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 […]

It wasn’t very long ago that international political observers were marveling at the political acumen of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, with headlines crowning him “King of Israel,” an allusion to his mastery of the political game. Israeli voters and his political rivals were somewhat less impressed, however, and they showed it in the Jan. 22 parliamentary elections, throwing cold water on Netanyahu’s plans to form a formidable coalition for a new term. One month after that election, with the clock ticking on the deadline to form a governing coalition, Netanyahu is struggling in his maneuvers to put together an […]

The Thai government announced today that it has agreed to conduct peace talks with one of the groups involved in Thailand’s southern insurgency, following a highly ambitious but unsuccessful raid by insurgents in the country’s south earlier this month. Jeff Moore, an expert on Thailand’s insurgencies, explained the context of the attack and the government’s previous efforts at talks in an email interview from Thailand conducted before the talks were announced. WPR: What has been the recent course of Thailand’s southern insurgency? Jeff Moore: Most recently we’ve seen a beehive of activity. Insurgents have steadily recovered from major government counterinsurgency […]

Elba Esther Gordillo, the leader of the most powerful teachers union in Mexico, was arrested earlier this week on suspicion of embezzling millions in union funds for personal expenses, including paying for private property and plastic surgery. The arrest of the Gordillo, known throughout Mexico simply as “La Maestra,” or “The Teacher” and previously seen as being above the law, came a day after Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto signed a sweeping educational reform that the union she led had opposed. Duncan Wood, director of the Mexico Institute at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, said that while a […]

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 […]

No topic in American security inspires more heated debate these days than the Obama administration’s use of drone strikes against armed militants, terrorists and their supporters. While debate and scrutiny of public policy is a good thing, a hefty proportion of this criticism is badly misguided, often mistaking the use of drones as America’s strategy itself. In large part this reflects a failure on the part of the Obama administration to develop a convincing narrative to explain the assumptions, logic and ultimate objectives of its strategy. Without seeing the big picture, it is difficult to understand how drone strikes fit […]

China recently announced plans to invest $635 billion in water infrastructure over the next 10 years, prompting criticism about the effect of China’s water policy on its downstream neighbors. Scott Moore, a doctoral research fellow at Harvard Kennedy School of Government researching sustainable energy development in China, explained the context and possible consequences of the plan in an email interview. WPR: What is the context of China’s recent announcement of plans to dramatically expand its hydropower capacity over the next few years? Scott Moore: Three factors frame China’s recent plans to expand its hydropower capacity. The first and most important […]

One of the issues newly inaugurated South Korean President Park Geun-hye will need to address is the demands from a growing faction of her own party for either the United States to return tactical nuclear weapons to the South or for Seoul to develop its own nuclear arsenal. In light of the apparently successful Feb. 12 North Korean nuclear test, this faction believes that Seoul needs a similar nuclear capability to deter potential North Korean military threats. Extended deterrence of the kind the U.S. currently provides South Korea requires that the guarantor has the capacity to defend the country threatened […]

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 […]

In Djibouti, the small but strategically important state in the Horn of Africa, security forces are still working to disperse opposition supporters protesting the ruling coalition’s victory in Friday’s parliamentary elections. The vote marked the end of the opposition parties’ 10-year boycott on contesting elections. Djibouti is home to the only permanent U.S. military base in Africa, and instability there may have important implications for the wider region, including Yemen and Somalia. On Friday, authoritarian President Ismail Omar Guelleh and his Union for the Presidential Majority claimed to have won 49 out of 65 seats in the National Assembly in […]

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 […]

This month, the U.K. published its international defense strategy amid cuts in the U.K. defense budget and debate over the role of the U.K.’s nuclear deterrent, known as the Trident system. In an email interview, Malcolm Chalmers, research director and director of U.K. defense policy studies at Royal United Services Institute, explained U.K. defense priorities in the context of shrinking budgets. WPR: What is at stake in the Trident decision, both economically and strategically? Malcolm Chalmers: The decision to replace the existing U.K. Trident system, starting with a new generation of missile submarines, was taken by the government in 2006 […]

Will Ban Ki-moon leave a substantial legacy when he completes his second term as secretary-general of the United Nations at the end of 2016? This question may seem premature. Ban has been in office for more than six years, but he has nearly four more to go. Yet, as Ban has already discovered, a U.N. secretary-general’s schedule is consumed by a mix of urgent crises and hollow diplomatic rituals. Last week, for example, Ban oversaw the signing of a new peace deal for the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, but also had to make time for a speech launching the […]

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 60 years, there has been convergence between the strategic logic of America’s strategy of forward deployment in key regions of the world and the economic imperative of securing the nation’s prosperity. Despite the constant protests on college campuses about “banana republics” and “no blood for oil,” there was, in fact, generally a strong correlation between the places where the American military was engaged and those areas that were seen as vital to the economic health of the country. Opposition from naturally isolationist tendencies of the American body politic was overcome, in part, by the argument that prosperity […]

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 […]

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