After weeks of debate followed by days of confusion, the international coalition enforcing a no-fly zone in Libya has finally taken shape. Spearheaded by the U.S., the U.K. and France, Operation Odyssey Dawn now also includes Canada, Italy, Belgium, Denmark, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, all of whom have intervened to stop Col. Moammar Gadhafi from carrying out a threatened massacre against his own citizens. Although the ultimate outcome of the intervention remains uncertain, the Libyan episode has already revealed three important features of contemporary global politics. First is the issue of U.S. leadership and its global responsibilities. After […]

KIGALI, Rwanda — On a Thursday afternoon in February, a plot worthy of a Hollywood script unfolded in Goma, the freewheeling provincial capital that clings to the eastern edge of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Starring a high-profile Congolese fugitive, a cadre of foreign businessmen and a U.S.-registered Gulfstream jet, the tale featured a car chase that resulted in the seizure of $6.8 million in cash and a dramatic runway arrest that netted a half-ton of gold. Four foreign nationals — including a Frenchman, two Nigerians and a Houston-based diamond dealer — are now awaiting trial in the Congolese capital, […]

KAMPALA, Uganda — With an estimated 2 billion barrels of oil sitting beneath its Lake Albert, Uganda boasts the largest reserves among a number of African countries whose recent discoveries of petroleum have swelled the ranks of the continent’s oil-possessing states. But it took a recently signed agreement resolving a tax dispute between the government of President Yoweri Museveni on one side and two companies — Tullow Oil and its former partner, Heritage Oil — on the other to open the door for an estimated $10 billion of investment in the country. By the terms of the agreement, announced Feb. […]

The U.S.-led military intervention in Libya is decidedly different than the ongoing military operations underway in Iraq and Afghanistan in at least one sense: Unlike those wars, which President Barack Obama inherited from his predecessor, Libya is Obama’s war from start to finish. As such, it offers us the first true picture of how this commander-in-chief commands — and how he believes U.S. force should be employed. One thing we have learned is that the president is very much a reluctant warrior, as was evident even before he launched what his press secretary calls a “time-limited, scope-limited” operation. Consider the […]

Observers around the world are glued to their TV and computer screens, barely able to keep pace with popular protests seizing one Middle Eastern country after another and changing the Arab world for good. Yet, largely ignored by Western media, the revolutionary wave of the “Arab Spring” has also reached the autonomous Kurdistan Region in Iraq, where it could have the dangerous side effect of plunging the whole of Iraq back into sectarian violence at the very moment the last American troops are scheduled to leave. Unsurprisingly, the popular protests originated in Sulaymaniyah, Kurdistan’s most secular and liberal city, where […]

The U.S.-led intervention in Libya is now in full swing, thanks to a 10-0 vote by the U.N. Security Council in favor of authorizing military force. But the seeming unanimity of the vote belies key abstentions from a wary Germany as well as Brazil, Russia, India and China — the four emerging economic powers known as the BRICs. The BRICs’ abstentions raise difficult questions about the future of a rules-based international order at a time of relative U.S. decline. The BRICs’ move seemed to be grounded in their longtime allergy to Western-led military operations. Couched in language of humanitarian concern, […]

The uprising in Libya and the subsequent foreign military intervention there are providing a significant test for Turkey’s stated desire to create a foreign policy that combines realism with idealism, while also highlighting the difficulty Ankara is facing in balancing its aspirations to become a more independent regional leader in the Middle East with its efforts to maintain its traditional alliances. Furthermore, the developments in Libya threaten to deepen ongoing tensions between Turkey and NATO as well as some of the alliance’s member countries, in particular France. In recent years, Turkey has set lofty goals for its foreign policy, especially […]

NEW DELHI — In India’s vibrant capital, food seems to be everywhere — from bustling fruit and vegetable markets and greasy kebab stalls, to sumptuous platters in rooftop restaurants and dilli ki chaat, Delhi’s ubiquitous street snacks. Poor street vendors and high-end chefs alike offer a multitude of culinary options to keep the city — and its array of visiting tourists, diplomats and business leaders — well-fed. Yet behind this apparent culinary prosperity lies rampant food insecurity. Food-related inflation in India soared above 18 percent in December, sparking street protests over high onion prices. Today, food-related inflation remains high, at […]

