World Citizen: Did Obama Lose Lebanon?

One could almost hear a collective gasp across the Middle East when Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri made a most astonishing statement earlier this month. After vehemently accusing Syria of orchestrating his father’s murder in 2005, after leading a revolt that pushed Syrian troops out of Lebanon on the strength of that accusation, after galvanizing what seemed an unstoppable political movement on the power of those charges, Hariri said it had all been just one big mistake. The reversal marked the passing of a short-lived era in Lebanese history and of Western influence in Lebanon, a country that serves as […]

President Barack Obama’s July 2011 deadline for a drawdown of U.S. troops from Afghanistan has raised concerns among Central Asian analysts, who worry that links between the Taliban, al-Qaida and Islamist militants in Central Asia could result in a negative spillover effect following the U.S. withdrawal. As if to highlight their fears, the al-Qaida-linked Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) claimed responsibility for a Sept. 19 attack on a military convoy in Tajikistan, which left 25 military personnel dead. And according to Baktybek Abdrisaev, former Kyrgyz ambassador to the United States and Canada and currently a visiting professor at Utah Valley […]

Editor’s note: This will be David Axe’s final “War is Boring” column at World Politics Review. However, we look forward to featuring David’s reporting on our front page, including an upcoming series on sexual violence in eastern Congo. We’d like to take this opportunity to thank him for his contributions to WPR and to wish him success in all his many endeavors. DUNGU, Democratic Republic of Congo — When the Ugandan rebel group, the Lord’s Resistance Army, attacked the town of Duru in eastern Congo two years ago, it took a convoy of U.N. peacekeepers and humanitarian workers 10 days […]

An increasingly vicious battle that has broken out between pro- and anti-Syrian factions in Lebanon is likely to determine the country’s ability to resist Syrian interference in its internal politics. Also at stake in the conflict is the future of a United Nations investigation into the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. The assassination sparked a protest movement that blamed Syria for Hariri’s killing and forced Damascus to withdraw its troops after a nearly 30-year presence in Lebanon. The anti-Syrian groundswell paved the way for Saad Hariri, Rafik Hariri’s son, to become prime minister. Syria and its […]

Russia-China Partnership Touted During Medvedev Visit

During Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s three-day visit to China, the two countries announced the opening of a pipeline that will triple the supply of Russian oil flowing China beginning next year, and they touted closer regional security cooperation. They also extended the terms of an agreement for supplying Russian natural gas to China, but failed to agree on a price for the gas.

On Sept. 12, after months of negotiations, the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision, a historically low-profile international institution, announced that its participants had agreed to new international minimum capital standards for banks. Scheduled to be phased in carefully over the next eight years, the new agreement — informally referred to as Basel III — represents the most significant set of international financial regulations to emerge since the onset of the global financial crisis. Yet, to succeed, Basel III depends entirely on national governments voluntarily following through on implementing and maintaining the new standards. As a result, distributional consequences across countries […]

Last week, French Defense Minister HervĂ© Morin told an informal meeting of European Union defense ministers in Ghent that if they did not pool their defense capabilities more effectively, Europe risked becoming a protectorate. “Fifty years from now we’ll become a pawn in the balance between the new powers,” Morin said, “and we’ll be under a Sino-America condominium.” Morin’s provocative remarks were triggered by recent cuts in European defense budgets, which reinforce longstanding downward trends in military spending on the continent. The question facing the EU is whether the cuts will finally impel European governments to cooperate more closely in […]

Compared to their predecessors of three or four decades ago, U.S. national security officials are thinking in new terms, about new categories of threats. To an unprecedented degree, they must monitor the social, political, economic and psychological trends and processes that will determine the security environment in the years ahead. The kinds of things they are likely to worry about include the factors that will encourage Pakistan to take more aggressive action against militants or impede it from doing so; the conditions under which narco-violence could threaten the stability of Mexico; the likely lifespan of Tehran’s theocracy; the causes and […]

