The Fate of Latin American Democracy

BOGOTÁ, Colombia — Many Colombians were surprised recently when a leading business magnate broached the idea of amending the constitution so conservative President Alvaro Uribe may run for a third consecutive term in 2010. After all, Uribe’s supporters already amended the constitution once to permit him to succeed himself, which he did by handily winning elections last May. Two successive terms for a president is generally accepted international practice, but three is not, and in the eyes of many, it would constitute a blow to democracy. Yet, the idea could be politically viable because the Colombian president’s popularity is above […]

Passing of a Cambodian Journalist

Ly Kim-Song; a great journalistic backbone: 1943-2007 Any idiot can cover a firefight, it has often been said among journalists. The real trick is getting in, getting out and not fouling up the job by getting yourself killed. Success depends on common sense, solid equipment and most importantly your backup. For many a journalist and photographer in Cambodia Ly Kim-Song was that backup. Mr Song, as he was known to everyone, died suddenly on Sunday, January 14, after a period of illness. He was 64. Song was born in the southeastern province of Svay Rieng where he spent his formative […]

Photo Feature: Chávez’s Propaganda

His beaming smile lines highways and towers over bridges and mountains from the big cities to the most remote rural villages. Hugo Chávez is everywhere to be seen in Venezuela. So are the heroes that have inspired Chávez’s version of socialism in the 21st century, the most ubiquitous being Che Guevara and South America’s liberator, Simón Bolivar. Traveling across Venezuela, it is hard not to be bombarded by state propaganda, which often appears a throwback to the Soviet era, while opposition propaganda is almost non-existent. It seems every inch of public space is being used to spell out the ideals […]

Commentary Week In Review

The WPR Commentary Week in Review is posted every Friday. Drawing from more than two dozen English-language news outlets worldwide, the column highlights the week’s notable op-eds. Though some claimed President Bush attempted to duck the issue in his State of the Union address, the Iraq war continued to dominate op-eds from Jan. 21 through Jan. 26. The Chinese satellite blast certainly made a good showing though, and various other often-ignored corners of the world were examined in opinionated print this week — namely Kosovo and Ecuador. Philip Bowring’s Jan. 21 piece in the International Herald Tribune claimed that China’s […]

The Age of Space Warfare Has Arrived

China’s recent test of an anti-satellite weapon has been all over the news (and, as we’ll note later in our Commentary Week in Review, all over the opinion pages) this week. We ran two good articles relating to the subject of China and space weapons this week. Contributor Richard Weitz of the Hudson Institute weighed in with “Has China Launched an Arms Race in Space?“ “China’s decision to conduct its first test of an anti-satellite weaponrepresents a sharp escalation in the hitherto low-key dispute betweenChina, Russia, and the United States over the use of outer space formilitary purposes,” Weitz wrote. […]

Spotlight on Uganda

Yesterday, we featured an excellent piece by Kenyan journalist Charles Wachira on the ongoing conflict in Uganda and the prospects for peace there. That conflict has raged for almost two decades, and the destruction it has reaped has gone largely unnoticed in much of the world’s media. If you think the world is ignoring the crisis in Darfur, take a look at Uganda. Peace talks in the conflict are in danger of falling apart, Wachira reports: NAIROBI, Kenya — Six months of peace talks to end more than two decades of conflict in northern Uganda have been virtually for naught, […]

Decision On Kosovo Looms

SARAJEVO, Bosnia and Herzegovina — Political parties that appear to be in sync with the European Union were victorious as Serbia held its first parliamentary elections under the country’s new constitution on Jan. 21, ahead of an important decision on the fate of the province of Kosovo. But the victory was slim in a way that seemed to confirm an old adage that there are two Serbias: One a democratic, urban, European Serbia; the other a nationalistic, rural and insulated Serbia. While political parties aligned with the former prevailed, the formation of an actual government may now be complicated by […]

Commentary Week In Review

The WPR Commentary Week in Review is posted every Friday. Drawing from more than two dozen English-language news outlets worldwide, the column highlights at least one notable op-ed from each day of the week. Jan. 15 through Jan. 19 was another week dominated by op-ed articles on crisis in the Mideast and Iraq and what the United States should do now, and how the whole mess is affecting the geopolitical strategies of countries across the world. But first, a couple of nuggety pieces about other parts of the world. For instance, Alexandra Starr argued in the Jan. 15 Los Angeles […]

