A mother and her daughter tie yellow ribbons with messages for missing passengers and victims aboard the sunken ferry Sewol at a group memorial altar in Seoul, South Korea, July 28, 2014 (AP photo by Lee Jin-man).

SEOUL, South Korea—Last week, South Korea marked 100 days since the ferry disaster that left 304 people dead, most of them young high school students. The sinking of the Sewol, as the ship was named, has grown into much more than a heartbreaking tragedy. It has become a landmark event in the country’s history, one whose impact on South Korea’s politics, economy and self-image continues to grow. Memorials to the dead are visible throughout Seoul, and the sounds of continuing protests by relatives of the victims and their supporters can be heard across the city. More than anything, the Sewol […]

Cambodian opposition leader Sam Rainsy leads supporters to submit petitions to Western embassies calling for an independent investigation into alleged election irregularities, Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Oct. 24, 2013 (VOA photo by Heng Reaksmey).

Last week, Cambodia’s ruling and opposition parties agreed to a power-sharing arrangement, bringing an end to a political crisis dating back to the country’s July 2013 general elections. The year-long standoff included an opposition boycott of parliament and mass protests that recently culminated in violent clashes and the arrest of seven opposition lawmakers-elect for charges of “leading an insurrection.” The opposition party, the National Rescue Party (CNRP), under the leadership of Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha, had bitterly contested the results of last year’s polls, in which the National Election Committee (NEC) announced the long-ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) of […]

Javier Solana at the 2012 SDA Presdient's Dinner, Brussels, Belgium, May 27, 2012 (Security and Defence Agenda photo licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license).

World Politics Review’s Maria Savel had the opportunity to speak with Dr. Javier Solana regarding the European Union’s relations with China, ASEAN and Asia as a whole. Dr. Solana is president of the ESADE Center for Global Economy and Geopolitics and previously served as the European Union high representative for the common foreign and security policy, NATO secretary-general and Spanish foreign minister. The following is a condensed version of their conversation. World Politics Review: Germany-China ties indicate a lot of the fault lines in the European Union and its approach to China in terms of balancing national and European interests. […]

Entrance to the summit of the Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries, Lisbon, Portugal, July 24, 2008 (AP Photo by Joao Henriques).

Last week, the Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries (CPLP) held its 10th Summit of Heads of State and Government in East Timor. The meeting produced several resolutions regarding scientific and cultural topics, as well as a number of political statements linked to Guinea Bissau’s elections and mutual political support in international institutions. But perhaps the most important decision made at the summit was the acceptance of Equatorial Guinea, currently the third-largest oil exporter in sub-Saharan Africa, as a full member of the CPLP. The four-year process that led to last week’s outcome was far from smooth, as Portugal vetoed Equatorial […]

A student works in the archives of the Army Heritage and Education Center, in Carlisle, PA, April 21, 2005 (AP Photo by Carolyn Kaster).

Recent reports that Sen. David Walsh may have committed plagiarism while a student at the U.S. Army War College brought unaccustomed attention to the military’s senior schools. Discussion of the issue showed that despite the long history of America’s war colleges, they are not widely understood. It also suggested that there is a need for wider debate on how the United States educates its senior military leaders, particularly given the deep changes underway in the armed forces. All of the services use war colleges or an equivalent fellowship as a gate to higher rank—full colonel in the Air Force, Marines […]

A resident of the besieged Palestinian camp of Yarmouk carries a box of humanitarian supplies distributed by UNRWA, in Damascus, Syria. Feb. 24, 2014 (AP Photo by UNRWA).

In mid-July, the U.N. Security Council unanimously voted to allow humanitarian aid delivery to Syrians in rebel-held areas without Syrian government consent, through four border crossings from Turkey, Iraq and Jordan. In an email interview, Dr. Hannah Vaughan-Lee, a humanitarian practitioner and academic, discussed the challenges ahead for the cross-border aid operation. WPR: Besides ongoing fighting, what obstacles do convoys face bringing aid to rebel-held areas in Syria? Hannah Vaughan-Lee: Crossing the border into Syria is only the first in a series of steps for delivering assistance to conflict-affected populations in rebel-held areas. One immediate and ongoing challenge will be […]

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Tom Malinowski visits with Sheikh Ali Salman, head of Al-Wefaq National Islamic Society, in Manama, Bahrain, July 6, 2014 (AP Photo/Al Wifaq).

The fallout from Bahrain’s expulsion of Tom Malinowski, the U.S. assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labor, illustrates the continuing political impasse in this deeply polarized U.S. ally in the Persian Gulf. While the danger to the ruling Al Khalifa family posed by the 2011 popular uprising has long passed, positions on all sides have hardened, with little prospect of any political settlement to Bahrain’s deep-rooted inequalities. A fragile stasis has instead developed between a Bahraini government unwilling to make meaningful political concessions and a fragmented opposition unable to mount a serious challenge to the status quo. […]

Missile launchers on the deck of the Chinese destroyer Haikou, U.S. Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, July 5, 2014 (Kyodo via AP Images).