According to virtually all global warming projections, humanity faces significantly more conflict in the decades ahead as we fight over dwindling resources in climate-stressed lands. However, those reports typically overlook one likely outcome that could counterbalance the more negative impacts of global warming — that of northern territories becoming significantly milder, more accessible, and, most intriguingly, more hospitable to immigration. This is the essential good news to be found in Laurence C. Smith’s fascinating new book, “The World in 2050.” The ambitious title is perhaps a bit misleading, for where Smith really delivers is on the subtitle: “Four Forces Shaping […]

Ahmadinejad’s Nationalist Attack on the Islamic Republic

Despite some typically incendiary remarks, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s attendance at the U.N. General Assembly’s 65th session in New York was marked by a low-key tone noted by many. The change in tone, including a reported willingness to resume talks with the U.S. and its allies, reflects the impact of Iran’s domestic politics. For increasingly, Ahmadinejad’s real battle is at home, against the mullahs who brought him to power. And in that struggle, Ahmadinejad and his allies are increasingly embracing Iran’s venerable 2,500-year-old national heritage to attack its recent three-decade Islamist experiment. The latest salvo, via a Web site called […]

US-ASEAN Summit Held in New York

U.S. President Barack Obama met with leaders from the 10 Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member countries in New York Sept. 24. In his opening remarks, Obama reiterated the U.S. intention, as “a Pacific nation,” to play a leadership role in Asia, and characterized closer relations with ASEAN as essential to that goal. Obama also confirmed that he would attend the East Asia Summit in Jakarta next year.

The Realist Prism: Obama’s Wars, at Home and Abroad

When Bob Woodward’s book, “Obama’s Wars,” is released on Monday, the denizens of Washington’s Beltway will eagerly skip to the index to see whether they are mentioned — and if not, who is. But as they digest the stories of infighting, rivalry and catty comments among the president’s national security team, excerpts of which have already begun to circulate, the larger question is whether the revelations in the latest Woodward tome will have an impact on the Obama administration’s Afghan policy. Woodward seems to confirm what many have suspected ever since President Barack Obama’s speech at West Point announcing the […]

Venezuelan Parliamentary Elections Could Weaken Chavez

In parliamentary elections on Sept. 26, Venezuela’s opposition Democratic Unity Coalition is looking to weaken Chavez’s hold on that country’sgovernment. They seek to win at least a third of the seats in the national assembly. The election is the first parliamentary election since opposition parties boycotted elections in 2005.

USAID Administrator Raj Shah on U.S. Development Strategy

USAID Administrator Raj Shah talks with former U.S. Senator Tim Wirth (D-Colo.) on how the Obama administration thinks about the “third D” in U.S. foreign policy: development. The discussion at the 92nd Street Y in New York Sept. 23 occurred the same day that Obama delivered a speech to the UN General Assembly that heavily emphasized development as a component of U.S. foreign policy. Watch live streaming video from mashable at livestream.com

State Department Briefing on U.S. Policy in Central Asia

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Robert O. Blake held a press briefing on U.S. policy in Central Asia, U.S. cooperation with Russia in the region, and the situation in the Kyrgyz Republic. The briefing occurred at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations in New York City, Sept. 22, 2010. For more on this region, browse WPR articles on Central Asia.

JUBA, Sudan — Growing fears over Southern Sudan’s approaching referendum on self-determination have ratcheted up the stakes of Friday’s summit between U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, U.S. President Barack Obama and high-level representatives of Sudan. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recently referred to the situation as a “ticking time bomb,” and statements this week from various officials on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly in New York have further contributed to the bleak international outlook. Preparations for the referendum vote are badly lagging, as are negotiations between Khartoum and Juba over post-referendum arrangements. Meanwhile, trust between the North and South […]

The idyllic valley of Kashmir has been gripped by violence for more than three months now. Unlike past unrest, however, this summer’s riots have seen a new generation of young Kashmiris venting their anger at a central government that has failed to capitalize on the stability of recent years to provide them with economic opportunities and political reconciliation. The state government led by the telegenic, much-hyped Omar Abdullah waited almost two months after the initial violence to begin outreach efforts, by which time more than 50 people had already died in street protests and police action. New Delhi, too, stayed […]

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