Events in Honduras and Argentina last weekend raised the stakes in a historic debate unfolding in the Western Hemisphere. Latin America has become the stage for a fierce, at times violent, ideological battle about the best way to govern a poor country. The ideology and governing style at the center of the dispute is Chavismo, the creation of Venezuela’s President Hugo Chávez. And in the battle over Chavismo, this past weekend marked a major milestone. Much of the hemisphere’s diplomatic and media attention has focused on the dramatic overthrow of Honduran President Manuel Zelaya last Sunday. Zelaya arrived in Costa […]

The Spanish National Criminal Court (Audiencia Nacional) said on Tuesday it was scrapping an investigation into a 2002 Israeli Air Force bombing in Gaza that killed a suspected Hamas militant and 14 civilians. The move comes just days after the lower house of the Spanish Parliament voted to limit the scope of a 1985 law that allows judges to investigate crimes against humanity anywhere in the world. Taken together, the developments mark a significant setback for advocates of universal jurisdiction, a legal concept whereby states can claim criminal jurisdiction over persons whose alleged crimes were committed outside the boundaries of […]

Soft Power and the American Virus

I think Matthew Yglesias is letting his desire to disagree with Michael Goldfarb get in the way of his judgment, because McDonald’s on the Champs Elysées is not “soft power.” And if “that kind of thing is the real strength of the United States of America,” it is a strength that reflects cultural hegemony, as Goldfarb implies, not influence. This gets to a growing misuse of the idea of “soft power,” which has to do with a nation’s ability to influence through attraction, not coercion. To begin with, the exercise of soft power for the most part resides in statecraft. […]

The United States took an important step yesterday toward leaving Iraq by moving combat troops out of Iraqi population centers in anticipation of the June 30 deadline specified in the U.S.-Iraq Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA). This redeployment has focused attention on Iraq’s current security situation and triggered stepped-up efforts by insurgents to undermine the symbolic importance of the transition, by launching attacks generally aimed at Shiite civilians. It has also provided fodder for those in the United States who wish todelay withdrawal. However, looking at Iraq solely through the prism of short-term security trends clouds thinking about how the […]

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