May 11, 2013 by Madeleine Conley
To what extent should a country preserve the rights of its citizens abroad who plan attacks against it? This question led some to protest the targeted killing of Anwar al-Awlaki in 2011, an American citizen and high-ranking al-Qaida member. Writing in the Daily News in 2011, Ron Paul, former Texas congressman and former presidential candidate, argued shortly after a drone strike killed the al-Qaeda leader, “Awlaki was a U.S. citizen. Under our Constitution, American citizens, even those living abroad, must be charged with a crime before being sentenced. As President, I would have arrested Awlaki, brought him to the U.S., tried him and pushed for the stiffest punishment allowed by law. Treason has historically been judged to be the worst of crimes, deserving of the harshest sentencing. But what I would not do as President is what Obama has done and continues to do in spectacular fashion: circumvent the rule of law.”
In dealing with terrorists linked to the September 11 attacks or involved in planning future attacks like al-Awlaki, the United States relies heavily on the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), a joint resolution passed by the U.S. Congress in 2001 following the September 11 attacks. Although the document addresses the country’s position regarding foreigners involved in terrorism, it lacks the procedure for dealing with Americans engaged in terrorism abroad. As a result, it is unclear whether the United States has an obligation to uphold certain guaranteed rights, specifically due process.
May 7, 2013 by Samina Yasmeen
Imran Khan sustained head and back injuries due to a fall as he was preparing to address a rally in the posh suburb of Gulberg in Lahore on May 7. With his fall the Pakistani election campaign assumed a more humane dimension, with all and sundry sending messages to Imran Khan and suspending any recriminations against him in campaign rallies. But the question has arisen as to whether Khan’s accident will significantly impact on the outcome of the elections on May 11.
The debates and discourse on Pakistan’s foreign policy in the election campaign provide some answers to this question. Sitting at a strategic crossroads, with a long border with and history of involvement in Afghanistan, the international context plays a particularly important role in Pakistani politics.
The Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) party led by the well known cricketer-turned-politician (Khan), the Pakistani Muslim League led by former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, and the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam led by Fazal-ur-Rehman (JUI-F) are the main players in the current campaign.
May 2, 2013 by William Thomson
One of the most pressing issues currently facing Afghanistan is the difficult economic transition set to occur at the end of 2014. Although security is the concern that grabs headlines, it’s the economy, and the ability of the Afghan government to afford itself, that will determine the long-term success of the Afghan state. Sadly, it is highly unlikely that the Afghan government will be able to domestically source revenue to cover the military and security expenses it faces, let alone finance development and the social safety net, thus far provided largely by NGOs and donors nations, that the population has come to expect.
Although significant funding has been committed by donor nations it falls well short of the $10 billion a year through 2025 that President Hamid Karzai asked for. The $10 billion request represents significant figure for foreign donors, between 61% and 78% of GDP depending on which GDP estimates are used. The $4 billion committed by the international community at the 2012 Tokyo Donors Conference is not even a sure thing, as donor fatigue and historic failures to live up to development aid commitments are likely. This means, in the best-case scenario, that the government of Afghanistan would face a budget shortfall of at least $6 billion a year starting in 2014, but odds are it will be far greater.
April 21, 2013 by Brett Daniel Shehadey
Major events like September 11th, the US invasion of Iraq, and the global financial crisis disrupted the Western-driven globalization process and revitalized a state-centric political model of the world. Although the US chose an economic-centered globalization strategy and relied on international political institutions in the 1990s, national sovereignty became the new norm and the global system shifted from globalist rationale to geopolitical realism. Fear, war, the threat of war, provocation, territory, regional influence and military build-ups weakened international institutions as nation-states countered each other to reassume power.
There is now an unfettered international political instability crisis as a result of stalled engines of globalization all stemming from this neglect of the “political” dimension in the international system. The decline of liberal international foundations did not occur because people no longer desired them, but because of the lack of a strong ideological commitment from the world’s declining superpower and partners. The consequences of rising authoritarian states present crisis conditions for international liberalism and stability. They are also now in direct proportion to the decline of the Western political influence. Thus, as the West weakens, other challengers will present and push their perception of what they desire the global system to become.
