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WORLD POLICY ON AIR

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Peter Wilson: Dark Days in Caracas

Peter WilsonVenezuelan President Hugo Chávez is pulling out all the stops to persuade voters next month to approve his plan to rewrite the constitution to allow for his unlimited re-election in 2012 when his current term expires. In doing so, Chávez is almost certainly setting up a confrontation with new U.S. President Barack Obama, and souring any possibility of bettering ties between Washington and its fourth-largest oil supplier. Chávez, who took office in 1999 after winning by a landslide, is seeking voter approval just 13 months after voters rejected a similar measure in December 2007. Chávez claims the measure is needed to guarantee the success of the country´s socialist revolution, which he is leading. Opponents portray the amendment as a naked power grab, especially as irregularities mount. After being rebuffed in 2007, Chávez isn’t taking any chances this time, and has been saturating the airwaves with almost daily national cadenas or addresses, which must be carried live by all stations.

Shaun Randol: Censor See, Censor Do

The sophistication of China’s Great Firewall, the catchy name for the complex, internet censorship apparatus, is well known. Bloggers, journalists, regular Chinese citizens, and visitors passing through the country have all experienced frustration at not being able to read, view, or post so-called “sensitive” information on the web. By many measures, the Great Firewall has been a frustrating success. It appears now that by example and by proposal, China is exporting its internet censorship practices. The latest move came on January 5, when China’s Ministry of Public Security announced a new initiative to crack down on websites with pornography. Google, Baidu, Sina.com, Sohu.com and other popular Chinese websites are targets of this new drive. There are fears, however, that this enterprise is a Trojan horse—that the real aim is to punish websites that, on occasion, publish material antithetical to the state’s political and economic agendas. For example, Tianya.cn, a very popular internet forum famous for exposing hoaxes and scandals (sometimes with political implications), is named as a target of this new program. It is no surprise, then, that other countries have taken notice of the Great Firewall’s achievements and are instituting some of their own internet censorship protocols. Just across the Sea of Japan, Tokyo is also considering a plan to crackdown on websites featuring pornographic images of underage participants. Not that a restriction on underage sexual exploitation is bad news, mind you, but it opens the door for further online limitations.

Belinda Cooper: Revealing secrets

Belinda Cooper[This article was cross-posted on the Huffington Post.] Nineteen years ago, nearly three months after the fall of the Berlin Wall, East German dissidents called for a peaceful demonstration against the continued existence of the Stasi, the feared East German secret police. On January 15, 1990, I found myself in front of Stasi headquarters in East Berlin translating the demonstrators' slogans for an American photographer. Suddenly, without warning, the looming metal gates of the forbidding edifice swung open and stunned protesters poured into the building. Some opened bottles of imported orange juice in the Stasi kitchens, while others spray-painted the walls and vented their anger on furniture and equipment. This unplanned and now legendary "storming of the Stasi" came to mark the symbolic end of an institution whose fate had already been sealed politically. In the ensuing months, East Germans would dismantle the secret police apparatus once and for all, laying bare the full scope of repression exercised by an intelligence service subject to no external control. As a new administration takes over now in the United States, we might take to heart the lessons learned, in this process of dealing with the Stasi's legacy, about the crucial role of openness and oversight in democratic societies. East German activists soon discovered that the Stasi had kept literally miles of reports on ordinary people. I was one of them. As an American living in West Berlin, I had befriended dissident environmentalists in the eastern half of the city and helped them publicize the sorry state of their country's air and water—an activity prohibited under the communist dictatorship. This made me an object of interest.

Jodi Liss: Farewell to the Year of Oil Power

As we stagger into 2009, the financial and economic world of the past 30 years is crumbling and in chaos. Where is the bottom of this mess? How much more pain? No one knows and all dread the answer. It is not just the United States; it is a global shift. Whatever the world comes to think about the United States and its debunked Washington Consensus, last year was, if anything, the Year of Oil Power. The radical plunge in prices we’re witnessing now may change the global balance of power even more in the other direction this year. Whether due to speculation or wishful thinking, in 2008, geopolitics seemed to hinge on commodities in a positively unnatural way, especially among those who knew better. Anyone familiar with the boom-and-bust cycle of oil (and gas) so memorably captured in Daniel Yergin’s The Prize knows that for every delirious rise, the oil busts, such as those of the 1930s and the 1980-90s, have been long, painful, and hard for the producers to end.

THE INDEX - January 15, 2009

In the on-going war in the Middle East, Israel might be using Gaza as a laboratory for future conflict.

Jonathan Power: Obama's Inheritance and the Gitmo Problem

The courtrooms of America sometimes take us by surprise. Last week, Charles “Chuckie” Taylor, the son of the former Liberian president and notorious warlord, Charles Taylor, was sentenced in a Miami court to 97 years in prison for torture. It was the first time that an American court had applied a law passed in 1994 allowing the prosecution of citizens who commit torture overseas. (Taylor was born in the United States, but then moved to Liberia to join his father.)

