What are the two most pressing issues on the U.S. foreign policy agenda? Ask that question of 10 foreign policy mavens and nine will say Afghanistan and Iran. The other one will say Iran and Afghanistan. If the Obama administration manages to stabilize the situation in Afghanistan and find a (lasting) solution to the vexing problem of Iran’s nuclear ambitions over the next four years, it’s hard to imagine his first term won’t be deemed a smashing foreign policy success. It is against this background that U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s meeting today in Geneva with Russian Foreign Minister […]

ADVOCATES CHEER AL-BASHIR WARRANT — Human rights groups from around the world cheered the issue of an arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir by the Intenational Criminal Court to face charges of crimes against humanity. “The ICC represents the best hope for justice for the victims of Darfur,” Dismas Nkunda of the International Refugee Rights Initiative said in a statement released by the Justice for Darfur coalition. “The international community must ensure that Sudan complies with its obligation to cooperate with the ICC, including by handing over anyone subject to an arrest warrant.” Bashir has long been a […]

In late January, Ethiopia withdrew its last soldiers from Somalia after more than two years of bloody occupation and insurgency. Their departure immediately catalyzed a dramatic chain of events. The Transitional Federal Government (TFG) that had been backed by Ethiopia, the U.S. and the U.N. fled to Djibouti and, in apparent desperation, signed a peace deal with an alliance of moderate Islamists. As part of the deal, the TFG welcomed hundreds of alliance representatives into a newly-expanded parliament. The African Union declared the peace deal a “paradigm shift that gives Somalis a chance for lasting peace and reconciliation.” The enlarged […]

The war looks eerily familiar: beheadings, assassinations of police and public officials, terrorized businesspeople, extorted schoolteachers, and in five years more than 230 American civilians dead in the crossfire. All this could easily describe the battle in Afghanistan or Pakistan, but the reality is closer to home, where an increasingly gruesome and threatening war is threatening to boil over the United States’ southern border with Mexico. Summing up decades of policy, three former Latin American heads of state last week declared, “The war on drugs has failed.” Fernando Henrique Cardoso of Brazil, C├ęsar Gaviria of Colombia and Ernesto Zedillo of […]

NASA image by Robert Simmon showing the dropping water level of the Dead Sea. The image was created using Landsat data from the United States Geological Survey.

For millennia, the Dead Sea has been fed by the sweet waters of the Jordan River while losing only pure water to relentless evaporation. The collected salts left behind have resulted in an inhospitably briny lake eight times saltier than the sea, topped by a thin layer of the Jordan’s relatively less-dense fresh water. The differing salinity levels between the river and the lake kept the Dead Sea in a perpetually layered state, even while the lake’s overall water level remained fairly constant, since evaporation from the lake’s surface occurs at roughly the rate of the natural flow of the […]

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