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January 4, 2013

Post-Geneva Delusions: The Next Steps in Sri Lanka

March 31, 2012 by

Sri Lanka’s Minister of External Affairs, G.L. Peiris, has recently given one additional reason for the passage of a resolution on Sri Lanka at the UN’s Human Rights Council (HRC) in Geneva: “collective commitments.” Evidently, Mr. Peiris had been informed by one of his European counterparts that certain members of the European Union (EU) were unsupportive of the resolution, but were compelled to vote in favor of it, since a group decision had been taken by the EU. Mr. Peiris went on to say that even some US Congressman did not view the HRC in a positive light, due to the fact that the body is “politicized.”

The Syrian Crisis Needs a Political Solution

March 31, 2012 by

More than a year after the onset of anti-regime protests, the Syrian uprising increasingly resembles a bloody marathon with no finish line on the horizon. With more than 7,000 people killed and ongoing deadly clashes between security forces and the armed opposition, the international community —splintered along geo-strategic lines — is still struggling to craft and establish a clear “road map” for Syria. The mission creep associated with the Libyan intervention, in addition to Syria’s superior defensive capabilities, has dampened the international community’s resolve for any decisive military intervention.

Romney’s Foreign Policy and Russia

March 30, 2012 by

Despite a still struggling economy and a job performance polling below 50 percent in most polls, President Obama has been able to tout his foreign policy accomplishments as one of the reasons he should be re-elected in November. Obama’s recently concluded trip to South Korea to liaise with world leaders to address nuclear security and the Iranian nuclear saga went according to schedule, until an “open mic” caught Obama making rather casual comments to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev stating he believed he would have more flexibility to address lingering issues related to nuclear arms reduction after the November election. “On all these issues, particularly on missile defense, this, this can be solved but it’s important for him (Vladimir Putin) to give me space,” Obama, apparently unaware that his mic was on and recording the conversation, was overheard telling Medvedev.

Assessing China’s Role and Influence in Africa

March 29, 2012 by

The most important difference between the United States and China is the very structure of the American and Chinese governments and the way their respective systems engage in Africa. American commercial activity (trade, investment and bidding on contracts) in Africa is conducted by private companies with limited involvement by the U.S. government. If two or more private U.S. companies are competing for the same project, the U.S. government must be impartial, providing essentially equal help to all U.S. interested parties. When this situation occurs, my experience was that the role of the U.S. government diminishes even further.

The Health Care Argument That Should Have Been Made

March 28, 2012 by

Every year in the United States of America, 14,000 children die within the first year of their life - each death is preventable. If the deaths of these children were due to an enemy state, the US would declare war in a heartbeat. If terrorists had crept into hospitals in the dead night and stuck a AK-47 into every one of those 14,000 cribs, there would be almost no limit to the degree the government would pursue those organizations. There would be no difference between Democrat or Republican, conservative or liberal. The country would be united in its resolve to stare down the enemy.

Argentina’s Economic Policy: Failing to Learn from History

March 28, 2012 by

Argentina is heading toward its second economic crisis in just over a decade and national leaders are unwilling to publicly acknowledge that the country’s growth is unsustainable. Since the country’s economic collapse a decade ago, President Nestor Kirchner (2003-2007) and President Christina Fernandez de Kirchner (2007 – present) have allowed the national economy to function without interference or direction. Senior officials have refused to dictate economic policy because domestic markets have been expanding and strengthening independently. They defend their position by citing the nation’s cheap currency and continual trade surpluses.

It is Crucial to “De-Nairobify” Somali Affairs

March 27, 2012 by

For a number of years, Nairobi (Kenya) has been the de facto capital of Somalia after the State has disintegrated into anarchy. It has been where Somalis sought refuge, re-started their lives, and networked with the rest of the world. By the same token, it has been where almost all of the eighteen or so failed “reconciliation” conferences were concocted, and Somalis found the funding and the nourishment for the indigenous political demons that kept them divided and at war with one another for over two decades. Yet, to this day—at least from the international community’s point of view—all initiatives related to peace, security, humanitarian, and development must be conceived, crafted, and executed via Nairobi; through a network of international institutions and organizations with sullied reputation of money squandering, laundering, and rewarding corruption with more contracts. And so long as this continues, so too will the status quo.

