Obama Welcomes Hagel and Boren as Co-Chairmen of His Intelligence Advisory Board

President Obama welcomed Senator David Boren and Senator Chuck Hagel asco-chairmen of his Intelligence Advisory Board. “I look forward toworking with Chuck and David in their new roles — they will report tome, they will have my full support, and they will have the fullcooperation of my national security staff,” Obama said. ThePresident continued his remarks by commenting on his intendedtransparency, where appropriate, when it comes to the IAB.

Europe and Obama: The Divorce?

James Joyner suggests the end is nigh for the Obama honeymoon in Europe, and that Europeans might soon be thinking back with nostalgia on the good ole days of Dubya. While I largely agree with the former argument, and foresaw some bumps on the road even before President Barack Obama took office, there are a few nuances I’d make in his characterization of the latter. Specifically, if George W. Bush learned to listen to Europe, and in particular NATO, it was largely after he’d been chastened by the failure of the Iraq war and the 2006 mid-term elections. Up until […]

Mexican City Test Drives Women-Only Taxi Service

The Mexican city of Puebla has joined the women-only taxi revolution in a bid to protect women from harassment. The move comes over the objections of women’s rights advocates, who charge the measure fails to address underlying problems plaguing women in Mexican society. A new fleet of 35 bright-pink taxis driven by women have hit the streets, serving only female clientele. Each car comes equipped with a tracking device and an alarm, as well as mirrors in the back to allow women to fix their makeup. Most Puebla women have responded positively to the new service, but doubts remain among […]

Latin America as Institution-Building Model

On a number of occasions recently, I’ve found myself wondering why Latin America doesn’t figure more prominently in not only discussions of institution-building and democracy promotion, but in some of those missions currently in progress. This NYT story about Chilean President Michelle Bachelet — who is leaving office with 70 percent approval ratings due to a single-term limit — offers a good opportunity to articulate that thought. Bachelet’s success combines equal parts skillful management and political courage. And in the broader global discussion regarding the future of progressive-left parties (failing dismally in Europe these days), her combination of fiscal responsibility […]

Various forms of cancer kill roughly 565,000 Americans per year, while tobacco kills around 440,000, and obesity causes perhaps another 400,000 or more deaths. Approximately 1.7 million patients develop infections annually while undergoing treatment in U.S. hospitals, resulting in an estimated 99,000 deaths. These four causes account for roughly 1.5 million U.S. deaths per year, every year. A single organism, Clostridium difficile, causes some 450,000 infections and between 15,000 and 20,000 deaths per year. Meanwhile, throughout the entire 20th century, bioterrorism killed a grand total of zero U.S. citizens, and just five to date in the 21st century. Nevertheless, following […]

If you ask Spc. Daniel McBroom of the Army National Guard, the hardest part of war was the wind. “Physically and mentally, the wind was the worst,” he recalls. “This endless hot wind, like 100-degree fans turned toward your body.” But McBroom, 23, who returned in June after serving a year in Iraq, says that the toll of war will be different for everyone. “There’s no doubt it will mark you, change your body. But I don’t think anyone can predict what that change will be.” McBroom is one of nearly 1.5 million Americans enlisted in the U.S. armed forces, […]

A bipartisan commission last week reiterated its warning that the U.S. government is responding inadequately to the threat of bioterrorism. Shortly before last fall’s national election, the U.S. Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism issued its major report (.pdf), “World at Risk.” It included detailed guidance to the next U.S. presidential administration about what steps to take to counter the spread of weapons of mass destruction or their potential use by terrorists. The commission’s latest report (.pdf), affirms that, “Progress has been made, but the clock is ticking.” Like “World at Risk,” the October […]

This week, “The Thinkers 50” Web site named their 50 most influential business thinkers in the world. Atop its list stood the Indian-born, University of Michigan professor, C.K. Prahalad — a visionary whose analysis of the market opportunities to be found in the emerging global middle class is must reading for anyone seriously given to strategic thought in the age of globalization. Globalization is often described as a “race to the bottom,” whether to the lowest price or the least protection for workers and the environment. While relevant, these statements are untrue: High levels of globalization connectivity clearly correlates with […]

Why Cancel the C-17?

