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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.

Jonathan Power: Exit Stage...Now

Jonathan PowerWhat is the exit strategy for Iraq now?” asked Leon Sigal in a prescient article in World Policy Journal back in fall 2007. He went on to tell the tale of how George Aiken, the Republican senator from Vermont, in a speech on the Senate floor in 1966, said the way to end U.S. involvement in Vietnam was to “declare victory and get out.” Having declared victory in 2004 and not got out, it is too late for President George W. Bush or his successors to do that now. But Aiken had a riposte for that contingency too. A few years later, when it was impossible to declare victory, he was asked how to get out of Vietnam. “In ships,” he replied. Both the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are moving towards the only solution that will work—leaving. In Iraq, surely this is what Barack Obama, if he becomes president, must do, despite all the heavy advice trying to persuade him to drag it out…until a miracle happens wherein the killing stops, the legal system functions, and “democracy” works. But the killing in this very disturbed society will go on for decades. Washington’s tallies of the Iraqi death toll, supposedly sharply falling, do not even count non-sectarian killings. Nor do they account for the rate of kidnapping, rape, and pillage. The U.S. authorities live in a cloud of self-deception. In Afghanistan, we had recently the senior commander of the British military presence in Afghanistan telling a newspaper that the war could not be won—and which army on earth could keep up its morale and fighting edge when the boss says that? “I will not lay down my life if we’re just going to pull out,” is the natural reaction of a serving soldier in these circumstances. Every commander of the various national forces in Afghanistan, if not yet the rank and file, must know by now what the British ambassador has told London's Foreign Office (thanks to a leak in Paris): that the war is not winnable, that peace must be made with the Taliban, and the West should accept that some dictator (hopefully a reasonable one) will come to power. Democracy as we know it does not stand a chance of coming into being, he argued.

Our World In 25 Years

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

Shaun Randol: Nukes in the Himalayas

The past two months have seen some interesting developments in Sino-Indian relations. Immediately after India’s official entrance into the group of nuclear states sent shudders through the nonproliferation community worldwide, the latest round of discussions between the Asian giants came and went with little fanfare. Taken together, these developments further confound rather than illuminate understanding of the lurching relationship between the world’s two most populous states. Earlier this month, the U.S. Congress approved a deal that allows American companies (like General Electric and Westinghouse) to sell India atomic fuel and nuclear technology. A month before Congress made the deal official, member states of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) had waived the usual restrictions to entry into the elite club, warmly welcoming India as the newest nation to openly possess nuclear weapons; this despite the fact that India is not a party to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). The move landed with a whimper in the U.S. media, but has made a huge splash in Indian news, where the event was largely celebrated as something of a coming out party—India, no longer the shy debutante. Others took notice too: companies in Canada, France, and Russia are salivating at the opportunity to sell nuclear-related material to India, a country once denied such privileges. Many in the NPT crowd are worried about the implications of this NSG deal. Adam B. Kushner of Newsweek warns that the NSG agreement may spark a nuclear arms race with the likes of Pakistan and Iran. Likewise, Daryl Kimball of the Arms Control Association says the move blows “a huge loophole in the global non-proliferation system that’s going to make it harder to persuade the Irans and the North Koreas—an already difficult task—to abide by their obligations; and it’s going to make it more difficult to strengthen this global non-proliferation effort which is already fraying at the seams.” But both analysts largely overlook the serious implications with regard to China.

Jonathan Power: North Korea—The Long Way Around

Jonathan PowerOne small step forward by North Korea and the United States; one large step for mankind. The political fight to persuade North Korea to halt its nuclear bomb making activities seems at last, in the dying days of the Bush presidency, to be entering a serious phase. Washington has finally bowed to the North Korean request to remove it from the U.S. list of sponsors of terrorism—which will enable the renegade state to become eligible for international loans and sundry other economic benefits—in return for Pyongyang agreeing to re-allow inspections to verify a North Korean promise to freeze its nuclear activities, as it undertook last year and then withdrew from. After nine years of erratic U.S. policies—met by equally erratic and bellicose North Korean ones—the negotiations have ended up almost where they started following the highly fruitful diplomacy of the Clinton administration that transformed Pyongyang from total intransigence to a willing and helpful negotiating partner. Indeed, by some counts, this was the Clinton administration's only substantial and productive foreign policy success. (That said, a Republican majority in Congress during the Clinton years torpedoed commitments made by his administration, diluting the real benefits.) During the Bush administration, North Korea has tripled the amount of nuclear weapons' material it has in store. Worse, it has exploded a nuclear bomb and probably has enough material to produce half a dozen more. This must count as one of President George W. Bush's worst foreign policy feats. A record of commitments made in tense but productive negotiations were not honored. Bush called the regime “evil” and then offered aid. It refused to negotiate over financial issues (notably money laundering by Banco Delta Asia) then returned the funds it had impounded.

