Commentary Week In Review

The Commentary Week in Review is posted on the blog every Friday. Drawing from more than two dozen English-language news outlets worldwide, the column highlights a handful of the week’s notable op-eds. Asian Economies Boom, Democracy Waits In a June 29 Bloomberg News column, William Pesek noted how 10 years on since Asia’s financial crisis, the “region is certainly back,” with many saying the “crisis made Asia more resilient.” As a result, Pesek, who homed in on China’s “rising global stature,” wrote that “it’s doubtful many officials in Beijing regret ignoring the U.S.’s democracy-is-best message.” “What may be surprising, though, […]

VIDEO: 10th Anniversary of Hong Kong Handover

The video below is our first installment of a new video feature called “The Editor’s Desk,” in which we’ll bring you interviews with contributors and other discussions related to our print news and commentary. In this edition, WPR Senior International Editor Guy Taylor talks to Hong Kong-based contributor Luke Hunt about the 10th anniversary of the handover of Hong Kong from the United Kingdom to the People’s Republic of China. Click play below to watch (must have flash enabled). To watch this and other WPR videos using our video player, click here.

Shipwreck Treasure Sparks Intrigue

The extraction of an estimated $500 million worth of coins from a shipwreck referred to as the “Black Swan” has caused a tidal wave of conflicting claims from both the American company which found the treasure, and the government of Spain. The sunken riches were salvaged by Odyssey Marine Exploration, a Tampa-based company which bills itself as “the world’s leader in the field of deep-ocean shipwreck exploration.” Initial press reports, including this article from the BBC, cited the remarks of an expert who suggested the location of the shipwreck was “forty miles off Land’s End,” which is on the southwestern […]

Worldwide Urbanization

WASHINGTON — The United Nations Population Fund issued its annual State of World Population report here this week, claiming that the ongoing surge in the planet’s urban populations could be a positive thing if international policymakers shift their mentality toward planning ahead for growth in cities rather than reacting to it later. “Urbanization is inevitable,” said George Martine, principal author of the report, titled “Unleashing the Potential of Urban Growth.” “The train is in motion,” he said, “and together we have to make sure it’s on the right track.” Among the report’s highlights are assertions that urban areas around the […]

VIDEO: Zakia Zaki’s Work in Afghanistan

Zakia Zaki, founder of Afghanistan’s Radio “Voice of Peace,” was murdered in Afghanistan June 5. Read contributor David Trilling’s commentary on Zaki. For more, watch the video below on Zaki’s work, produced by Aïna, an NGO dedicating to promoting “independent media development and cultural expression as a foundation of democracy.”

Commentary Week In Review

The Commentary Week in Review is posted on the blog every Friday. Drawing from more than two dozen English-language news outlets worldwide, the column highlights a handful of the week’s notable op-eds. The Qaddafi Saga John K. Cooley argued in the June 22 Christian Science Monitor that despite Col. Moammar Qaddafi’s abandonment of Libya’s secret WMD programs, Western governments still need to insist the Libyan leader prove his good faith about democratic and judicial reform. Citing recent coziness enjoyed between Qaddafi, the Bush administration and outgoing British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Cooley asserted that “there are dark aspects to this […]

Rights & Wrongs: China’s Slave Labor, the U.N. Rights Council and More

Editor’s Note: Rights & Wrongs is a new weekly column on the world’s major human rights-related happenings. It is written by regular WPR contributor Juliette Terzieff. CHINESE LABOR PRACTICES — Revelations concerning widespread abuse of workers in brick kilns continue to shake China, where authorities have arrested dozens amid growing calls for the resignations of Communist Party officials linked to kiln owners and the adoption of new municipal and regional regulations to halt the practices. Shanxi’s provincial government Wednesday enacted new regulations banning the purchase of cheap clay bricks for all cities beginning at the end of next year, while […]

“Frozen Conflicts” and Russian Influence

WASHINGTON — “Frozen conflicts” and Russian influence are vital to the future security of the Black Sea region, according to a group of analysts who gathered here this week to swap notes on how the region fits into the security agenda of the United States.Meeting at the Center for Strategic and International Studies on June 21, American national security experts and representatives from the administrations of Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey discussed stability and U.S. interests in the black sea region. Stephen Flanagan, senior vice president and director of the International Security Program at CSIS, said that as the economies of […]