Smaller states through international organizations are gaining influence in uniting the world against the economic and political models of Western liberalism. Russia, China, Venezuela, Cuba, Iran, and Pakistan are making increasingly threatening advances, from warning and rhetoric, to alliance building. These states claim Western “aggression” is pouring into their regional spheres of influence. Regional organizations such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), the G77, and the Union of South American Nations are moving past the resistance of collective movements toward promoting an alternative global system. Other states like China and Russia are strictly engaging in increased bilateral diplomacy with smaller states to increase their influence, and these countries’ propaganda and public diplomacy initiatives are far more advanced than the US’s ability to counter it.
April 15, 2013 by William Thomson
During 2013 the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) will continue to reduce its footprint in Afghanistan as coalition partners rapidly withdraw troops ahead of the end of the NATO Afghan mandate in 2014. However, 2014 will not be the end of the US or the International Community’s (IC) mission in Afghanistan. 2014 will mark the beginning of a new chapter for IC engagement in Afghanistan. To be successful NATO and the IC must immediately take several aggressive steps in order to prepare for the political transition.
Significant efforts have been made both in Europe and the US to set the stage for negotiations with the Taliban. The hope is that such negotiations will ready Afghanistan for a more productive post-2014 political environment. Despite the international community’s presence in country for more then a decade, these discussions are premature because of the inability of the Afghans and the IC to push for a robust internal Afghan political settlement. If Afghans cannot get along with each other internally, they certainly cannot coherently negotiate with an external force.
Rather than focusing on settling disputes between competing factions within the Afghan government in order to create a coherent and effective Afghan government, the IC has left such discussions up to the Afghans, and in doing so has allowed for the continuation of the inept and corrupt Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (GIRoA). In many respects this failure can be traced to the reason the IC remains in Afghanistan. Except for security, IC support in Afghanistan has failed to reform its political system, advance its economy significantly, or address systemic corruption in any substantive way. This failure is the result of competing internal political factions within the Afghan government.
March 14, 2013 by Daniel Wagner
Although Afghan President Hamid Karzai would like the world to perceive him otherwise, Karzai finds himself in an untenable position. As the U.S. prepares to withdraw the majority of its remaining troops, the country’s security forces remain woefully unprepared to assume responsibility for the country’s security, corruption remains endemic, and many observers admit that Afghanistan is in reality little better off today than it was when Karzai assumed power in 2004. With his leadership slated to end next year, there is little reason to believe that his successor will do any better in meaningfully addressing Afghanistan’s plethora of problems.
Hamid Karzai has never hesitated to challenge the U.S. publically, whether for a domestic or international audience, but the pace at which he is forcefully challenging the U.S. now is unprecedented. Equating the U.S. with the Taliban as forces working to undermine the government really is over the top, particularly given the tremendous resources the U.S. has provided to Karzai’s government over the past decade – and that he owes his position, as well as any progress that has been made to date – to the U.S. It is a little late to be attempting to change his image as “America’s Man”. We find ourselves wondering why he would be trying to do so in the first place. His legacy is clear to all. No pandering to domestic political interests is going to change that.
February 15, 2013 by Eric Muller
Roughly a month after France began its aerial bombardment of Islamic extremists in Mali, Canada’s offering to the western response has remained largely unchanged: one C-17 heavy-lift cargo plane, and $13-million in humanitarian aid announced at an International donors’ conference in Addis Ababa.
The government’s reluctance to pledge more resources has come amidst consternation from foreign policy watchers at home. Historically Canada has had a significant presence in Mali as a major donor. It remains one of the Canadian International Development Agency’s (CIDA) focus countries, and is home to significant Canadian mining interests. According to Natural Resources Canada, in 2010 there were 15 Canadian mining and exploration companies in Mali with an estimated $230 million in assets.
February 5, 2013 by Len Colodny
Chuck Hagel’s going over at the hands of Republican members of the Senate Armed Services Committee was more than an argument over political and policy differences; it was another spasm in the efforts of neoconservatives to define U.S. security policy in their own image.
Chuck Hagel, a Republican former two-term senator from Nebraska, had once been considered one of the neoconservatives’ own, at least for a while. After joining the Senate in 1997, he quickly became one of Republican Sen. John McCain’s more avid wingmen. He helped run the Arizonan’s 2000 campaign for the party’s presidential nomination. Hagel also voted for the 2002 resolution to authorize U.S. action against Iraq, the precursor to the March 2003 invasion.
