A delegation from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will visit Syria next week to assess recent American claims that the installation attacked by Israeli warplanes last year was indeed a nuclear reactor in the final stages of construction. Two months ago, Michael Hayden, the director of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, and other senior American intelligence analysts broke months of official silence about the September 2007 Israeli air strikes against a target located near the Syrian town of Al Kibar. Their intensive briefings for members of Congress, congressional staff, and, on background, the media, confirmed earlier suspicions that the […]

Last week, the Supreme Court once again waded into the murky legal waters of the War on Terror. In Boumediene v. Bush, a deeply divided court struck down a provision of the Detainee Treatment Act that limited the access to judicial review by detainees in Guantanamo seeking to challenge their classification as “enemy combatants.” The legal rationale for this decision, although controversial, was not complicated: aliens held by the United States in areas where the U.S. exercises sovereignty are protected by the Constitution; Guantanamo is within the de facto sovereignty of the United States; the Congress had not suspended the […]

A former official in the Algerian civil service and the author of four previous novels, the Algerian novelist Boualem Sansal has recently published a new book titled Le village de l’Allemand: “The German’s Village.” Via the reflections of two brothers of Algerian origin living in the Parisian banlieues, it tells the story of the brothers’ father: Hans Schiller, a hero of the Algerian war of independence as a member of the National Liberation Front (FLN) — and, as so happens, before that an officer in the dreaded Nazi paramilitary force, the SS. For Boualem Sansal, “the line separating Islamism from […]

CHITWAN and KATMANDU, Nepal — Four years ago, Hardik dropped out of his university-level science studies in the Nepali capital, Katmandu, to join Maoist insurgents in the bush. Admittedly scared sick at first, he said the rigors of guerilla warfare hardened his resolve to oust a ruling monarchy hopelessly out of touch with Nepal’s poverty. Today Hardik is one of more than 23,000 members of the People’s Liberation Army idling in U.N.-monitored ceasefire camps, where weapons are locked away and his free time is spent doing English grammar exercises or playing the flute. “There is no such thing as perpetual […]

DENPASAR, Indonesia — Opinion polls indicate that President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono remains Indonesia’s most popular politician. This is not little comfort for the man who has helmed the country for the last four years and is set to contest for a second term in 2009. But it is not all good news for the former four-star general. Accusations of religious intolerance have continued to gain ground in Indonesia and, in the next few days, Yudhoyono is expected to make two potentially contentious rulings on religious matters. Yudhoyono has been called on to decide whether to ban Ahmadiyah, a religious sect […]

With a whimper went President Bush’s last, best chance for a positive legacy in international affairs. Last week administration officials conceded to the Financial Times that India would not approve a nuclear cooperation pact with Washington during Bush’s tenure. In March 2006, President Bush signed a nuclear agreement in New Delhi designed to pull the world’s largest democracy closer to the world’s last superpower and dramatically alter Asia’s balance of power. With Asia’s economic rise, it is widely assumed that the continent’s political emergence will follow in the coming decades. By agreeing to cooperate with India on nuclear issues — […]

On June 6, Dmitry Medvedev presided over his first major multinational meetings since replacing Vladimir Putin as Russia’s president on May 7. The first gathering involved an “informal” summit of the heads of state of the Moscow-led Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). The second was the annual meeting of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, which attracts many foreign diplomats and business executives. At the meetings, Medvedev eschewed the sarcastic and at times menacing rhetoric of his predecessor. He also seemed slightly more open to resolving Russia’s differences with Georgia. Yet, Medvedev reaffirmed Putin’s hard-line position regarding NATO expansion and […]

FRANCE PLUGS THE GAP — Why are four French Mirage 2000 fighter planes currently deployed at the former U.S. air base at Keflavik, Iceland? Answer: The French are plugging a gap in NATO’s North Atlantic defenses left by the U.S. withdrawal from Iceland in 2006. The Keflavik base controlled the so-called Iceland Air Policing Area designed to turn back Soviet long-range strategic bombers headed for U.S. airspace. Two years ago, the Pentagon closed the huge facility after almost 50 years because, in Washington’s view, it had become a relic of the Cold War. Moscow was quick to spot the hole, […]

