Second of a three-part series. Part I can be found here. Part III can be found here. BAYAMO, Cuba — Tropi Crema isn’t like ice cream parlors found elsewhere in the world. Most days, only a single flavor is available, advertised on a board by the entrance, and there’s often a line to get in. Still, for many residents of this tidy city in eastern Cuba, it’s irresistible. One recent afternoon, two middle-aged women sat at the long, crowded counter. Between them they ordered 12 scoops of chocolate ice cream and two pieces of coconut cake. Here and there, along […]

When Thai security forces recently raided the offices of the Working Group on Justice for Peace (WGJP) in the country’s insurgency-torn south, it may have been business-as-usual for a military with a checkered human rights record. But a report released last week by the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) shows this is part of a disturbing global trend. The report (.pdf), “Assessing Damage, Urging Actions: Report of the Eminent Jurists Panel on Terrorism, Counterterrorism and Human Rights,” argues that the Bush administration’s post-9/11 “war paradigm” has led to a globalization of extraordinary legal measures which result in an unprecedented corrosive […]

Water Balloon Bona Fides

On a side note, Jari also raises another very important question: Have you guys ever actually handled a balloon full of water? The answer to this is yes. In fact, as a senior at Hunter College H.S., I participated in a water balloon attack against the neighboring Lycée Français that is the stuff of legend. (Anyone who has ever gone to school in the near vicinity of a Lycée Français needs no explanation for why we organized this attack.) As water balloon attacks go, it was massive, involving four large cardboard cartons full of them, and a dozen or so […]

Since taking office in 2002, Colombian President Álvaro Uribe has not wavered from his campaign promise to use a “firm hand” to eliminate the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). By all indications, Colombia’s counterinsurgency effort has been largely effective in weakening the rebel group, considered to be a terrorist organization by the United States and European Union for its involvement in high-profile kidnappings and drug trafficking. But an unintended side effect of Uribe’s tough approach has been the deterioration of Colombia’s bilateral relations with Ecuador and Venezuela. Colombia has accused its neighbors of being sympathetic to the FARC and […]

On Feb. 12, Iraq became the latest country to join the Chemical Weapons Convention. The country’s entry was especially important in light of the widespread use of chemical weapons by former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein against his foreign and domestic enemies. Under Hussein, Iraq developed a major chemical weapons industry. During the 1980s, the regime killed thousands of people by repeatedly employing chemical weapons against both Iranian troops during the 1980-88 Iraq-Iran War and its domestic opponents, most infamously in the March 1988 mustard gas attacks on the Kurdish village of Halabja. With Iraq’s entry, the CWC (as the Convention […]

As Western financial sectors reeled during 2007 and 2008, Asian and Middle Eastern sovereign wealth funds (SWFs) offered some succor, administering exotic medicine to banks poisoned by subprime toxins. These White Knights cast a dark shadow, however, as questions — and fears — were raised about the political influence that, for instance, a Chinese government presence on the board of Barclays Bank might represent. The focus has shifted recently. Plummeting oil prices and declining demand for imports by contracting U.S, European and Japanese markets undercut the vast revenue base the SWFs were drawing upon. Now SWFs are writing off untold […]

Cutting Western Aid to Africa

I’m probably wading blindly into a charged debate here, but Dambisa Moyo makes a compelling case against Western aid to Africa. When I was backpacking around Ecuador on a shoe-string budget fifteen years ago, I had the good fortune to meet a network of U.S. Peace Corps volunteers who put me up and showed me around their projects. A few years later, I was able to repeat the experience with a more respectable budget that allowed me to actually rent a room from a group of Belgian development workers. It was pretty obvious both times that the major beneficiaries of […]

The Threat From, Yes, Canada reports that the U.S. military is nervous about Canada: Military officials believe Canadian immigration policies are creating a “favorable” environment for what the U.S. government deems to be potential terrorists seeking entry into the United States from the north, according to an internal briefing crafted by a U.S. Northern Command joint task force. Officials at the Joint Task Force-North believe a “large population” of so-called special-interest aliens, or SIAs, in Eastern Canada presents the “greatest potential for foreign terrorists’ access to the homeland,” according to a Jan. 15 briefing available on the organization’s Web site until recently.

