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Shaun Randol: The Rise of China’s Human Flesh Search Engine

One of the many reasons Beijing was awarded the 2008 Olympic Games was that, it was hoped, a massive influx of international visitors—journalists in tow—would help push the central government to lessen restrictions on China’s own domestic media. One dramatic outcome would have been a lasting breach in the Great Firewall of China, the country’s highly advanced internet censorship apparatus. While policies relaxed for foreign journalists reporting from China during the Olympics appear to be a welcome, permanent fixture, citizens reporting on events within China still have their work cut out for them. Four months after the lighting of the Olympic torch there seems to be little official progress in the movement to expand internet free speech to the masses of the great Middle Kingdom. China’s citizens, however, think otherwise. Glowing praise issued from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on the success of the Beijing games conveniently did not mention the few crackdowns, arrests, and internet censorship activities that occurred during the month-long spectacle. Such admonishment was left to others, like Human Rights Watch’s Minky Worden, who chastised the IOC for leaving out of its fact sheets “the extent to which the International Olympic Committee lowered its standards on human rights around the Beijing Olympic Games.” Similarly, Bob Dietz of the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) commented, “I think, in the end, the government’s approach to the media hasn’t changed that much.” Indeed, a recent report from CPJ concludes “more Internet journalists are jailed worldwide today than journalists working in any other medium...45 percent of all media workers jailed worldwide are bloggers, Web-based reporters, or online editors.” China continues its ten-year streak at the top of this list.

Jens F. Laurson and George A. Pieler: Continuity We Can Believe In

When Barack Obama announced his Foreign Policy and National Security team, the best news was that journalists like Robert Dreyfuss, Leslie Savan, and Robert Kuttner weren’t impressed. Hoping for leftists in moderate’s clothing, they are now faced with a global affairs team that makes the President-elect look more like a moderate-conservative in liberal’s clothing. Hillary Clinton—judged by her Senate record and campaign positions on foreign policy—certainly appears more hawk than dove, though her all-too-clever triangulation on the Iraq did not serve her candidacy well. Either way, clearly she is someone most Republicans and Joe Lieberman Democrats (is there more than one?) can live with. Naming James L. Jones, the trusty marine and former supreme allied commander in Europe, as national security advisor spells continuity. On Iraq he has been publicly non-critical of the war itself but pointedly critical of its implementation and forward strategy. If one believes Bob Woodward (a coin-toss these days), Jones always opposed the invasion in private counsel. More importantly, he is a tough customer who won’t be run over like Condoleezza Rice was by Rumsfeld, Cheney, and Company in her hapless stint as NSA. And finally keeping George W. Bush’s nonpartisan Secretary of Defense Robert Gates is the epitome of “continuity we can believe in.”

Jonathan Power: The Triangle Of Madness

“Those whom the gods destroy they first make mad.” - Euripides There is a madness about the triangular relationship between India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. They all have resented and often hated each other; made alliances against each other; worked together when it was opportune; supported or, at least, turned too much of a blind eye to terrorists in each other's countries; and became profoundly angry if terrorism was unleashed against them. These cleavages have their roots in the Great Game, the nineteenth century British-Russian struggle for supremacy in Afghanistan and central Asia. But ever since the Red Army invaded Afghanistan in 1979 and was finally defeated by the Taliban (aided by American, Saudi Arabian, and Indian arms and training), the intensity of the regional rivalry has been ratcheted up and extended to frightening proportions, worsened by America's decision to wage war in Central Asia. It is no longer just a Great Game. It has become a Great Madness. One hostile act impacts on another and then the two together create a third, then three together create a fourth...and so on. It has long been known that the Pakistan-based terrorists who have struggled to liberate Kashmir from India's grip have close connections with the Taliban. There is also little doubt that those Pakistani terrorists whose primary interest is a free Kashmir aim to wound India's growing political and diplomatic interests in Afghanistan. India, in turn, has aimed to encircle Pakistan in order to have a counter against Islamabad's Kashmir ambitions.