Gary Wright: Europe to the Rescue?

Gary WrightThe global financial crisis has now hit Europe square in the face and, all of a sudden, this nascent continental superpower appears to have a chin far weaker than most thought. The European Union was designed to create a strong trading zone of countries able to maximize each member’s industries, for mutual gains, in a global marketplace. Key to gaining cross-border industrial benefits was to fashion a financial harmonization that would eventually be crafted into a single market. Fundamental to achieving this end was the formation of the Euro as the single currency, removing foreign exchange risks and making it easier for companies to grow across borders and produce a more flexible migration of workers. (The Euro was introduced across the European Union with the UK and Switzerland the biggest abstainers, mainly due to domestic concerns over independence.) The EU’s political objective is now established as well—although it is very much work in progress. A complete harmonization of the European plan would impact businesses, cultures, and the way of life of everyone within the EU. If successful, the EU would be very well placed to compete on a global scale with other growing regions and probably would attract significantly more international business. However, the current financial crisis is putting an enormous strain on each member state. The collective established within the European Union appears to be faltering under the strain of an unprecedented global financial crisis. We have seen the Irish go their own way to protect the customers of Irish banks, with similar situations occurring in Greece and Denmark. Heavyweight German economic regulators considered similar measures, but changed tack at the last minute, probably because of pressure from the UK and France. When the chips are down, it’s natural for countries to protect their residents, but this flies in the face of unity. The European Central Bank (ECB) has proved powerless in this crisis. Each central bank in each state is taking its own unilateral action, leaving the ECB almost redundant. However, the worldwide reduction of interest rates agreed and acted upon recently shows how a coordinated focus can bring immediate benefits. Further actions of this type will eventually bring stability and allow the markets to settle at a new (albeit lower) level. It’s worth making the point that there is a big difference between market volatility and the fundamental stability of global economies. Markets move by speculation and risk, while economies are slower to react and move more in line with inflationary forces and fiscal policies imposed by governments. For this reason, the billions of dollars that governments are pouring into supporting banks have little to do with the overall strength of markets, as the prices of shares in the banking sector may rise or fall with little linkage to the performance of other sectors as investors switch from one to the other. Governments must be cautious about pouring money into the markets as such actions can seem like casino bosses underwriting the losses of their biggest players. The players will simply continue to play harder betting more.

Rush McCloy: Letter from Afghanistan

Rush McCloy is Lieutenant in the Navy who has been serving in Afghanistan since January 2008.

Ian Williams: Bacardi’s Muddled Fight for “Cuba Libre”

Ian WilliamsThe Bacardi family elicits strong feelings across the world. Its propensity for mythmaking, its aggressive commercial competitiveness, its long history of lobbying in Washington, its family obsession with Cuba, and its understandable grudge against Fidel Castro’s regime are all guaranteed to produce friction. Tom Gjelten has had unprecedented cooperation from both the family and from Cuban officials in writing his book, Bacardi and the Long Fight for Cuba: the Biography of a Cause (Viking , 2008). Neither Castro supporters nor the Bacardi family have exactly trumpeted the financial, political, and logistical backing given by the family to Castro and the rebels. Both sides obviously regret the episode. Ironically, however, now that Raul Castro has succeeded his older brother, both sides are linked to the family business, since Raul married the daughter of a Bacardi executive family in a lavish Bacardi-hosted ceremony attended by Fidel, the original big brother. Gjelten leaves nothing unrecorded in his objective, warts and all, history of an unusual company, illustrating Cuban history without the canonizations by leftist apologists for Fidel and the demonizations by conservative Cuban exiles and their friends. He correctly questions some of the company’s mythmaking by copywriters, for example the “Cuba Libre” (rum and Coke), whose Bacardi origins were later dubiously certified by the Bacardi sales manager in New York. However, he is a little too accepting of the family tale, and indeed the Cuban view, of its innovation in rum-making. In fact, for centuries, the Spanish colonies were forbidden from making rum—not, as Gjelten suggests, to protect public morals, but to protect the brandy industry back home. What Bacardi did was replicate the processes long used by the Jamaicans and other Anglo-Caribbeans, who had long before discovered how important aging in oak barrels was to make the product smooth and palatable. Bacardi made a lighter version of rum, filtered to take out much of the color and, in the opinion of many rum connoisseurs, much of the taste as well. But as part of its innovative marketing, the family was strong on quality control, ensuring that the brand, even if bland, was consistent.

