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.
February 6, 2013 by John Price
“The ruling to kill the Americans and their allies is an individual duty for every Muslim who can do it…”
— Osama bin Laden, February 1998
Osama bin Laden, the al Qaeda terrorist leader, issued his “fatwa” only seven months before the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania were bombed on Aug. 7, 1998. The United States could have increased our security measures everywhere, yet Washington remained unprepared to avoid the disastrous destruction of the World Trade Center in New York on Sept. 11, 2001.
When Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1990, bin Laden offered to organize his Arab-Afghan fighters to defend the Saudi kingdom. The royal family instead invited U.S. troops, which bin Laden considered “infidels” occupying Muslim soil, and declared a “jihad” against the United States. He did not want any foreign troops in the “land of the two mosques,” a reference to the Islamic holy cities of Mecca and Medina. His protest led to house arrest, and he was asked to leave Saudi Arabia in 1991.
November 14, 2012 by Binoy Kampmark
CHINA IN TRANSITION: As China goes through its secretive but widely anticipated leadership transition, the rest of the world is watching.
The obsession with changing world orders and premature assumptions that the world is in flux is endemic to the human character. In this sense, we have never stopped being millenarian, hoping that somewhere along the line, the true order of things will stand before us, crystal clear and optimistic.
Two significant events have and are taking place: the concluded US presidential elections, and the 18th Communist Party Congress in China. Several other states in the Northeast Asian region, notably South Korea and Japan, will also see transitions in their leaderships over the next six months. The urge is then to speculate if these might actually change the contours of power, if at all.
October 31, 2012 by John Kmiecik
There have been significant changes in the political and social structures in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) since the beginning of the Arab Spring. These popular uprisings continue to alter American foreign policy.
The dissolution of several totalitarian regimes in the area after forty years of rule heralds a new era of uncertainty not only for the local populations but also the international community. The establishment of new political institutions is leading to unforeseen areas of unrest.
October 15, 2012 by Greg Austin
In a speech on October 11, 2012 on Pentagon responses to evolving cyber threats, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, revealed both the strengths and shortcomings of United States public policy on issues of national cyber defense. The forum for the speech was not necessarily the place where Panetta might have been expected to give a full exposition of policy, yet in his need to brief and to summarize complex issues of his audience of Business Executives for National Security, the Secretary allowed a glimpse into where the United States is and where it is going.
Panetta set the scene by mentioning the threat of a “crippling cyber attack” every bit as serious as the terrorist attacks of September 11. He addressed three tracks the Pentagon is following: new capabilities, policies and organization at DoD level, and alliance building with other countries and with the private sector.
July 15, 2012 by John Kmiecik
In American foreign policy regarding the Middle East, a trend has developed into a paramount issue. The concern over what is the role of Islam in national governments.
The past decade spent in Iraq and Afghanistan has made this even more obvious. The rise in “Islamophobia” in America following September 11 has only reinforced this misconception. In the wake of the “Arab Spring” in 2011, there exists an opportunity for a watershed moment in working towards stability in the Middle East but the possibility of which is diminished by this tendency.
July 6, 2012 by Richard Javad Heydarian
In a recent interview, the eminent geo-strategist Ian Bremmer suggested that a “nuclear-armed Iran” is inevitable because, in an emerging “G-Zero World” where no single bloc of countries can dominate international affairs, the emerging powers can frustrate the West’s efforts to thwart Tehran’s nuclear ambitions. There are basically two underlying assumptions to his argument: first, that the rising powers have the will and the capacity to ameliorate Iran’s growing isolation; and second, that Iran is willing to push its nuclear frontiers at any cost.
However, recent years give lie to these assumptions. Not only are many emerging powers beginning to distance themselves from Iran, but also Tehran itself — facing the prospect of an economic meltdown — is beginning to reexamine its nuclear calculus.
May 3, 2012 by John Lyman
Set against the backdrop of events marking the one year anniversary of the killing of Al-Qaeda leader, Osama bin-Laden, the Obama administration has for the first time formally acknowledged its use of drone missile strikes that have proven effective in decimating Al-Qaeda’s ranks as well as killing other high value targets in Yemen, Pakistan and elsewhere.
Speaking at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington on April 30th, John Brennan, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, affirmed, “the United States government conducts targeted strikes against specific al-Qaeda terrorists, sometimes using remotely piloted aircraft, often referred to publicly as drones.”
April 10, 2012 by Kent Eiler
What should be striking about the reported news out of Afghanistan lately is the extent to which the headlines have been about tragic, non-military events. Korans were defaced and a U.S. servicemember is suspected of murdering seventeen Afghan civilians. These acts have both had a profound, negative impact on U.S.-Afghan relations and, by extension, have put our troops and our mission in Afghanistan in greater jeopardy.
