An edgy calm has settled over Nicaragua in the aftermath of political violence that erupted in Managua late last month. During a tense three-day period from April 19-22, supporters of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega attacked opposition congressmen — throwing stones and homemade mortars, burning vehicles, blockading roads, and forcibly denying the lawmakers’ entry to the National Assembly, where the legislative body usually conducts business. The immediate cause of the violence was Decree 03-2010. Issued by Ortega in January 2010, the decree allows for a number of public functionaries — ranging from Supreme Court judges to congressmen and electoral commissioners allied […]

Much of Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s activities in Washington this week will center on his efforts to secure American support, both diplomatic and financial, for his new peace plan — and specifically, the controversial issue of negotiating with the Taliban. The Afghan government and its foreign backers differentiate between reconciliation and reintegration. The former concept involves negotiating a political settlement with senior Taliban leaders who are willing to break with al-Qaida. By contrast, reintegration entails inducing lower-level Taliban fighters — who might have become Taliban fighters for non-ideological reasons, such as financial incentives — to stop fighting and return to […]

BANGKOK — Red Shirt anti-government protesters have conditionally accepted Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva’s roadmap for national reconciliation in a move that is expected to end the rallies that have paralyzed parts of the capital for months. Opinions are mixed over whether the plan can bring lasting peace to a country whose unity has become increasingly fractured along lines of wealth, development and the urban/rural divide. But many analysts believe the proposed dissolution of Parliament in the second half of September followed by a general election on Nov. 14 will see the Red-Shirt United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) bring […]

Global Insider: China’s Housing Bubble

Over the past few months, China’s central bank has taken a number of precautionary measures to curb the risks of a housing bubble. In an e-mail interview, Eurasia Group associate Nicholas Consonery explains what China’s rising housing market could mean for Chinese and international stability. WPR: What geographic and demographic sectors are most affected by China’s rising housing market? Consonery: Though the government’s official measurements have shown rapidly rising housing prices across China’s 70 largest cities since last year, in reality this growth has been regionally skewed toward major cities like Beijing, Shanghai, and Shenzhen. An extreme example: In March, […]

At a recent NATO foreign ministers meeting in Tallinn, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that the United States would not withdraw its tactical nuclear weapons (TNWs) from Europe in the near-term future. Clinton also said that these weapons should only be drawn down if done so simultaneously with similar Russian systems. NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen echoed these sentiments and stated that U.S. nuclear weapons in Europe are an integral part of the alliance’s deterrent. But in addition to being increasingly unpopular among U.S. allies, the estimated 150-200 U.S. TNWs in Europe (.pdf) also lack military utility and […]

Iran’s alleged clandestine pursuit of a nuclear-weapon capability dominated the headlines last week during the ongoing Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference. However, beyond the theatrics of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s verbal exchange, it is important to remember, and ultimately to address, the root cause of the Iranian nuclear problem — namely, the spread of dual-use technologies such as uranium enrichment to countries outside the ring of first-order world powers. The problem with uranium enrichment is its ambiguity: It is a vital component of the civilian nuclear power industry, yet it can also be […]

Wired magazine’s May cover presents Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg, while the accompanying article salutes the “hacker culture” that “conquered the world.” Amid the political paralysis we now witness in Washington, it’s a timely reminder of how all the top talent of the Boomer generation went into business and technology, while the dregs went into politics. Don’t believe me? Try to imagine a politics-oriented magazine offering a similar cover: You couldn’t get more than half of America to agree upon a single Boomer politician of Gates’ historic stature. Boomer business leaders and technologists rebooted the world, playing seminal roles in […]

A few weeks ago, the United States had cautious grounds for optimism in terms of both Iran and Iraq. Election results in Iraq had opened the possibility of a more inclusive national government being formed, one that might finally begin to build on the breathing room obtained at such cost by the surge — and which would permit the orderly drawdown of U.S. forces over the next year. On Iran, there seemed to be an emerging international consensus that Iran’s nuclear program was deserving of sanctions: Both Russia and China signaled that they were prepared to consider new measures designed […]

THIMPU, Bhutan — Nepal’s Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal returned home from the 16th South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit in Bhutan on April 30 to face a political crisis in his landlocked Himalayan nation. On May 1, the country’s former prime minister, the Maoist leader Pushpa Kamal Dahal (popularly known as Prachanda), began an indefinite general strike aimed at bringing down Kumar Nepal’s government. The ostensible reason was the latter’s almost-certain inability to meet a looming May 28 deadline for a new constitution, part of the 2006 peace agreement that ended a decade-long Maoist insurgency. But a […]