Is there now one law in America for those who commit torture overseas and those who commit it at home with the authority of government? Perhaps not for much longer. In a recent television interview, President-elect Barack Obama said that his designate for attorney general, Eric Holder, would investigate whether some senior members of the Bush administration should be prosecuted for their part in torture, although he said that his belief was that “what we have to focus on is getting things right in the future.” Also, last week, Obama said that he had given his new appointees to top intelligence positions a clear charge to restore the nation’s stance on human rights. “Under my administration the United States does not torture.” Obama should also have reminded his audience that it was during the presidency of Ronald Reagan that the U.S. helped push for the United Nations to agree to a legally binding treaty against torture, and then propelled Congress to rapidly ratify it. (It is this treaty, mind you, that provides the legal underpinning for the prosecution of Taylor.)

THE INDEX - January 13, 2009

What looked like a done deal to restart Russian gas exports to Europe has hit a

Ian Williams: Pinochet's Echoes Today

Ian WilliamsSeptember 11 is a day that will live in infamy: a terrorist attack on a landmark building whose aftermath left more than 3,000 dead. Yes, Chileans will always remember the coup of September 11, 1973, when their military commanders—with tacit, and indeed active, support from Washington—bombed their own presidential palace, setting up a repressive regime that imprisoned, tortured, and executed supporters of the deposed government while driving untold more into exile. But while Osama bin Laden is being hounded around the North West Frontier, one of the architects of the Chilean coup, Henry Kissinger, is a revered advisor to governments; the other, Augusto Pinochet, died without facing trial for his involvement. “He had taken full advantage of the rights guaranteed to him by due process—rights that his victims were denied—and postponed his day of reckoning indefinitely.” On the day he died, “My feelings of hate toward Pinochet and what he represented had waned through the years; instead I felt a serene contempt for the man,” concludes Heraldo Muñoz in The Dictator's Shadow, a highly readable, fascinating, and revelatory account of the General’s career. Muñoz, now Chile's ambassador to the United Nations and one of those who had to flee his country in 1973, has written a remarkably restrained memoir assessing just how big a shadow Pinochet cast, both globally and historically.

Jonathan Power: Palestine and the War of Civilizations

Just what Barack Obama needs as he prepares to be the forty-fourth president of the United States: another Israeli/Palestinian war re-inflaming passions all over the Arab and Muslim world. Will that middle name of his count for something in this intense firefight?

Well, possibly—but only if he moves fast to change the long-time American emphasis on supporting, by both word and deed, the Israeli side at the Palestinian’s expense. It is as simple—and as complicated—as that. After the Bush years, during which the “clash of civilizations” became the de facto interpretation of American, and to some extent European, policy in the region, the West quickly needs to de-escalate its fixation with what it often interprets as the rabid policies of the Islamic world. The focus instead should be on restoring a sense of humility in dealing with the world-wide Muslim civilization, albeit one with its share of bad apples.

Comparison, even in the time of Al Qaeda, does not work in Christendom's favor. The West should not overlook its near-takeover by the Nazis, whose attempt to eliminate the Jews was launched from a country that was in many ways the fulcrum of modern Christianity. It would be a mistake to forget the inroads that atheistic Marxism made in Europe; or the everyday crime rates in Western nations that far, far exceed those in Muslim countries, especially in the Middle East.

David A. Andelman: A New Year, A Fresh Start?

Davis Andelman, EditorThe first Monday of the new year began in Baghdad with a unique debut: the ribbon-cutting for the world’s largest and most opulent American Embassy, and at the very moment the administration that made it most necessary (and least affordable) is headed for the exits. We are indeed, as the Chinese proverb so aptly notes, living in interesting times. Some of Wall Street’s wisest prognosticators (if that is not an oxymoron in itself) are predicting a market surge this year that could rival that of 2000 when the Internet bubble was in full flight and companies with nothing but bottled air for products commanded stratospheric prices on the wings of inflated expectations. Over the past year, our expectations have fallen to a new low, or at least our confidence. So does this signal a rock bottom of despair? Perhaps. How indeed could things get much worse than today? There is always something worse. War in Gaza could expand to include southern Lebanon and Hezbollah, drawing Iran into the equation. Markets could resume their slide even in the face of mega-wealth pouring in from every leading central bank around the globe. The diplomatic packet on Monday from India to Pakistan detailing Islamabad’s role in last year’s Mumbai terror attacks could simply be a prelude to armed conflict along that always tense frontier. China could decide to stop funding the excesses of the American consumer, sending the dollar into a fatal tailspin. Oh, and then there’s oil: as desperate a case at $40 a barrel as $140.

