I was reading a Foreign Policy blog post this morning when I came upon a startling fact: international issues are a priority for less than two out of ten Americans. More than eight out of ten, on the other hand, cited domestic policy as their number one voting issue.
The findings, from a Washington Post-ABC News poll, got me thinking: do Americans care about the world anymore? Have domestic hot button issues — underemployment, slow or negative job growth, immigration, gay rights, contraception and reproduction, Occupy YouNameIt — taken over the political main stage and left the burning issues of the international landscape — fraudulent Russian elections, the Syrian crackdown, European disintegration, the transition of the Libyan government, clashes in Somalia, the DRC, and Sudan, to name a few — high and dry? And maybe, dare I say it, could that be a good thing for the United States?
It’s official: Laurent Gbagbo is the first head of state to be sent to the International Criminal Court at the Hague. He is currently being charged with crimes against humanity, murder, and rape — the allegedly systematic attacks committed in the four months after Gbagbo refused to admit defeat to his long-time rival, Alassane Outtara, in the Ivory Coast’s 2010 elections. But the story is far more complex than just that. Continue reading
Rewind to Burma (otherwise known as Myanmar) in 2010. The government was ruled by an iron-fisted military junta, the democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi was being wrongfully held under a 20-year-long house arrest, and the general elections were declared fraudulent by the United Nations and a variety of Western nations, including the United States. But, with Secretary of State Hilary Clinton visiting the nation and speaking with Suu Kyi yesterday, how is democracy faring in the Southeastern Asian country today? Continue reading
On Tuesday, the Senate passed a bill 61 to 37 to require the U.S. Military to take control of all suspected terrorist arrested overseas and now, in the United States. The bill also allows the Military to hold detainees in Military custody indefinitely, and without the guarantee of a trial.
Now I know that Guantanamo Bay concerns dramatically died down a few years ago, but this new bill definitely raises some worries. First, yes, we are at war and the treatment of suspected terrorists is murkier. However, there remain clear international laws , including but not limited to the Geneva Conventions on the Treatment of Prisoners, that stipulate how a prisoner is meant to be treated. Does the United States have the right to hold suspects for an unlimited amount of time and without a trial? My guess is that many lawyers and human rights activists would argue that these rules are inhumane and illegal. I would argue that treating suspects this way in the United States could elicit similar treatment overseas of American prisoners, and the U.S. would not longer have an argument about reciprocal treatment on its side. Continue reading
When, in 2006, Joseph Kabila became the first democratically elected president of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, many Congolese and international observers felt assured that stability had finally come to the country. During the previous decade, Congo had been marred by widespread violence, including the world’s deadliest conflict since World War II — a conflict involving three Congolese rebel movements, 14 foreign armed groups, and countless militias; killed over 3.3 million Congolese; and destabilized most of central Africa. But, to put it simply, stability did not come to the country. Since 2006, clashes have killed hundreds, maybe thousands, of fighters and civilians and forced half a million people to relocate. Congo is now the stage for the largest humanitarian disaster in the world — far larger than the crisis in Sudan.
So what will the current elections mean for stability in the DRC? Could new leadership usher in a new era of tranquility and peace? Or could a second term for Kabila do the trick? Continue reading
Throughout much of American history we have struggled with how to reconcile our foreign policy strategic interests with our stated commitments to the virtues of democracy, freedom, and human rights. Our Cold War support for right wing dictatorships and authoritarian regimes was a lightening rod for criticism from the American Left (while the American Right wondered why we did not do more to fund insurgents in totalitarian communist and socialist countries). Of course prior to the Cold War we allied with one totalitarian state (the USSR) in order to take down another (Germany). Continue reading
$55 billion dollars, according to a new report released by consulting group Geopolicity. The report reveals that Egypt, Syria, and Libya were hit the hardest financially by the protests in North Africa and the Middle East. So what do these astronomical prices mean for the region now? Continue reading