Great Narrative Reporting From Iraq

New to World Politics Review Jan. 18 is Shades of Justice: Scenes of Law, Order and Reality in Iraq, by Neil Shea, who has also covered the war in Iraq for National Geographic magazine. His reporting from Iraq for the magazine puts readers in the midst of the war in a way that far surpasses the average news article. Below are links to some of it, for those interesting in reading (and hearing) more of Shea’s work. His story “The Heroes and the Healing: Military Medicine From the Front Lines to the Home Front,” with photos by Jim Nachtwey, contains […]

Don’t Believe Everything You Read

The above is good advice not only because skepticism is an intellectual virtue, but also because, if you read widely enough, it’s impossible to believe everything you read without getting tangled in a web of contradictions. “The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposing ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function,” F. Scott Fitzgerald reportedly said. That may be the case, but holding as true and valid two contradictory ideas at the same time is another matter. To help you avoid this pitfall, we highlight two recent […]

CIA Unveils New Strategy

From USA Today: WASHINGTON — The CIA plans to increase its use of “open sources” such as newspapers and blogs and to outsource more software development to commercial contractors under a 22-point strategy being put in place. The CIA’s “Strategic Intent,” distributed to agency employees in December and posted on its public website this month, stresses improved flexibility and fewer barriers between departments. It contains several corporate-style flourishes, including ongoing employee input, an advisory board drawn from business and academia and “action teams” assigned to implement the plan. In a speech to CIA workers at the agency’s Langley, Va., headquarters […]

Commentary Week in Review

The WPR Commentary Week in Review is posted every Friday. Drawing from more than two dozen English-language news outlets worldwide, the column highlights at least one notable op-ed from each day of the week. This week, commentary about Bush’s mid-week speech to the U.S. public on Iraq strategy dominated the opinion pages. On Sunday, John McCain tried to set to the tone for the week’s debate on Iraq with an op-ed in the Washington Post titled “Send More Troops.” “Contrary to popular notions that U.S. troops are getting ‘caught in the crossfire’ between Sunni and Shiite fighters and are therefore […]

Bush Sticking to His Guns

In his televised address Wednesday night to announce plans for a spike in U.S. troops in Iraq, U.S. President George W. Bush spoke with a notably less confrontational tone than he’s embraced in the past. That’s not to say his remarks weren’t provocative, specifically his direct pronouncement that Syria and Iran “are allowing terrorists and insurgents to use their territory to move in and out of Iraq,” with Iran “providing material support for attacks on American troops.” Some of us on the other side of the TV screen, however, wished the U.S. President might have pursued this point a little […]

For such a small country, Israel manages to offer one of the most unpredictable, lively and entertaining political scenes around. Observers of Israeli political theater have not had a dull moment in years. It was barely 13 months ago that the iconic Prime Minister Ariel Sharon rocked the political scene when he bolted Likud, the party he created, to launch the new Kadima party. Before long, Sharon had fallen into a coma; Ehud Olmert had taken over, formed a Kadima-Labor coalition government and built a most peculiar cabinet. The post of defense minister, a crucial job in Israel, went to […]

New U.S. Ambassador To Iraq

The man picked to run the embassy in Baghdad has memories of how the city used to be.After all, he met his wife there 27 years ago. The Bush administration picked a qualified diplomat in tapping Ryan C. Crocker to become the new ambassador to Iraq, replacing Zalmay Khalilzad, who’s been tapped to become U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. Crocker, 57, is currently ambassador to Pakistan. He’s a career diplomat who’s served in various posts around the Middle East over the past 25 years, including as ambassador to Syria, Kuwait and Lebanon. During an early State Department tour, in […]

Commentary Week In Review

Saddam Hussein hangs, the U.S. military shifts left, Lebanon’s Democracy is so fragile, and Somalia is on the brink. . . . The World Politics Review Commentary Week in Review is posted by noon every Friday. Drawing from more than two dozen English-language news outlets worldwide, the column highlights one op-ed for each day of the past week and aggregates other noteworthy pieces from the week. Jan. 1 through Jan. 5 was dominated by analysis of Saddam’s execution. Mark Bowden led the way, arguing in the Jan. 2 Wall Street Journal that one of the better allies in promoting the […]

Photo Feature: Colombian Paramilitaries Demobilize

In Colombia’s Antioquia province, members of the “Mineros” paramilitary group demobilize. Photo courtesy of the Organization of American States’ Misson to Support the Peace Process (and with thanks to Vasja Badalic). For more on the demobilization of Colombia’s paramilitaries, see here and here.

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