QUILLABAMBA, Peru — Carved into the dense Amazonian slopes of Peru’s southern Andes, the sleepy Machiguenga Indian village of Andioshiari is a knot of dilapidated shacks where smoke rises off cooking fires as women go about their chores. But on June 10, some 30 men, their faces streaked red with war paint, stood clutching bows and arrows. “President Garcia is a thief and a murderer who only cares about making money by selling our land and water,” said one of them, Mario Silva. The week before, on June 5, Silva and his neighbors dug up a natural gas pipeline and […]

Back before the Iraq surge, “military operations other than war” — a now-antiquated term referring to non-traditional warfare — were treated as “lesser includeds,” filed deep under subsections of big-war plans, doctrine, and acquisition strategies. Today, by contrast, the U.S. national security establishment is increasingly embracing what I like to call the “greater inclusive” paradigm, which recognizes our military’s rising quotient of such operations, not as some rare exception, but rather as the new rule. Thanks to Iraq and now Afghanistan-Pakistan, the military no longer assumes that any force constructed and trained for big wars can automatically handle the “other […]

MONROVIA, Liberia — Liberia’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), modeled after South Africa’s approach to moving beyond the violence and repression of apartheid, moved into its final stages last week. At a final conference on the outskirts of Monrovia, 400 representatives from around the country and the Liberian diaspora met to discuss findings from the thousands of hearings conducted so far, and to determine the path ahead. That, many agree, will not be an easy task. The commission was established in 2005 to address the legacy of the civil war that ravaged the country from 1989 to 2003. The roots […]

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — The leaders of Pakistan and Indian recently agreed to restart the stalled “peace” process between the two countries. Known as the “Composite Dialogue,” the talks were suspended after the Mumbai terrorist attacks in November 2008, which India blamed on Pakistan-based militant outfits, primarily Lashkar-e-Tayyaba (LeT). India, however, has limited the focus of any future talks between foreign secretaries to the issue of cross-border terrorism, thereby limiting optimism about their chances of success as well. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari agreed to resume the Composite Dialogue during a meeting on the sidelines […]

Indonesian workers at Duta Text sarong factory in Pekalongan, Indonesia, March 12, 2018 (Photo by Dadang Trimulyanto for Sipa via AP Images).

As we approach the 15th anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women, better known as the 1995 Beijing Conference, gender-equality advocates around the world are taking stock to assess what should come next. An honest reckoning that recognizes accomplishments, challenges and opportunities suggests that while progress has been made at policy levels, difficulties persist in translating policy into practice. Nevertheless, resources at the implementation level, if recognized, offer opportunities for gender equality to contribute not only to the well-being of women and girls, but also to more effective social and economic development. A Pervasive & Persistent Challenge: Defining Gender […]

Winning American wars these days is four parts politics and just one part fighting. Contemporary military doctrine — counterinsurgency and stability operations — tasks soldiers, on the whole, with state-building. Victory, or at least success, means building from the bottom up, rather than destroying from the top down. But because conditions on the ground are so delicate, for the one part of warfare that remains fighting, there’s no room for error. With Gen. Stanley McChrystal taking charge of U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan on Monday, warfighting is on everyone’s minds. McChrystal has been appointed to command the Afghanistan war […]

OSLO, Norway — President Barack Obama’s effort to forge peace between Israelis and Palestinians has taken an unexpectedly dangerous turn. Obama campaigned on a promise to start working for peace in the Middle East from the earliest days of his presidency. He kept his word, but he unwittingly unleashed a new round of diplomacy that is unfolding on the public airwaves, breaking with one of the most fundamental and indispensable tenets of diplomacy. Instead of allowing the parties to quietly negotiate their most politically sensitive differences, Obama has set the tone for grand speeches made before large audiences. This is […]

The skyrocketing use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) by U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan has generated intense debate about how useful they are against insurgent/terrorist networks. Some prominent counterinsurgency experts have decried the “siege mentality” among non-combatant locals caused by collateral damage from the drone strikes. But despite the charge that drones represent a technology (i.e., a means) in search of a strategy (i.e., end goals), there’s no question that: 1) drones are here to stay, and 2) they’re truly re-symmetricizing the battlefield in a much-needed manner. Over the past generation, warfare has dramatically downshifted, from the Cold War’s […]

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave a much-anticipated foreign policy speech on Sunday evening, billed as a response to U.S. President Barack Obama’s address at Cairo University 10 days earlier. Obama’s message in Cairo had been clear: “America will align our policies with those who pursue peace.” So it was no coincidence that Netanyahu opened his speech by declaring, “Peace was always the desire of our people,” and pledging his full support for Obama’s efforts “to bring about a new era of reconciliation in our region.” Also echoing Obama’s repeated emphasis on the importance of speaking the truth, Netanyahu talked […]

