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 […]

China’s global priorities might not match up that well with those of your average American policymaker. But they do match up quite well with President Obama’s agenda. That’s the sense I got after spending last week in Shanghai with a bevy of China’s top foreign affairs academics. Although the workshop I attended was focused on U.S.-Chinese relations, there was no shortage of side conversation on the post-election meltdown unfolding in Iran. And nothing I heard in terms of the Chinese sense of priorities bore any resemblance to what you see these days in American newspaper headlines. As during the Cold […]

Not Just Iran’s Nuclear Future on the Line

Here is what the experts are saying about North Korea’s nuclear strike capabilities in response to Pyongyang’s threats to test another long-range missile on July 4: Gen. James Cartwright, Deputy Head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said on Tuesday that North Korea would need three to five years to be able to launch a missile that was capable of reaching the West Coast of the United States. Hawaii and Alaska are already in range. Yesterday, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said that the U.S. is ready and able to deal with any short-term threats to Hawaii “should it become necessary.” […]

The Foreign Policy Homefront

If you read only one article about the Afghanistan war each week, make it this Washington Post article. If you read dozens of articles about the Afghanistan War each week, make sure to add it to the list. It is a very, very eye-opening piece of reporting that illustrates to what degree our failure in that theater has to do as much with shockingly poor conception, management and execution as it does with the difficulty of the task. It also shows to what degree foreign policy failures are determined, often years prior, by domestic policy failures. Just like it often […]

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 […]

More on IR in Sports

Picking up on my “sports is politics by another means” post from yesterday, Michael Wilkerson, over at FP’s Passport blog, put the call out to readers for more examples. Commenter Chembai points out a couple I missed, including China’s Ping Pong diplomacy and the Beijing Olympics. The boycotted 1980 Moscow games are in the latter category as well, characterized as “one big political statement.” Not really match-ups in the way I was thinking. The Ping Pong diplomacy, too, escaped my memory, because I was thinking more along the lines of confrontation. The brilliance of the Ping Pong diplomacy of course […]

Global Economic Woes Driving Human Trafficking

The global economic crisis is driving increasing numbers of impoverished individuals into the hands of human traffickers, according to this year’s Trafficking in Persons report released by the State Department this week. “Trafficking weakens legitimate economies, breaks up families, fuels violence, threatens public health and safety, and shreds the social fabric that is necessary for progress,” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton wrote in Wednesday’s Washington Post. Clinton warns: “The problem is particularly urgent now, as local economies around the world reel from the global financial crisis. People are increasingly desperate for the chance to support their families, making them more […]

Pakistan’s Swat Campaign

Claude Rakisits, writing in the Australian, describes the aftermath of the Pakistani campaign to oust the Taliban from Swat: Few people seem to realise that the Pakistan army’s militaryoperation to dislodge the Pakistani Taliban militants from the SwatValley has caused about 2.5 million people to flee and seek refugeelsewhere. This vast and sudden movement of people is the world’sbiggest since the 1994 Rwandan genocide. About 80 percent of theseinternally displaced people have been accommodated with friends,families and even total strangers because the government of Pakistanwas utterly unprepared for this humanitarian disaster. The good news is that the Pakistan army has […]

Zardari and Singh Smile for the Cameras

This NY Times report on the makings of a “thaw” in Pakistan-India relations is certainly the storyline Washington is hoping for. The problem is that India feels like Pakistan isn’t doing enough to fight terrorism, Pakistan feels that no one is doing more to fight terrorism, and both sides are to a large degree right. President Barack Obama’s initial hopes to play the peacemaker between the two was a non-starter with India. And as Siddarth Srivastava points out in his WPR Briefing, the subsequent pivot to bring Pakistan more explicitly on board with the U.S. counterterrorism approach is increasingly perceived […]

LTTE Lite?

In his WPR feature article (sub. req.) on the Tamil insurgency in Sri Lanka, Brian Calvert discussed how LTTE’s chances for surviving the military eradication it suffered on the island depended on the Tamil diaspora: The Tigers were such a formidable guerrilla army because of theirglobal operations, and LTTE’s international network remains in place.What happens next will be determined by how well the international armis able to recover from the loss of its leader, and how well it managesto maintain its vast fundraising capacity. . . . The Tigers were a highly centralized network centered aroundPrabhakaran and senior leaders in […]

Another Somber Milestone for Suu Kyi

On Friday, Aung San Suu Kyi will celebrate her 64th birthday. As in previous years, she will do so from the confines of a captive space — but not the family home that has been her prison for 13 of the last 19 years. This year, the Nobel peace laureate will spend the day in Yangon’s Insein prison, awaiting the verdict of a trial largely viewed as purely political. Suu Kyi faces a sentence of five years in prison over charges she broke the terms of her house arrest by giving quarter to an American man who illegally swam to […]

It has been a rough go for the dollar of late. The global financial crisis coupled with concerns about soaring U.S. deficits have caused several of the world’s major holders of American debt to question the greenback’s continued role as the leading international reserve currency. Roughly one-third of the U.S. Treasury debt held by foreign countries lies in the BRIC economies — Brazil, Russia, India, and China — who met in Yekaterinburg, Russia, on Tuesday for the group’s first full-format summit. Ultimately, the meeting did not result in what some had speculated: a specific call for a shift away from […]

NEW DELHI — U.S.-India relations have experienced a period of strain under the presidency of Barack Obama, with India increasingly unhappy about how the new administration is shaping its policy in the South Asian region. It is not just one or two matters that have raised concerns for New Delhi, but rather the gathering impression over the last few months that some of the closeness in relations enjoyed under the Bush administration, exemplified by the U.S.-India civilian nuclear deal, is dissipating under Obama. Some observers say that under Bush, Washington was more concerned about propping up India as a counterweight […]

COIN and the Clausewitz-ization of U.S. Military Doctrine

I’m sure I won’t be the one to convince him of why, but I disagree with Michael Cohen when he says that the “fetishization and enshrinement” of COIN is “a slippery slope for more not less US military intervention.” In the same post, Cohen rightfully reminds us that trends in military doctrine have a pretty short half-life. The U.S. didn’t go around looking for places where we could unleash an air war in the late-90s, after all, even though that trend, as Cohen insightfully points out, was all the rage after the Kosovo campaign. Surely that’s an argument against his […]

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 […]

Iran Elections: What’s Next for U.S. Policy?

The circumstances surrounding Iran’s presidential election, and in particular the declaration of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as the winner despite opposition accusations of vote rigging, will present difficulties for any attempt by the Obama administration to diplomatically engage the Islamic Republic of Iran. The administration had been circumspect during Iran’s election campaign, but clearly it was hoping for a reformist victory by either Mir Hossein Moussavi or Mehdi Karrubi. Although neither would have guaranteed a thaw in U.S.-Iranian relations, a reformist victory would have made engaging Iran an easier political sell, both in Washington as well as among European and […]

Obama’s Plan to Corner the Uranium Market

It was reported this week in the Boston Globe that President Barack Obama, as part of a broad nuclear arms reduction initiative, will call for the creation of an international supply house for uranium that will be open to nations that want to pursue peaceful nuclear power projects, but denied to anyone wishing to make a bomb. While not specifically aimed at nuclear “rogues” Iran or North Korea, the idea is obviously meant to put to the test their claims, at least in Iran’s case, that their nuclear ambitions are entirely peaceful. According to an unnamed administration official quoted in […]

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