Looks like I’m not the only one that was puzzled by the plannedcancellation of the C-17 transport plane. Unlike other high-ticket aircraft programs,like the F-22, the C-17 is a plane that is currently in highoperational demand. And with the global shortage of strategic airlift,it’s one that is a very attractive export — even to countries likeFrance, which has traditionally avoided outsourcing its aircraftprocurement, but now finds itself in a pinch given the delays and costoverruns in the A400M program. Evenin the context of the COIN vs. conventional debate, the C-17 seems topass the test, since it fills a role in […]

A decade after the U.S. Senate declined to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), President Barack Obama is preparing an effort to reverse that decision. But to secure Senate backing this time around, the Obama administration must first overcome residual concerns among some senators that the treaty will harm U.S. national security. The CTBT prohibits all nuclear explosions, whether for military or other purposes, in any environment. Its practical effect would be to extend test prohibitions contained in current treaties and agreements to include underground testing of all nuclear explosive devices, the last domain not formally prohibited by existing […]

Americans’ fear of China right now is palpable. We see danger in its products, in its vast reserves of our currency, in its growing military might, in its ravenous hunger for raw materials, and in its single-party state. With “Made in China” seemingly stamped on the bottom of everything we bring into our already overstuffed houses, we worry that China will soon buy and sell us, just like Japan seemed poised to do two decades ago. In short, we no longer feel on top of the global economy. It’s somebody else’s “age.” Roughly a century ago, that’s exactly how the […]

Now that Ireland and Poland have ratified the Lisbon Treaty, a document designed to fundamentally re-engineer the 27-member European Union, Czech President Vaclav Klaus is the only remaining holdout. If Klaus gives in and signs the document, as he is largely expected to do, the Treaty will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2010, ushering in profound changes in the way the EU operates, especially on the global stage. Up until now, the EU has been stymied in its efforts to exert more influence in international affairs, largely because of its inability to “speak with one voice,” especially on matters […]

In addition to coordinating the world’s ruling class with the Clinton Global Initiative and combating HIV/AIDS with the Clinton Foundation, former President Bill Clinton is still fighting for Haiti. In May, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon invited him to be the United Nations Special Envoy to the poorest state in the Western Hemisphere. Clinton accepted, raising the question of where in the world he finds the energy. Earlier this month, Clinton made his third visit of the year to Haiti. During his trip, he toured the country, arguing that the moment was ripe for a revived tourism industry. He then […]

If there is one lesson we should have learned from 9/11 regarding intelligence collection and analysis, it is that the national intelligence bureaucracy’s “need to know” bias should be replaced with a cultural emphasis on the “need to share.” That’s why it is alarming to hear that the U.S. Intelligence Community (IC) has decided to shut down uGov, a webmail system for the IC and those who need to work with it on a regular basis. The exact reasons for the decision are still unclear, but it seems that they primarily involve concerns over network security: Something might leak out […]

Obama and the Forest Fire

If you haven’t seen this Onion clip (via Laura Rozen), it’s worth taking a look. My reaction to the Onion is usually just to think, “That’s funny.” This one actually made me laugh. But then it made me think. (I know, I know. Humor. Less.) It puts its finger, in a way that our nation’s comics seem better able to do these days than our political pundits, on a pretty determinant question in international relations. Namely, are nations, like raging forest fires, guided by natures that are unchanging and unresponsive to engagement and dialogue? Or are they guided by reason, […]

Power and Influence in a World of Insecurity With the dismal record of the Bush administration fresh in mind, assessing the first nine months of the Obama administration’s international relations performance evokes a mixture of admiration and trepidation. The substantive signals have been important, but arguably less so than the tone and the carefully choreographed style, which seem painstakingly designed to offer something for everyone. Special envoys have been appointed, thorny issues broached, executive orders signed and new directions mooted. Guantanamo Bay is closing, Europe is opening, missile defense is being reprofiled and overtures have been made to Egypt, Iran, […]

Over time we have come to realize that culture is the obstacle, and that culture is the best way to change culture. — Alyse Nelson, President, Vital Voices The word “culture” conveys multiple meanings. Alyse Nelson, president of the non-governmental organization Vital Voices, which promotes women’s empowerment globally, notes that “culture” in the anthropological sense is often evoked as a rationale for limiting women’s roles in society, while “culture,” meaning creative expression, can present a vision of an attractive alternative lifestyle or solution that can break the stranglehold of tradition. When Vital Voices works with local partners in different parts […]

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