August 28, 2010
Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan—Smiling in a conference room of her aging Soviet-era office suite, Roza Otunbayeva appeared confident—possibly for the first time in her short presidency. It was only two weeks after June 10, when ethnic violence had begun engulfing the south of her country, but Kyrgyzstan's diminutive leader, a bespectacled former diplomat with a bob cut and the good-natured manner of a high-school principal, announced that the bloodshed had failed to discourage people from participating in a nationwide referendum.
The tight cluster of canvas tents filled a dusty field just off the highway that cuts through the city of Nowshera, the largest city in Pakistan’s Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, about a 90-minute drive from the capital Islamabad. Doctors in white coats tested children’s temperatures and blood pressures, looking for the signs of water-borne diseases, from acute diarrhea to potentially deadly cholera. Their mothers sat nearby, batting away the flies.
The Disappearing Genocide
August 20, 2010
Last month, the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued a warrant with additional charges against Sudanese president Omar Al Bashir: three counts of genocide in Darfur. It was an important historical moment. Never before had the court leveled genocide charges at a current head of state.
The Nowhere Bomb
August 18, 2010
Should Jerusalem bring its bomb out of the basement? Israel, for at least the moment, is the sole possessor of atomic weapons in the Middle East, with an arsenal that now includes approximately 200 warheads. But it is also the only nuclear-armed nation to hide its cache behind a façade of official silence–neither confirming nor denying its existence. Iran’s mounting nuclear capability arguably demands a reconsideration of this stance. Explicitly announcing its nuclear status would have its advantages. It would upgrade Israel’s deterrent.
Save Whatever We Can
July 26, 2010
It is undeniable that U.S. prospects in Afghanistan look bleak. Over 100 NATO soldiers were killed in June—more than during any month of the war to date. No European government and increasingly no American one can sustain such losses for long. At the same time, senior U.S. officials who handle Afghanistan and Pakistan policy have been clashing with one another, both in Washington and Kabul. Nor is there a reliable partner on the ground. President Hamid Karzai has presided over corruption and a striking lack of progress in development.
Rescue the North
July 26, 2010
Naubad, Afghanistan—In a wheat field in northern Afghanistan this spring, beneath the Cretaceous convulsions of the Hindu Kush mountains, a village elder named Ajab Khan shared with me the unsentimental math of his region’s farmers. An acre of wheat, Khan said, yields $400. An acre of opium poppies yields $20,000. The people of his village, Naubad, had grown exclusively poppies until 2004, when the government of Hamid Karzai asked them to stop.
Get Out Yesterday
July 26, 2010
From a policy perspective, I am not sure there is much to say about America’s war in Afghanistan that goes beyond the blindingly obvious. The invasion in 2001 had an intelligible goal—to destroy a regime that had become a kind of condominium between the Taliban and Al Qaeda, cemented in fine medieval style, according to some reports, by a marriage between one of Osama bin Laden’s daughters and one of Mullah Omar’s sons.
July 24, 2010
Venezuela and Colombia are the original odd-couple of Hemispheric diplomacy. With the former run by a rambunctious socialist autocrat and the latter by a U.S.-aligned hard-right hawk, the two countries have been on a collision course for years. The proximate cause and biggest irritant has long been the Venezuelan government's tacit alliance with FARC, Colombia’s oldest and largest Marxist guerrilla movement. This week, tensions just about boiled over as Colombia presented detailed evidence of Venezuelan collusion with FARC and a smaller rival guerrilla, the ELN.