TAWAU, Malaysia — The Philippine military has gained the upper hand over militants fighting for an independent Islamic homeland in the country’s south, after a series of deadly raids resulted in the destruction of rebel bases and pushed the conflict deeper into countryside. Given the geography and the thousands of islands that surround Mindanao, no one expects the Philippine military to achieve a definitive victory over the insurgents and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). But the offensive will restore some lost prestige to Philippine President Gloria Arroyo as she completes her last year of office. Arroyo was forced to […]

A revived maritime dispute between Indonesia and Malaysia has led to a series of chest-thumping incursions and face-offs between the two countries’ navies. The stand-off reached its zenith, for now, after the Indonesian Navy reported Malaysian warships had entered the oil-rich Ambalat area off the Borneo coast several times over the last two weeks. The provocations almost crossed the line into conflict, with an Indonesian vessel reportedly coming close to firing at one of the Malaysian ships. However, with both sides pointing the finger at the other, apportioning blame for the crisis is difficult. Indonesia claims that the Ambalat oil […]

Throughout the developing world, the post-Cold War era has seen the emergence of increasingly powerful and violent criminal organizations, often referred to as “third-generation gangs.” These groups have exploited the major international trends of the past 20 years — including economic and financial integration, innovations in communication technology, the prevalence of weak and failed states, and a thriving global arms trade — to seize control over a myriad of illicit commercial networks. They now use violence and corruption to undermine the governments that oppose them. Latin America has proven particularly vulnerable to this phenomenon. The region has porous borders and […]

War is Boring: Attacks on Somali Media Underscore Lawlessness

On Sunday, gunmen ambushed two of Somalia’s most respected journalists, while the two men were walking in Mogadishu’s Bakara market. Muktar Mohamed Hirabe, long-time director of Shabelle Radio, was killed; his companion Ahmed Omar Hashi, a senior producer for Shabelle, was wounded in the hand and stomach. On Monday, World Politics Review spoke to Hashi by phone, from his Mogadishu hospital. He said he didn’t know who was behind the attacks, or what their motive might have been. In recent years Somalia’s media has been targeted by all of the country’s warring parties, including criminal gangs, Islamic extremists from the […]

The Kashmir conflict is a legacy of the post-colonial partition of the Indian subcontinent in 1947 into the Hindu-majority country of India and the Muslim state of Pakistan. From its genesis, the conflict has been defined by competition between India and Pakistan over the national identity of Kashmir’s population. But the elites of both countries have also made the territory central to their respective principles of nation-statehood. In Pakistan’s official ideology, Pakistan as a nation-state has been considered incomplete without Kashmir, a Muslim-majority territory contiguous to the Pakistani provinces of Punjab and the North-West Frontier Province. In the Indian counter-claim, […]

On June 3, 2009, leaders of Cyprus’ two communities, the Greek Cypriot south and the Turkish Cypriot north, met for the 31st time in less than nine months in the latest attempt to unlock one of the most intractable of the world’s “frozen conflicts.” Days before, Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) President Mehmet Ali Talat had boldly predicted that the latest round of U.N.-sponsored negotiations could result in a reunification agreement by the end of 2009. But history has taught veteran Cyprus-watchers to regard any expressions of optimism with at least a degree of skepticism. Indeed, so many false […]

Sri Lanka’s Stubborn War

Velupillai Prabhakaran, the deceased leader of the Tamil Tigers, once likened himself to a spider in the center of a web, comfortably in control of a sprawling network. But over the past two years, the Sri Lankan military methodically, unflinchingly pulled his web apart, ultimately dismantling one of the most sophisticated insurgencies in the world. On May 19, the government claimed victory in a 30-year-old campaign, one that had cost tens of thousands of lives and seen the unraveling of much of Sri Lankan society. Though the guns have fallen silent, a state of emergency continues. Checkpoints are manned by […]

As the World Health Organization agonizes over whether or not to declare the H1N1 flu virus an official pandemic, I can’t help but think of the American national security establishment’s continuing struggle over the definition of threat in a post-9/11 world. In both instances, we see institutions with worldwide responsibilities coming to grips with an increasingly interconnected global landscape. And although that global landscape, according to all the available data, suffers less catastrophe, it nonetheless appears to present far greater potential for such catastrophes to unfold with seemingly uncontrollable consequences. By “less catastrophe,” I mean that in a world of […]

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