Today (June 15) the government of Kosovo will enforce the territory’s constitution, which aims to pass authority over the territory from the U.N. to the EU. The U.N. secretary general’s attempt last week to square this move with international law creates the potential for institutional conflict, de facto partition and prolonged insecurity over Kosovo’s status. The U.N. has administered the territory under resolution 1244 since 1999, when a NATO bombardment drove out Serbian forces brutalizing Kosovo’s ethnic Albanian majority. Serbia, with the backing of Russia, a U.N. Security Council member, have since resisted any move towards independence, with most Serbs […]

In the political minefield that is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the issue of Jerusalem hangs like a hornet’s nest on a limb over a pile of unexploded ordnance. That’s why many people caught their breath last week when Sen. Barack Obama, fresh from securing the Democratic nomination, walked through that field and stood face to face with the humming problem. Obama grabbed the Jerusalem hornet’s nest and shook it hard. Or at least it seemed that way for about 24 hours. Speaking before the annual gathering of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee June 4, the pro-Israel lobby, Obama reassured Israel […]

Part I: Series Introduction Part II: NATO Reintegration and European Defense Part III: A Widening FocusPart IV: The Temptation of a Forward Defense Hubert Védrine was a diplomatic advisor and chief of staff to French President François Mitterand, and went on to serve as France’s foreign minister in the government of Prime Minister Lionel Jospin (1997-2002). He is the author of numerous books and articles on foreign policy and globalization, and leads a seminar on international relations at the Paris Institute of Political Science (Sciences Po). Over the course of a generous and wide-ranging interview, he offered World Politics Review […]

BOGOTÁ, Colombia — As the oldest guerrilla insurgency in Latin America, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), celebrates its 44th anniversary, the group is at a critical juncture following the death of its leader and the desertion of thousands of its fighters. The death last month of Manuel Marulanda, FARC’s founder and iconic leader, together with rising defections from rebel ranks have raised questions about whether the group is in an irreversible decline. Desertion has become a real concern for the guerrilla group. In the last six years, nearly 10,000 rebels have handed in their weapons, shrinking FARC ranks […]

America’s preoccupation in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars has significantly undermined its influence in the Asia-Pacific region. Much has been written about how China has attempted to fill the “American void” in the Asia-Pacific and to reconfigure the region’s geopolitical architecture, but little attention is being accorded to Russia’s new power plays in the region, which, if not appropriately understood, will have tremendous consequences for American interests. Over the past five years, Russia has been slowly repositioning itself in the Asia-Pacific through arms sales, participation in regional venues like the Six-Party Talks concerning North Korea’s nuclear program, and energy exports. […]

It’s a sign of the weakness of the Republican Party and its nominee that Sen. John McCain’s best chance of victory may lie in championing the hugely unpopular war in Iraq. Polls indicate that most Americans wish the war had never started, and would like to see American troops pulled out of the country sooner rather than later. At the same time, though, Americans have a much more positive impression of the conduct of the war since early 2007. The troop surge, which which began that January, saw not only a temporary increase in American troops but also the introduction […]

KATMANDU, Nepal — Nepal’s Maoist movement has no operational links with the leftist insurgents in India who also call themselves Maoists, the former guerilla army’s second-in-command said, dismissing the possibility of any future assistance for their political brethren to the south. “Political revolution is fixed within a border and we do not export it,” Commander Ananta said in an interview with World Politics Review earlier this month at Maoist party headquarters here. “The people of an independent country must decide themselves.” The Maoists’ landslide victory in last month’s general elections raised some concerns that leftist insurgents across the border in […]

Part I: Series Introduction Part II: NATO Reintegration and European DefensePart III: A Widening Focus PARIS — Any strategic posture review inevitably boils down to preparing for possible conflict, and the scenarios for potential intervention that were evoked in discussions with French officials and experts this past month reveal a great deal about the evolution in France’s vision of its global role. Some of the scenarios were anchored in the certainty of the past. Maj. Gen. Vincent Desportes, commander of the French Army’s Force Employment Doctrine Center, identified any situation involving significant numbers of French citizens as an automatic cause […]

While Arab and Israeli peace negotiators expend their energy trying not to bolt from their seats in exasperation, business men and women on both sides of the divide think they may just have found a way to peace that will prove faster, more entertaining, and definitely more profitable. Driven more by a quest for profits than by ideology, Arab and Israeli entrepreneurs are quietly working together on a variety of ventures. Small-scale partnerships between Israelis and Palestinians and between other Arabs and Jews have happened for years. Larger, higher-profile deals are now becoming more common. In recent months, an iconic […]

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