Brazil’s recent achievements in developing a sound economy, harnessing natural resources, lifting tens of thousands out of poverty and even landing the 2016 Olympic games has many convinced that its emergence as a world power is inevitable. But ongoing internal challenges, especially poor educational performance, may delay its rise. Outgoing President Luis Inácio Lula da Silva’s obsession with immediate poverty alleviation and school attendance led him to overlook the underlying institutional and policy challenges facing Brazil’s education system. And though President Dilma Rousseff’s new administration has made strengthening that system a priority, it faces myriad bureaucratic, financial and policy obstacles […]
On Jan. 1, the same day Hungary began its six-month EU presidency, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s government introduced a law requiring “balanced” media coverage and instituting registration requirements for those disseminating information. The international furor over the new law threatens Hungary’s chances of making the most of its EU presidency, while offering a crumb of hope to a severely weakened opposition. France, Germany, Luxembourg, the U.K. and other EU members expressed concern over the media law, but Orban simply dismissed the criticism as misinformed and anti-Hungarian. He had already angered the business community by imposing surtaxes on banks, telecoms […]
As a fundamental part of what I consider to be my parental duties, I’ve been broadening my son’s already healthy exposure to kung fu movies over the past few months. And I’m repeatedly struck by how many insights they offer into the formative folklore that animates modern-day China. Like Westerns for America, they are heavy in caricatures and historic inaccuracies. But they also reflect, at times crudely and at others quite elegantly, Chinese culture’s self-image and its view of the “other.” So as much as I found last week’s bilateral summit between Presidents Barack Obama and Hu Jintao dramatically overblown […]
Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s two-day stay in Moscow on Jan. 20-21 marked his first official bilateral visit and the first state visit by an Afghan president to the Russian Federation since its founding after the Soviet Union’s disintegration in December 1991. The trip — during which Karzai met with President Dmitry Medvedev, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, and other Russian political and economic leaders — provided an important opportunity to both confirm recent growth in formal ties between the two countries as well as impart additional momentum for further expanding the relationship. Karzai was accompanied by most of the Afghan cabinet, […]
When the Netherlands and other European members of NATO invoked Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, they almost certainly did not anticipate that, in doing so, they would find their armed forces engaged in a decade-long conflict in Afghanistan. The Article 5 declaration — holding that Sept. 11 was an attack on NATO’s collective security — was intended as a low-cost gesture of trans-Atlantic solidarity with the United States and the traumatized American people, rather than as an operational commitment to wage a protracted and frustrating conflict. But through NATO, European militaries […]
The attacks of Sept. 11 were a significant event: for the attacks in and of themselves; for what they brutally revealed in terms of international terrorism’s new ambitions; for their chain reactions, around the world and, in particular, in the countries that, whether due to solidarity or interest, entered the global war on terrorism alongside the United States. Among those nations, France immediately rallied to America’s side and, as a result, found itself, along with others, quickly dragged into a conflict that it had not sought: the Afghanistan War. Nine years since they arrived in Afghanistan, French troops are still […]
Last June, German President Horst Koehler, after visiting Afghanistan, called Germany’s participation in the war there vital to protecting long-term German interests. Koehler, whose role is primarily ceremonial, with little real political responsibility, told a German radio station that Germany’s export-driven economy and dependency on foreign trade meant that, “. . . in an emergency, military intervention is necessary to defend . . . trade routes, or prevent . . . regional instabilities that would certainly have negative effects on [Germany’s] trade, jobs and income.” He then urged Germans to “look at the reality” of Germany’s presence in Afghanistan and […]
Senior Arab officials are refuting the veracity of leaked documents showing that Palestinian negotiators agreed to make a string of once unthinkable concessions with Israel. A cache of thousands of pages of confidential Palestinian records, leaked to al-Jazeera TV and shared with the Guardian, began emerging over the weekend.
Salvadoran President Mauricio Funes must rein in hard-line members of his party of former guerrilla leaders and win over the private sector if the country is to rebound from credit-rating cuts that suggest its economic growth is at risk. The extent to which the divide between the moderate Funes, a former TV journalist, and the ex-guerrillas leading his Faribundo Marti Liberation Front (FMLN) party is threatening his government was made all too public by secret U.S. diplomatic cables leaked to Wikileaks and published by Spanish daily El Pais. According to the cables, Funes asked the U.S. for protection against protests […]
Beginning with the Iranian Revolution in 1979, the West has viewed the Middle East and North Africa primarily through the lens of radical fundamentalist political movements. That perspective has narrowed our strategic vision ever since, conflating Shiite with Sunni, evangelicals with fundamentalists, Persians with Arabs, Islamists with autocrats, and so on. But recent events in Tunisia and Algeria remind us that the vast bulk of history’s revolutions are fueled by economics, not politics. In this, the struggle for Islam’s soul is no different than that of any other civilization in this age of globalization’s rapid expansion. All of the world’s […]
Editor’s note: This is the second of a two-part series on the Philippines peace process. Part I examined talks between the Philippine government and Maoist insurgents. Part II examines negotiations between Manila and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. While the reopening of peace talks between the government of Philippine President Benigno Aquino and the country’s leading Muslim rebel group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), is a welcome development, doubts remain on whether the Philippines is ready to seal the deal. At a preliminary meeting held in January, the two parties agreed to hold formal exploratory talks on Feb. 9-10 […]
Two blasts hit the eastern Ukrainian town of Makiyivka on Jan. 20 and authorities were bracing for possible further attacks after unidentified attackers left a note at one of the explosion sites demanding millions of euros from the government. Ukraine’s security service is not ruling out terrorism. No one was hurt in the blasts.
Appearing this week before The Iraq Inquiry, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair expressed his belief that former U.S. president George W. Bush was set on regime change in Iraq straight after the 9/11 attacks. The Iraq Inquiry, also referred to as the Chilcot Inquiry after its chairman, Sir John Chilcot, is the ongoing British public inquiry into the United Kingdom’s role in the Iraq war.
The fall of Tunisia’s President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali is the latest reminder of how difficult it can be to encourage “friendly autocrats,” in the Middle East and throughout the world, to undertake reforms. It’s likely that, in light of Ben Ali’s fate, Yemen’s President Ali Abdullah Saleh is reassessing the advice that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave him during her visit earlier this month about moving ahead with political liberalization. But policymakers in Washington are apprehensive as well. Ben Ali’s government was often described as a “liberal autocracy,” where the state propagated a version of Islam more compatible […]
MEXICO CITY — For Mexico, 2010 marked the bicentennial of the country’s independence and the 100th anniversary of its revolution. It was also the country’s most-violent year since President Felipe Calderón launched military operations against the country’s powerful drug cartels in 2006. According to the federal government, 15,273 people lost their lives in 2010 in violence related to the nation’s battle against organized crime. The figure represents nearly half of the 34,612 deaths from organized crime registered since 2006 and a 54 percent increase over the number of deaths recorded in 2009. On the positive side of the ledger, the […]
Presidents Barack Obama and Hu Jintao held a joint press conference on Jan. 19, 2011. The first question from the press, on the issue of human rights, comes at 16:45 in the video. Both Hu and Obama commented on a wide variety of issues, including human rights. “China recognizes and also respects the universality of human rights,” said President Hu. “At the same time, we do believe that we also need to take into account the different and national circumstances when it comes to the universal value of human rights.”
Military bands and a 21-gun salute were part of the welcome for China’s President Hu Jintao during the first White House state visit by a Chinese leader in 13 years. U.S. President Barack Obama, however, wasted little time touching on the sensitive subject of human rights in China.