WPR Top 10: The Most-Read of 2007

As we prepare to ring in a new year here at WPR, and look forward to bringing you more insightful and thought-provoking news, analysis and commentary on international affairs, we pause briefly to look back at 2007. Here are WPR’s top 10 most popular news and commentary articles of 2007: 1. How the Media Partnered with Hezbollah: Harvard’s Cautionary Report2. Venezuela Preparing for ‘Asymmetrical’ Showdown with the U.S.3. An Interview with Al-Jazeera Editor Ahmed Sheikh4. Russian Bombers Rehearse Nuclear Attacks Against the United States5. Middle East Opinion: Iran Fears Aren’t Hitting the Arab Street6. Berlin and Vienna Stand Against the […]

What Will Make International News in 2008?

In a commentary piece published today in World Politics Review, Frida Ghitis says 2008 will no doubt be an eventful year, but she predicts one event will dominate headlines: the U.S. presidential election: When the shopping stops after Christmas 2008 and Americans pause for a long weekend and the countdown to 2009, we will engage in the traditional collective look back at the year that was. It will be easy to spot the story that held our attention while watching television news, talking with friends, and chatting with neighbors. No matter what else happens, and much will, from Iraq to […]

Al-Qaida Targets Knights of Malta

This week’s Corridors of Power reports that al-Qaida is targeting a medical and humanitarian aid organization: AL-QAIDA TARGETS CRUSADERS — The Roman Catholic Knights of Malta are the last surviving remnant of the Christian Crusades against Muslim occupation of the Holy Land. Today, their historic order is an international humanitarian organization with its own hospitals, clinics, and medical teams. For example, St. John relief services provide on-scene emergency help at major disasters. But its crusading past (nine centuries ago) has made it a target of Islamic militants, and some Arab media have recently claimed that the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order […]

Zuma: Bad News for South Africa?

On Commentary’s “Contentions” blog, Max Boot has some interesting thoughts about the imminent election of Jacob Zuma as South African president (the ANC nomination means he is a shoo-in for president): . . . Zuma was fired as Deputy President over charges of corruption, and still faces trial over those allegations. He has beaten charges of rape in the past (his defense was that the woman was asking for it by wearing a short skirt in his house). It is almost as if Huey Long had become the Democratic Party Presidential nominee in the 1930’s, except that democracy in South […]

India’s Retail Wars

In the Mint, the Wall Street Journal’s English-language paper in India, TCS Daily Editor Nick Schulz argues that the battle between large retail chains like Wal-Mart and mom-and-pop stores in India’s retail sector will ultimately be to the benefit of India’s economy — including independent retailers. While some small stores will be driven out of business, the ones that learn to adapt to the new retail environment will thrive because of the efficiency gains pushed through by competition, he writes: . . . the current debate over the future of retail in India is too constricted. Opponents of big retailers […]

Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Risk Assessment

In an interview that was published yesterday (Dec. 17) in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ), German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier remarks that in light of the findings of the most recent American National Intelligence Estimate, the “urgency” [Zeitdruck] of finding a solution to the problem of the Iranian nuclear program has been “reduced.” The remark perfectly illustrates the dangers that the 2007 NIE involves: What if the assessment of the Iranian nuclear program contained in the report should turn out to be wrong? After all, it is, in effect, the very premise of the 2007 assessment that the 2005 assessment […]

The Situation in Baghdad as the Surge Ends

On Monday, Maj. Gen. Joseph Fil, the outgoing commander of U.S. forces in Baghdad, provided an update on the situation in Baghdad to reporters at the Pentagon. He spoke about: decreases in violence; the location and strength of insurgent and al-Qaida remnants in the city; efforts to train Iraqi troops; the progress of Iraqi army commanders, how U.S. forces will adjust as the “surge” ends; future plans for integrating “Concerned Local Citizen” militias into Iraqi Security Forces; reports that U.S.-backed CLCs have been responsible for sectarian violence; etc. Here’s the video: If you experience difficulty playing the embedded video, it […]

A Roundup of Our Climate Change Coverage

From Al Gore’s Nobel Prize in Oslo, to the U.N. conference in Bali, Indonesia, climate change is all over the news this week. Here are WPR’s recent contributions on the subject: A late-September U.N. climate change summit, followed shortly by the White House’s own climate change gathering, kicked off what has shaped up to be a fall season of debate on the issue. On Oct. 4, Roland Flamini looked at both the U.N. summit and the Bush administration’s own meeting, and the issues that separate the U.S. and other countries, in “Outlook Cloudy in the Climate Change Debate.” Beginning with […]

U.S. House Approves New Burma Sanctions

Excerpts from a House Foreign Affairs Committee press release: Washington, DC – The House of Representatives today unanimously passed tough legislation authored by Congressman Tom Lantos (D-CA), chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, to squeeze the brutal military junta now ruling Burma. The Block Burmese JADE (Junta’s Anti-Democratic Efforts) Act (H.R. 3890) will block the importation of blood rubies from Burma into the United States and prevent American taxpayer money from subsidizing business activities in Burma by U.S. companies – most notably, Chevron. . . . H.R. 3890 will halt the Burmese practice of avoiding U.S. sanctions by […]