Shaun Randol: China’s Chechnya (part 2 of 2)

Shaun Randol When confronting the situation in the Xinjiang Autonomous Region (XAR), are there lessons Beijing can draw from similar events? China’s neighboring power, Russia, for one, has experience with Muslim separatists. Chechnya, a federal subject in southwest Russia, has fought two wars against the big Bear in search of independence. The first (1994–96) ended with a cease-fire and upwards of 100,000 dead. The second war, begun in 1999, continues to simmer. The two contests have many parallels: For one, superpower geopolitics is involved on both ends, as Russia and China seek to maintain and assert control over their immediate spheres of influence. Both Chechens and Uighurs seek independence, are dominant ethnic minorities in their homeland, subscribe to the Islamic faith, and speak their own languages. Despite sporadic fighting, Russia continues to pour money into Chechnya, and in Xinjiang, China is investing tens of billions of Yuan as violence bubbles to the surface. Oil is a major factor in both regions too: critical infrastructure runs through Chechnya, while Xinjiang, naturally oil-rich, feeds a 4,200 km pipeline to Shanghai. In Chechnya, Russia has successfully installed a pro-Moscow regime, while in XAR Beijing has a friend in appointed Party Secretary Wang Lequan. Lastly, Chechnya and Xinjiang border states less-friendly to their respective capitals. Below Chechnya lies the pro-American (now humbled) Georgia, while just south of Xinjiang Tibet seethes with resentment toward Beijing.

Shaun Randol: China’s Chechnya (part 1 of 2)

Things are heating up in China’s westernmost province. In response to a number of violent incidents in Xinjiang Autonomous Region (XAR), Beijing has ratcheted up its security presence. Tit-for-tat clashes between pro-independence groups and police forces threaten stability and may portend a vicious cycle of killings. Ninety-two percent of China’s population is ethnic Han; the remaining 8 percent is constituted by a mix of 55 officially recognized minority groups, including the increasingly vociferous Uighurs in Xinjiang and Tibetans. Yunnan Province, home to at least 26 different minority populations, lies south of Tibet in China’s far southwest, a cool 1300 miles away (as the crow flies) from Beijing. Most unrest affiliated with minority populations occurs outside of Beijing’s immediate geographical area, making suppression burdensome for the central government; still, Beijing maintains tight control over the media and internet ensuring that uprisings and subsequent crackdowns in these relatively sparsely populated regions remain largely invisible to most outsiders. Currently Beijing has control over separatist (or as officials prefer, “splittist”) movements in Tibet and Xinjiang, but for how long?

Jonathan Power: Downhill in Afghanistan

How far is downhill? Well, that's like asking how long is a piece of string. But whatever the answer, the American/NATO military effort in Afghanistan, triggered by 9/11, seems to have all the marks of a quick descent. In Barack Obama's phrase, American public opinion doesn't get it. How could they when Obama himself, supposedly a fresh eye on the international scene, bangs the drum for more troops and yet more force? Does European and Canadian opinion get it? Apart from the Canadians, who have had the good sense and the foresight to give a date for the withdrawal of their troops, public opinion appears to be asleep at the switch. Our Afghanistan policy, made within hours of the atrocity of 9/11, seems still to be to try to bomb the country to cinders, irrespective of the number of civilian casualties. How is it possible that Americans have yet not learned the lesson of Dresden, that wild and merciless bombing rather than leading to capitulation merely reinforces local opinion against the aggressor. And troops on the ground have continued to alienate local opinion with their seeming inability to differentiate between fighters and civilians. The war is being lost as the Taliban, whether actively defending Al Qaeda or just fighting for their own piece of ground, gain the upper hand, improving their strength and their military skills by the month. The poppy growers watch their profits soar, with plenty of coin going to Taliban coffers, because the West is unable to face honestly the one policy that might work—legalization of the drug trade, as the former minister of finance of Pakistan, Sartaj Aziz, suggested in Prospect magazine. (He argued for a controlled experiment in one province.) President Bush, the American military, and now Obama seem to think the only way out is to take their failed tactics into Pakistan, despite the opposition of the government in Islamabad and its powerful military chiefs. (So much for territorial integrity, the war cry of NATO for Georgia.)