PRISTINA, Kosovo — Tensions ran high in the Balkans on the day, two years ago, that the people of Kosovo announced their momentous decision: “From today onwards,” Prime Minister Hashim Thaci solemnly declared on Feb. 17, 2008, “Kosovo is proud, independent and free.” The streets of Pristina erupted in celebration at the news that Kosovo’s long-awaited independence from Serbia had finally arrived. At the time, however, many predicted yet another Balkan war. More than two years later, Kosovo has defied the prophecies of the pessimists who believed armed conflict would inevitably break out again if Kosovo dared to declare independence. […]

With last year’s swine flu scare already a distant memory, the risk of a new epidemic is spreading across Europe. This time the fears have to do not with the H1N1 virus, but with the debt contagion facing Europe’s PIIGS: Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece and Spain. With each of these countries carrying high debt-to-GDP ratios, financial markets are growing increasingly skeptical that Greece’s debt crisis will be successfully quarantined within its borders. The last two weeks have seen downgrades in Greek, Portuguese, and Spanish bonds, tumbling stock markets, and flight from the euro to the safe haven of the dollar. […]

A new chapter in Greece’s debt crisis began after the EU and the IMF agreed to provide a $145 billion financial aid package to the troubled country. The agreement is conditional on Athens implementing a severe austerity program expected to reduce the public deficit from the current 13.6 percent to less than 3 percent by 2014. Despite the package, the difficulties ahead remain daunting. In order for the bailout to succeed, Prime Minister George Papandreou will have to face a number of challenges that will require all his political skills — and some luck. Papandreou’s first challenge will be to […]

MANILA, Philippines — Whoever wins the Philippines’ upcoming presidential election on May 10, it is likely that the special ties that bind the country to the U.S. will remain largely unaffected. In Manila, however, those ties are considered a necessity, not a choice, and some perceptible changes in attitude have emerged. The shift is aided by China’s inroads into what has historically been considered “the United States’ backyard.” Segments of Filipino civil society have long opposed what they perceive as Washington’s interference in the country’s internal affairs, as well as the U.S. military’s presence during lengthy training exercises. Politicians, including […]

The rigid-hull inflatable boat with 10 U.S. Navy sailors aboard pulled up alongside the blue-and-white dhow on the choppy, sapphire waters of the Gulf of Aden. The dhow’s six occupants, dressed in sandals, loose pants and t-shirts, stood to meet the heavily armed Americans. Seeing the sailors’ assault rifles, some of the dhow crewmen raised their hands to show they were unarmed. So began an encounter last December between suspected pirates and the men and women tasked with hunting them. With their hulking, gray home vessel, the destroyer USS Donald Cook, looming in the background, the sailors tried to initiate […]

This World Politics Review special report is a compilation of World Politics Review’s top articles on the global nuclear agenda from July 2009 through April 2010. The report includes articles on arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation. Below are links to each article, which subscribers can read in full. Subscribers can also download a pdf version of the report. Not a subscriber? Subscribe now, or try our subscription service for free. Disarmament Movement Needs Youth Involvement to Counter Cynicism By Johan Bergen√§sJuly 30, 2009Moving Past STARTBy Richard WeitzAugust 4, 2009Obama’s Challenging NPT AgendaBy Miles A. PomperAugust 4, 2009Keeping Swords, Building PlowsharesBy […]

In recent weeks, the members of the Obama administration have developed a comprehensive strategy for the Eighth Review Conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which began yesterday. The administration’s declared position is to use the conference and other opportunities to strengthen all three of the treaty’s core objectives or “pillars”: disarmament, nonproliferation, and peaceful uses of nuclear energy. U.S. officials have stressed their support for the fundamental trilateral bargain behind the NPT: Countries with nuclear weapons will move towards eliminating them; states without nuclear weapons will not seek to obtain them; and all countries will enjoy access to peaceful […]

Beginning last October, when an earthquake registering 4.0 Mw on the Richter Scale struck the city, Tehran’s residents have been barraged by prognostications of an earthquake reducing their metropolis to rubble. Iranian newspapers run stories almost daily detailing possible outcomes. More recently, Tehran’s acting prayer leader, Hojatoleslam Kazem Sadeqi, became the object of worldwide ridicule when he claimed, “Women who do not dress modestly . . . spread adultery in society, which increases [the occurrence of] earthquakes.” But what’s really at the root of Tehran’s earthquake scare? President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad offered a hint on April 6, when he urged Tehran’s […]

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