This is the third of a three-part series on Thailand’s slide toward authoritarian rule. The first article discussed the domestic effects of Thailand’s faltering democracy. The second article discussed the regional effects. This final article discusses the broader implications for the U.S.-China rivalry in Southeast Asia. Thailand’s democratic crisis has complicated its relationship with the U.S., pushing Bangkok closer to Beijing. Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva’s dubious legitimacy and Thailand’s progressive slide toward a military regime have left the U.S. undecided on how to proceed. Washington has not openly condemned Bangkok, but neither has it offered the political support that the […]
One of Argentina’s former military leaders, Jorge Videla, has been jailed for the torture and murder of dozens of people during the Argentine government’s “Dirty War” against suspected leftist activists. Videla will serve a life sentence for his role in the war, during which as many as 30,000 Argentines were detained, tortured and disappeared during between 1976 and 1983.
When then-Col. Hugo Chávez launched a military coup against the civilian government of Venezuela in 1992, he had not yet grasped the potential value of winning a democratic election. Luckily for Chávez, his coup attempt failed, and he survived to play the democracy game. Today, 12 years after winning his first election for what at the time was meant to be a single five-year presidential term, Chávez has become a master of the game, writing and rewriting the rules, and testing the willingness of his followers to believe they still live in a democratic country. There is no certainty, however, […]
India has recently seen a succession of visits by the top leaders of the permanent Security Council members. The British prime minister was in India in late July, and the American president came calling in early November. Visits by the French president and the Chinese premier followed earlier this month. In contrast to the high-profile U.S. visit, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev flew into India almost unnoticed on Dec. 21. Although the Soviet Union was India’s staunchest ally during the Cold War, India has drifted away from post-Cold War Russia. This stands in stark contrast to India’s ties with the U.S., […]
Members of the Belarus opposition announce further protests and condemn government crackdowns following the country’s recent election, which resulted in a landslide fourth-term victory for incumbent President Alexander Lukashenko.
For Ban Ki-moon, the past few weeks have arguably been the most dramatic he has encountered since becoming United Nations secretary-general nearly four years ago. In Côte d’Ivoire, U.N. peacekeepers are guarding the internationally recognized winner of this month’s presidential election while the country slides toward chaos. Meanwhile, in New York, the Security Council spent Sunday locked in fruitless debates on the simmering Korean crisis. Ban, as South Korea’s former foreign minister, can do little to shape the council’s discussions of his home country’s security. He has based his tenure on maintaining good relations with both Washington and Beijing, and […]
The International Criminal Court (ICC) will rule on whether to issue summonses for six men accused of crimes against humanity for their alleged roles in violence following Kenya’s disputed 2007 presidential election. But in announcing the suspects’ names on Dec. 15, ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo indicted the entire East African nation, saying that “we had to launch this because nothing was happening in Kenya.” It was an overt and pointed critique of the government of national unity born from the post-election violence. Although only barely able to hold itself together, the government has managed to strengthen Kenya’s already entrenched culture […]
Two weeks ago, the Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce graduated its 50th class. Having completed not only an 18-month program of study but also a gamut of comprehensive exams, the roughly 30 graduating students are now ready to enter the foreign-policy workforce. But the Patterson School is just one element of an archipelago of schools focusing on international policy that collectively helps staff the Foreign Service, the intelligence community, a variety of non-governmental organizations, and corporations with international divisions. Other schools with the same mission include the Elliot School of International Affairs at George Washington, the Walsh School […]
After nine years of war in Afghanistan and seven more in Iraq, Americans are understandably weary of military interventions designed to remake or rebuild failed or fragile states. Nevertheless, many countries are still falling apart, or worse, falling into the hands of fundamentalists, terrorists, and other militants who disregard popular will and care little for human suffering. As a result, such nation-building interventions will remain necessary for the foreseeable future, as the U.S. involvement in Yemen, Somalia and Pakistan demonstrates. So instead of renouncing these missions, the U.S. must better define why and how it will carry them out, to […]
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao visited New Delhi last week for the first time in almost five years, accompanied by more than 300 Chinese business leaders. The composition of Wen’s delegation made clear that the Chinese were eager to return to the formula successfully pursued by Chinese and Indian officials during the past two decades: keeping their issues of divergence — primarily strategic issues such as their boundary disputes, PRC ties with Pakistan, and the Sino-Indian military rivalry — in the background, while focusing their talks on areas of greater potential convergence, such as expanding mutual trade and investment opportunities. Although […]
This BBC Four video feature’s an exploration of doctor and researcher Hans Rosling’s use of augmented reality animation to plot life expectancy against income for every country since 1810. Rosling’s work shows how the world we live in is radically different from the world most of us imagine.
After a year of turmoil in Sino-Indian relations, India hosted Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao last week with a degree of fanfare. Wen’s visit came at a time of newfound assertiveness in India’s China policy. Having tried to brush significant divergences with Beijing under the carpet for years, New Delhi policymakers have been forced to acknowledge — if grudgingly so — that the relationship with China has become increasingly contentious. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh suggested just a few weeks ago that “China would like to have a foothold in South Asia and we have to reflect on this reality. . […]
In a column two weeks ago, I described the outlines of a proposed grand-strategic bargain between China and the United States. Basically, the “term sheet” that I helped draw up proposed various bilateral compromises over the security issues — Taiwan, North Korea, Iran and the South China Sea, among others — that keep the relationship clouded by profound strategic mistrust. The resulting climate of confidence would encourage Beijing to invest some of the trillions of dollars it holds more directly into our economy, instead of simply using them to facilitate our skyrocketing public debt. Since the column appeared, I and […]
Ukrainian Parliament came crashing to a halt when a fast but furious brawl broke out between members of the opposition and deputies from the ruling party. Fists began flying when opposition members blocked the parliament chamber, demanding abuse charges against their leader, Yulia Timoshenko, be dropped. Four politicians required medical attention for injuries sustained in the fight.
The publicly released overview document summarizing President Barack Obama’s review of U.S. strategy toward Afghanistan and Pakistan touts a number of successes over the last year but concludes that “the challenge remains to make our gains durable and sustainable.” In language very similar to the assessments made for Iraq after the “surge” had begun there in 2007, the report points to positive trends but warns that “these gains remain fragile and reversible.” Over the last few weeks, administration officials had already signaled that there will be no change to U.S. strategy in the immediate future. And while Obama remains committed […]