It was a question worth killing over, in the minds of some Somali Islamic extremists. In May, Ahmed Omar Hashi, a reporter for Mogadishu’s Radio Shabelle asked Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki to explain his country’s support for al-Shabab, the hardline Somali Islamic group. Afwerki explained that Eritrea only wanted to enable “Somali nationalists” in their efforts at “ensuring Somali unity, sovereignty and independence.” Just days prior to the interview, which took place in the Eritrean capital of Asmara, al-Shabab had launched a major assault on the Western-backed Transitional Federal Government in Mogadishu. The attack came as moderate Islamist Sharif Sheikh […]

After a protracted election campaign, the 35-member Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) finally selected Yukiya Amano of Japan as its next director general earlier this month. Amano’s tenure will begin following the retirement of current IAEA head Mohamed ElBaradei at the end of November. Ambassador Amano will certainly face no shortage of challenges when he begins his four-year term. As detailed in a 2008 report (.pdf) by a panel of senior experts, the IAEA must surmount major weaknesses if it is to manage the surge in dangerous nuclear material that will result from the growing […]

As a kid, I was constantly subjected to fear-mongering on population growth, which was not only out of control, but certain to lead to widespread conflict, political repression, and freakish efforts at human survival. (“Soylent Green,” anyone?) Now, in my middle years, I find myself increasingly assaulted with the opposite “dangers”: too few babies, and a rapidly and unevenly aging world. Somehow the dire predictions of what the consequences will be have remained the same. Funny how that works! Some things we know intuitively from our history, both personal and global. An easy example: In the modern world, single men […]

Events in Honduras and Argentina last weekend raised the stakes in a historic debate unfolding in the Western Hemisphere. Latin America has become the stage for a fierce, at times violent, ideological battle about the best way to govern a poor country. The ideology and governing style at the center of the dispute is Chavismo, the creation of Venezuela’s President Hugo Ch├ívez. And in the battle over Chavismo, this past weekend marked a major milestone. Much of the hemisphere’s diplomatic and media attention has focused on the dramatic overthrow of Honduran President Manuel Zelaya last Sunday. Zelaya arrived in Costa […]

In 2006, when Dutch forces occupied Uruzgan province in southern Afghanistan, they expected to wage a traditional counterinsurgency campaign focused on winning the support of the local population. “We’re not here to fight the Taliban. We’re here to make the Taliban irrelevant,” said Dutch commander Hans van Griensven. An Australian reconstruction team subsequently joined the Dutch battlegroup, to help rebuild schools and roads, and to provide vocational training to local workers. Dutch and Australian troops were working at a pair of schools in July 2007 when the Taliban attacked. A suicide bomber blew himself up outside one school in the […]

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