Sumit Ganguly: Time to Seize the Day

Subit GangulyIt is something of a marvel that the U.S.-India civilian nuclear agreement actually managed to receive the approval, however grudging, of the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) in early September. Many ardent proponents of nonproliferation had hoped that a curious combination of countries—ranging from a staunch U.S. ally, Australia, to a potential U.S. challenger, China—for very different reasons, would bury the deal in the NSG. The Australians were concerned about seeming to reward India, which has steadfastly refused to join the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT). China, on the other hand, while couching its arguments in the rhetoric of nonproliferation, simply did not want to let India join the de facto nuclear club. Deft Indian and American diplomacy, combined with a subtle display of American political clout, including a phone call from President Bush to Chinese premier Hu Jintao, saved the day. Despite this setback, the nonproliferation zealots still hope to have their day in Congress. Already some key members of the House, notably Edward Markey of Massachusetts and Howard Berman of California (both Democrats), have made intransigence to the deal well known. As Congress convenes to consider the deal, the nonproliferation brigade will quickly muster every conceivable argument, no matter how specious, to sandbag its progress. What are their principal objections? Most importantly, they argue that it will have perverse consequences for the nonproliferation regime. India, a de facto nuclear weapons state that has remained outside the ambit of the NPT, will be able to maintain its nuclear weapons program and still partake in global nuclear commerce. This, in their view, is tantamount to rewarding a recalcitrant state. Furthermore, they argue that states which had previously joined the NPT may now reconsider their decisions given that India has been granted a pass. They also contend that the deal will energize various deceitful states, ranging from Iran to North Korea, to boost their nuclear weapons programs. In a similar vein, they suggest that Pakistan (also a non-signatory to the NPT) will now insist on equal treatment. Finally, they claim that nuclear power cannot possibly serve as a panacea for India’s expanding energy needs. Each of these arguments, while seemingly attractive, is fundamentally flawed. The question of rewarding India despite its apparent recalcitrance is perhaps the most galling argument.

Mira Kamdar: French Lessons

Mira KamdarWhen I was an undergraduate in college (in the last century), French was considered the language of diplomacy. My United States passport, despite the recent estranged "Freedom Fries era" of Franco-American relations, still states most entries in both English and French. Alas, in this brave new age, the diplomatic power of French appears to be slipping, not the least in Europe, and especially on its now contested borders with Russia. France currently holds the presidency of the European Union, in which role and under the enterprising leadership of President Nicolas Sarkozy (whose name it is really too tempting in the present context to spell “Czarkozy”) France undertook to broker the withdrawal of Russian forces from Georgia after their recent incursion to “liberate” South Ossetia and Abkhazia. With typical French panache, the whole thing was neatly presented, apparently understood, and expected to be rapidly executed. However, it quickly became apparent that certain critical details of the original French draft of the terms of Russian withdrawal had, literally been lost, or at least warped, in translation. It all hinges on a prepositional dispute. Does the draft agreement call for security "for" South Ossetia, as the Georgian and English translations state, or does it call for security "in" South Ossetia as the Russian translation allows. The Russians are sticking with their translation, which they are interpreting to mean that their presence in South Ossetia is essential for security in this disputed territory. Mon dieu!

Steven Hill: China and the Long Road Ahead

Steven HillDuring the Olympics, China showed the world that it can throw a heck of a coming out party. But traveling here afterward, one sees the many complexities and challenges facing this vast and ancient land. Especially in the rural areas—where most people still live—the impressive economic rise of China has penetrated only superficially. True, the Communist Party, which still runs nearly everything, brought electricity and other development here in the early 1980s. But while some appliances like television and telephones are increasingly common, indoor plumbing, electric ovens and other comforts are still scarce. The life of farming families is still extremely poor, filled with backbreaking labor and scavenging for wood. They don't have tractors, so they still use water buffalo to plow, an image completely at odds with modern Beijing. But among the most backward Chinese policies—one that deeply affects these poor rural families—is that of education. The Communist government does not provide free education at any level. Families must pay out-of-pocket tuition for primary, high school, and college education for their children.

