Editor’s Note: This is the first of a two-part series examining the record of Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra. Part I reviews her domestic policy. Part II will examine her foreign policy. Though often dismissed as the puppet of her exiled brother, Yingluck Shinawatra has survived several critical challenges since becoming Thailand’s first female prime minister in a landslide victory in July 2011 elections. Yet despite initial hopes for reform, the past year and a half have demonstrated that the Yingluck government’s ultimate goal is to maintain its grip on power, and that the successes of Yingluck and her Pheu […]

When Kenyans vote in the country’s presidential, parliamentary and county elections March 4, they will have the chance to distance themselves from the traumatic elections of December 2007. More than 1,000 people were killed and approximately half a million others fled their homes when violence between rival ethnic groups and political supporters broke out in the weeks following the vote. Much has changed since then, a lot of it for the better. But the main causes of the violence remain unaddressed. The 2013 election is thus fraught with hazard, and a mood of trepidation has characterized the campaign period. The […]

Mexico relies more than most other countries on free trade agreements to fuel economic development. In the 1990s, the North American Free Trade Agreement helped solidify Mexico’s return to democracy, and, given that international trade accounts for more than 60 percent of Mexico’s economy, no Mexican president can do without a clear strategy for fostering better access to foreign markets. But while President Enrique Pena Nieto claims that the economy is the highest priority on his agenda, his administration has yet to spell out how Mexico will trade with the world. Pena Nieto has inherited a plan to expand Mexico’s […]

Park Geun-hye’s term as South Korean president begins at a time of serious tension on the Korean Peninsula, with North Korea defying international pressure and going ahead with a nuclear test earlier this month. During her campaign, Park had said that as president she would work to mend ties with Pyongyang, which had deteriorated under the government of now-former President Lee Myung-bak, and develop a mutually beneficial partnership that would pave the way for eventual reunification. But along with complications caused by North Korea’s third nuclear test and a general climate of discord, the composition of Park’s government will make […]

Before departing from her position as U.S. secretary of state, Hillary Clinton stated at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing that al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) is “not only a terrorist syndicate, it is a criminal enterprise.” Recognizing the interconnected nature of these multifaceted illicit networks, Clinton affirmed that to combat them, “we’ve got to have a better strategy.” The former top U.S. diplomat was voicing a conviction increasingly shared by governments and multilateral organizations around the world, which are beginning to recognize that today’s most pressing security challenges are too connected, transnational and vast for states to confront […]

Macky Sall, who was inaugurated as president of Senegal last April, came to power amid massive discontent with his predecessor, President Abdoulaye Wade. Critics, including youth protest movements Y En A Marre (“Enough is Enough”) and M23 (named for a 2011 demonstration), accused Wade of failing to address core economic and infrastructure problems while enriching himself and suppressing dissent. In an address to the nation one day after taking office, Sall listed economic issues as being among his administration’s top priorities. “It is a matter of urgency in our cities and our suburbs,” he stated, “to fight unemployment, flooding, insecurity […]

For the past four years, China has consistently shielded North Korea from efforts to impose further international sanctions and to heighten Pyongyang’s diplomatic isolation in response to Pyongyang’s repeated provocations on the Korean Peninsula. That support, however, did not stop North Korea from conducting its third nuclear test earlier this month in direct defiance of Beijing’s appeals, with news of the test interrupting the new Chinese leadership’s observance of China’s most important holiday on Feb. 12. Debate about the diminishing value of Beijing’s support for and alliance with North Korea was already occurring among Chinese policymakers, academics and citizens. In […]

BOLOGNA, Italy — Since the beginning of the financial crisis in Europe, anti-Brussels sentiment has been on the rise from Britain to Hungary. These days, however, the European Union is losing ground not only among citizens of traditionally recalcitrant member countries but also, and more troublingly, among those that have historically been ardent supporters. The EU’s relations with Italy, for example, a founding member and the bloc’s fourth-largest economy — the eurozone’s third-largest — are on the rocks. Italians have historically been in favor of a strong Europe. But now, crushed by record-high taxes and sharp cuts in government spending, […]

Last October, the largely unknown French group Generation Identity occupied a mosque in the town of Poitiers. Founded only a month before, the group had already attracted interest after releasing a “declaration of war” through YouTube outlining goals focused heavily on opposing multiculturalism and Islam. The young activists presented themselves as a generation of “ethnic fracture,” who had suffered from record levels of unemployment, debt, multicultural decline and the “forced mixing of the races.” From the mosque’s rooftop, the group demanded a referendum on Muslim immigration. While it is tempting to view such groups as isolated and largely insignificant, their […]