Robert Gates has just completed his first and perhaps his last trip to Russia as secretary of defense under President Barack Obama. Although the two-day visit produced little of substance, some of Gates’ public reflections help us understand how much the Russian-U.S. military relationship has improved during the last few years. As expected, much of the media coverage concerned Russia’s response to the military intervention in Libya led by the U.S., Britain and France. The apparent split between Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who denounced the intervention as a “crusade,” and President Dmitry Medvedev, who mildly rebuked his erstwhile boss, attracted […]

For observers and advocates of the International Criminal Court (ICC), the Feb. 26 U.N. Security Council resolution imposing sanctions on Libya (.pdf) was nothing short of a breakthrough: It marked the first time a decision to refer crimes to the ICC was backed by all members — including the United States, which has been openly hostile to the court for much of its existence. Three weeks later, the U.S. showed support for the ICC yet again, albeit less publicly. During informal talks at the Security Council on March 18, a Kenyan delegation lobbied for a one-year deferral of two ICC […]

As an Army brat who grew up traveling the world, I’ve witnessed first-hand both the power and sense of hope that the United States projects around the globe. These qualities stem from both the might of our military as well as the less tangible characteristics of our diplomatic and compassionate efforts. In decades past, the roles of the State Department and Defense Department were often considered to be parallel and discrete. State negotiated treaties and engaged in diplomatic and aid missions around the globe, whereas Defense was brought to bear when words failed to suffice. Despite being complementary, these elements […]

Thursday’s U.N.-sanctioned no-fly zone over Libya and the military strikes against Moammar Gadhafi’s ground forces that followed over the weekend may have come too late for Libya’s freedom-seeking people. Even a ceasefire or internationally imposed standoff between Gadhafi’s forces and the anti-government fighters in Benghazi and elsewhere would merely maintain the status quo, with Gadhafi remaining in control of most of the country. If so, Gadhafi will have demonstrated to autocrats everywhere that terror is an effective means of maintaining power at home and instilling uncertainty and fear abroad. This should come as no surprise, as Gadhafi is not new […]

When it comes to good governance in the information age, transparency has few competitors as the fix du jour. This is especially true when it comes to oil, gas and mining revenue in developing countries, where many people rightly consider transparency an essential first step in curbing government corruption. But the discussions at the “Transparency Counts” conference, held by the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) in Paris earlier this month, strongly suggest that knowing how much money is coming in to government coffers is not enough if that money does not improve people’s lives. Natural resources are hot right now, […]

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Contrary to what opponents of a military intervention in Libya are claiming, the U.S. is not at war with Libya. In fact, it’s very possible that the U.S. will not even be directly engaged in any eventual acts of war against Libya. And though endgames, outcomes and objectives are valid concerns and necessary considerations, much of the hand-wringing is premature. The U.N. Security Council resolution will allow outside powers to target Moammar Gadhafi’s air and ground forces to keep them from delivering the final blow that was all but imminent even as the council voted on the measure last night. […]

Editor’s note: This is the last of a five-part series examining security and development aid in East Africa. Part I provided an overview of the challenges facing East Africa. Part II examined the overlap between public health and security challenges. Part III examined the overlap between small-arms trafficking and WMD nonproliferation. Part IV examined the overlap between counterterrorism and efforts to contain criminal violence. Part V provides success stories for the security-development model and discusses next steps. In East Africa, pressing regional challenges — including the inability to detect and treat disease, the flow of illicit firearms across unsecured borders […]

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Next week the United States will mark the 8th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq — widely considered one of the worst foreign policy disasters in American history. Meanwhile, more than 100,000 U.S. troops remain mired in Afghanistan, nine years after the Taliban were toppled from power. Both conflicts are daily reminders that the use of U.S. military force can have unforeseen and often unpredictable consequences. For that reason, force should be considered only in the most pressing of national security circumstances. Unfortunately, if the response to the uprising in Libya is any indication, it seems many members of the […]

Editor’s note: This is the fourth of a five-part series examining security and development aid in East Africa. Part I provided an overview of the challenges facing East Africa. Part II examined the overlap between public health and security challenges. Part III examined the overlap between small-arms trafficking and WMD nonproliferation. Part IV examines the overlap between counterterrorism and efforts to contain criminal violence. Part V will provide success stories for the security-development model and discuss next steps. On July 11, 2010, bombs ripped through crowds gathered to watch the World Cup soccer final in downtown Kampala, Uganda, leaving 76 […]

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