At the end of last month, the National Research Council (NRC) released a report warning that U.S. nuclear forensics capacity — or the ability to determine the origin of material used in a nuclear explosion or for nuclear terrorism — was dangerously eroding, despite renewed government efforts to bolster it. “Although U.S. nuclear forensics capabilities are substantial and can be improved, right now they are fragile, under-resourced and, in some respects, deteriorating,” the report concluded. “Without strong leadership, careful planning and additional funds, these capabilities will decline.” The public document, entitled “Nuclear Forensics: A Capability at Risk,” summarized a classified […]
Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, and President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy met at a summit in Brasilia in July to discuss the development of bilateral and regional ties. In an e-mail interview, Dr. Mahrukh Doctor, lecturer in political economy at the University of Hull and visiting associate professor at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, discusses Brazil-EU relations. WPR: What issues are driving the current relationship between Brazil and EU? Mahrukh Doctor: The key drivers of Brazil and EU relations are trade and investment. Brazil is the largest […]
Next month, Venezuela will hold elections for the national assembly — an opportunity that could either support the continued dominance of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez or reveal what some public opinion polls show as a slippage in popularity. Despite mounting domestic issues, Chavez’s advantages are numerous while the opposition continues to appear weak.
At the beginning of this year, I made the following observation: The novelty of the Obama presidency has worn off. What remains will be a long, hard slog of rebuilding America’s global position. And while the fancy rhetoric of 2009 convinced many to give Washington a second chance, 2010 needs to be the year of delivery. If not, Obama will discover, as Bush did before him, that America cannot lead if others will not follow. More than halfway through 2010, the Obama administration has made some progress on a number of the foreign policy challenges facing the United States. There […]
Ecuador recently had its name removed from the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) “black list” of countries failing to effectively combat money laundering. For now, at least, this brings to an end a spat between the FATF and the government of Rafael Correa, ongoing since the Andean country was relegated to the organization’s lowest rung of noncompliance — occupied by the likes of Angola, Iran, North Korea, and Turkmenistan — in February. Correa struck a defiant tone during the episode, declaring: “This is imperialism in its most base form. . . . This has nothing to do with the struggle […]
Leaders from Mexico’s National Action Party (PAN) and the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD) recently announced their intention to run on a joint ticket in the 2011 race for the governorship of the state of Guerrero, and have begun talks to collaborate in an additional four state races. The announcement follows July’s defeat of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) at the hands of the PAN-PRD alliance in gubernatorial races held in three PRI strongholds — Oaxaca, Puebla and Sinaloa — and signals the increasing collaboration between Mexico’s main center-right (PAN) and center-left (PRD) parties as the 2012 presidential contest nears. The […]
The foreign ministers of Chile and Bolivia met in La Paz last month to begin negotiations on an agenda that includes Bolivia’s request for Pacific Ocean access. In an e-mail interview, Council of the Americas Senior Director of Policy Christopher Sabatini — with historical research by COA policy associate Nina Agrawal — explains the context for the Bolivia-Chile maritime dispute. WPR: What is the origin of the dispute? Christopher Sabatini: The Bolivia-Chile maritime dispute is actually over landlocked Bolivia’s access to the Pacific Ocean. It goes back to colonial times, when viceroys had competing claims over the area — the […]
Unless you have been living under a rock, the news that China has become the world’s top energy consumer should not have been surprising. For some years now, China has been steadily marching up the global energy consumer rankings, an ascension that was expedited by the severity of the recession’s impact in the U.S. The International Energy Agency (IEA), whose data confirmed the dubious milestone, called it a “new age in the history of energy.” Even if it is not entirely surprising, the news does beg further analysis because of its implications for global energy markets and international affairs. It […]
LIMA, Peru — With the entire western Amazon experiencing oil and mining booms, indigenous groups in the Amazon Basin and the Andes — already fighting encroachment by loggers and small-scale farmers, or else struggling to obtain title for their ancestral land — have now stepped up their resistance to efforts to exploit oil reserves, mineral deposits and other natural resources in and nearby their communities. In response, the region’s presidents have accused native leaders and environmentalists who help them of everything from terrorism to being U.S. lackeys. The trends cut across ideological divides. Peruvian President Alan Garcia has taken a […]
It was a shocking discovery. On July 2, agents from the Ecuadorian military and police, acting on a tip from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, raided a smugglers’ camp deep in Ecuador’s jungle. Among rickety buildings and some scattered equipment lay a 100-foot-long submarine, half-submerged in a muddy channel. The diesel- and electrically powered vessel, constructed partially of fiberglass and capable of carrying six people and up to 12 tons of cargo fully underwater, was clearly designed to smuggle multi-million-dollar shipments of cocaine, most likely to the major drug markets in the U.S Smugglers have been using low-riding, hard-to-spot semi-submersible […]
United States Assistant Secretary Rose Gottemoeller delivered a statement before the Senate Armed Services Committee on the new START treaty. Gottemoeller was the lead United States negotiator on the new treaty. She highlighted the fact that there were no backroom deals during negotiations, despite rumors of the contrary, and emphasized the treaty’s importance.
American public diplomacy has been the subject of many reports and much discussion over the past few years. But one rarely examined element is the true impact of the Smith-Mundt Act of 1948, which for all practical purposes labels U.S. public diplomacy and government broadcasting as propaganda. The law imposes a geographic segregation of audiences between those inside the U.S. and those outside it, based on the fear that content aimed at audiences abroad might “spill over” into the U.S. This not only shows a lack of confidence and understanding of U.S. public diplomacy and international broadcasting, it also ignores […]