The Year of China in Russia got off to a top-level handshaking start in Moscow this week, ensuring that whatever else might go amiss, visiting Chinese President Hu Jintao would have something to smile about, for the TV stations back home at least. But after three days of political pledges and promises with President Vladimir Putin and other Russian leaders, the Chinese president has returned home without any progress on the one issue that hexes Beijing now — energy security. China cannot maintain its racing economic growth of over 10 percent a year without scouring the world to vacuum up […]

GAUR, Nepal — In a small concrete shed next to Gaur town hospital in southern Nepal, the corpses of 13 young Maoists lay sprawled in a mess of drying blood. A red communist flag was bunched under one outstretched hand and outside the shed another 12 bodies were lined up in the midday sun. The gruesome scene was the aftermath of the worst single day of violence since the Maoists rebels signed a peace agreement with the government last November. A day after the carnage of March 21, leaders of Nepal’s top political parties arrived by helicopter to assess the […]

The assembled contestants for the 2007 “Mrs. World” competition, a spin-off of the better-known “Miss World” contest, gathered in late-February in Gudermes, Chechnya, where they were feted by the republic’s guileful young President, Ramzan Kadyrov. Staged as part of an ongoing attempt by the Kremlin, and its proxy regime in Chechyna, headed by Kadyrov, to showcase the supposed “normalization” of Chechen society after 15 years of turmoil, the whole affair made for a quite an absurd spectacle. The collection of beauties, dubbed the “world’s most beautiful married women,” made quite an impression on President Kadyrov. As Chechnya’s acting president — […]

DENPASAR, Indonesia — While most of the world has discarded the idea of communism, the New People’s Army (NPA), the armed wing of the outlawed Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), is still fighting for a “people’s dictatorship” in the Philippines, arguably Southeast Asia’s most westernized country. As the 38th anniversary of the NPA draws nearer, analysts agree that there is no end in sight for the war that has killed over 40,000. “For the foreseeable future, it looks like a pattern of protracted people’s war and counterinsurgency going on and on inconclusively,” said Soliman Santos, Asia coordinator of the […]

The indisputable father of modern-day Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, accomplished great deeds in a short period of time. The greatest of these was the ease with which he weaved secularism into the fabric of a Muslim society. With his tantalizing and audacious reforms, he marched post-Ottoman Turkey unwaveringly toward the West and away from its Eastern neighbors. Among other reforms, Ataturk replaced the strict Islamic Shariah law with Swiss civil code, abolished state religion, secularized school curricula, and discouraged the use of the veil among women. Turkey’s republican constitution, modeled after the French constitution, enshrined the country’s commitment to secularism, […]

HONG KONG — Hong Kong ‘s elections are shaping up with all the pomp and ceremony of a Canto-pop star singing numbers from a Looney Tunes cartoon. And the result is about as forgone as Bugs Bunny surviving a bullet from Elmer Fudd. However, this territory’s third attempt at delivering some kind of democracy since the British packed their bags and left almost a decade ago is drawing in a cast of characters that Warner Bros. would be proud of and breathing some much needed fresh air into a poll described by many as rigged. In one corner sits current […]

WASHINGTON — Concern in Washington about political freedom in the energy-rich former Soviet Republic of Kazakhstan is growing, including among the new Democratic leadership of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. World Politics Review has learned that Sen. Joe Biden last week sent a personal letter to Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev airing his frustration over the slowness with which the transformation toward “transparent democracy” is occurring in Kazakhstan, the second-largest of the former Soviet republics. Biden’s office is refusing to release the letter to the press. However, in a telephone interview, the Delaware Democrat’s chief of staff, Alan Hoffman, acknowledged the […]

Following the success of an outlet in Karachi, Pakistan, Cafe Coffee Day, India’s No. 1 retail coffee shop chain, said last month it would open 19 new outlets in neighboring Pakistan, a move that would have been inconceivable even two years ago. But that’s how far talks between India and Pakistan have come since the two nations almost went to war in 2002 following an attack on Indian Parliament by suspected Kashmiri militants, who India says were backed by Pakistan. Since then, the two sides have held four rounds of talks, the most recent of which ended last Wednesday (March […]

YEREVAN, Armenia — Inside the tomb-like confines of the Armenian genocide museum, a haunting narrative of images and words unfolds. A list is posted at tour’s end of Western nations that have officially recognized the tragedy, minus one major endorsement: the United States. U.S. lawmakers have recently introduced non-binding resolutions that would declare up to 1.5 million Armenians victims of genocide at the hands of Turkish forces almost a century ago. Support is reported to be strong enough in the House to pass the measure if it goes to a vote; the Senate introduced a similar resolution last Wednesday with […]

