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Democracy is floundering in . . . Europe? An Iranian nuke stand-off may not be so imminent. Musharraf is playing the spin doctor; the United States made Iraq a magnet for terrorists; and tanks rolled through Bangkok but bullets are still flying in Southern Thailand. And why can’t something be done about genocide in Sudan? With so much going on this week, maybe you missed the quiet stream of articles questioning the relative peace and stability that exists across Europe. Ivan Krastev claimed in the Sept. 27 Wall Street Journal that Europe’s best kept secret is not that old Europe […]

TEHRAN, Iran — A battery of flashbulbs pop to the rhythm of a leggy model sashaying down the makeshift quadrangular catwalk, striking a pose for the audience at every corner. Sporting a billowing, Chinese-inspired gown with matching red slippers, her neck and bare feet are covered in artfully wrapped white gauze. Other models exhibit chunky silver jewelry while all wear a uniform black head covering that obscures the eyes. For the men, blindfolds and chest-hugging shirts complement graceful linen waistcoats, cargo pants and accessories. At the show’s conclusion, the designer is escorted out by the models to a storm of […]

With the obituaries written the analysis can start. The perfect spy and self-effacing journalist Pham Xuan An stood among the most controversial media figures of the 20th century for his dual roles played out during the tumultuous years of the Vietnam War. An was a highly decorated journalist for some of the most prominent American news magazines. But in secret, he was also a senior officer and espionage agent for the Vietnamese Communists and his undercover work was vital to their war strategy. He died Sept. 20 after a long battle with emphysema in the former Saigon at the age […]

BANGKOK, Thailand — The curiously named Caravan of the Poor, former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra’s own version of Nazi brownshirts who intimidated anti-government demonstrators on the streets of Bangkok earlier this year, has evaporated in the week following Thailand’s coup. Instead, smiling mothers photograph their plastic gun-toting sons who pester to be lifted onto tanks parked in the capital’s streets. Newly married couples choose a backdrop of the flower-festooned armored vehicles instead of the royal palace or a historic temple to commemorate their special day on film. But the calm and the lack of combatants comes at too high […]

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NEW DELHI — The recent seizure here of massive shipments of illegal Ephedrine and the highly addictive sedative Mandrax, as well as the June capture in Mumbai of a container packed with some $100 million worth of cocaine, spotlights the rise of illicit drug abuse and the burgeoning drug trade in South Asia — especially in India. Over the past year and a half alone, authorities say an estimated 216 kilograms of cocaine, more than 600 kilos of Ephedrine, 247 kilos of heroin and 4,400 kilos of Mandrax have been seized in India, the major portion captured in New Delhi […]

TIRANA, Albania — With the price of crude oil having recently hit $70 a barrel and energy markets staying hungry, two trans-Balkan pipeline projects are competing to bring Caspian oil to the West. Russia, Greece and Bulgaria signed an agreement for the construction of a Bourgas-Alexandroupolis pipeline on Sept. 4, and a rival Albania-Macedonia-Bulgaria pipeline is on the drawing board. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, oil companies have devoted vast amounts of capital to developing the oil and gas reserves of the Caspian Sea region. The total oil reserve of the region, estimated at above 200 billion barrels, […]

Editor’s Note: This is the first in a series of six articles by Rhea Wessel on the rights of Muslim women in Europe, particularly Turkish women in Germany, which will appear occasionally on World Politics Review. “When she was in the kitchen again, I went back and slipped the gun into the back of my pants. I stood in the doorway of the kitchen. . . . Gönül kept on saying, ‘Leave me alone. This is none of your business.’ She ranted and raved in Turkish and German. . . . ‘You’re a loser! Failure’. . . I got angry. […]

MOSHAV HANIEL, Israel — On a Friday night in Israel, somewhere along the portion of the country that measures just eight miles across between the West Bank and the sea, an Israeli family gathered to celebrate. In a home a few hundred yards from the Palestinian town of Tulkarm — from where many suicide bombers have made their way into the heart of Israel — three generations sat under the stars, toasting a 12-year-old girl’s coming of age, her Bat Mitzvah. As the girl’s relatives reminisced of her transformation into a sweet, wise teenager, one of her aunts leaned into […]