What the NIE Says About U.S. Intelligence Capabilities: Part II

Last week, we highlighted an op-ed by Avner Cohen in Haaretz that argued that the unclassified summary of the latest NIE on Iranian nuclear capabilities demonstrates that U.S. intelligence collection capabilities are “suboptimal” when it comes to Iran and that the NIE analysis and its findings were “methodologically shallow, confusing and unprofessional.” We received Avner’s piece enthusiastically b/c it was the first piece we’d seen that examined the implications of the NIE for U.S. intelligence capabilities, rather than what the document said about Iran per se. Writing in the New York Times on Sunday, however, Tim Weiner examines the same […]

WPR Top 10 Dec. 1-7

The top 10 most-read World Politics Review articles from the past week: 1. Ethnic Minorities in Kosovo Still Lack Freedom of Movement2. Ségolène Royal and the War in France’s Banlieues3. Somalia’s Humanitarian Crisis Continues to Degenerate4. Defense Secretary Gates’ Radical Soft Power Proposal5. Iran NIE Deepens U.N. Security Council Rift on Sanctions6. Following Unrest, Georgia Looks Ahead to Crucial Elections Next Year7. Rights & Wrongs: China, Egypt, Rwanda and More8. Iran Intelligence Estimate Could Reduce Fears of Middle East Arms Race9. Kosovo’s Divided City of Mitrovica Warily Awaits Independence10. Embattled African Union Peacekeepers Defense Mogadishu ‘Bridgehead’

What the NIE Says About U.S. Intelligence Capabilities

The uproar over the new National Intelligence Estimate on Iran’s nuclear capabilities and intentions, like so much current discussion in Washington about foreign policy, has been remarkable for its superficiality. Foreign policy has evidently become so politicized in the wake of the Iraq war that serious discussions about the implications of the document are all but impossible. Our first reaction when reading the new NIE was unease at the apparent uselessness of a document that is supposed to represent the United States’ best unclassified insight into its subject, but we couldn’t quite articulate the source of our unease. Fortunately, writing […]

Chavistas: Spinning Victory Out of Defeat

With the narrow defeat of his proposed package of constitutional reforms in a referendum this weekend, Hugo Chávez failed in his brash attempt to tighten his personal grip on power and skip a few stages of the dialectical process toward Bolivarian utopia. For a revolution whose political momentum seems to depend heavily on the rhetorical bluster of its bombastic leader, Chávez has not missed the opportunity to attempt to spin victory out of defeat, and neither have his supporters. That Chavez’s quick concession proves he is a democrat, not a dictator, was a common talking point. Never mind that the […]

2005 vs. 2007 Iran National Intelligence Estimate

At the end of the unclassified summary of the 2007 NIE on Iran’s nuclear intentions and capabilities, released this week, the National Intelligence Council provided this helpful chart to explain the basic differences between the 2005 assessment and this latest one: Is it just us, or is the biggest difference between the two assessments information about the past — that is, the new judgment that Iran halted its program in 2003? As for the more important questions of what Iran is doing now and what it will do in the future, there doesn’t appear to be very much useful difference […]

Reporting from Somalia and Why War is Boring

Two World Politics Review contributors, David Axe and Daria Solovieva, recently took a trip to Somalia to look at the ongoing war there and what has become, according to some, the largest humanitarian crisis in Africa. First, Axe and Solovieva filed a curtain raising piece on the daunting situation faced by Somalia’s newly appointed prime minister. Then Solovieva examined the humanitarian crisis in depth. Finally, Axe provided a look at the ability of the African Union peacekeeping force to keep its tenuous hold on the “bridgehead” it has established in Mogadishu. For more reading, check out David Axe’s Somalia journal […]

NIE on Iran’s Nuclear Weapons

Below is the full text of the U.S. intelligence community’s unclassified summary of its latest National intelligence Estimate on Iran’s nuclear intentions and capabilities. A. We judge with high confidence that in fall 2003, Tehran halted its nuclear weapons program1; we also assess with moderate-to-high confidence that Tehran at a minimum is keeping open the option to develop nuclear weapons. We judge with high confidence that the halt, and Tehran’s announcement of its decision to suspend its declared uranium enrichment program and sign an Additional Protocol to its Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Safeguards Agreement, was directed primarily in response to increasing […]

MORE PRESSURE ON CHINA — Members of the European Parliament, human rights activists and dissidents appeared before a hearing of the European Parliament’s Human Rights Subcommittee Nov. 26 to testify about efforts to put pressure on the International Olympic Committee to hold China to a higher human rights standard. Speakers chronicled a wide array of human rights abuses in China and argued the IOC should honor its own precedent — set when it banned South Africa from Olympic events in 1964 because of apartheid — and publicly censure Beijing. From press freedom and privacy rights to Darfur and Tibet, various […]