Editor’s note: This is the third of a five-part series examining security and development aid in East Africa. Part I provided an overview of the challenges facing East Africa. Part II examined the overlap between public health and security challenges. Part III examines the overlap between small arms trafficking and WMD nonproliferation. Part IV will examine the overlap between counterterrorism and efforts to contain criminal violence. Part V will provide success stories for the security-development model and discuss next steps. Former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan famously called small arms and light weapons (SALW) “the weapons of choice for the killers […]

A Missed Opportunity in Libya

Just a few final thoughts on the opportunity I believe we missed in Libya. To begin with, many of the counterarguments to a U.S. military intervention are sound. As I’ve already agreed, a no-fly zone is unlikely to be decisive. The same holds true for a limited air strike of the kind I suggested. The advantage of the latter is that it very clearly signals our support for the anti-Gadhafi forces, who we could then supply with less-visible logistical and material support, while allowing us to avoid the long-term commitment of forces and resources of a no-fly zone. But in […]

If President Barack Obama’s handling of the events in Libya exemplifies his own definition of a “post-American world,” then we have moved past a G-Zero reality, which is how Nouriel Roubini and Ian Bremmer described a G-20 that can’t agree on how to rebalance global power, and into what I would describe as the “G-Less-Than-Zero” world, where America purposefully abdicates its global leadership role. A realist reading would present Obama as having committed himself to economic renewal at home while contenting himself with just nudging events abroad. Indeed, that’s basically what the buried headline of his 2010 National Security Strategy […]

The CNN effect is alive and well in 2011, even if its 2.0 incarnation might now be labeled the Al-Jazeera effect. The fact that U.S. President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron are now talking about a “full spectrum of possible responses” to support the opposition to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi and NATO is considering endorsing a “no-fly zone” over the embattled North African state — even as the war in Afghanistan rages and Iraq is far from settled — testifies to the ongoing power of the global media to drive even a superpower’s foreign policy agenda. But […]

The story reads like a spy novel. The setting is Kyrgyzstan. The U.S. government pays billions of dollars to a mysterious American businessman known to the public only as the owner of a burger-and-beer joint. His mission: grease the right wheels in order to purchase and transport large volumes of fuel for the U.S. military. Accusations that the Kyrgyz government took kickbacks from these shady deals lead to the toppling of its leader. The Russians, as top fuel suppliers in the region, get involved, followed by the Chinese. Relations among governments grow strained. Meanwhile, dogged journalists find that the mysterious […]

More on a Military Intervention in Libya

To be clearer about what I had in mind when I wrote yesterday that the U.S. should be preparing military options for Libya, I think the no-fly zone is a red herring. It’s essentially shorthand for, “Do something, but make sure it’s sanitized so there are no messy consequences.” The problem is that it won’t be sanitized, and it’s unlikely to have a significant impact. It also requires an ongoing operation and commitment of resources. If we are going to make that kind of extended commitment, it should be in terms of logistical support — humanitarian, organizational and military — […]

Gadhafi Forces Hit Central Libya Oil Facilities

Fighting continued in Libya Wednesday near the oil port Ras Lanouf, as rocket and artillery exchanges highlighted the closely-fought battle between Moammar Gadhafi loyalists and rebel forces, who have struggled for control of the oil port city in recent days.

Who is ready to talk to Moammar Gadhafi? Last week, President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela announced that his Libyan counterpart and longtime ally would accept an international “Committee of Peace” to end the rebellion that threatens to destroy him. Rebel leaders in Benghazi dismissed the proposal out of hand. Yet there is a good chance that outside mediators — if not necessarily Chávez — will eventually play a part in ending the Libyan civil war. A negotiated end could in fact come quite soon if the rebels regain their early momentum and push on to Tripoli. Although Gadhafi says he […]

Changing Business as Usual in Libya and at Home

I have to admit that I have been very tempted by the argument — best expressed, to my mind, by Thomas P.M. Barnett, here and here — that the U.S. should take some sort of military action to make sure that Moammar Gadhafi does not hold onto power in Libya. The idea that there are no American interests at stake is based on such a narrow definition of American interests that I find it not very compelling at all. And the calls for restraint, while sound as a guide to U.S. policy in general, seem strikingly out of place here. […]

WPR on France 24: The World Last Week

I had the pleasure of taking part in France 24’s panel discussion program, The World This Week, on Friday. The other guests were Matthew Saltmarsh of the IHT, Billie O’Kadameri of Radio France International and Simon Kuper of Financial Times. The discussion focused on events in Libya, but we also covered Ivory Coast and the resignations of former French Foreign Minister Michele Alliot-Marie and former German Defense Minister Karl-Theodore zu Guttenberg. Part one can be found here. Part two can be found here. I recommend the discussion on Libya in particular, because Billie O’Kadameri offered some very useful insights into […]

Ordinary Ivorians Feel Pinch of Sanctions Aimed at Incumbent President

Fighting in Ivory Coast between two political factons has expanded — causing more Ivorians to flee their homes and exacerbating the country’s economic crisis. With President Laurent Gbagbo clinging to power, the humanitarian situation is worsening.

Unlike the successful uprisings in neighboring Tunisia and Egypt, characterized by largely unarmed protests and government crackdowns with tear gas and bullets, Libya is now in the midst of a full-bore violent civil war. Refusing to stand down, Col. Moammar Gadhafi has vowed “to fight until the last man and last woman to defend Libya from east to west, north to south.” While rebel forces have taken control of many town and cities, forces loyal to Gadhafi firmly control Tripoli, the country’s capital, and have started to contest the rebels’ control of strategic town and cities over the past week. […]

Hugo Chavez Proposes Peace Plan for Libya

A peace plan for Libya, proposed by Venezuela’s President Chavez, is being considered by the Arab League. The idea, outlined by Chavez earlier this week, involves sending representatives from several countries to Libya to help negotiate an end to the fighting.

NATO regrets Afghan Child Deaths

Nine children have been killed in a NATO air raid in Afghanistan’s Kunar province. They were out collecting firewood on Tuesday when a they were hit. General David Petraeus, the international forces commander, has personally apologised to Afghan President Hamid Karzai for the deaths.

Pakistani Christian Minister Shot Dead Amid Blasphemy Row

In Islamabad gunmen have shot dead Pakistan’s Minister for Minorities. Shabaz Bhatti, the only Christian in the government cabinet, was murdered on Wednesday in the gun attack on his car. The Pakistani Taliban have claimed responsibility for the killing, calling Bhatti a blasphemer. He had been calling for changes to the country’s blasphemy law under which anyone who speaks ill of Islam can face the death penalty.

Charlie Sheen, U.S. Power and Libya

There’s so much to love about Charlie Sheen’s diatribes that about the only improvement I can think of would be to have Jean-Claude Van Damme be the one interviewing him. Obscured by the spectacle of Sheen’s crash-and-burn party are some very serious critiques of the consensus drug treatment paradigm in the U.S. But there are also some very important insights into U.S. foreign policy and national security. In particular, Sheen’s remarks, which I’m tempted to refer to as the Sheen Doctrine, illustrate one tendency prevalent on the left and another prevalent on the right, while succinctly articulating a major tenet […]

The Military Option Against Libya’s Gaddafi

Fighter jets, aircraft carriers in the Mediterranean, a no-fly zone over Libya and arming the rebels are all options being weighed up by the United States and its allies in the European Union, as a defiant Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi is continuing to cling onto power and is ordering airstrikes on towns and arms depots.

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