Sumit Ganguly and Paul Kapur: Mumbai's Perilous Implications

Security officials and cleanup crews are now combing through the carnage in Mumbai, following last week’s terrorist attacks in the city. As the citizens of this vast metropolis seek to restore some semblance of normalcy to their lives, it is important to probe the sources of the violence in Mumbai, and consider the attacks’ implications for regional security in South Asia. How and why did the Mumbai attacks occur? Information at this stage is still incomplete. Nonetheless, a few points seem clear. There is considerable evidence that Pakistan-based entities were behind the Mumbai attacks. The sole surviving terrorist is Pakistani. He claims that the attackers trained with the militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba for months inside Pakistan prior to launching their assault. And Indian officials have determined that the terrorists took a boat from Karachi to the Mumbai coast, leaving behind cell phones that had been used to call Pakistan. None of this directly implicates the Pakistani government in the Mumbai attacks. It does, however, suggest that Pakistan bears some measure of responsibility for recent events; the Pakistani government is either unable or unwilling to prevent its territory from being used to launch terrorist attacks against India.

Jack Devine: Don’t Cut the Intelligence Budget

On October 29, The New York Times published a major story entitled “Intelligence Agencies Face Austerity.” In the article, Mike McConnell, the Director of National Intelligence, is quoted as stating that spending on intelligence operations in 2007 increased by 9 percent, totaling $47.5 billion. Much of this increased funding understandably has been allocated to Afghanistan, Iraq, and the battle against Al Qaeda. All of these problems, as well as additional new threats including cyber warfare, will continue to dominate the intelligence budget over the coming year. That said, it is hard to predict just how the 2009 budget will play out in the context of the current economic crisis. In fact, there is speculation among some intelligence experts that the intelligence community might be vulnerable to significant cuts in future years. This pressure needs to be resisted if we are to effectively face intelligence challenges of the future, described in my "Tomorrow’s Spygames" article in the 25th anniversary issue of World Policy Journal.

Nina L. Khrushcheva: Russia's Rotting Empire

The following article appears in the 25th anniversary issue of World Policy Journal.

William D. Hartung: Bush's Arms Sales Boom Continues

Since I wrote my piece on the arms trade for the 25th anniversary issue of World Policy Journal, the Bush boom in arms exports has actually accelerated. Major offers that were made between mid-September and early October of this year include a $7 billion agreement to sell a Lockheed Martin missile defense system to the United Arab Emirates; a $15 billion deal for Israel to receive the United States' latest fighter plane, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (another Lockheed Martin product, in partnership with Boeing); and over $6 billion in offers to Taiwan for anti-missile systems, attack helicopters, and anti-ship missiles. The Obama administration will inherit these mega-deals, which are very hard to roll back once an official offer has been made. These deals come at an ideal time for Lockheed Martin, Boeing, and other arms makers. The economic crisis will force some sort of re-evaluation of the Pentagon's record budget, which is now at its highest level since World War II. Weapons systems on the chopping block could include Lockheed Martin's F-22 and F-35 combat aircraft, Boeing's costly and complicated Future Combat System (FCS) for the Army, and Northrop Grumman's Virginia-class attack submarine. The big contractors won't be out on the street begging for change, but they will be scrambling to support themselves in the style to which they have become accustomed during the Bush/Rumsfeld/Cheney years.

Mira Kamdar: India: Richer, Poorer, Hotter, Armed

The following article appears in the 25th anniversary issue of World Policy Journal.

Leon Hadar - Israel’s Not-So-Future Perfect

The following article appears in the 25th anniversary issue of World Policy Journal.

Nicolaus Mills - A Marshall Plan for the Middle East

The following article appears in the 25th anniversary issue of World Policy Journal.

Mona Eltahawy- The Middle East's Generation Facebook

The following article appears in the 25th anniversary issue of World Policy Journal.

