Paramilitary Influence Scandal Rocks Colombian Politics

BOGOTÁ, Colombia — In recent weeks, the biggest political scandal yet to confront the Uribe government has been grimly unfolding in Colombia. Three senators and one congresswoman have been purged from office. They have been arrested for alleged conspiracy and links with former paramilitary groups. Worst still, a former governor has been charged for masterminding the murder of a mayor and the former director of DAS (Colombia’s secret police) is also accused of collaborating closely with paramilitary groups. The details of how members of congress and the paramilitaries worked in close partnership have been revealed in the computer archives of […]

The Situation in Iraq’s Wild West

In a commentary about the situation in Iraq today, WPR contributor Charles Crain offers a very bleak assessment of the situation in Iraq’s Anbar province, in the far West of the country. Crain says the province would likely become a haven for terrorists if the U.S. quits Iraq: The Sunni insurgency is about more than the American occupation of Iraq, and will not wither away in the absence of an American enemy. From Sunni nationalists to ex-members of Saddam’s regime to foreign jihadists, members of the insurgency have much to lose and little to gain from the rise of Shiite […]

Our Man in Caracas

The first installment of WPR International News Editor Guy Taylor’s series for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch was published on Saturday. Guy reports on the potent force of Chavez’s cult of personality in Venezuela: CARACAS, Venezuela — Women faint when they meet him. Men create stampedes to keep up with caravans he leads through impoverished cities where prior generations of leaders have not dared tread. “When you see him in person, it’s something that cannot be explained,” said Susana Fonseca, craning her neck for a better view of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez as he worked his way through a mob of […]

Commission Report Raises Doubts About China’s Intentions

The 2006 annual report of the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission was released earlier this month and is a must-read for anyone interested in China’s growing role in the international system. Go here to access all of the report’s sections. See the executive summary here (.pdf).

The State of the Worldwide Islamist Movement

For anyone interested in keeping up with changes in the Islamist movement worldwide, the Hudson Institute’s series “Current Trends in Islamist Ideology,” published by the institute’s Center on Islam, Democracy, and the Future of the Muslim World, is a must-read. To call it that is not setting the bar too high because the slim volumes, containing a handful of articles, are only published every six months or so. The series examines relatively long-term trends, so keeping up with it is not overhwelming. In fact, reading only the introductions to the four volumes published since May 2005 may suffice for some. […]

Will Al-Jazeera in English Be Different?

Al-Jazeera launched its new international English-language news channel on Wednesday. Here’s what the channel’s first six minutes on air looked like: On Friday, the Lehrer NewsHour had a good report on the station’s launching. In that report, former Nightline reporter Dave Marash, who now works for Al-Jazeera, said that the new station would report the news “at the speed of thought” and cover issues with more depth than most 24-hour news stations. Other Al-Jazeera reporters and producers emphasized the span of its international coverage, and the fact that it will bring a non-Western perspective to news. For all its faults […]

Shadowy Group Funds Middle East Ad Campaign About Iraq

In the latest issue of their “Middle East Notes and Comment” newsletter, the Center for Strategic and International Studies’ Middle East program notes a new ad campaign that is airing on Arab satellite stations: Anyone hoping to enjoy a light-hearted hour of Survivor Middle East or Lebanese Star Academy this fall should be prepared for some sobering commercial breaks. That’s because a shadowy organization called the Future Iraq Assembly has unleashed a big budget anti-terrorism ad campaign onto Arab airwaves. The campaign consists of several television advertisements, as well as billboards, flyers, and a website. The flagship commercial, running on […]

Chavez Appearance Creates a Stir in Caracas Barrio

MACARAO, Venezuela – We got off the train in this mountainside settlement of barrios on the outskirts of Caracas and walked into a mob-scene of red t-shirts. Reggaeton, Carribean rap music, thumped from tall stacks of black speakers, thousands of people danced in the street drinking bottled beer and sangria. Motorbikes revved through the crowd spewing blue smoke and the smell of gasoline. At first, the whole scene reminded me of the wild “block-parties” I attended as a child on the outskirts of Boston. Entire streets would be blocked for the sole purpose of giving people a place to drown […]

Searching for Robert Gates

In two recent articles — one in the Los Angeles Times on Friday, and another in today’s New York Times — examining the foreign policy and national security strategy views of incoming U.S. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, a 1998 New York Times op-ed written by Gates is mined for clues. Indeed, the article, which can be read in its entirety here by those who subscribe to the NYT’s TimesSelect service, is a valuable record of Gates’ thinking on a particularly difficult issue — the U.S. response to the then-increasing problem of international terrorism. Gates wrote the op-ed in the […]

Options for U.S. Policy in Iraq

Arguments over U.S. policy in Iraq are currently dominating the policy debate. The number of “strategies” for Iraq increases commensurate with the intensity of the debate. This short document, which was originally published on the Web site of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, aims to dispassionately lay out several of the most prominent options regarding U.S. policy in Iraq. While there are dozens of ideas regarding how to proceed, for each option listed below, an influential politician or analyst has presented the argument publicly. A link to a source document is available after each option. CURRENT POLICY The […]

What Does Gates’ Appointment Mean for Iraq?

It’s official, the new SECDEF will be Robert M. Gates, current president of Texas A&M University, and former director of central intelligence and deputy national security adviser under George H.W. Bush. But more significant than his past experience is the fact that Gates is a member of the Iraq Study Group, a commission created at the behest of Congress to recommend strategy changes in Iraq — and led by another Bush I confidante, James A. Baker III. Thus, Gates’ appointment is a clear signal that the administration intends to embrace many of the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group. Those […]

Rumsfeld to Resign

CNN and others are reporting U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld will resign today, after the mid-term election results indicated widespread dissatisfaction among Americans with the direction of the Iraq war. Bush is expected to announce the resignation at his 1pm press conference. CNN cites “two Republican sources” as saying former CIA Director Robert Gates is a potential replacement. More to come . . .

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