Against the backdrop of the Middle East’s ongoing upheaval, especially the violence in neighboring Syria, Turkey’s once-vaunted “zero problems” foreign policy strategy now looks severely outdated. Though Turkey will continue to seek a balanced, multivector foreign policy, the liabilities of its strategy, as illustrated in Syria, have laid bare Ankara’s continued Western moorings. The unrest in Syrian began as an extension of the Arab Spring protests earlier this year, but grew into a full-scale uprising after government security forces unleashed bloody crackdowns that have caused more than 1,400 deaths to date. Thousands of refugees have since streamed across the Turkish […]

U.S. Aid and Central America’s Drug War

Coverage of last week’s regional security conference in Guatemala City was dominated by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s announcement that the U.S. intends to spend some $300 million helping Central American governments combat drug-related violence. While the announcement might be considered politically delicate, given the growing unpopularity in Mexico of similar U.S. assistance in recent years, it also raises the question of how much Central American nations may be willing to match the U.S. commitment. “What you see is that Central America governments’ own investment doesn’t match the magnitude of the problem, particularly when it comes to dedicating resources […]

Long-Suppressed Shias Shape New Iraq

Iraq’s long-suppressed Shia majority is in the ascendancy. Thousands of pilgrims flocked to a Baghdad shrine this week in a vibrant expression of religious identity that would not have been tolerated under the ruler of former dictator Saddam Hussein.

The Libya intervention has capped a difficult decade for airpower. While the combination of airstrikes and special forces units on the ground quickly overthrew the Taliban regime in 2001, the utility of airpower in counterinsurgency was called into question over the course of the long wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. It was hoped that the intervention in Libya would restore airpower’s luster by quickly defeating a tyrant bent on destroying his political enemies. But the campaign launched by the West’s most powerful air forces has thus far failed to dislodge Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, or even to force him to […]

Khmer Rouge Trial Important Catharsis for Cambodia

The start of a U.N.-backed war crimes trial for the four surviving leaders of the Khmer Rouge may finally set the stage for Cambodia to bring real closure to the graphic horrors it suffered during the latter half of the 20th century. “The trial is highly important in terms of Cambodian culture,” says Luke Hunt, a World Politics Review contributor and freelance journalist who has covered Cambodia and greater Asia for the past three decades. “I’ve spoken to many Khmers who believe in the total cathartic experience of seeing their tormentors put in the dock and their personalities laid bare […]

Despite all the favorable rhetoric regarding the responsibility to protect, governments continue to hesitate to embrace wholeheartedly the doctrine whereby, in the event a state is unable or unwilling to prevent its citizens from dying in large numbers, other states must be prepared to intervene. Governments from around the world endorsed this concept in the abstract at the September 2005 World Summit, but have been reluctant to apply it in reality. Indeed, Paragraph 139 of the World Summit Outcome document hedges, noting that application of the principle will be undertaken “on a case-by-case basis.” Some experts, however, have argued that […]

The debate over humanitarian intervention has a way of calling forth unconditional answers to a question that ought to elicit subtle reflection: What responsibilities do citizens of some or all states have to those of another state who are suffering grave harm? Realists argue that, however tragic, such situations seldom if ever touch on the fundamental interests of other powers, and thus no response is justified. Anti-imperialists maintain that most of the outside powers that have the ability to intervene cannot do so justly or disinterestedly, for reasons of history and current political economy. Purists claim that interventions are not […]

Proponents of the responsibility to protect (R2P) doctrine contend that it is necessary to reform the post-1945 United Nations noninterventionist regime in order to come to grips with armed conflicts that take place entirely inside independent countries but that produce grave human rights violations. As it stands, the U.N. regime is fundamentally restrictive, resting on a doctrine of nonintervention as set out in Article 2 of the U.N. Charter. Armed force can lawfully be employed only for two basic purposes: national defense and international peace and security. Those two elements of the U.N. justification of lawfully going to war, known […]

U.N. Security Council Resolution 1973 (.pdf) resulted in prompt international action that delivered Libyans from the murderous violence Moammar Gadhafi had already inflicted on civilians early in March, as well as from violence he continued to threaten against what he called, in an eerie echo of Rwanda’s murderous regime in 1994, the “cockroaches” who opposed him. Earlier, the council’s Resolution 1970 (.pdf) had unanimously approved an arms embargo, asset freeze, travel ban and reference to the International Criminal Court. In addition, the U.N. Human Rights Council unequivocally condemned Libya, which led to the General Assembly’s unprecedented decision to suspend Libyan […]

When do humanitarian crises resulting from internal conflicts merit international military intervention? Despite the formal international consensus endorsing an international “responsibility to protect,” there is very little agreement on when armed intervention in another state’s internal conflicts is justified and appropriate. Even among Western nations, where support for this concept is strongest, there is no general agreement as to what ought to trigger international intervention. The ongoing U.S. and NATO military intervention against the Libyan government has become the first test case for the responsibility to protect (R2P) doctrine since U.N. member states approved it in 2005. However, the manner […]

Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge Four on Trial

The UN-backed trial of the top surviving members of Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge regime has finally gotten under way in Phnom Penh. The four defendants include the now 84-year-old Nuon Chea, or Brother Number 2, the chief ideologist behind Pol Pot’s “Killing Fields” revolution.

Despite El Chango Arrest, Violence Likely to Grow in Mexico

The capture this week of La Familia Michoacana drug cartel boss José de Jesús Méndez, aka El Chango or the Monkey, represents a shiny notch on the belt of Mexican President Felipe Calderón, whose five-year-old presidency has been defined by its war against drug kingpins. But the arrest is unlikely to stem the ongoing violence that has caused frustrations to mount among Mexican voters ahead of the nation’s 2012 presidential election. In fact, it’s likely to have the opposite effect, says Sylvia Longmire, a former special agent with the U.S. Air Force Office of Special Investigations and author of the […]

Editor’s note: This is the second of a two-part series on rebel groups in Central Africa. Part I examined recent moves toward peace and stability in Chad and the Central African Republic. Part II examines ongoing instability in Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. While Chad and the Central African Republic (CAR) are dismantling rebel groups and moving toward greater stability, Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) are continuing on a violent path. On July 9, Sudan will become two nations. The Republic of Southern Sudan, which will enter independence as one of the poorest […]

President Barack Obama’s speech Wednesday evening announcing America’s policy toward Afghanistan in the coming year is another manifestation of his “Just Enough” doctrine, by which he takes “only those steps that are likely to produce a satisfactory outcome, rather than guaranteeing an optimal one.” It helps, of course, that Obama’s December 2009 West Point speech announcing the Afghanistan surge did not set very strict criteria for U.S. success. In his remarks two days ago, he reiterated those benchmarks: a U.S. effort designed “to refocus on al-Qaida; reverse the Taliban’s momentum; and train Afghan Security Forces to defend their own country.” […]

Global Insider: Nigeria’s Rebel Groups

Last week, the Islamist group Boko Haram bombed Nigeria’s police headquarters in Abuja, killing six. In an email interview, Jennifer Giroux, a senior researcher at the Crisis and Risk Network at ETH Zurich, discussed Nigeria’s rebel groups. WPR: Who are the main rebel groups in Nigeria, and what are their main objectives? Jennifer Giroux: Nigeria is a complicated case. One can delineate two types of rebel groups. The first operates in the south in the Niger Delta, where decades of poor natural-resource management has left the region in a state of low development, high poverty and significant environmental damage. The […]

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