Michelle Sieff: Banquets and Battles

Since I finished my article, “Africa: Many Hills to Climb,” for World Policy Journal’s 25th anniversary issue in October, the world has changed dramatically. A financial crisis has engulfed the developed economies. The American populace elected Barack Obama as president. And, Africa (the continent, not the country!) is a part of these world historical events.   Kenya declared a national holiday in honor of the election of Barack Obama, whose father was born in rural Kenya. Obama's hybrid identity is a powerful symbol of Africa's complicated relationship with the West. America's most inspiring modern politician is but one generation from rural Kenya. This week, the African media outlet had a blogger in Kisumu, in western Kenya, who reported on the outpouring of joy at Obama's election. If Kisumu sounds familiar, it should, for the city was the site of violent conflict after Kenya's disputed election last December. But, this week, Kisumu's residents were unified in their joy over Obama's election. Though Africa is intimately connected to American politics, fortunately, its growing economies have not been undermined by the financial crisis.

Charles G. Cogan: “Change” and Air-Conditioning in Afghanistan

Several new developments have taken place since I wrote my retrospective article on Afghanistan a few weeks ago, an article that has just appeared in the 25th anniversary issue of World Policy Journal. Firstly, the world financial crisis has worsened precipitously, which could impel a new American administration to break the cycle of expeditionary wars in Muslim countries in the Middle East. Secondly, both the Pakistani Army in Pakistan and the American forces from Afghanistan have become more aggressive toward the Taliban and Al Qaeda, while at the same time offers of negotiation have been extended, mainly through the intermediary of the Saudis, to those who are considered the less extremist among the Taliban. Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, a new cast of characters has arrived on the scene, principally: President-elect Barack Obama; and Gen. David Petraeus, the new head of the Central Command, whose writ stretches from Egypt and the Horn of Africa to the Indian subcontinent, including Pakistan and Afghanistan. Petraeus has already been to Pakistan to confer with the civilian and military leadership there. Putting more troops into Afghanistan, as Mr. Obama recommended during the election campaign, would seem to be counterintuitive to history. The more Western troops that are introduced amidst the fiercely nationalistic Pashtuns and other Afghans seems likely to generate more resentment and more resistance. Meantime, civilian casualties continue to mount, both by American Predator drone attacks into Pakistan’s tribal areas and by Allied bombings and ground attacks in Afghanistan, provoking the legendary spirit of vengeance in that part of the world. The Russian example in the twentieth century and the British example in the nineteenth century are there for all to see. Both were driven out of the country ignominiously. Afghans dislike intensely armed foreigners, especially Westerners, operating with impunity in their own country. Why turn our eyes away from this fact of history?

Ian Bremmer: Oil's Slide Ups Political Pressures

In my World Policy Journal article on the "geopolitics of oil" over the next 25 years, I wrote about the many political pressures that will add upward pressure on crude oil prices over the next several years. But we're now in the middle of a global financial crisis that has helped drop prices from a high of $147 per barrel in July to under $60 today. Does the steep price drop remove politics from oil markets? Not at all. Look to recent headlines from three of the countries that have profited mightily from the windfall oil profits of the past few years. In Iran, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the theocrats who hold real power in the country know that lower crude prices give them plenty to worry about. The International Monetary Fund has warned that when oil prices fall below $90 per barrel, Iran starts to run a budget deficit. When oil falls below $75 per barrel, it can’t afford its import bill. We got a glimpse of the jitters in Tehran in early October, when Iran's oil minister announced that a price below $100 per barrel was "unacceptable." For a government that has ordered gasoline rationing and continues to fight a losing battle against 30 percent inflation, this is a serious problem. Iran's government has increased spending by nearly 90 percent over the past three years. If that politically popular spending is to continue, where's the money going to come from if not from energy exports?

David C. Unger: The Inevitable Two-State Solution

The following article appears in the 25th anniversary issue of World Policy Journal.

John L. Esposito and Dalia Mogahed: Who Will Speak For Islam?

The following article appears in the 25th anniversary issue of World Policy Journal.

Richard N. Cooper: Doubling Our World's Economy

The following article appears in the 25th anniversary issue of World Policy Journal.

