Horn of Africa on the Brink of War

The Jamestown Foundation’s Terrorism Monitor today looks at the threat of a regional war in the Horn of Africa: After years of mutual hostility, the armed forces of two states and the armed militias of one failed state are poised to unleash a potentially devastating war in the Horn of Africa. Ethiopia, Eritrea and Somalia are each moving troops up to their borders in preparation. Tim Lister wrote about this possibility earlier this month in World Politics Review: “From today, I am declaring jihad against Ethiopia which has invaded our country and taken parts of our homeland.” The words of […]

A Vote for Chavez is a ‘Vote Against the Devil’

CARACAS, Venezuela — The first thing I noticed, after we’d swatted through the horde of zealous taxi drivers at the airport and were on the road into town, was the endless stream of political slogans and pro-Chavez campaign posters lining the autopista. Speeding past the mountain-side barrios that surround Caracas late last night, the one that grabbed my attention most read, in Spanish: “Vote Against The Devil. Vote Against Imperialism. Vote For Chavez.” No doubt, the president’s backers are in full campaign mode. That’s why it came as something of a surprise Sunday to learn that Chavez has temporarily suspended […]

DOD Attempts to Fact-Check Press

With the advent of a blog-style Web site called “For the Record,” the U.S. Department of Defense has gotten into the business of fact-checking journalists. It’s only the latest example of how the Internet is usurping the monopoly traditional media outlets have on providing information to the public. Governments more and more are attempting to use the Internet to bypass press channels and provide information direct to their constituents. Given the importance of perception and the “battle of ideas” to warfare, it’s not surprising that in the U.S. government, DOD has been a pioneer in this kind of thing. Witness, […]

Commentary Week in Review On Hiatus

World Politics Review International News Editor Guy Taylor embarked on a reporting trip to Venezuela (funded by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting) this morning. Over the next six weeks, Guy will be writing the occassional post from Venezuela in this space. But unfortunately, this also means he won’t be writing our regular Commentary Week in Review column. Until he returns, we offer a stripped-down version here. So let’s get to it. Perusing our Media Roundup Archives, four main themes emerge from this week’s opinion pages: Iraq, North Korea, Muslim integration in Europe, and Russian foreign and domestic policy. The […]

The Russian Bear Roars Again

We detect a distinct theme among recent analyses of Russia’s foreign policy. While commentators are all over the map in their assessment of the rectitude of Russia’s foreign policy as implemented by President Putin, a critical mass of opinion-shapers that at least grudingly recognize a kind of brilliance in Russian foreign policy seems to have coalesced. We offer as evidence for this first — and, yes, foremost — today’s commentary in WPR by Marissa Payne. She writes that, in its foreign relations, Russia is having its cake and eating it too — or, as they say in Russia “The wolves […]

Chavez’s Infamous UN Speech

Someone finally got around to uploading Hugo Chavez’s infamous Sept. 20 speech at the United Nations to Google Video. So, thanks to Google and C-SPAN, you can now watch that speech in its 26-minute entirety. But you only need to watch a few minutes to see the choicest bits. Chavez opens by flogging Noam Chomsky’s book, “Hegemony or Survival.” And he gets right to the hyperbole too, claiming right at the outset that “the hegemonistic pretensions of the American empire are placing at risk the very survival of the human species.” But if you want to cut right to the […]

Uribe’s Next Four Years

In an Oct. 20 report, the International Crisis Group says the next four years for Colombian President Alvaro Uribe may be difficult: As he begins his second four-year term, Uribe seems to be in a stronger position to tackle Colombia’s long-standing problems: drug trafficking, the internal conflict, continued lack of security and poverty in rural areas, corruption, and social inequality. But appearances may be deceiving. His governing coalition is fractious, his popularity vulnerable to what a still powerful insurgency chooses to do. He has yet to define a comprehensive second-term strategy for peace and development that addresses these issues and […]

Blog Post Causes Diplomatic Row

For what must be the first time in history, a blog has figured prominently in an international diplomatic incident. U.N. envoy Jan Pronk was expelled from Sudan today after he reported setbacks for Sudan’s armed forces on his personal blog , the New York Times reports: Sudan’s action against him was apparently provoked by an entry he made in his personal blog — www.janpronk.nl — last weekend that said Sudan’s armed forces had suffered two major defeats with extensive casualties against rebels in Darfur in the past six weeks. He also reported that generals had been cashiered, that morale had […]