Mexico’s economic resurgence is attracting widespread attention and optimism, with the Financial Times recently dubbing the country the “Aztec Tiger.” The change in focus and tone is a welcome one, and has allowed a more balanced and accurate portrayal of Mexico to emerge. Mexico’s prospects look better now than they have in decades. President Enrique Peña Nieto has been in office just three months, yet there is a sense of urgency attached to his ambitious agenda. Substantial challenges loom, and surmounting them will require his administration’s full complement of skills: from political deal-making and legislative maneuvering to strategic communications and […]

After years of political wrangling, Zimbabwe’s power-sharing government announced in mid-January an agreement on a new constitution, setting the stage for a constitutional referendum and general elections in the coming months. While progress on the constitution is a welcome step forward for institutional and democratic reforms, President Robert Mugabe’s continued grip on the country’s coercive apparatus and disregard for formal institutions mean that a new constitution will likely be insufficient to avert another round of electoral violence in Zimbabwe. The compromise draft document, which curtails the power of the executive, among other changes, enjoys support from all parties in the […]

With only days to go before Armenia’s Feb. 18 presidential election, all signs point to a victory for incumbent President Serzh Sargsyan. Should he be re-elected as expected, Armenia will most likely maintain its status quo, which saw Yerevan open modestly to the West and Euro-Atlantic initiatives but ultimately remain bound to its longstanding alliance with Moscow. Sargsyan is likely not only to win the election handily but also to easily clear the 50 percent threshold required to prevent a second-round runoff. With Armenia’s opposition badly fractured and handicapped by the noncandidacies of two of the most credible opposition figures […]

Critics of U.S. foreign policy often argue that the United States lacks a grand strategy — a set of principles, norms and goals applied consistently to foreign policy. Many have argued, for example, that Washington’s reluctance to take strong action to help overthrow Syrian dictator Bashar Assad, or its failure to support protesters in places like Bahrain, results from a grand strategy deficit. In fact, the critics have it wrong in this age-old debate. What Washington needs, whether under a Democratic or a Republican administration, is actually less grand strategic thinking. Political pundits and scholars alike love to talk about […]

Tunisia’s young democracy has never seemed to be in so much jeopardy. The political opposition is accusing the ruling Ennahda party of the assassination of Chokri Belaid, a popular figure on the political left who was murdered Feb. 6 in front of his home, and hundreds of Tunisians are holding ongoing protests to demand the government’s resignation. Several parties, including one of Ennahda’s coalition partners, are threatening to pull out of the Constituent Assembly, which is tasked with rewriting Tunisia’s constitution. The current political turmoil is an outgrowth of Tunisia’s many challenges, which have multiplied over the past few months […]

A recent report (.pdf) by the Open Society Justice Initiative provides new insights into the “extraordinary rendition” program the United States operated after 9/11, revealing just how widely the program spanned: More than 130 people were subjected to extraordinary rendition, and more than 50 countries cooperated. The report thus raises important questions about both accountability for past human rights abuses and the future of U.S. counterterrorism policy. Renditions, or the international transfers of individuals without legal process, occurred before 9/11. But they were previously used to transfer suspects for criminal trial. After 9/11, rendition expanded in size and focus; instead […]

Editor’s note: This is the second of a two-part series on East Asian energy cooperation. Part I examined cooperation in energy conservation and natural gas markets. Part II examines cooperation in nuclear energy. Despite heightened political tensions among Japan, China and South Korea over territorial disputes in the East China Sea, Asian economic cooperation remains critical to the global economy as it struggles to return to widespread growth. Energy cooperation among these three Asian powers offers an opportunity for much-needed constructive engagement, and nowhere is this more urgent than in the area of nuclear energy. Before the Fukushima nuclear accident […]

Editor’s note: This is the first of a two-part series on East Asian energy cooperation. Part I examines cooperation in energy conservation and natural gas markets. Part II will examine cooperation in nuclear energy. Over the past few months, Japan’s relations with China and South Korea have deteriorated rapidly over territorial disputes. This is particularly true for relations between Japan and China, which are often described as having “cold politics and a hot economy,” with the implication that political tensions will not damage economic ties. But now, reactions to the territorial disputes are beginning to spill into the economic realm, […]

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