On July 23, China conducted its third declared ballistic missile defense (BMD) test in the past four years, with the Defense Ministry announcing afterward that the test had “achieved the desired objectives.” But it would be premature to conclude that Beijing now embraces BMD. China lacks the capabilities to establish an operational missile defense network, even as Chinese officials continue to attack U.S.-sponsored BMD efforts. Instead, the recent tests are designed primarily to overcome adversary missile defenses as well as to develop China’s anti-satellite systems, a capability renounced by the United States as strategically destabilizing, which ironically is the same […]

For the better part of their existence, the global anti-war and the environmentalist movements have typically existed side by side, each pursuing noble but separate aims. Today, however, a new trend has become apparent: the mutually reinforcing interaction between human violence and planetary change. No longer can peace and the environment be seen as separate issues. Consequently, no longer can the two movements merely work side by side; they must work as one. From Violent Conflict to Environmental Stress Data collection on war-related environmental effects is dangerous, complex and costly, meaning that our understanding of the environmental impact of war […]

A supporter of French comic Dieudonne Mbala Mbala displays a t-shirt with his image, Nantes, France, Jan. 9, 2014 (AP photo by David Vincent).

PARIS—The recent attacks against synagogues and Jewish-owned businesses on the margins of pro-Palestinian demonstrations in France have shocked many, both here in France and beyond, despite being only the latest in a string of anti-Semitic incidents and violence in the country over the past few years. Nevertheless, the most recent attacks have been in some ways sensationalized and distorted, especially in the American press. While alarming, they do not represent a generalized sentiment of anti-Semitism in France; they have been rightfully condemned across the French political spectrum and by many in the communities in which they took place. More important, […]

For human health, war is hell. One could pick any past or present conflict to illustrate how war damages health. Armed conflicts kill, injure and traumatize people; wreck health infrastructure and services; and expose populations to diseases. People flee war’s dangers, often only to live a desperate, destitute existence. This parade of health horribles appears once again in the ongoing Syrian conflict, widely recognized as one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises. The Syrian case demonstrates many common responses to health crises spawned by war: identifying civilian death and suffering; providing humanitarian assistance; emphasizing respect for human rights and civilian […]

An often neglected but fundamentally important victim of conflict is the physical manifestations of a community, a people, a nation—their heritage. The cultural heritage of France and Belgium was utterly devastated during World War I, epitomized by the burning of the medieval library at Leuven and destruction of the cathedral of Rheims. A century later conflicts in states such as Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria continue to be characterized by the destruction of cultural heritage. So how far have we come in protecting cultural heritage from the devastating effects of war? Over the past century, surprisingly far, and at the same […]

A backhoe used for mining stands idle in a crater after it was destroyed by the government in April in Huepetuhe in the Madre de Dios region of Peru, May 21, 2014 (AP photo by Rodrigo Abd).

After a run of good years, Peru’s government faces mounting economic challenges. Bolstered by booming commodities demand in China and other emerging markets, the Andean nation’s gross domestic product expanded at an annual rate of almost $15 billion over the past decade. Inflows of foreign direct investment nearly doubled between 2009 and 2012. But the economy has cooled since, with annual growth sliding from 8.5 percent in 2010 to 5.8 percent last year. While Peru continues to lead its South American peers in terms of economic expansion, the country’s Central Bank significantly cut its growth forecast from 5.5 percent in […]

French police officers detain a suspected jihadists during a raid in Strasbourg, France, May 13, 2014 (AP photo by Jean Francois Badias).

Europe’s strategic situation is simultaneously precarious and curiously comfortable. From eastern Ukraine to northern Africa, conflicts crowd in on the European Union (EU). Yet the bloc’s security may actually benefit from the ongoing instability in cases such as Ukraine, Mali and even Syria. The longer these conflicts absorb the energies of potential foes, ranging from Russian President Vladimir Putin to various Islamist radical groups, the less likely they are to menace the EU directly. Europeans have little or no appetite to get involved in these wars, leading critics to grumble that they refuse to fight for their interests. But it […]

Senegalese President Macky Sall in Abuja, Nigeria, Thursday, Feb. 27, 2014 (AP Photo / Sunday Alamba).

In early July, Senegalese President Macky Sall named his third prime minister after his ruling Alliance for the Republic party lost last month’s local elections. In an email interview, Paul Melly, associate fellow in the Africa Programme at Chatham House, discussed Senegalese politics, the party’s future and the effectiveness of Sall’s reform program. WPR: What was behind the ruling Alliance for the Republic party’s loss in last month’s local elections? Paul Melly: The Senegalese are impatient to see real improvements in living standards and basic services such as power supply. When Sall was triumphantly elected in 2012, popular expectations for […]

President Barack Obama speaks about escalating sanctions against Russia in response to the crisis in Ukraine at the White House in Washington, July 16, 2014 (AP photo by Charles Dharapak).

It is axiomatic that almost any foreign policy action taken by President Barack Obama will be reflexively criticized by the Republican opposition. What is striking is how, in recent months, congressional Democrats and former Obama administration officials have been more willing to publicly voice their own critiques of the president’s performance. Even his first-term secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, now positioning herself for a possible 2016 run to succeed him as chief executive, has begun to lay out her differences with Obama on how he has handled the national security portfolio. Most of the critiques follow a common narrative: that […]

Palestinian Minister of Foreign Affairs Riad al-Malki listens to a statement at the United Nations Human Rights Council at the U.N. headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, Wednesday, July 23, 2014 (AP Photo/Keystone, Martial Trezzini).

As the death toll in Gaza rises to over 730 Palestinians and 32 Israeli soldiers, legal definitions of what is permissible in war have been bitterly contested. International law defines war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Geneva Conventions and the Rome Statute, but in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, though both sides are guilty of violations, the classifications are difficult to apply. The exceedingly high and disproportionate number of civilian casualties in Gaza has prompted Palestinian calls to seek redress from the International Criminal Court (ICC). But legally, proportionality is not determined by a comparison of the number of casualties […]

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