Jonathan Power: A New Day Dawns

Jonathan PowerThe election of Barack Obama is perhaps America's greatest achievement since the Declaration of Independence, and President George W. Bush, for all his missteps and misplaced conservatism, deserves a share of the credit. His decision to put two African Americans, Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice, in charge of America's national security was a tremendous step forward that helped pave the way for the arrival of our new president. The effect on the rest of the world of an African-American president will be stunning. No European nation (including Russia, with it’s revered part-black national poet, Pushkin) is within sight of electing a man of color as head of government, yet Europeans will be profoundly thankful that the America they began to hate these past eight years can now again be admired, even loved. Africa, needless to say, will be electrified. Asia will nod sagely, recalling that India, in modern times, has had a woman prime minister, a Muslim president, and now a Sikh prime minister. The Middle East will rejoice too. Muslims have always had less hang ups about racial equality than Western Christians. Now they will expect to see a man who understands poverty and prejudice, and who will profoundly and instinctively understand the plight of the Palestinians. Perhaps he will really put America's strength in motion to enable a two-state solution. All the continents—including South America, where blacks and indigenous peoples remain largely powerless—will sense the importance of this victory.

Nikki R. Keddie: Retrospective - Iranian Imbroglios Revisited

The following article appears in the 25th anniversary issue of World Policy Journal.

Theodor H. Winkler: The Shifting Face of Violence

The following article appears in the 25th anniversary issue of World Policy Journal.

François Heisbourg: Five Days in December

The following article appears in the 25th anniversary issue of World Policy Journal.

Mira Kamdar: India on Track for 2033 Predictions

Mira KamdarSomehow, I don’t feel cheered by indications in the month since I wrote my article for the 25th anniversary edition of World Policy Journal that India seems right on track to fulfill the mixed future I predicted in India: Richer, Poorer, Hotter, Armed. On the wealth front, cellular telephone company Bharti Airtel posted a net profit increase of 27 percent, Standard & Poor’s retained its bullish outlook for future economic growth, inflation snuck down under 11 percent and the stock market roared, snapped, roared and snapped again. In comparison with the continued panicked erosion of the financial markets and economies in the West, India seems poised to survive the global financial crisis not too bruised nor too battered. It will even, along with China, emerge with a new global say in the world’s financial architecture since it’s participation in a new G7 that will rise to some as yet unclear new number is now assured. On the poverty front, India’s minister of finance, Palaniappan Chidambaram swore that slowed economic growth would not result in job cuts. Indeed, Jet Airways first fired then rehired hundreds of young workers who were shocked that the mall stalking they’d just begun to get used to being able to pay for might come to a sudden end. Even at a slower 7 percent rate, he opined, jobs would still be created though not as many as quickly as at a higher rate of growth. Of course, that doesn’t include India’s still moribund agricultural sector where the vast majority of its people still eek out a living and where growth is at a near-stagnant 2.3 percent. India’s Ministry of Agriculture released its fall or Kharif harvest projections a couple of weeks ago: production has declined across the board in basic food crops and cotton, on which great hopes were placed, increased by only 0.5 percent. Saving a few hundred service jobs in the airline industry cannot come near to compensating for this disaster. After more than 60 years of independence, India is still stealing from its farmers to push for the industrialization and urban development that will make it feel like a developed country. The poor, in other words, continue to be sacrificed to the rich and the newly minted and eagerly consuming middle class.

David P. Calleo: How Europe Could Save The World

The following article appears in the 25th anniversary issue of World Policy Journal.
Texas A&M University



Nauru: A Cautionary Tale 


Vlad Sokhin documents life in Nauru, a tiny, once-wealthy Pacific island where land has been stripped bare and the hulking shells of the phosphate mining industry have been left to rust.

Those the Jasmine Revolution Forgot 


Photographer Nicholas Linn and writer Sam Kimball capture the struggles of the Tunisian underclass following the 2011 Revolution. 

Tough Love: Las Amorasas Más Bravas 


Bénédicte Desrus and Celia Gómez Ramos explore Casa Xochiquetzal, a shelter in Mexico City that allows sex workers to age with dignity.

Iran's House of Strength 


Jeremy Suyker penetrates the tight-knit community of zurkhanehs, traditional rooms for training warriors dating back to the Persian Empire, and the modern efforts to preserve this Iranian cultural heritage. 


Bolshoi Babylon 


Director Nick Read examines the dysfunction that led to an attack on Sergei Filin, artistic director of Moscow’s Bolshoi Theater, before Russian President Putin stepped in to restructure the Bolshoi’s leadership.



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