The Credible Conservative

March 25, 2012 by

Following the primary election held in Louisiana on Saturday one thing is abundantly clear; the race for the Republican Party presidential nomination is a two-man race. Though Rick Santorum was the big winner in Louisiana, Romney played well in Peoria on Tuesday with his equally impressive victory in Illinois. Neither candidate gained a majority of votes cast in either contest, but their wins were decisive. The other presidential candidates on the ballots were walloped.

Peace Corps Diary: Ethiopia 1962-1964 Part 9

March 25, 2012 by

Days after our arrival in Gondar we were approached by numerous students asking for employment in our house in exchange for a place to stay and a small stipend. While, as I’ve indicated in a previous chapter, we were reluctant to admit we needed help we were impressed by the story of one tenth grade student, Yimer Mekonnen. In exchange for Yimer’s help with laundry and market purchases we converted a “summer kitchen” off of the porch into his room. Like most students Yimer was from a small farming village far away in the province.

The U.S. Presidential Candidates on Cybersecurity

March 24, 2012 by

In January 2012, the U.S. Department of Defense released its new strategic guidance outlining plans for a “leaner” U.S. military. The plans envision budget reductions of $487 billion over 10 years. Cybersecurity, however, continues to rise as a priority: the strategy calls for increased investment in cyber capabilities. How to adapt the U.S. military to a technology-driven future will be an important question for any U.S. president. Below, a look at what the leading candidates in the 2012 election—President Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, and Newt Gingrich—are saying about cybersecurity and how they are planning to address what they see as growing cyber threats.

Can Jim Yong Kim Reinvent the World Bank?

March 24, 2012 by

Jim Yong Kim - a public health expert, president of Dartmouth College and astute rapper - is the US government’s candidate for the presidency of the World Bank. As Dani Rodrik, a development expert at Harvard University, summed it up this morning, “it’s nice to see that Obama can still surprise us.” Will the new candidate, who was not on anybody’s shortlist for the position, be able to reinvent the World Bank? The current process, in which the US and European governments divide up the World Bank and IMF top posts among themselves, is a farce and needs to be changed. Southern governments have put forward Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and Jose Antonio Ocampo, the finance ministers of Nigeria and (formerly) Colombia, for the position.

The Effects of the US Resolution Against Sri Lanka

March 23, 2012 by

Europe and most of Latin America supported the US resolution against Sri Lanka at the Human Rights Council’s (HRC) 19th session in Geneva. China, Russia, and several countries in Africa and Asia voted against it. Unsurprisingly, Cuba and Ecuador also opposed the resolution. Having never before voted for a “country-specific resolution,” India’s vote was significant, both symbolically and materially. It is unclear what Delhi’s decision will mean when it comes to US-Indian relations in the coming years or what effect it will have on Indo-Sri Lankan ties.

Coming Up: A Tehran Communiqué?

March 23, 2012 by

Arguably, growing tensions over Iran’s nuclear impasse represent today’s greatest international security challenge. Current Western sanctions against Iran are biting hard, but they are also hurting both the Iranian population and global consumers. With rising concerns over a possible “supply shock” — as Iran struggles to sell its oil and alternative producers such as Saudi Arabia and Libya scramble over dwindling spare capacity — energy prices are inching closer to their staggering 2008 levels.

International Criminal Court: Successes and Failures of the Past and Goals for the Future

March 23, 2012 by

In 1998, a groundbreaking idea turned into reality, and 50 years of debate ended as the first International Criminal Court (ICC) was established as a result of the Rome Statute. This judicial body took shape and created the foundation of a permanent court to prosecute persons that committed war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. The idea of an international criminal court came about from many factions. At the end of World War II the Allied Powers responded swiftly after the discovery of crimes committed by the Axis Powers. They therefore created the Agreement for the Prosecution and Punishment of the Major War Criminals of the European Axis and the Charter of the International Military Tribunal (IMT).

Disengagement the Best Engagement for North Korea

March 21, 2012 by

It took a record one month for U.S.-North Korean talks over a food for nuclear freeze swap to fall into the all too common war of words where Pyongyang threatens with war against the U.S. and South Korea. And while admittedly this game of hot and cold isn’t anything new, what’s different this time is the record speed in which it happened. On Wednesday, February 9th, U.S. officials announced a breakthrough in talks with the DPRK. In exchange for food aid, North Korea would freeze its Yongbyong nuclear facility and all missile tests.

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