U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry talks with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in Vienna, Jan. 16, 2016 ( (Kevin Lamarque/Pool via AP).

The problem with withholding diplomatic relations to punish countries and change their behavior is that it usually doesn't work. In the meantime, the absence of relations robs America of a key diplomatic skill and the ability to intervene in a crisis. In recent years, many American officials have regarded withholding diplomatic relations as a way to punish countries for actions ranging from human rights abuses, to failure to abide by international law, to specific treaty violations and acts of war. But state-to-state relations among nations provide an essential framework for the conduct of foreign relations. Having no relations, and the […]

A study by the Congressional Research Service (CRS) found that U.S. arms sales surged last year, despite the worst global economic downturn in decades. (UPDATE: WPR subscribers can download the CRS report here.) In 2008, U.S. arms dealers signed new weapons contracts worth approximately $37.8 billion, a considerable increase from previous years. The surge was remarkable given that the total volume of new arms orders in 2008, $55.2 billion, was billions of dollars below the comparable figures for 2007 and 2006. The United States also fortified its position as the leading arms-exporting country. Last year, the volume of global defense […]

Sarkozy the Brazilian?

A few weeks back, Natalie Nougayrède wrote about the disappearance of human rights from Nicolas Sarkozy’s foreign policy agenda since last December. That got me thinking about the disappearance of foreign policy from Nicolas Sarkozy’s foreign policy agenda since last December. After a very active first two years in office, culminating in France’s EU presidency from July-December 2008, Sarkozy has been almost nonexistent in the international arena — outside of a brief supporting role in the runup to the London G-20 summit in April, and the opening of a minor French military base in Abu Dhabi in late-May. Part of […]

Chile Takes Aim at ‘Dirty War’ Perpetrators

Human rights advocates have applauded a Sept. 1 decision by a Chilean judge to issue arrest warrants for 131 former army soldiers and operatives of the National Intelligence Directorate, DINA, on charges of rights violations during the Augusto Pinochet era. At least four dozen of the warrants are related to charges associated with Operation Colombo, a disinformation campaign widely believed to be aimed at hiding human rights abuses, and Operation Condor, a concerted disappearance campaign against dissidents carried out jointly by military regimes in the region. The order from Judge Victor Montiglio is the largest single human rights-related prosecution effort […]

The Fog of Diplomacy

The news that the State Department has decided to terminate aid to Honduras — aid that had only been suspended previously — essentially translates into formally defining the removal of former Honduran President Manuel Zelaya as a coup. As Elizabeth Dickinson notes at the FP Passport blog, there are interests on both sides of this debate, and I find the argument of not being odd man out in Latin America right now compelling. One thing I haven’t seen mentioned is that in tacitly deprioritizing the problematic question of amending constitutions to extend term limits, the Obama administration weakens any efforts […]

How young Somali immigrants to the U.S. searched for belonging, and found jihad. First of a three-part series. (Part II) (Part III) On Oct. 29 last year, Shirwa Ahmed drove a car full of explosives up to a government compound in Puntland, a region of northern Somalia, and blew himself up. The blast — apparently orchestrated by al-Shabab, an Islamic militant group with ties to al-Qaida — was part of a coordinated attack in two cities that killed more than 20 people. A BBC reporter described body parts flying through the air. The attackers were “not from Puntland,” said Adde […]

“Winds of war have begun to blow,” Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez said early this month at a meeting in Quito, with his typical flair for the dramatic. Chávez’s rhetoric may be more provocative than those of other South American leaders, but many of them clearly share his concern about an agreement that could grant the United States military greater access to seven Colombian bases. The polemical debate has pitted the majority of Latin America against the United States, highlighting the Obama administration’s failure to deliver on its promise (.pdf) for a “New Partnership for the Americas.” At a Union of […]

Anthony Zinni on a New National Security Strategy

In an interivew with Steve Clemons of the New America Foundation,former CENTCOM Commander Gen. Anthony Zinni discusses the wars in Iraqand Afghanistan, the perils of special envoys, and why Obama needs anational security strategy.

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