CHIANG KHONG, Thailand — In the sleepy village of Chiang Khong on the muddy-brown banks of the mighty Mekong river, the young men are excited by talk of a bridge to link Thailand with Laos on the other side. The older population of mostly farmers and small traders are less enthused; they have heard it before. But this time, a bridge to open up a forgotten corner of empty, jungle-covered hills on the edge of the Golden Triangle — notorious in faraway countries for its opium-producing poppy cultivation — might really happen. China has agreed to pay half the $33.2 […]

Impressively big smallness. That’s how Honda describes its new Honda Fit model, a “bite-sized wonder” the company is pushing to a U.S. car market suddenly hungry for fuel efficiency. The Fit is indeed a snazzy car, and features a customizable back seat that allows owners to alter the vehicle’s interior configuration on a whim. The most interesting aspect of the Fit, however, may be its nationality. Despite the Honda nametag, the Fit is half-Chinese. It is the product of a joint venture between Honda and China’s state-owned DongFeng Motors, and is also being marketed in Europe as the Honda Jazz. […]

The main debate at this year’s National People’s Congress in Beijing centered on the balance between socialism and capitalism, what Premier Wen Jiabao called the “two unswervinglies.” The communist country’s first private property law, a new tax code for businesses, and increased social spending for rural regions were debated contentiously in the Great Hall of the People — at least by the standards of China’s highest legislative body — as well as in the state-controlled press. Less controversial amongst the 3,000 delegates and Chinese press was a significant increase in military spending. However, this announcement caused the greatest anxiety outside […]

The signing last month of the India-Pakistan “Agreement on Reducing the Risk from Accidents Relating to Nuclear Weapons” represents an essential next step in the security normalization process between the two countries. The accord, signed on Feb. 22 in New Delhi, culminated three years of general discussions and several months of detailed drafting sessions. Although differences persist regarding the status of Kashmir and other issues, the governments of India and Pakistan have adopted several confidence-building measures in recent years. This reconciliation process began in December 1988 with an agreement that prohibits either country from attacking the other’s nuclear installations and […]

BAKU, Azerbaijan — Oil-rich in a troublesome neighborhood, Azerbaijan ranks high among Western-leaning former Soviet satellites the United States wants in its corner. But critics counter that better relations with Washington must be in step with democratic reforms, and not obscure a grim human rights record that could become a destabilizing force within the country. The high-profile case of a leading reform minister imprisoned on still unproven charges cuts to the heart of the debate. The Bush administration last April came under heavy fire for receiving President Ilham Aliyev at the White House following 2005 parliamentary elections roundly condemned by […]

KADENA AIR BASE, Japan — Eyeing the threat of a potentially nuclear-armed North Korea, Japanese leaders are navigating delicate domestic politics and a complicated relationship with Japan’s closest ally, the United States, as they embark on selective military improvements. The Japanese constitution, written with U.S. guidance in wake of Japan’s catastrophic defeat in World War II, categorically prohibits a standing military. Since the 1950s, the nation has maintained “self-defense forces” that are military services in all but name. Nevertheless, legal limitations and a deep vein of pacifism among the Japanese electorate have hamstrung the development of these forces. Japan devotes […]

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Corridors of Power is written by veteran foreign affairs correspondent Roland Flamini and appears in World Politics Review every week by Sunday morning. Click here for the Corridors of Power archives. WHO OWES WHOM? — Invasions, as the Bush administration can attest, are costly undertakings. But in the case of Iraq, the United States is unlikely to follow the example of the Russian government, which has sent Afghanistan the bill for the 1979 Soviet invasion and subsequent occupation. Moscow is asking the Afghans to pay $9 billion it says Russia spent on “development” in Afghanistan in the infamous decade that […]

As the U.S.-led coalition force enters its fifth year in Iraq, a look back at two pivotal insurgencies from the mid-20th Century provides crucial lessons for our future actions in Iraq. Both the British experience in Malaya and the French experience in Algeria contain exceptional insights that are worthy of reconsideration as we refine our counterinsurgency actions. Though they differed in some important ways, those two counterinsurgencies show how the basic aims of most insurgencies, and therefore the strategies needed to defeat them, are fundamentally the same. These similarities remain despite the technological modernization and profound advances in warfighting that […]

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