January 11, 2012
One evening recently in Rangoon, my friend Ko Ye (not his real name) arrived at the apartment where I was staying, brandishing the latest issue of the weekly newspaper he runs. It was, he announced with great fanfare, a landmark edition: For the first time ever, government censors had allowed him to run a photo of Aung San Suu Kyi, the country’s most prominent dissident, on the cover. The edition also included other previously banned topics: political analysis of U.S. relations with Burma and an article about Martin Luther King that contained the taboo phrase “human rights” in the headline.
What Will Tomorrow's Results In Iowa Tell Us?
January 02, 2012
Today is the last full day of campaigning for candidates tromping through Iowa in a quest for the support of the state’s Republican caucus-goers. Mitt Romney is playing up his electability, Rick Santorum is emphasizing his social conservatism, and Ron Paul is warning about a UN takeover of Americans’ land. In other words, it’s a circus out there. But will it finally end this uncertainty and give us a GOP nominee? Probably not, says a 2008 paper. The author, a political scientist, examined the theory that Iowans played “kingmaker” in the major parties’ nominating processes.
Just months ago, the prospect of a no-fly or “buffer” zone for protecting Syrian civilians was roundly rejected by just about everyone. British Foreign Secretary William Hague said in early August that a U.N.-sponsored military action in Syria was “not a remote possibility.” Anders Rasmussen, the Secretary-General of NATO, was asked in Tripoli in November if a round-two interdiction might be in the offing in Damascus: “My answer is very short,” he answered. “NATO has no intention [to intervene] whatsoever.
December 14, 2011
Newt Gingrich has dumbly stirred a ruckus in saying that the Arabs of Palestine are an “invented people.” It did not increase his chances of winning the Republican presidential nomination: How many Jews actually vote in Republican primaries? (And many Christian Zionists are already for him on altogether non-Zionist grounds.) But it should not have caused such a furor in the first place.
Kudos to Obama on His New Gay Rights Initiative, But …
December 08, 2011
On Tuesday, the Obama administration took bold and important action in advancing the cause of gay rights around the globe. In a memorandum, the president directed all U.S. agencies to “promote and protect” the rights of gay and lesbian people through diplomatic means, including the allocation of foreign aid. And in a rousing speech before the U.N.
Deadline: World AIDS Day, Hopes and Fears
December 01, 2011
[with contributions from Matt O'Brien and Darius Tahir] Thursday was World AIDS Day. I meant to write something substantial about it but didn't have time to do the research. I’ll try to come back around to the topic soon. It's an important story -- and a complicated one. In the last few years, the U.S. has led the effort to distribute HIV drugs around the world, saving literally millions of lives. Bono and Harold Pollack (also a rock star, at least in the policy world) make this point today. Both go out of their way to cite President Bush’s contributions to the cause.
How to Explain the Arab League’s Shocking Decision on Syria?
December 01, 2011
In March 2009, the Arab League welcomed Sudanese President Omar Bashir at its summit in Qatar. Just weeks earlier, Bashir had been indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC)—and a warrant issued for his arrest—for war crimes and crimes against humanity in the murder of nearly 500,000 civilians in Darfur. No matter. The Arab League rejected ICC jurisdiction as an illegal violation of Sudanese sovereignty. But now, in the months since the Arab Spring began, the Arab League seems to have undergone a transformation.
How War Reignited In Sudan While No One Was Looking
November 30, 2011
Violence has escalated in recent weeks in many places in both (north) Sudan and the newly independent Republic of South Sudan. This is especially true in Blue Nile and South Kordofan—border states that ended up in the North, but are home to large populations that fought with the southern Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) and identify with southerners—militarily, politically, and culturally. Many Sudan observers are being asked if renewed war can be avoided in this tortured country.
China’s Latest Bid to Flex Its Regional Muscle and Intimidate Tibet
November 22, 2011
Kathmandu—After four prime ministers in four years, Nepal might finally be entering a period of stability. On November 1, Nepalese politicians reached a deal on demobilizing nearly 20,000 Maoist fighters who have been in limbo since a 2006 peace agreement ended the ten year insurgency.
November 09, 2011
Many characters made appearances during my efforts earlier this year to persuade the international community that the freedom fighters of Libya needed the world’s help.