April 30, 2011 by Hamza Khan
On April 22nd, 2011 Pakistan’s Supreme Court struck a death knell to the rights of women in a country whose rape rates jumped by double digits last year. In the face of overwhelming evidence, hundreds of witnesses, and even a signed confession, the court, all men, acquitted five out of the six men convicted of the gang rape of a lone woman. The decision marked a bitter end to the victim’s decade long struggle for justice, during which time she endured harassment, illegal detainment, and psychological torture.
Today, I write as a Pakistani mother’s son to voice my outrage over Mukhatar Mai’s case. This story is personal for me, and is personal for all sons who have mothers, and all brothers who have sisters. The story of Mukhtar Mai is that of all women–and men–who have experienced or witnessed sexual violence.
April 25, 2011 by John Lyman
Fears were realized in Nigeria when hundreds were killed in post-election violence. Not withstanding the post-election period, many observers have noted the peaceful nature of the presidential contest. Despite the violence that followed, this year’s election took place under favorable conditions and the election was considered fair and free by many. Observers have noted that voters had registered in historic numbers and the process had gone relatively smoothly. Ballots were delivered on time and the process was relatively free of violence which has marred many of Nigeria’s past presidential elections.
“I welcome the spirit of calm and restraint that characterized the conduct of the April 16th presidential election in Nigeria which appears to be the most credible election since Nigeria’s return to democracy in 1999. I also congratulate the Nigerian people for their determination in exercising their right to vote for the democratic future of their country,” the European Union’s Catherine Ashton said following the election.
April 22, 2011 by John Lyman
As anti-government rebels make incremental advances NATO is recognizing that achieving success in Libya will require increased involvement. A concerted assault against Qaddafi’s forces by the rebel forces, supported by coalition warplanes, is the only available option in order to remove the regime from power. NATO is in an awkward position because U.N. Resolutions 1970 and 1973 do not instruct NATO and others to pursue regime change. However, in order to avoid a protracted stalemate, Qaddafi either must step down or be forcibly removed.
Despite some setbacks, the rebels have made concrete gains in Benghazi, the Tunisian/Libyan border town of Dhiba, Ajdabiya and Tobruk. However, in Misrata, due to a lack of coalition air cover, there has been heavy shelling by Qaddafi’s forces that has resulted in the deaths of Restrepo director Tim Hetherington and Pulitzer Prize-nominated photographer Chris Hondros.
April 19, 2011 by John Lyman
Piracy off the eastern coast of Africa has become a profitable business for many Somalis whose average yearly income used to rarely exceed a few hundred USD. By some estimates, in 2010 pirates were able to generate roughly $238 million in revenue typically through ransoms paid by private citizens, corporations or by states.
The pace of piracy has risen exponentially since 2005 when there were 35 attacks compared to 219 in 2010. Piracy affords high risks but is a very profitable source of income for many Somalis who are unlikely to better their standard of living through conventional means. The 1991 fall of Siad Barre’s regime has been followed by two decades of civil war leaving Somalia a “failed state” as clan warfare consumed Mogadishu and surrounding areas.
April 15, 2011 by John Lyman
Amid the unrest in Damascus it has come to light that Tehran has been funneling weapons and other support to President Bashar Al-Assad’s government to insure that a revolution will not overthrow the government. Tehran’s motives appear to be driven by the desire that its regional partnership with Damascus remains in place.
Tehran has been offering assistance in tracking down the leaders of the protest movement in Syria and they have also shipped the government crowd control gear such as tear gas and riot gear.
April 11, 2011 by John Lyman
In the past, Europeans and Americans have viewed the efficacy of hard power versus soft power in starkly different terms. British and French military intervention in Libya and French intervention in Côte d’Ivoire demonstrates that Europe is willing to reconsider the use of military power to achieve stated objectives. Western European views about the use of hard power are evolving. Rather than participating in the Libyan no-fly zone, Germany withdrew tertiary support and instead offered to increase its presence in Afghanistan. It was announced that several hundred German personnel are to be transitioned to Afghanistan to offset the NATO efforts in Libya.
“This will alleviate NATO and it’s also a political signal of solidarity in the alliance with respect to the mission in Libya,” Thomas de Maiziere, Germany’s defense minister argued in defending Germany’s decision.
April 6, 2011 by John Lyman
Republicans and Democrats have forgotten the adage “politics is the art of compromise” or as Economist Donald Wittman observed, “That is what good politicians do: create coalitions and find acceptable compromises.” President Obama and his liberal base have refused to accept across the board cuts to Democratic policy priorities and the Tea Party Caucus in the House has refused or made it increasingly difficult for Speaker Boehner to compromise with Democrats. The middle ground has proven to be increasingly elusive.
Because President Obama, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker John Boehner failed to reach a compromise during a White House meeting on March 5th over how to fund the government for the next six months, a government shutdown is likely. A shutdown means that except for essential services, government services will cease operations and/or face noticeable delays.
April 1, 2011 by John Lyman
Doctrines often guide chief executive’s foreign policy decision-making. The Bush Doctrine assumed the right of anticipatory self-defense and that preventive war was justified when a perceived threat to the United States existed. The Iraq War was a result of the Bush Doctrine. Saddam Hussein’s Iraq was viewed as a threat and preemptive war was necessary. Therefore, the U.S. military overthrew the regime and replaced it with another.
The most widely cited doctrine, the Monroe Doctrine, posited that the Americas were in the American sphere of influence and force would be used to keep it free of external actors. Both the Monroe and Bush Doctrines rationalized when it was prudent to use hard power to achieve objectives.