A simmering conflict is threatening to start another war in Sudan. This time, it is as much about oil as it is ethnicity. Unequal distribution of oil revenues, bungled oil contracts, and differences in ethnic power sharing are creating new fault lines in an already divided country. The South Sudan Defense Front (SSDF), a former ally of the Khartoum government in its battle against the rebel Sudanese People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), has threatened to attack SPLA positions once again. The group, formed by Riek Marchar, now vice president of the Government of South Sudan, or GOSS, complains that its people […]

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For our readers who are interested in the military, defense and national security, I wanted to take the opportunity to point out recent articles you might be interested in, as well as highlight our expanding coverage of this area. If you select “defense and military” on the issues pull-down menu on our front page, the results list will give you a pretty good sampling of our national security-related coverage so far. You can see we have exclusive news and commentary articles about everything from unmanned aircraft to military justice to NATO operations in Afghanistan. And of course in coming weeks […]

On June 23, 2006, Polish Prime Minister Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz fired his deputy and the minister of finances Zyta Gilowska after she had been formally charged with perjury. Gilowska allegedly had lied about being an agent of the Communist secret police (Sluzba Bezpieczenstwa, SB) before 1989. Her codename was “Beata.” Gilowska vehemently denied all charges. The ensuing vetting trial of the politician and the accompanying public debate laid bare serious flaws in Poland’s judicial and legislative process. They also exposed the impact of the nation’s totalitarian past on its democratic present. The Firing The rumor mill churned out stories about Gilowska’s […]

The United States, the world’s largest oil consumer, is getting uneasy about its steadily increasing dependence on imported petroleum. A question increasingly being asked is whether the U.S. oil habit is sustainable any longer. Not only Democrats and conservationists have posed this question, but also neoconservative advocates and their Republican allies in Congress, who aim to weaken U.S. ties with Middle East petro-states such as Saudi Arabia. President George W. Bush has talked about the link between American oil consumption and national security. In his 2006 State of the Union address he said “America is addicted to oil, which is […]

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Iran, Venezuela and the United States exchanged verbal machine-gun fire at the United Nations. The Pope ignited a new fight over semantics with Islam and U.S. politicians locked horns over the terminology of torture law. A war of words broke out across the globe this week and commentators wasted no time filling the world’s English-language opinion pages with clarifications of what was being said. There was also a coup in Thailand and a few new things were written — although unsurprisingly nothing was done — about the crisis in Sudan. Kaveh L. Afrasiabi observed in the Sept. 23 Asia Times […]

Many gifted writers have written retrospectives about the five-year anniversary of Sept. 11 and have asked what our country has learned, if anything, from the last five years of war with Islamic fascists. One of the most important questions that has been asked in this bout of introspection is: Does the West actually believe in its stated values, and does it have the will to defend them in the current struggle? In examining this question, I could only think of the stark contrast between Alexaksandr Solzhenitsyn’s commencement address in 1978 and last week’s speech by former Iranian President Mohammed Khatami […]

QUIBDÓ, CHOCÓ, Colombia — In this part of Colombia, most people don’t want to talk about the fighting between government forces and rebels in what’s been a 40 year long civil war. President Alvaro Uribe Vélez was re-elected in May to a second four-year term and he’s promised to make the long-neglected state of Chocó not only safer, but more of a commercial addition to the nation’s economic prosperity. That first step will mean finding a way to end the fighting between right wing Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia (United Self-Defense of Colombia/AUC) soldiers and left-wing Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia […]

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In August, employees of the Singapore Ministry of Education received a memo telling them to guard their computers against miscreants “targeting Singapore government’s web presence . . . in an attempt to discredit the event and embarrass the organizing country.” The event is the annual meeting of the Boards of Governors of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. The miscreants are anti-globalization protestors. Yes, the IMF and World Bank are in town, with a total of more than 10,000 delegates, advisors, and hangers-on. This time, the hangers-on will not include the sideshow of civil society and anti-globalization protesters […]

Had they been short on rally slogans, Sudan activists behind last weekend’s Global Darfur Day could have tapped Benjamin Disraeli’s classification of the three kinds of lies – lies, damn lies, and statistics. A new study published Sept. 15 in the journal Science says the U.S. State Department’s death toll estimates for Darfur, released last year, underestimated the count by “hundreds of thousands” of lives. The new study is no news flash for Sudan watchers who have tracked the three-year-old conflict between government-backed militia and rebel groups in western Sudan. They’ve been accusing the Bush administration of low-balling the figures […]

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