January 27, 2013 by Editors
January 10, 2013 by Nemat Sadat
Human rights are not revered in Afghanistan. Last November, President Karzai signed off on the execution of 16 prisoners on death row. Despite an international outcry by human rights activists and organizations, Kabul went forward and hanged 14 people on November 20th and 21st. While the death penalty is supported by a majority of Afghans, that does not make it morally righteous. Executions in Afghanistan came to a halt several years ago. But under mounting political pressure, President Karzai has charted a new course in dealing with the rise in communal violence throughout the country.
By resuming the death penalty this week, President Karzai has managed to kill three birds with one stone: appease hardliners, distance himself from perceived outside influence, and demonstrate his relevance to a society that regards him as the ineffectual Viceroy of Kabul.
January 3, 2013 by Alex Le Roy
Over the last few months, there has been much public discussion surrounding the increasing likelihood of an Israeli pre-emptive strike upon Iran, as part of a broader strategy to halt the Iranian government’s supposed nuclear weapons programme.
Recently this talk has been muted by Israel’s latest attempts to ‘pacify’ the Gaza Strip, though as far as Israel’s strategic defence is concerned, an Iranian nuclear deployment is a far more dangerous ball game. Or is it? This article aims to purport a convincing argument to the contrary, that Iranian nuclear ambitions are not as great a threat as supposed, and may even be welcome. However, this article also serves to warn of the consequences should a military solution to remove this alleged threat be undertaken, and principally argues that the cost of action is likely to be far greater than restraint.
December 30, 2012 by Conn M. Hallinan
Every year it is important to recognize news stories and newsmakers that fall under the category of “Are you serious?” Here are the awards for 2012 as recognized by Dispatches From The Edge.
Dr. Strangelove Award to Lord John Gilbert, former UK defense minister in Tony Blair’s government, for a “solution” to stopping terrorist infiltration from Pakistan to Afghanistan: Nuke ‘em. Baron Gilbert proposes using Enhanced Radiation Reduced Blasts—informally known as “neutron bombs”—to seal off the border. According to Gilbert, “If we told them [terrorists] that some ERRB warheads were going to be dropped there and that it would be a very unpleasant place to go, they would not go there.”
The border between the two countries is a little over 1,600 miles of some of the most daunting terrain on the planet. And since the British arbitrarily imposed it on Afghanistan in 1896, most the people who live adjacent to it, including the Kabul government, don’t recognize it.
December 28, 2012 by Gibson Bateman
President Obama is still working on remaking his foreign policy and national security team, but it looks like John Kerry will be the next Secretary of State. Inside Washington, John Kerry has been a leading voice on foreign policy for decades. As a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for twenty-seven years, John Kerry has built up a vast network of contacts abroad. John Kerry understands the politics of the Middle East. And he has already travelled extensively for the Obama administration – going to places like Afghanistan and Pakistan.
December 20, 2012 by John Price
On December 11, 2012, Prime Minister Cheick Modibo Diarra was removed from office by Mali’s military. This comes on the heels of the March ousting of President Amadou Toure, by a junta led by Captain Amadou Sanogo. Mali’s destabilization is the result of the Arab Spring that led to the conflict in Libya–where regime change was the goal–without an endgame plan. Large caches of weapons were left unprotected, which reached radical Islamists in northern Mali.
On December 11, 2012 the Foreign Policy article, Rice: French plan for Mali intervention is ‘crap’, noted, “The crisis in Mali underscores the rising threat…Islamic militancy in North Africa and the Sahel [is] the clearest evidence of blowback from the U.S.-backed military campaign that toppled Qaddafi”. The article also noted that France wanted swift military action in Mali, “with a rapid deployment of an African stabilization force”.
December 19, 2012 by Mario Vitanelli
Where would you guess is the most dangerous place in the world. Iraq? Afghanistan? Maybe Colombia or Mexico with its spate of cartel violence? Actually, it’s none of the above. In fact, in comparison to the world’s most dangerous nation – Honduras – Mexico seems downright cushy. A citizen of Honduras is over six times more likely to be murdered than a Mexican national. While a young man in Honduras is roughly 91 times more likely to be violently killed than a young man in Western Europe. Even the world’s second most dangerous country, El Salvador, has only about 2/3 of Honduras’s murder rate.
Why are these Central American countries so violent? As is always the case – there isn’t a single, simple answer but there are definitely some undeniable contributors. Chief among these is the increasing size and escalating violence of entrenched, drug-trafficking, cartel-connected street gangs- Central America’s “Maras”.