The Financial Crisis and Regional Integration

This is a thought that I’m going to try to develop more over time. But this Ralph Peters takedown of the EU’s response to the financial crisis (via today’s WPR Media Roundup) is a good place to start. Over the past ten years, there have been twin trends towards integration, in some ways parallel but in many others overlapping: globalization and regional mulitlateral organizations. Both have created economic and political forces that transcend the traditional limits of state sovereignty. (See Samuel Makinda’s WPR feature article for a discussion of regional integration and state sovereignty.) As the global financial crisis has […]

CHILDREN APPEAL FOR END TO CHILD SOLDIER USE — Children from more than 100 countries recently appealed to world leaders to do more to end to the use of children as combatants in armed conflicts. Despite international protocols preventing the practice, an estimated 250,000 children around the globe are fighting as soldiers. Former child soldiers and young activists personally delivered their plea in the form of a petition featuring 250,000 red handprints to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Feb. 12, the fifth anniversary of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Child soldiers are still […]

First of a three-part series. Part II can be found here. Part III can be found here. HAVANA, Cuba — Arriving in Cuba this time felt different straight away. The airport, where I arrived on a flight from Cancún crammed with Cubans and their purchases, was hassle-free. No tour operators solicited me; no cabbies assailed me. It was the same in touristy Old Havana. Ten years before, on my last visit, I couldn’t walk a few steps without having cigars or a lobster dinner pressed on me. This time, whether in the leafy, mansion-studded Vedado section, the shopping arcades near […]

CARACAS, Venezuela — The margin of victory in Sunday’s Venezuelan referendum on lifting term limits — 55 to 45 percent — succinctly reflects both President Hugo Chávez’s continued strength and the opposition’s rise. The government has been spinning the comfortable victory, which allows Chávez to run again in 2012, into a resounding show of support for the president’s socialist project and a rejection of the opposition, which it paints as a carry-over from the corrupt liberal democracy of old. The opposition, for its part, argues that it has essentially broken even with Chávez, earning credibility and putting it within striking […]

Sarkozy’s NATO Strategy

Those sneaky French. Just when you think you can trust them, they turn around and stab you in the back and do exactly what they’ve been saying they’d do. Okay, cheap shot, because Judy Dempsey’s piece on Sarkozy’s NATO-EU defense grand bargain doesn’t exhibit any of the paranoia usually on display in American analysis of France’s EU defense ambitions. Two things, though. This isn’t quite true: But most of Europe has no stomach for tough missions like Afghanistan. It has not supported France in playing a bigger role in Africa. The Europeans do not want to spend more on defense, […]

Many Americans believe that Barack Obama and the Democratic majority in Congress will lower defense spending and restrain the militaristic foreign policy it underwrites. The coming years should destroy that myth. America’s overly aggressive and fiscally reckless defense policy will survive the Democratic majority. The Obama administration inherits runaway defense spending and leadership of a military that wants more. Non-war or base defense spending will be more than $515 billion in fiscal year 2009. Adjusting for inflation, that’s 40 percent higher than the defense budget when George W. Bush took office. Add the wars, nuclear weapons research, veterans, and homeland […]

This article is based on the book, “Organizing for a Complex World: Developing Tomorrow’s Defense and Net-Centric Systems,” recently published by the CSIS Press. Programs such as the Army’s Future Combat System, the Coast Guard’s Integrated Deepwater System program and the FAA’s Next Generation Air Traffic System are far more ambitious than any previously attempted. They combine groundbreaking technologies to create large, network-centric systems-of-systems with unprecedented capabilities. But such ambition brings unparalleled complexity, making these programs susceptible to cost overruns, schedule slippages and performance shortfalls. In recent testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee (pdf), Secretary of Defense Robert Gates […]

The Revolution Will Not Be Televised

The situation in Guadeloupe has a number of particularities that make it a not-very-ideal reference to other poor places in the world. As an island, the cost of foodstuffs and necessities remains high despite the recent drop in global commodity prices. But it’s hard to read about the month-long general strike there taking a violent turn without thinking about the potential for generalized instability as a result of the global economic downturn: The strike also is exposing racial and class tensions on islands wherea largely white elite, many the descendants of colonial settlers, makesup only 1 percent of the population […]

Inventory Glut

I try to avoid wading into the field of economics, where a little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing, and a lot of knowledge doesn’t seem to help matters much these days either. But I recall from the distant fog of a high school term paper that one of the initial complicating factors in the onset of the Great Depression was the buildup of inventory. I’d understood that the recent advances in communications technology, along with more efficient production and delivery systems, had largely streamlined inventories to be more responsive to real-time demand. But this WaPo article suggests that […]

Showing 1 - 17 of 341 2 Last