Jodi Liss: Down and Out in Zimbabwe

These past weeks it has been hard to decide which politician is more completely out of touch with reality: Governor Rod Blagojevich of Illinois, who apparently sought to sell Barack Obama’s Senate seat to the highest bidder, or Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, who seems uninterested that thousands of his people are suffering and dying from cholera. Of course, whatever Blagojevich has done is peanuts compared to Mugabe, who has driven his once-successful country into the ground with a 231 million percent inflation rate (which sounds almost comically impossible—unless you're there), a ruined physical infrastructure, the destruction of property rights, commonplace violence, an economy that has contracted more than 40 percent in the past decade, and now epidemic diseases. And, of course, there is the fact that he lost the national election last spring. He stays in power because the Zimbabwean military and the ZANU-PF party thugs have an interest in keeping him in power. Anyway, Mugabe’s days are numbered. His country is in a slow death spiral; he’s also 84. The question is what happens to Zimbabwe after his end. Sure, there’s Morgan Tsvangirai, the guy who more or less did win the elections—but members of the military are already engaged in an internecine struggle for supremacy. This week, one of the Zimbabwean military’s own, Air Marshall Perence Shiri survived an assassination attempt considered by many to have been an inside job. Whatever happens to Mugabe, these commanders will not quietly accede to change that will cost them prerogatives and power. What is in the offing, according to U.S. Ambassador James McGee, is a collapsed or failed state. In his recent book on development, The Bottom Billion, noted economist Paul Collier tells of being told why, after decolonization, the developing world's governments turned out so inept: the homegrown technocrats (of which Africa had precious few) were shoved aside from power by those with a less educated, more military background. Those who could run a government competently were replaced with cronies.

Ian Williams: Untangling the Oil for Food Knot

Ian WilliamsMichael Soussan's Backstabbing for Beginners: My Crash Course in International Diplomacy (Nation Books, 2008) is a compelling, fascinating, and humorous account of his years working with the UN's Oil for Food program. This by no means a definitive account of the program, but rather a personal and highly impressionist view from an insider. But his impressions have the ring of truth for anyone who has observed the UN at close range and even more so for anyone who knows the characters with whom he worked. As a writer, he was blessed, since the Oil for Food program was short on gray bureaucrats and big on distinctively eccentric characters. In fact, he does not appear to realize just how much the pugnacity and stubborn-ness of his boss, "Pasha" Benon Sevan, may have been critical in getting the program up and running. If he had played by the bureaucratic rules, Iraqis would have been waiting for their rations while memos piled up on desks across the Secretariat. But eccentricity has its limits. There are echoes of Catch 22 in Soussan's narrative, not least of which is a female ex-PFC Wintergreen, "Cindy," the administrative assistant, whose attempt to secure promotion and recognition included fighting a war of bureaucratic attrition that at times almost brought the program (that was feeding the bulk of the Iraqi population) to a halt. Inexperienced and idealistic, Soussan soon realized that had joined "an organization riddled with internal turf wars, petty office politics, dramatic personal rivalries, and in our case, a shameless competition for control over more money than the UN system had ever seen."

Jonathan Power: Nuclear Matchsticks on the Indian Sub-continent

However tense the relationship between India and Pakistan becomes, the government of Manmohan Singh is highly unlikely to initiate or participate in a nuclear war with Pakistan. That would go against the deeply held moral beliefs of the prime minister. Both he and the Congress Party chairman, Sonia Gandhi, have told me privately that they both are utterly repulsed by such an act. Immediately after the Mumbai atrocities, tough talk towards Pakistan seemed to billow like smoke from the Taj hotel out of quarters of India's military and foreign affairs establishment—but, to his credit, Singh quickly fanned it away. On the Pakistani side, President Asif Ali Zardari appears to be in a peace-making mood. Not long before the atrocities in Mumbai, he publicly abandoned his country’s “first use” doctrine, which held that Pakistan could use its nuclear weapons even without an Indian nuclear attack. He has also, like General Pervez Musharraf before him, reached out to India for a deal on the central flash point: the disputed state of Kashmir. Neither this president nor Musharraf (once he was in power) ever showed they were the type to reach for their nuclear guns. Nevertheless, Singh has had few qualms about supporting the build up of India's nuclear deterrent—regarding it as an inevitable process given India's place in the world—and has been a passionate advocate of the new nuclear deal with the United States, which has recently lifted its 30 year-old embargo on nuclear supplies for India. But does that mean we don't have to fear a nuclear war between India and Pakistan?

Leon Hadar: Obama the Mideast Peace-Maker?