Taylor Trial: U.S. Fears Delay, But Control Limited

WASHINGTON — As the war crimes case of former Liberian President Charles Ghankay Taylor generates headlines, little attention is being given to the financial mechanics upon which the fate of the special tribunal trying Taylor will hinge. Presently, the United States is the top contributor to the Special Court Tribunal of Sierra Leone (based in The Hague), so far giving about $35 million for the tribunal to exist and operate. But that doesn’t mean the U.S. State Department has any direct say on how the proceedings will go forth in bringing to justice to Taylor, who is charged with crimes […]

The German BKA Dossier on Murat Kurnaz

As of 2002, Germany’s Federal Office of Criminal Investigations (BKA) classified former Guantanamo inmate and current German media star, Murat Kurnaz, as a security risk. (On Kurnaz in the German media, see the accompanying article “Guantanamo Tales.”) This classification was based on a series of police findings linking Kurnaz to Islamic extremist milieus in Germany: including to persons who are linked in turn to the “Hamburg Cell” that planned the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The relevant facts were presented by BKA Deputy Director Bernhard Falk in March, during hearings held before a German parliamentary committee investigating the Kurnaz case. They have […]

VIDEO: Interdiction at Sea

WPR contributor Carmen Gentile reports from the Florida Keys on U.S. Coast Guard interdictions of boats smuggling Cuban migrants. To watch using our video player, click here. For more on this subject, see “Florida Keys are a Haven for Smugglers of Cuban Migrants.”

The Russian government warned that it might implement its threatened unilateral “moratorium” on observing its commitments under the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty after an extraordinary conference of the treaty signatories, held this past week in Vienna, failed to address Moscow’s concerns. Russia called for the emergency meeting, the first in CFE history, after complaining for months about the stalemated status of the treaty’s implementation. Anatoly Antonov, the chief of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s security and disarmament department and head of the Russian delegation to the conference, told the session that Russia remains committed to conventional arms control in […]

Spin and Reality of the French Elections

PARIS — The results of Sunday’s legislative elections in France are being spun by much of the French and also the American media as a “success” for the French Socialist Party (PS) and a “setback” for new French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s Union for a Popular Movement (UMP). This depiction amounts to a sort of magic trick: an optical illusion resulting from the application of two distorting lenses to the actual outcome, both of them provided by France’s notoriously unreliable public opinion firms. The first of these distorting lenses consists of the predictions made by the polling firms over the last […]

Africa and “The Bottom Billion”

Paul Collier’s new book on African development aid, “The Bottom Billion,” demands some attention. Why? Consider Collier’s autobiography: I research the causes and consequences of civil war; the effects of aid; and the problems of democracy in low-income and natural-resource-rich societies. In addition to the usual academic outputs, my work has had substantial policy impact. In the past year I have been the senior adviser to Blair’s Commission on Africa; have addressed the General Assembly of the UN; given a seminar at 10 Downing St.; and been invited to meet with Condoleezza Rice on her recent UK visit. Secondly, and […]

Commentary Week In Review

The Commentary Week in Review is posted on the blog every Friday. Drawing from more than two dozen English-language news outlets worldwide, the column highlights a handful of the week’s notable op-eds. China’s Expanding Military Noting how “China’s defense spending has been on the rise for more than 15 years,” Gary Schmitt asserted in the June 14 Washington Post that Americans “don’t know the strategic ‘why’ behind this buildup.” “As China adds hundreds of advanced fighters; builds scores of new submarines, frigates and destroyers; modernizes and expands its strategic nuclear arsenal; and fields hundreds of new theater-range missiles,” wrote Schmitt, […]

Photo Feature: Life on Iraq’s American Military Bases

BASE WORLD, Iraq — The spring of 2006 in Iraq started with the February bombing of Samarra’s revered Shiite Golden Dome Mosque, which triggered a massive escalation of Sunni-Shiite violence and the descent into inter-communal strife. It was a violent season and the period when Iraq’s politicians came face-to-face with the reality that their country was mired in civil war. That spring, I visited Iraq and embedded with the U.S. Army, spending several days roaming the U.S. bases scattered across the length and breadth of that land. Despite the violent turmoil ripping apart the country, very little violence penetrated beyond […]

Commentary Week in Review

The Commentary Week in Review is posted on the blog every Friday. Drawing from more than two dozen English-language news outlets worldwide, the column highlights a handful of the week’s notable op-eds. Bargaining With Russia to Contain Iran Claiming “relations between the United States and Russia have hit their lowest point since the Cold War,” Joseph S. Nye Jr. asserted in the June 8 Boston Globe that the “growing tension has real and dangerous implications for US security: Washington is struggling to get Russia’s help in sanctioning Iran for its nuclear program.” “The latest International Atomic Energy Agency report paints […]

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