U.S. Strike Silences Prominent Al-Qaida Voice

Radical cleric and wanted terrorist Anwar al-Awlaki was killed Friday in Yemen in what news reports say was a coordinated air strike by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. This U.S. government-funded Voice of America report takes a look at the life of the American citizen who became a prominent al-Qaida figure.

The entry plaza of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation headquarters, June 2, 2011, in Seattle (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson).

Though they have long existed, NGOs are playing an increasingly significant role in global governance, whether participating in the United Nations system or bringing global concerns to the domestic level. From local to global, NGOs are now an essential aspect of a variety of systems. It has become fashionable to assert that the role of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in world politics has grown in importance since the early 1990s. This assertion is true, but not because of the end of the Cold War nor because there is anything new about NGOs exercising influence, as is often claimed. Consider the success […]

Nine years after its launch in July 2002, the International Criminal Court has made a promising though problematic start. Some of its difficulties are inherent in its mission and context. Others have been generated by states’ and officials’ behavior. Carrying out the court’s mandate to prosecute the perpetrators of humanity’s worst crimes would be difficult even in ideal circumstances. Circumstances are not ideal: The ICC is an international organization that many important states have not joined; it commands a limited budget; it is subject to the political and personal foibles common to international organizations; and finally, its independence is constrained […]

As the International Atomic Energy Agency held its Board of Governors meeting and annual General Conference over the past two weeks, the members of this often-overlooked United Nations body found themselves thrust again into the public limelight and burdened with a rapidly expanding agenda. Governments jousted over how to craft new approaches to deal with the aftermath of the nuclear accident at Fukushima, divvy up the agency’s budget and deal with controversial nuclear programs in the Middle East. The debates took place among a membership bitterly divided between those states with advanced nuclear capabilities and those that lack them, divisions […]

The real clash of civilizations in the 21st century will be not over religion, but over food. As the emerging East and surging South achieve appreciable amounts of disposable income, they’re increasingly taking on a Western-style diet. This bodes poorly for the world on multiple levels, with the most-alarmist Cassandras warning about imminent resource wars. But the more immediate and realistic concern is the resulting health costs, which will inevitably trigger a rule-set clash between nanny-state types hell-bent on “reining in” a number of globalized industries — agriculture, food and beverages, restaurants, health care and pharmaceuticals — and those preferring […]

Chavez Singing, Khrushchev Banging Shoe — Best in UN History

If only UN walls could talk, center stage drama would be their story. ¬≠From the confrontational, to the surprising, to the outright wacky — the UN General Assembly pilgrimage never fails to impress.

Global Insider: China’s WTO Compliance

A World Trade Organization (WTO) panel ruled earlier this year that China was violating its obligations in restricting exports of several raw materials. In an email interview, Terence Stewart, an expert in international trade law at the law firm Stewart and Stewart, discussed China’s compliance with its WTO obligations. WPR: What has been China’s track record on compliance with its WTO obligations since its accession in 2001? Terence Stewart: China’s accession to the WTO has been a great experiment for the global trading system. Many of China’s obligations were phased in, so not all obligations were in place by late-2001. […]

This Thursday, the United Nations Security Council will hold a special session on preventive diplomacy — the art of averting imminent wars, coups and massacres. The event will be attended by heads of state and foreign ministers, currently gathering in New York for the annual opening of the General Assembly. Their minds will almost certainly be elsewhere, as the Palestinian drive for recognition as a state is completely dominating U.N. diplomacy. So the Security Council session is unlikely to generate anything more than well-aged truisms: Prevention is better than reaction; diplomacy is better than force, and so on. Nevertheless, even […]

Ten years ago, the concept of “network-centric warfare” dominated U.S. military thinking and deployment. An outgrowth of work associated with the Revolution in Military Affairs, network-centric warfare envisioned a battle space in which information dominance and standoff killing power gave the U.S. military supremacy across the combat spectrum. Influential in doctrine and acquisitions, network-centric warfare offered the tempting promise of eliminating Carl von Clausewitz’ fog of war, making the battlefield legible and, for well-prepared U.S. forces, malleable. Platforms such as the Navy’s Littoral Combat Ship and DDG-1000, the Army’s Future Combat System, and the F-35 multirole combat aircraft were envisioned […]

Thanks to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and the wars they spawned, many people around the world think they’re living through the most dangerous, violent and strategically uncertain period in human history. Well, that simply isn’t true, as the most recent Human Security Report from Canada’s Simon Fraser University makes clear. Entitled, “The Causes of Peace and the Shrinking Costs of War,” the 2009-2010 edition of the annual report marshals a ton of solid data that proves our world is less violent than ever and that it has “become far less insecure over the past 20 years.” The major failing […]

In the aftermath of the Libya operation, my Naval War College colleague Tom Nichols concluded bluntly, “Humanitarian interventions are here to stay and are going to be driven more by moral calculation and military opportunity than by ‘national interest.’” This, it seems, is the new American foreign policy consensus; despite the costly U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the anti-interventionist coalition has lost the policy debate. The current fiscal crisis may trim back the scale and scope of future interventions, but will not eliminate them altogether from the U.S. policy toolbox. Even with its fiscal constraints, the United States will […]

It’s happening again. International credit markets are showing signs of strain; economic growth around the world is stalling; and there are growing fears the global economy could slip back into a recession. Last Friday, amid this unfolding financial turmoil, the Group of Seven (G-7) finance ministers met in Marseille, France. Despite calls from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for the group to “act now — and act boldly,” the summit ended without any concrete plan of action. Indeed, the finance ministers could barely even muster a short communique. This contrasts starkly with how the world’s leading economies reacted to similar, […]

Sept. 11: America and the World

One thing I’d like add to my remarks from last Friday’s The World This Week program on France 24 has to do with the question, at the end of Part I, about the impact of Sept. 11 on America’s relationship to the world. To begin with, I usually find that particular discussion a bit reductionist. On one level, America’s collective reaction to Sept. 11 included a large dose of distrust and suspicion of a world that suddenly seemed very hostile and threatening. But on another level, I often find the portrayal of the barriers between America and the world to […]

WPR on France 24: The World Last Decade

I had the pleasure of participating in France 24’s panel discussion program, The World This Week, on Friday. The program focused on the impact of Sept. 11 on America and the world over the past decade. The other guests were Ahmed Rashid, Newsweek’s Christopher Dickey, the IHT’s Eric Pfanner, Nooshabeh Amiri and France 24’s Loick Berrou. Part I can be found here. Part II can be found here. I was especially struck by Eric Pfanner’s observation that this is the first Sept. 11 anniversary where we can consider its impact from the perspective of historic closure. The anniversary has already […]

The 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks has garnered America almost as much schadenfreude from the world as the original events did. Back in 2001, the line was that we had it coming to us for lording it over the world since the Cold War’s end. Today, it takes the form of writing off our alleged “hegemony” in light of the shifts in global power over the intervening decade, a claim that is as absurd the previous one was insulting. Naturally, the Chinese are celebrated as our presumed replacement. So, as always throughout our history as a superpower, […]

Sept. 11 Accelerated the Emergence of Existing Trends

In thinking about the ways in which Sept. 11 and our responses to it changed America and the world, it’s important to remember that some of its impact, and perhaps the most historically significant aspects of that impact, may not have entirely emerged yet. In August 1945, for instance, while the advent of radar, jet technology and nuclear weapons were plainly evident, it would have been close to impossible to foresee the way in which the war effort, both domestically and in theater, would go on to inform the black civil rights movement and women’s liberation movement 20-25 years later. […]

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