The Execution of Saddam Hussein

Coming as it did on the eve of a holiday weekend, Saddam Hussein’s execution has not yet received the full attention of the opinion press and the blogosphere. In the coming days, the trickle of commentary so far is certain to become a deluge. Still, what’s already been written is more than enough to occupy at least a good part of New Year’s day. So for those looking for a starting point for their reading, we offer a short roundup of commentary on the subject. Op-eds:Feared and Pitiless; Fearful and Pitied by John Burns, The New York TimesOnly Stupid, Sadistic […]

Brazil’s Lula Hikes Minimum Wage

In an early indication of the tussles to come in Lula’s second term, Brazil’s president has surprised even his own economic team by agreeing to an 8.6 percent hike in the monthly minimum wage to the equivalent of $176 for 2007 — while promising lower rises in subsequent years. Finance Minister Guido Mantega wanted a lower increase because public-sector pensions, a huge part of the budget, are linked to the minimum wage. Brazil’s social security deficit is now likely to widen, and room for tax cuts in 2007 will be even more limited. It may be that Lula wanted to […]

Thomas Friedman Reads World Politics Review

In his Dec. 20 column, “Mideast Rules to Live By,” New York Times foreign affairs columnist Thomas Friedman referenced an interview with Al Jazeera Editor Ahmed Sheikh that was published in English exclusively in World Politics Review. Here’s the relevant excerpt: Rule 11: The most underestimated emotion in Arab politics is humiliation. The Israeli-Arab conflict, for instance, is not just about borders. Israel’s mere existence is a daily humiliation to Muslims, who can’t understand how, if they have the superior religion, Israel can be so powerful. Al Jazeera’s editor, Ahmed Sheikh, said it best when he recently told the Swiss […]

Communications Technology and World Politics

Here at World Politics Review, one of the subjects we find most fascinating is the manner in which information and communications technology is changing international relations and world politics. This op-ed by Moisés Naim in the Los Angeles Times last Thursday got us thinking about how video distributed online is an increasingly important part of the communications strategies of global political actors: governments; NGOs; terrorist groups; and even individuals. We knew we had read many news articles and opinion pieces in the last several months about this phenomenon, many of which cited specific examples, and we wanted to revisit some […]

Counterinsurgency: A New Manual

The Army’s much anticipated new counterinsurgency manual (pdf)has been released to the public (see the military’s news release here (pdf). And pundits and armchair military strategists are wasting no time weighing in. But most of the commentary has been outside the mainstream media. The only op-ed on the subject we’ve seen in a major newspaper is Ralph Peters’ column in today’s New York Post. And it was certainly among the strangest takes we’ve seen. Peters reviews the new manual like it’s a political tract, casting its formulation as a battle between those who want to coddle terrorists and those who […]

What Happened to Ivory Coast?

In out latest podcast, World Politics Review contributor Blake Lambert reports from Ivory Coast on the prospects for peace in what was once one of West Africa’s most prosperous countries. Lambert interviews two Ivoirians with different perspectives on what caused the country’s current troubles. Hit the play button below to listen (must have Flash installed to use audio player): To download the audio, click here.

Iran’s Appalling Holocaust Conference

The Islamic Republic News Agency, the Iranian regime’s media organ, has some choice reporting from the appalling conference of holocaust deniers the regime is hosting in Tehran this week: Secretary General of Int’l Congress to Support Palestinian Intifada Ali-Akbar Mohtashamipour emphasizing need for survey and research on Holocaust, said here Monday, “Results of surveys so far show Holocaust is no more than a myth.” Speaking to IRNA on the sidelines of the Foreign Ministry sponsored International Conference to Survey Holocaust: A Global Vision”, December 11-12, he added, “The Western and Zionist media have always been aggrandizing the dimensions of the […]

Kofi Annan Delivers Swan Song in Missouri

Kofi Annan’s farewell speech Monday at the Truman Library in Independence, Mo., is being reported as a thinly veiled attack on President Bush and on recent U.S. foreign policy. The good thing about discrete news events such as speeches, however, is there is no need to rely on the reporting of others. We say: You be the judge.

