Hondurans Vote Conservative?

NewsHour’s Margaret Warner reports on the much anticipated presidential election in Honduras. Though the votes are in and seemingly in favor of conservative rancher Porfirio “Pepe” Lobo, ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya is calling the election illegitimate.

The Realist Prism: Obama Promises with One Hand, Delays with Other

In May, I raised concerns that the “first steps” taken by President Barack Obama had given the administration some “breathing room” in terms of deliverables. No one expected back then that Washington would be moving on key initiatives. It was understood that the new team needed to get settled: The first hundred days is not a good time for breakthroughs. But six months later, it still doesn’t seem like a good time for them. At the Guadalajara summit in August, any effort to move forward on a series of important issues dealing with North America — trade, energy security, coping […]

Off the Radar News Roundup

– China’s defense minister gets face time with Kim Jong-Il on the third day of his visit to North Korea. – A high-ranking Chinese military envoy was in Moscow for discussions with Russia’s defense minister. – A high-ranking Chinese political envoy was in Quito to discuss deepening ties with Ecuador. Among the deals signed was a credit line for Ecuador to purchase Chinese military aircraft. That’s pretty remarkable, given the extent to which Ecuador’s military has historically been U.S.-trained, equipped and oriented. (Little-known fact: There’s a small but visible Chinese expat population spread throughout Ecuador. Second little-known fact: Ecuadoran-style Chinese […]

Amazonian countries, it seems, will have one chance and one chance only to work out a common negotiating position ahead of the Copenhagen climate change summit next month. It will come in the form of a meeting on Thursday, Nov. 26, organized by Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. Perhapsreaching a regional agreement was seen as a formality, one so uncontroversial that even the feuding presidents of Colombia and Venezuela would join in. After all, the Amazon rain forest is a single ecosystem, and all the Amazonian countries emphasize the urgent need for its conservation. There is also broad […]

Historic treaty ushers in long-anticipated era of U.S. southward expansion. AUSTIN, Texas — Meeting in the New Texas statehouse on the 195th anniversary of Texas’ declaration of independence from Mexico, official representatives from the Tejas Confederation, the Northern Alliance of Mexican States, and the United States government signed a comprehensive treaty that will immediately “re-admit” the Tejas states of El Norte and Gulfland to the American union, and submit to Congress formal pleas for new statehood on behalf of all five Northern Alliance members — Baja California, Sonora, Chihuahua, Coahuila and Nuevo Leon. If all Alliance members are ultimately accepted […]

Off the Radar News Roundup

– The unofficial U.S. ambassador to Taiwan said that Chinese Preseident Hu Jintao was more interested in “scoring points” on the Tibet issue than on Taiwan in his talks last week with President Barack Obama. – China and South Korea will be expediting negotiations for a free trade agreement. It’s pretty surprising that the EU already beat the U.S. to a FTA with South Korea. But if China does, too, that would be incredible. A number of obstacles remain, though, including U.S. opposition. – Islamabad unveiled a package of political and economic reforms aimed at tamping down separatism in Balochistan. […]

Off the Radar News Roundup

– According to the People’s Daily, “Chinese experts” say China is not taking sides in the Kashmir dispute. The comments come in response to a Kashmiri separatist leader applauding the U.S.-Chinese joint declaration’s reference to promoting India-Pakistan reconciliation. I suspect President Barack Obama will also walk this back at the first opportunity during Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit. – Meanwhile, in a CNN interview in advance of his visit to Washington,Singh ruled out redrawing Kashmir’s borders, drawing a protest from Islamabad. – China’s defense minister traveled to North Korea in the latest of a series of high-level defense meetings […]

Raul’s Cuba Shows Little Improvement on Personal Freedoms

Raúl Castro has failed to improve Cuba’s respect for individual freedoms, Human Rights Watch charges in a new report. Rights advocates had hoped that Raúl would improve the island nation’s rights posture after taking over from his brother, Fidel. But that has not been the case. “In his three years in power, Raúl Castro has been just as brutal as his brother. Cubans who dare to criticize the government live in perpetual fear, knowing they could wind up in prison for merely expressing their views,” Jose Miguel Vivanco, HRW’s Americas director said in a press release. According to the report, […]

