On Freedom and Imperialism: Arab Spring and the Intellectual Divide

November 30, 2011 by

The so-called ‘Arab Spring’ is creating an intellectual divide that threatens any sensible understanding of the turmoil engulfing several Arab countries. While it is widely understood that revolutions endeavor to overthrow political structures and aim to change the social order and power paradigm within any given society, there is still no single, inclusive understanding of what actually constitutes a revolution.

Realpolitik and Rights Compete for Clinton’s Attention

November 30, 2011 by

Hillary Clinton’s historic trip this week to Burma – the first by a U.S. secretary of state since 1955 – will likely mix geo- strategic realpolitik with Washington’s more idealistic interest in promoting economic and political reforms in a country that it has tried to ostracise for most of the past two decades.

India’s Courage Deficit

November 30, 2011 by

Many in the West may not realize it, but India is in the middle of what is shaping up to be a severe economic crisis. The rupee hit an all time low of more than 52 to the U.S. dollar this past week, is down 17% this year, and declined more than 7 percent just this month. That is even lower than during the financial crisis of 2009. India’s stock exchange, the Sensex, has lost more than a third of its value in dollar terms this year and now has the dubious distinction of being Asia’s worst performing stock exchange.

Is Burma moving towards a democratic reform?

November 29, 2011 by

The notoriously powerful military junta of Burma is loosening its grip. In an uncharacteristic move, former army general Thein Sein, who came to power in March, thwarted the Chinese-funded $3.6 billion Myitsone dam project in the state of Kachin, relenting to the continuous pressure from the Burmese citizens in that region. The Burmese government has recently released more than 6,000 jailed political prisoners.

Matviyenko’s Lessons in the Decentralization of Russia

November 29, 2011 by

In the past two months, the less well-known half of the Russian legislature, the Federation Council, has been experiencing dramatic structural changes under the tenure of its new speaker, Valentina Matviyenko. While its counterpart, the Duma, is often criticized as a pro-Kremlin institution, the Federation Council’s adherence to the center is far more resolute.

Time for the Fed to Take Over the European Central Bank’s Job

November 28, 2011 by

The European Central Bank (ECB) has been working hard to convince the world that it is not competent to act as a central bank. One of the main responsibilities of a central bank is to act as the lender of last resort in a crisis. The ECB is insisting that it will not fill this role. It is arguing instead that it would sooner see the eurozone collapse than risk inflation exceeding its 2.0 per cent target.

The Mubarak Hangover: Explaining Egypt’s Turbulent Transition

November 28, 2011 by

On April 21st, the Cairo Emergency Court decreed that the name of former President Hosni Mubarak be removed from all government buildings and public infrastructure in Egypt. This diktat authorized what had already been taking place since the beginning of the January 25th Revolution. From the outset of popular demonstrations, Egyptians set out to expunge all traces of the Mubarak name from the country.

Like two toddlers fighting

November 28, 2011 by

In a schoolyard battle, which kid always wins? The one with the biggest friends, of course. After picking up my daughter from school and observing the interaction of the children, it occurred to me that Palestine’s activities at the United Nations (UN) have become like a schoolyard fight between three three-year-olds; Palestine and Israel on their respective sides, the US in the middle.

China’s Environment Policy: A Two Level Game

November 28, 2011 by

As the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) Conference begins in Durban, South Africa, there will be few holding their breath that a major breakthrough decision will occur. For its part, China has specifically stated that it is against any binding commitments on carbon levels.

Tangible Tensions

November 28, 2011 by

Nigeria is a country so unwieldy in its size, and so complex in its politics and structures, that it necessitates a certain level of assumption, together with an understanding of the detail of its interlinking internal dynamics. Its diversity and influence demand a nuanced engagement; its scale necessitates a broad-brush and bold approach.

And what if nothing happens at Durban?

November 27, 2011 by

Progress towards a binding international agreement on targets to tackle global warming has been more than glacial. Yet despite growing alarm among the climate science community, the UN climate conference, which begins in Durban next week, will fail to deliver any breakthrough. Indeed, many predict there won’t be any real progress until 2015 at the earliest.

China’s Perceived Military Threat

November 27, 2011 by

There is no doubt that China has emerged as a major contender for global influence because of its rooted passion for asserting itself as a responsible global actor to ensure peace and security in the world. However, in spite of its global influence, it has mostly failed because of its imperialist and interventionist foreign policy.

On Power, Morality and Courage

November 27, 2011 by

My reflections last week were about the United States grand strategy anchored in the energy resources and Israel’s defense in the Middle East. How that grand strategy, offering a validation for the Cold War in Asia and Africa, has lived on since the end of the Soviet threat two decades ago gives us plenty of food for thought.

American Compass and the Egyptian Revolution

November 27, 2011 by

Oversimplifying the Arab Spring, by portraying it as a struggle between the masses and their dictators, is misleading and an oversimplification. Let’s take a step back and ask: what kept these dictators in their positions of power to begin with? On the internal front, there are security apparatus’s with the abilities to manage public opinion, control resources and broadly speaking, control the entire government.

The United States and the Asia-Pacific Region

November 26, 2011 by

China’s centralized policymaking continues to be at odds with a world system that strives to observe the principles promoted by the international community. At the Reuters Washington Summit, Undersecretary of State Robert Hormats stated that “There’s competition between the American economic model and the more state-centered economic model of China.”

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