Two months ago gunmen launched a brazen attack on Hamid Mir, one of Pakistan’s most famous journalists, riddling his car with bullets. Mir survived the assassination attempt, but soon plunged into a storm of controversy after he accused the Pakistani military of the crime. The ongoing clash between Mir’s employer—Geo—and the military has become a landmark event, with implications for Pakistan’s democracy. more
In the early 1960s, Canada’s Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism warned that relations between English and French Canadians had so seriously deteriorated that their will to live together was in jeopardy. Underlying these concerns were fears about the future of the French language in the country. Some four decades following the introduction of Canda's policy of official languages, however, it would be difficult to contend there has been meaningful growth in the degree of bilingualism. more
Twenty years ago, the Chinese language was seen by most outside of China and Taiwan as obscure, possibly nearly unlearnable. Nowadays, however, Mandarin Chinese language instruction worldwide is experiencing huge growth. Meanwhile, Mandarin has also eclipsed all other varieties of Chinese as the premier language of China, even as ethnic-based flare-ups continue to persist in regions like Tibet and Xinjiang. In all of these cases, language identity and Chinese language policy is key to understanding events. more
In Ukraine, language politics is so contentious that politicians will go to great lengths to deny that the issue even exists. Ukrainian politicians often say that the issue only comes up during elections, but the same politicians have also come to blows in parliament over the issue. To appreciate the deep-seated and unresolved concerns that lie at the heart of the language issue, we need to look at who actually uses which language, and the cultural and political agendas behind one’s choice of language. more
The way the Internet is governed is of strategic importance to modern society. Yet current Internet governance is not robust enough to address the Internet’s critical relevance. Recent developments have led many governments, international organizations, think tanks and experts to search for a new governance formula. The main challenge is how to reconcile the tension between current Internet governance, led by nongovernmental players, and increasing demands for a stronger role for governments. more
The general consensus in the Western media is that the Sochi Olympics have been a diplomatic failure for Russian President Vladimir Putin. Several European and American leaders, among them U.S. President Barack Obama, skipped attendance in tacit protest of Russian policies. But Sochi raises a provocative question as to whether the absence of key Westerners takes away from the “global” nature of an event. more
Foreign affairs specialists snickered last week after an unknown source released a recording of U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland saying, “F**k the EU.” Judging by the recording, it was merely the sort of bad language that diplomats use every day in private. The truly striking aspect of the leaked tape is not Nuland’s dismissal of the EU but her apparent enthusiasm for working with the U.N. more
Since Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa came to power, U.S. relations with Ecuador have been rocky. Most recently, USAID decided to pull out of Ecuador in 2014 after it was unable to reach an agreement with the Correa government over continued support of democracy promotion efforts. Two issues in particular have roiled relations: Ecuador’s dispute with Chevron, and Correa’s restrictions on press freedoms. more
In an email interview, Jukka Pietiläinen, a senior researcher at the Aleksanteri Institute at the University of Helsinki, Finland, with expertise in Russian media and journalism, explained the relationship between the state and the media in Putin’s Russia. more
Recent leaks about government programs to sift through telephone and Internet data by Edward Snowden, a low-level defense contractor, may finally unleash a national debate about the adequacy of constitutional protections in the 21st century. The disclosure of classified information, combined with the ongoing WikiLeaks episode, may also begin a broader discussion about the relationship between privacy and security. more
Today both states and their challengers face a conundrum. Images of dissent and grievance circulate at lightning speed through the global media landscape, fueling demands for change and even revolution. Furthermore they encourage populations to expect governments to fall in response to people power in ever-contracting timeframes. States are perplexed at how rapidly calls for change can spread through social networks. Their challengers, too, are concerned: They face a loss of control and message coherence. more
A lot has changed since the Zapatista movement emerged in the mid-1990s in southern Mexico to become a symbol of the fight for global justice. As outdated as the imagery of the Zapatistas might look to our retrained eyes, it was one of the first global manifestations of the tectonic shift caused by new communication technologies. The transformations unleashed then are still shaping the way protest movements arise, aided by evolutions in the networks through which they are diffused. more
In 2010, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave an important speech condemning government censorship, calling for greater Internet freedom and reiterating that freedom of expression was a vital U.S. value. But during the past two weeks, as issues of press censorship in China have become front-page news, the State Department has remained noticeably silent, even as that censorship has impacted the U.S. media. more
Technology has shattered any expectation of official control over the portrayal of armed conflict. Battlefields are now populated not only by news agencies from a variety of nations, but also by individuals able to capture and transmit images for use in pressuring governments. From this point on, most military operations will be "live cast." But policymakers and military leaders have not yet adjusted. more
As China unveils its next generation of leaders, the experience of the past decade shows a party-state struggling to adapt to a fast-changing media landscape. Under President Hu Jintao, official discourse on the media shifted, with the term “leading" replacing “guiding” when it came to public opinion. The change represents a move away from suppressing information to “spinning” it. more
A group of 10,000 demonstrators has surrounded government headquarters in Hong Kong to protest a controversial new class being introduced in schools this fall. The Hong Kong government claims it simply wants to boost students’ knowledge of and attachment to China. But the protesters argue the course is just the latest example of Beijing’s attempts to control political discourse in the city.
Much digital ink has been spilled over how cyber and unmanned technologies are changing the nature of war, allowing it to be fought more secretly, more subversively and with greater discretion. In fact, it is precisely the increasing visibility of ordinary warfare due to communications technology that is driving U.S. efforts to redefine the rules of engagement. more
Google's recent run-ins with the People's Republic of China are part of an emerging trend in world politics: the growing political importance of the corporate giants that own and operate cyberspace. The decisions these companies take for commercial reasons can end up having political consequences. And even as they flex their political muscles, the corporate behemoths that already control huge swaths of cyberspace are being deputized by governments with more-expansive policing responsibilities. more
In the annals of "strange bedfellow" political encounters, the recent broadcast in which WikiLeaks boss Julian Assange interviewed Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah stands out as a remarkable episode. On closer examination, however, the debut episode of Assange's show, "The World Tomorrow," on the Kremlin-funded RT network, which featured Nasrallah as its first guest, in fact makes a lot of sense.
Invisible Children achieved its goal of raising awareness about Joseph Kony and the LRA, but will that be enough?
With Twitter revolutions, state-sponsored hacking and the Stuxnet virus driving rapid change in the cyber-age battlefield, this World Politics Review special report examines the state of cyber power through articles published in the past year.