Secretary of State John Kerry’s powerful speech this afternoon makes it all too clear that the U.S. is progressing toward military strikes on Syria. There is dire humanitarian need, with the gassing of civilians being only the latest atrocity. Yet the Obama administration’s choice of tactics to meet that need are too limited; intervention by cruise missile will not sufficiently protect civilians and is therefore not ethically defensible. Writing for the Huffington Post today, Jeff McMahan lays out the ethical framework for assessing the potential U.S. strikes on Syria. Given the Syrian government’s attacks on its civilians, strikes intended “to […]

Prepping the international community for U.S. military strikes on Syria, the Obama administration, through Secretary of State John Kerry, invoked moral terms: “The indiscriminate slaughter of civilians, the killing of women and children and innocent bystanders by chemical weapons is a moral obscenity.” The British government raised the argument a level further today, claiming that “the legal basis for military action would be humanitarian intervention.” And yet all signs point to an intervention narrowly focused on the Syrian military’s ability to deliver chemical weapons attacks. Nicholas Kristof sums up the rationale succinctly: “It would reinforce the international norm against weapons […]

This is the second in a two-part series on Peruvian politics. Part I examined the evolution of Peruvian politics since the Fujimori era and the challenging conditions for governance. Part II examines President Ollanta Humala’s government and discusses policy solutions to Peru’s political volatility and social upheaval. Two years into a five-year term, the government of Peruvian President Ollanta Humala is already facing plummeting public approval. Despite Humala’s rhetorical commitment to social inclusion and justice, his government’s reaction to escalating protests against extractive industries has sparked concerns not only about his willingness to forge a consensus between local communities and […]

As the Obama administration grapples with what to do next in Egypt, it may be instructive to review the U.S. efforts of the past decade to bring about fundamental political and economic change in Egypt and the other countries of the greater Middle East. The events of 9/11 were a deadly wake-up call to Washington that the status quo in the region—the perpetuation of sclerotic autocracies that provided no meaningful outlet for the economic and political aspirations of the populace—was not sustainable. Indeed, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was later to note—in June 2005, speaking in Cairo, no less—that “For […]

For more than a year, the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its People’s Defense Forces (YPG) have exercised state-like power in the Kurdish regions of Syria. Supported by Iran with weapons and ammunition moved through central Iraq, the PYD—a Syrian affiliate of Turkey’s Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK)—controls large parts of the border region between the Kurdish areas of Syria, Turkey and Iraq. Activists criticizing or not cooperating with the PYD have been abducted, tortured and sometimes killed. The PYD imposes taxes on gasoline, collects border fees and has established a system of courts. Since summer 2012, the Syrian regime has […]

Protests spread across Colombia this week, with poor rural workers blockading highways and clashing with police and numerous labor unions declaring a national strike to express a wide range of grievances. The protests, which now involve farmers, miners, teachers and health care workers all putting forth different demands, are linked by a sense that the economic growth Colombia has experienced over the past decade has not been distributed fairly. The protests are occurring while the government of Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos seeks to conclude a peace deal with the leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the country’s largest […]

The most remarkable trait of Washington’s policy toward Egypt has been its lack of clarity. That’s part of the reason why each side in the battle over Egypt’s future blames America for supporting the other. Now President Barack Obama has to decide whether or not to continue providing more than $1.5 billion in aid annually. He will be tempted to make another hazy, ambiguous decision, one that allows him to stand on all sides of the issue. Instead, he should take the opportunity to clarify America’s position. According to some reports, the Obama administration has secretly suspended aid, which manages […]

This is the first in a two-part series on Peruvian politics. Part I examines the evolution of Peruvian politics since the Fujimori era and the challenging conditions for governance. Part II will examine President Ollanta Humala’s government and discusses policy solutions to Peru’s political volatility and social upheaval. Another Peruvian president faces evaporating public support, a fractious opposition and civil unrest in the interior. This time it’s President Ollanta Humala, a former military officer who in his second run for office in 2011 presented himself as a moderate, pro-business social democrat—a contrast to his first run in 2006, in which […]

This month, Saudi Arabia reportedly offered to buy up to $15 billion worth of Russian arms if Russia would reduce its support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. In an email interview, Andrej Kreutz, an expert on Russia-Middle East relations and adjunct assistant professor at the University of Calgary, explained the recent trajectory of Russian-Saudi relations. WPR: What has been the trajectory of Russian-Saudi relations in the past few years? Andrej Kreutz: Between 2003 and 2010, there was some noticeable rapprochement between Saudi Arabia and Russia, which have historically had somewhat conflicting, albeit nuanced, relations. Major signs of this gradual warming […]

