- Temporarily yes in wake of Paris attacks, i.e. France & Russia co-ordinating attacks against ISIS.
- Like the allies worked with Stalin to defeat Nazism, the west can today work with Russia to fight a common foe.
- But, back then, Hitler posed an existential threat - today the west can probably defeat ISIS without Russian assistance, and hence hopefully won't trade Ukraine for help in the Middle East.
- NE Syrian city seized from Syrian rebels in Jan 2014 - civilian population of 200,000 is hostage to ISIS brutality.
- Viewed as ISIS' de facto capital, although leadership is based in desert borderlands between Syria & Iraq.
- Being bombed by France - more of a symbolic & psychological target than militarily critical.
- US-led coalition hitting ISIS-held oilfields in E-Syria.
- Also hitting supply lines (truck convoys).
- Oil from the region is a major revenue generator for ISIS.
- Prefers to join an accord by executive agreement (i.e. a swish of Obama's pen).
- If accord contains legally binding obligations, Obama will need to put it to the Senate.
- But the Republican majority in the Senate is hostile to scientific consensus vis-à-vis climate change.
- Because there's a divide between rich and poor nations.
- Rich nations' industrialisation resulted in global warming - now poor nations want their own share of industrial wealth.
- Also, the Republican party in the US is hostile to to scientific consensus vis-à-vis climate change.
- Impossible to force nations to cut pollution, so will be based on voluntary pledges.
- Hopefully agreement to review every 5 years to see if pledges having any effect.
- If an accord is reached, will be based on collection of widely differing national promises, so expect no universal outcome (like an agreed global carbon price, or a global ban on fossil fuel subsidies).
- Rio accord 1992 & Kyoto protocol 1997: Failed to meet chief objective, i.e. preventing rise of C02 from burning of fossil fuels.
- Copenhagen 2009: Attempt to replace Kyoto agreement - failed to reach agreement.
- Paris 30 Nov. 2015: Hopefully an accord, but expected to be unenforceable and voluntary.
- ISIS largely contained in its core territory (N + E Syria, N + W Iraq).
- Whenever they try to break into neighbouring Shia or Kurdish areas, they get pushed back.
- Could explain attacks in Lebanon (Beirut), Egypt (Russian jet) and Paris.
- Recession ending but growth still slow: PM Shinzo Abe’s plans (Abenomics) for reviving the economy have had mixed results.
- Minuses: Government debt remains large and a problem, so budget reform urgently required, but apparently not happening fast enough.
- Pluses: Positive consumer sentiment, exports healthy despite global wobblies as China slows.
- Looks like military and political stalemate.
- Military: Increased (covert) supply of missiles to selected rebel groups has stalled Russia-backed Assad advances.
- Political: Putin's negotiating position therefore weakened.