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Must Reads of the Week: Iraq's Future, Putin's Past, and More

Author: CFR.org Editors
August 21, 2014

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"Iraq's Last Chance"
By Ali Khedery
New York Times

"After spending more than $1 trillion and losing some 4,500 soldiers' lives, American politicians cannot dare reveal a dirty little secret: Iraq has since 2003 devolved into a combination of Lebanon and Nigeria — a toxic brew of sectarian politics and oil-fueled kleptocracy. The combination of religious rivalry and endemic corruption has hollowed out the Iraqi government, as evidenced by the country's ongoing electricity crisis and the collapse of entire Iraqi Army divisions in the face of an advance by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, into Iraq's second-largest city, Mosul, even though the Iraqi troops vastly outnumbered the militants."

Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga Forces stand guard after Islamic State (IS) insurgents withdrew Kurdish Peshmerga forces stand guard near the town of Makhmur, south of Erbil, capital of Iraqi Kurdistan after Islamic State insurgents withdrew August 18, 2014. (Youssef Boudlal/Courtesy Reuters)
"The Making of Vladimir Putin"
By Strobe Talbott
Politico

"While Putin has earned the ism that Safire attached to his name more than 14 years ago, the phenomenon he personifies — its content, motivation and rationale, as well as the constituencies behind it — predates the appearance of Putin himself on the scene. A number of students of recent Russian history — including some, like myself, who have dealt with Putin — can, in retrospect, trace the roots of his policies today back more than a quarter century to the battle between Soviet reformers and their reactionary and revanchist foes."

"Haitian Migrants Turn Toward Brazil"
By E.C. Gogolak
New Yorker
"For decades, most Haitian emigrants left for the United States, now home to more than half a million documented Haitian immigrants, who send more than a billion dollars in remittances to their home country each year. But, since the early eighties, the U.S. government has engaged in an increasingly restrictive policy of deterrence and expedited return. Brazil's immigration policy is comparatively lax, its labor market famously strong, and, for the first time, Haitians are leaving, in significant numbers, for the south."

"Transplant Brokers in Israel Lure Desperate Kidney Patients to Costa Rica"
By Kevin Sack
New York Times

"A broker who trades in human organs might seem a difficult thing to find. But Ms. Dorin's mother began making inquiries around the hospital where she worked, and in short order the family came up with three names … [They were] among the central operators in Israel's irrepressible underground kidney market. For years, they have pocketed enormous sums for arranging overseas transplants for patients who are paired with foreign donors, court filings and government documents show."

"The Tax Dodge That Has Plagued the U.S. for More Than a Decade"
By Joe Pinsker
Atlantic

"The strategy that Walgreen and Stanley were considering—and that scores of other companies have actually gone through with—is called 'inversion.' The (entirely legal) maneuver gets its name from the corporate backflip that's involved: A large U.S. company finds a smaller company based in a country with taxes lower than the U.S.'s, buys that company, and then claims that this smaller company owns it."

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