Leon HadarSince the publication of my retrospective article on Israel in the fall 25th anniversary issue of World Policy Journal, a few colleagues have wondered if I considered revising my somewhat “pessimistic outlook” (the way one of my correspondents put it) about the chances of resolving the Israeli-Palestinian with Barack Obama in office. So have I changed my tune? First, what I was trying to do in my WPJ article was to highlight the gap between the high expectations that many of us seemed to share regarding the Israeli-Palestinian peace process in 1991 (the end of the Cold War, increasing globalization, etc.) with the depressing reality of today’s Holy Land—post-9/11, post-Iraq War, and amidst the present global economic crisis. If anything, my retrospective reflected my sense of realism about the ability and willingness on the part of Israelis and Palestinians—with or without outside intervention—to settle their differences and achieve peace in the near future. I was not encouraged after reading David Unger’s article in the same issue of WPJ that seemed to be trying to lift our spirits by forecasting that “by 2033, two states, Israel and Palestine, will be living side-by-side in uneasy peace.” Unger makes all the right arguments to support his thesis that a resolution of their conflict would serve the long-term interests of both the Israelis and Palestinians. But same arguments that focus on the horrific human and economic costs of a long and protracted conflict and the potential enormous benefits resulting from a peace agreement could apply to the national, ethnic, and religious clashes over Cyprus, Kashmir, Sri Lanka, Nagorno-Karabakh, Kosovo, Abkhazia and South Ossetia, and Darfur. These are just few of the regional disputes that have remained unresolved and to some extent “frozen,” neither full-blown war nor peace. The main reason for that reality is that, for most players in these conflicts, the costs of challenging the status-quo outweigh the perceived benefits of taking action to end the dispute (either through military victory and/or a peace settlement). This kind of cost-benefit analysis explains why President George W. Bush and his aides decided after 9/11 not to invest too much time or resources in resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Operating under the assumption (or self-delusion) that the promotion of the “Freedom Agenda” in the Middle East, starting with Iraq, would create the conditions for resolution of the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians (witness the oft-repeated neoconservative argument that the “road to Jerusalem leads through Baghdad”). Indeed, Bush’s advisors were committed to the axiom that what is good for America is good for Israel (and vice versa). They argued that a Pax Americana in the region would also tilt the balance of power in favor of Tel Aviv, forcing the Palestinians to accept an arrangement that would favor Israeli interests. Hence, it made no sense to spend Washington’s diplomatic capital by pressing Israel, a so-called “strategic ally in the war on terror” to relieve the pressure from, and to make concessions to, the Palestinian leadership. Instead, Washington decided to “park” the Palestinian issue while trying to remake the Middle East by force.  However, by moving beyond the Palestinian-Israeli issue and dealing with the threat of “Islamo-fascism,” the Bush administration has pursued policies that have only exacerbated Israel’s relations with other Arab countries. Hence, it tried dissuade Israel from pursuing Turkish-backed negotiations with Syria (a junior member of the Axis of Evil). Bush also gave Israel the green light to attack the Hezbollah forces in Lebanon, leading to a war that ended with a strategic stalemate and possibly tipped the balance of power against the American-Israeli alliance. In any case, when Bush’s Middle East “Freedom Agenda” crashed into the reality of the Hamas’s electoral victory in Palestine and the strengthening of Iran and its satellites in the region, the administration decided to placate the members of the Saudi-led Arab-Sunni coalition by going through motions of a grand peace-process in Annapolis earlier this year. This same Saudi coalition, based on neoconservative wishful thinking, was expected to form a “strategic consensus” with Israel to contain Iran.

Belinda Cooper: Barack Obama, the Berlin Wall, and the Elusive Quest for Unity

Belinda CooperSince Barack Obama’s victory on November 4, I’ve been musing about the parallels between this amazing moment and another world-altering event I was privileged to witness in November almost two decades ago—the demise of the Berlin Wall. Then, too, a barrier that had seemed insurmountable fell. Then, too, the desire for unity helped propel momentous change. For Germans, though, ambushed by their own differences, unity has proved elusive. Their experience may be a cautionary tale for Americans working to bridge our own particular divides. I lived in West Berlin in 1989, when the Berlin Wall fell, and had been making regular forays across the Wall to East Berlin, helping dissidents and getting to know their society. After sharing in their struggles, in a small way, for two years, I watched East and West Germans party together and experienced the joy and disbelief, the exhilaration and sense of limitless possibility that accompanied the unexpected end to decades of German separation.   Last month, I watched a similar outpouring of emotion as Barack Obama was elected our first black president. Once again, I saw people dancing together in the streets, yearning to transcend longstanding divisions. It was, once again, a moment full of hope. But I was also reminded that change does not happen overnight, and that overcoming legacies of distance and distrust—as Germany’s experience shows—is an ongoing and difficult process.

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.
FALL FUNDRAISER

 

PORTFOLIO


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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