stake in Ukraine. CFR’s Asia Unbound blog discusses implications for Asia of the crisis in Ukraine.

Tibetan Uprising Day: The Diplomat writes that creative solutions are needed to solve the problems between Tibet and China. In the New York Times, Tsering Woeser discusses Tibetan self-immolations. AFP reports that the Dalai Lama will lead U.S. Senate prayers. The Himalayan Times writes that police in Nepal are preparing to crack down on any activities commemorating Tibetan Uprising Day.

World Wide Web: Pew Research Center conducted a poll investigating the American view of the Internet over the past twenty-five years. PBS analyzes public opinion on the Internet and recalls the early days of the World Wide Web. The Guardian writes that Americans view social media differently than they view the Internet.

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