The following op-ed has been adapted from the Project for National Security Reform’s recently released report (.pdf), “Turning Ideas Into Action.” It is the third of three that WPR has featured. The first can be found here. The second can be found here. The National Security Act of 1947 established the National Security Council (NSC) to draw upon the expertise of the diplomatic, military, and intelligence departments and agencies to advise the president and coordinate policy. Today’s NSC consists of the president as well as select department secretaries and agency heads. A national security adviser and a small National Security […]

An End to the ‘Banana Wars’

Thanks to stubborn and persisent negotiations, the longest-running trade dispute in the history of the WTO is close to being resolved. This lends support to the flagging notion of negotiated settlements, and banishes the possibility of a banana-centric counterinsurgency doctrine from seeing the light of day.

Middle Eastern diplomacy has intensified enormously in recent months, but don’t expect to see peace break out any time soon as a result of that new burst of activity. That’s because the latest wave of diplomacy has surfaced in a most unlikely place: South America. In November alone, Brazil is playing host to the presidents of Israel, Iran and the Palestinian Authority. Why have these leaders, all facing pressing problems at home, suddenly decided to travel thousands of miles to spend time with the heads of developing nations? The visits are hardly routine. When Israeli President Shimon Peres landed in […]

The following op-ed has been adapted from the Project for National Security Reform’s recently released report(.pdf), “Turning Ideas Into Action.” It is the second of three that WPR will be featuring. The first can be found here. The third will appear tomorrow. U.S. national security missions are shifting, broadening, and becoming increasingly interdisciplinary. Yet, the structures and processes for addressing these missions have not evolved accordingly. An increasing number of missions now require interagency approaches. But because of the excessively rigid structures and processes of the current national security system, the White House is compelled to take charge of most […]

The following op-ed has been adapted from the Project for National Security Reform’s recently released report (.pdf), “Turning Ideas Into Action.” It is the first of three that WPR will be featuring. The second will appear tomorrow. The current Department of State was not designed to manage the increasingly diverse responsibilities of the U.S. government in a globalized world. While the department occupies center stage of the civilian foreign affairs community, it remains narrowly focused on, and resourced for, traditional diplomacy. It neither possesses nor exercises sufficient authority to manage the full range of international civilian programs effectively. While there […]

Off the Radar News Roundup

– China announces yet another military cooperation upgrade, this time with Thailand. – This article about the followup to the Obama-Hatoyama meeting includes a good rundown of what the U.S.-Japan dispute over the Futenma air base closure is all about. – I mentioned the various competing plans for Asian regional integration earlier today. Here are the broad outlines of Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama’s version. – In the runup to the one-year anniversary of the Mumbai attack, Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi issues a call for renewing the Composite Dialogue with India. – Turkey moves forward with its Kurdish […]

Counterterrorism, Real and Imagined

I’ve felt for a while that the “safe havens don’t matter” argument — the idea that somehow terrorist networks can’t substitute online connectivity for actual physical space — is the weakest argument against the strategic relevance of the Afghanistan war. For all sorts of reasons having to do with training, esprit de corps and loyalty bonds, actually having a physical place to solidify operational networks is probably essential and definitely advantageous. That said, one area where online connectivity really does outweigh the importance of physical space is in the financing networks that make farflung terrorist operations possible. So an EU […]

HAVANA — In Havana, the most conspicuous evidence that hostility toward the U.S. has softened can be found at the U.S. Interest Section along the Malecón promenade. When I was last here in early 2008, the gleaming white tower was camouflaged by more than a hundred billowing black flags that Fidel Castro had erected in 2006. The flags were meant to block a scrolling marquee displaying anti-Fidel, pro-America messages, installed by the Bush administration. Nowadays, the building gets a lot more direct sunlight. After the Obama administration pulled the plug on the marquee in June, Fidel removed almost all the […]

Ft. Hood, or Terrorism as Mental Illness

I can’t help but feel like all the efforts to draw general conclusions on national security from the Ft. Hood tragedy miss an obvious point — namely, the ways in which terrorism at the low end of the hierarchy overlaps with mental illness. That’s something that’s obscured by our tendency to focus our discussion on the political and strategic goals of the upper echelons of terrorist leadership, which are national security issues. But at the ground level, terrorists are essentially insane. That’s not to say they are not able to function “normally,” or that they should not be held accountable […]

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