Listen to Guy Taylor on PRI’s ‘To the Point’

World Politics Review International News Editor Guy Taylor appeared on PRI’s “To the Point” with Warren Olney Dec. 1 as part of the show’s “Reporter’s Notebook” feature. To listen to the segment, click here. The segment begins with about 15 minutes left in the hour-long show, so scroll rightward on the audio player to skip to the beginning of Guy’s interview with Warren Olney. Guy returned from Venezuela last week. Go here for links to some of the articles he filed while there.

The Death of Alexander Litvinenko

The Dec. 5 episode of The Charlie Rose Show featured an excellent discussion of the mysterious death of Alexander Litvinenko. The discussion, featuring former U.S. Ambassador to the Soviet Union Jack Matlock, NYU Russia Expert Stephen Cohen, Litvinenko friend and author Yuri Felshtinsky, and investigative journalist Edward Jay Epstein, challenges facile explanations of the apparent murder, and provides insight into the larger question of what the incident reveals about Russia’s internal stabiliity and external relations. Watch it below (must have Flash enabled to view the video player):

President Receives Iraq Study Group Report

President Bush today received the long-awaited report of the Iraq Study Group at the White House. The report is not yet public, but it shouldn’t be long now, as the commission will deliver it to Congress next. (UDATE: Download the report here.) The Washington Post reports some of the contents of the report, and also has video of the president’s remarks upon receiving it. The delivery of the ISG report is one of several events this week that are bound to affect Iraq policy. Another is the Senate Armed Services Committee’s approval of Robert Gates as Donald Rumsfeld’s replacement as […]

Gates Confirmation Hearing Today

The Senate Armed Services Committee’s confirmation hearing for incoming Defense Secretary Robert Gates is underway on Capitol Hill. It began this morning at 9:30 a.m. and likely will last most of the day. To follow the hearings live, C-SPAN’s Web feed is here. And the folks over at are live-blogging the hearing. They’ve already posted 12 times in less than two hours.

‘Social Software’ Could Revolutionize Intelligence

The New York Times magazine this Sunday published a must-read article about using blogs, wikis and other “social software” that is already revolutionizing the way people share information on the public Internet to improve the moribund information-sharing systems of the U.S. intelligence community. And, yes, we did say moribund. The opening paragraphs of the article, by Clive Thompson, demonstrate just how behind the times the intel community is when it comes to information technology: When Matthew Burton arrived at the Defense Intelligence Agency in January 2003, he was excited about getting to his computer. Burton, who was then 22, had […]

Tracking Global Power Via the Opinion Press

Last week, the Washington Post’s online “Post Global” section launched a new feature called the “Global Power Barometer,” which is described as “a simple way to understand 24/7 who’s winning and losing globally.” The barometer, developed by an outfit called the Denver Research Group, “provides a relative measure of how well various nations, ideologies and political movements are exercising their power to move global opinion and events in the directions they desire,” says the site. The day-to-day measurements of which countries are up and which are down in the news and opinion pages is pretty useless. But the four-week tracking […]

Corridors of Power: Khalilzad Wants Out, Al-Hakim Comes to Washington

Editor’s Note: “Corridors of Power” is a new weekly column written for World Politics Review by veteran foreign affairs correspondent Roland Flamini. Each week, Flamini will report news items drawn from his extensive travels and contacts with diplomats and foreign policy officials from governments around the world. White House security adviser Stephen J.Hadley’s suggestion in the leaked Iraq memo that Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. ambassador in Baghdad should be encouraged “to move into the background and let (Prime Minister) Nouri al-Maliki take more credit for positive developments” must have been good news for the Afghan-born American diplomat. What seems at […]

Bracing for Convulsions in Caracas

CARACAS, Venezuala – The ear-splitting explosions came ripping through the quiet about 5:30 this morning. BA-BOOM!! BA-BOOM!!, BA-BOOM!! – every few seconds right outside the window, followed by a crack-crack-crack-crack that through the haze of sleep sounded for sure like machine-gun fire. But those of us living here in the downtown bureau know better and within a few seconds we were clear that this was no gun fire, but a wild dawn fireworks display being launched from the top of a building beside the state oil company, PDVSA, a few blocks away. The election is just a few days out […]