American presidential elections often provide a forum to air differences on military strength between the opposing candidates and their parties. This was particularly true after Vietnam, when a clear distinction between the Republican and Democratic approaches to defense took shape. The GOP favored robust military spending, took a hard line toward the Soviet Union, was skeptical of international organizations and placed less stress on treaties to promote American security. Democrats, by contrast, emphasized international organizations, diplomacy and the promotion of collective and humanitarian interests. By the 1980s, the Republican notion clearly resonated more deeply with the American public: Ronald Reagan […]

A year after Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn came to power following the death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi in August 2012, the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) remains firmly in control. It has continued to govern through a collective leadership that includes three deputy prime ministers from the Amhara, Tigray and Oromo wings of the coalition; Hailemariam hails from the Southern People’s Party. Party discipline and coherence has held, although the lead-up to elections in 2015 may reveal destabilizing fissures. But while older opposition parties and armed movements have been marginalized, a social movement of Ethiopian Muslims […]

Since the ouster of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi and the brutal military crackdown on the Islamic movement that has led to more than 1,000 deaths, regional actors in the Middle East have been positioning themselves behind the opposing sides. There has been a divide among U.S. allies, with Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait coming out in strong support of the military rule in Egypt, and Qatar remaining a strong supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Morsi government. “Saudi Arabia has emerged very publicly,” Phyllis Bennis, a Middle East analyst who directs the New Internationalism Project at […]

Earlier this month, Uruguay’s House of Representatives passed a bill legalizing marijuana and regulating the production, distribution and sale of the drug by the government. While the bill has yet to be approved by the Uruguayan Senate, its passage is expected. Uruguay would then become the first country in the world where marijuana is fully regulated from cultivation to sale. The move sends a clear message that the existing drug prohibition regime is no longer adequate to address contemporary drug problems. Uruguay’s unprecedented initiative followed a groundbreaking report by the Organization of American States (OAS) that included a devastating assessment […]

On Aug. 13, Vladimir Putin made his first visit to Baku in seven years, marking only his third trip to Azerbaijan as president of Russia—a gap reflecting the complex and sometimes strained relationship between Moscow and Baku. The two have grown apart due to Russia’s closer ties with Armenia as well as Azerbaijan’s westward-oriented energy focus. Azerbaijan’s leaders have been trying to leverage their country’s pivotal location, energy resources and other assets to help manage their volatile neighborhood. Meanwhile, they are pursuing their own regional objectives, which focus on recovering territories occupied by Armenia, averting a war with Iran while […]

A pedestrian walks near an electric market board in Tokyo, Sept. 16, 2008 (AP photo by Katsumi Kasahara).

Editor’s note: The following article is one of 30 that we’ve selected from our archives to celebrate World Politics Review’s 15th anniversary. You can find the full collection here. It’s been almost five years now since the global financial and economic crisis formally began with Lehman Brothers’ filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Sept. 15, 2008. In today’s fast-paced, high-tech, hyperconnected world, five years is an eternity. In autumn of that year, the iPhone was barely one year old and only in its second iteration. No one had ever shared a photo of their dessert on Instagram because the service was […]

Observers looking for evidence of the importance of a sound international financial regulatory architecture in an age of financial globalization should look no further than the recent global financial crisis. The crisis laid bare the limitations of the global financial architecture that had emerged in a piecemeal fashion since the collapse of the Bretton Woods system in the early 1970s. To begin with, the crisis demonstrated the inadequacy of the Basel Accords, which for three decades formed the core of the international banking regulatory regime. The Basel Committee of central bankers had spent the better part of the late 1990s […]

The Summit on Financial Markets and the World Economy, November 2008, Washington, D.C. (White House photo by Joyce N. Boghosian).

One notable feature of the global economy over the half-decade since the collapse of Lehman Brothers has been the fluctuating fortunes of international economic cooperation in general and of the G-20 in particular. The G-20’s public reputation has taken a roller-coaster ride from hero to zero. The story of this rise and fall is also the story of the changing balance of (economic) power in the post-crisis global economy, and of the implications that this shift has had for how the world economy works—and how it doesn’t. This story began when the onset of the financial crisis prompted the elevation […]

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