Commentary Week in Review: Iraq and Latin America Predominate

The spiking violence in Iraq is part of an enemy strategy to affect upcoming U.S. elections. French lawmakers are out of control. No, it’s the Turks who need to check themselves. The Latin American ideological saga continues. The United States must not ignore the important elections in Congo. And, yes, more North Korea. It was a thematically diverse week in the world’s English-language opinion pages. Much of the discussion about Iraq centered on what many are now calling a civil war pitting Sunni and Shiite Muslims against each other. Jeff Stein offered a jaw-dropper in the Oct. 17 New York […]

U.S. Foreign Policy After Bush

We’ve written before in this space about the beginnings of a search among foreign policy experts and commentators for a post-Bush U.S. foreign policy. It’s something we plan to regularly track. And as the U.S. presidential election of 2008 approaches, we hope to move from chronicling the esoteric to chronicling the practical — examing how the foreign policy debate is reflected in the platforms of likely U.S. presidential candidates. In the meantime, however, there’s plenty of prognosticating and theorizing about the future of U.S. foreign policy that remains to be examined. And plenty of creative names for candidates to be […]

New U.S. National Space Policy

I wanted to flaga story from Inside the Pentagon about whether the Chinese are aiming to interfere with U.S. military space capabilities. The article quotes U.S. Strategic Command Chief Gen. James Cartwright as saying that China has not yet actually interfered with U.S. operations in space. However, it’s also clear from the article that U.S. military officials believe China is actively pursuing weapons that could be used to counter U.S. space-based capabilities, upon which the modern military heavily relies for communications, navigation and intelligence gathering. The article is timely because the Bush administration recently released a new National Space Policy […]

What’s European About Islamism in Europe?

Could Europe’s anti-Americanism be fueling the ideology of European Islamists? In his fascinating analysis in the latest issue of Policy Review, John Rosenthal concludes that it is. The article is great further reading for anyone interested in what’s happening in France right now, one aspect of which is reported in the post below, between some French Muslims and the larger French society. Rosenthal uses as the basis for his article interviews that were conducted by French social scientist Farhad Khosrokhavar with suspected al-Qaida associates in French prisons. What those interviews reveal, as reported by Rosenthal, are the would-be jihadists’ multilayered […]

A Year After French Riots, Violence Flares in Banlieues

A year after riots rocked the suburbs of French cities, French Police are denouncing what they see as coordinated attacks on their officers by Muslim youth in Paris’s banlieues. An official of one right-leaning French police union has even labeled the new round of attacks an “intifada” against French police. The latest incident occurred Friday night and early Saturday morning in the Paris suburb of Epinay-sur-Seine, when police responding to reports of thievery were ambushed by a group of youths wielding stones and other weapons. One officer was injured when a stone hit him in the jaw, according to accounts […]

Commentary Week in Review: North Korea All the Time

Georgia is on the brink of war with Russia, a place where journalists get murdered by government hit men. But really we should be watching nearby Belarus, the capital of illegal arms deals. Everything is coming undone in Nicaragua and 650,000 have died in Iraq, from which U.S. troops should pull out immediately. These were among the striking claims put forth by op-ed writers this week. But let’s not kid ourselves. Really, it was North Korea, North Korea, North Korea all the time. Not since the Israel-Hezbollah conflagration three months ago have the world’s opinion pages been so blindingly focused […]

Was the Korean Nuke Test a Dud?

Apparently, the seismic and geological analyses of the North Korean nuclear tests that are now beginning to trickle in point toward a failed test. This Korea Times article is the first news report I’ve found questioning the test’s success. And Jeffrey Lewis at the blog Arms Control Wonk is all over the story. He cites already published U.S. Geological Survey data as evidence that the test was a dud. According to Lewis, the French defense minister was the first official from the government of a major power to entertain the possibility of a failure. Lewis also explains why it didn’t […]

Waging the War of Ideas

The conventional wisdom is that the “global war on terrorism” can only be won if the spread of the ideology that feeds terrorism — Islamism, Islamic extremism or whatever you want to call it — is halted, discredited and rolled back. Even the Bush administration, which has been criticized from the left and right for relying too much on “hard power” instruments such as the military in its foreign policy, now seems to realize this. One much-heralded case in point was the appointment of Bush confidant Karen Hughes as under secretary of state for public diplomacy. Another is the Defense […]

Commentary Week in Review: North Korea’s Nuclear Test Threat

George W. Bush and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad could be the same person. They just look different. A South Korean will head the United Nations. Turkey is meddling in Kirkuk. The tide of history is turning in Latin America. Cheney is actually a reincarnation of LBJ, and there’s more to the flap between Georgia and Russia than meets the eye. Indeed, many wild things were asserted in the world’s English-language op-ed pages this week. But far more outrageous claims could have been made. No, wait, they were: North Korea said it’s going to detonate a nuke. On what may have prompted this […]

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