But what is today’s mission? To what extent is there still a military mission in Afghanistan? How do we distinguish a military mission from a political mission more than ten years into the post-9/11 global world? As a service to our men and women who volunteer to defend us we ought to answer these questions.
April 1, 2012 by Deepak Tripathi
Toulouse, Europe’s aerospace hub in the southwest of France, has hit the headlines for the wrong reasons. A twenty-three-year-old French citizen of Algerian origin, Mohamed Merah, went on a shooting spree last month, killing seven people and terrorizing a million residents for ten days before a police sniper’s bullet ended his life. Among his victims were three unarmed soldiers, a rabbi and three children at a Jewish school. According to prosecutors privy to negotiations with Merah during the thirty-hour siege where he met his end, his only regret was “not having claimed more victims.” Mohamed Merah reportedly said that he was proud of having “brought France to its knees.”
Mohamed Merah had many more years to live had it not been for his final act. Life was, however, not important to him. He claimed to have been motivated by the Palestinians’ plight, the presence of French troops in Afghanistan and the law banning the full veil in France.
December 16, 2011 by Richard Javad Heydarian
The Obama administration is increasingly facing a new foreign policy challenge, which could seriously derail America’s grand strategy in Central Asia. Crucially, as America struggles to stabilize the volatile landscape in Afghanistan, assert a long-term strategic presence in Iraq, and contain Iran’s nuclear ambitions, it is gradually confronting a new foreign policy challenge: a precarious and consequential estrangement from its long-term strategic ally, Pakistan.
With rising dissatisfaction among the Pakistani political elite and growing popular anger against America, Washington is on the verge of losing another vital ally. After a decade of compliant and subservient partnership – coupled with endemic corruption and a severe economic downturn – the Pakistani leadership might face the same fate as other fallen pro-US leaders across the Middle East, from Iran’s Shah in 1979 to Arab autocrats in Egypt and Tunisia in 2011. Crucially, Pakistan is uniquely important, not only for its sheer size, geopolitical position, and powerful army, but also because of its possession of one of the world’s most potent nuclear arsenals.
December 11, 2011 by Taylor Dibbert
After a decade of growing popularity, democracy has hit a slump in Latin America.
A recent Latinobarómetro poll cited by The Economist in late October underscores this point. In all but three Latin American countries, fewer people than last year believe that democracy is preferable to any other type of government. In the cases of Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico, the drop in support for democracy is significant.
The 2009 removal of democratically elected Manuel Zelaya and the post-coup human rights abuses of the government of Porfirio Lobo are obvious indicators that Honduras is on the wrong track. Dozens of political murders have taken place in Honduras, and there has been little outrage from Washington.
September 19, 2011 by Richard Falk
Reading what I wrote about Afghanistan a decade ago reminded me of how much my understanding of the role of war and hard power in upholding security for the nation and the world has changed. Actually, it seems clear to me that my views on Afghanistan back in 2001 were an exception to my general skepticism about Western interventions in the non-Western world, a view formed during ten years of opposition to the American role in the Vietnam War.
At the time, with the Al Qaeda attacks so recently seared into my political consciousness, and some anxiety that more attacks of a similar kind were likely to follow, it seemed logical and helpful to adopt a war strategy as part of an overall effort to disrupt the mega-terrorist capabilities to inflict further harm either in this country or somewhere else on the planet.
September 11, 2011 by Deepak Tripathi
The September 11, 2001 attack on America produced extraordinary human reaction as most events involving great violence and mass casualties do. Shock, anger, defiance and an instinct for retribution are the usual ingredients of that reaction, but societies that allow this mix to overcome themselves in the long run have to pay a price. To ensure that the price is not too high requires a sense of proportion, an agency to soothe, to reassure, to guide and to take corrective action. In the wake of September 11, that burden fell upon President George W. Bush.
The leaders of the United Kingdom, Italy and Spain were minor players. The last decade has been one of poor judgment and high cost, human, economic, moral. Even the best estimates of the overall cost paid during the last decade tend to be meaningless, for the numbers are colossal and rising.
August 4, 2011 by Claire McCurdy
Six women, attendees at an upstate raw foods retreat, sat cross-legged on cedar planks in a cedarwood sauna near a pond. We were laughing and telling stories of our lives. It was pure fun and friendship. Many logs had been thrown on the sauna fire. The sauna was very hot. We were sweating profusely. I was looking forward to jumping into the pond.