Ketevan Ninua: The Cold War Never Ended

Ketevan Ninua Ketevan Ninua is a co-founder of Georgian Center of Technology, a technology and engineering institute in Tbilisi, Georgia, and a board member of, Inc. Born in Tbilisi, she is a New York representative of the Georgian Association in the United States. While Russia’s recent invasion of Georgia came as a surprise to most around the world, it should have evoked quite the opposite reaction. Molestation of her neighbors, including setting impoverished Ossetians against Georgians, has long been Russian policy. Today imperial Russia, flouting international law, threatens Georgia’s very existence by bombing the country, slaughtering civilians, and occupying territory. This is a situation that the West has encountered numerous times in the past: Czechoslovakia, 1938; Berlin, 1948; Budapest, 1956; Prague, 1968; Afghanistan, 1979. The world condemns Russia, but condemnations do not curb Moscow’s behavior. Russian aggression stretches back centuries; its approach to conquest dates from the Middle Ages, when soldiers were sent to war with no promise of payment other than loot. Russian aggression on a macro level is well-documented, but the savagery of its soldiers has not been widely reported. Russian soldiers in Georgia have engaged in widespread looting of food, electronic equipment, furniture, footwear, and clothes—even used toilet bowls and sinks. Russian soldiers have raped and murdered innocent civilians. In Georgia, three generations often live in the same home; Russian soldiers have beaten elders and shot family members who dared to object. After their looting and killing was over, Russian troops have burned Georgian villages to the ground, destroyed towns, and mined roads—to ensure that no food or humanitarian aid can reach devastated Georgian citizens.

Jonathan Power: The False Dawn of Ethnic Conflict

Jonathan PowerFrom what many politicians and some of the press are saying, the house of ethnic togetherness is about to fall apart and the Ossetian withdrawal from Georgia is soon going to destabilize whole continents. No wonder that Beijing is opposing Moscow in rushing to recognize the new order in South Ossetia. Is this a valid fear? Theoretically yes, historically no. A few years ago, the political scientists James Fearon and David Laitin studied ethnic division in Africa, a continent notorious for its wars. They identified tens of thousands of pairs of ethnic groups that could have been in conflict. But they did not find thousands of actual conflicts or hundreds of new states. Indeed, for every one thousand such pairs of ethnic conflicts they found fewer than three incidents of violent conflict. With only a few exceptions, state boundaries in Africa are the same as they were in 1960 at the time of the independence movement. It is true that Africa over the last decade and a half has been through a period of great turmoil. But, according to the just-published annual report of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, Africa (along with Europe) is now the most peaceful continent in the world, with only one significant tribal or interstate conflict last year.

Ian Williams: Taiwan and the Georgia Precedent

Ian WilliamsAugust was a strange month, and there were times when one felt that it could have been a Sarajevo moment (1914 style), or even a Cuban crisis. There is an almost Newtonian law of diplomacy about the resulting release of belligerent energy when two roughly equal masses of foresightlessness collide. Neither side emerges with much credit from the Ossetia debacle, whether the issue was controlling unruly surrogates, or delivering an effective solution afterwards. In this case, however, the George W. Bush White House unusually played the role of Khrushchev, and backed down in the face of a clearly irrational opponent. But even that commendable forbearance has unintended consequences across the globe, in particular, with China and Taiwan. In the short term, Moscow tweaked the Eagle’s feather, and got away with it because, for once, this White House appreciated its own limitations. Moscow certainly weakened U.S. military prestige even as it enhanced its battered reputation for sanity, but it was a hollow triumph, reminiscent of the Russian tank column that raced to Pristina Airport in Kosovo and cocked a snook at General Rupert Smith and NATO—but then, sheepishly, had to get fuel and food from NATO since all Russia’s former allies refused over-flight permission for reinforcement. Clearly, that memory still rankles in Moscow, and can only hope that the little brief authority that Russia’s raid into Georgia gave its generals will overcome their chronic Kosovo syndrome. However, it was dearly bought therapy, which has compounded Russian isolation. It delivered support in Prague, Warsaw, and Kiev for NATO, missiles, and bases that a month ago looked like unjustifiable provocation but which the Russian action has now made seem eminently sensible. Indeed, apart from the effect on its neighbors, one cannot but help wonder at the long-term effect on the Russian Federation itself—Chechnya and Tartarstan being but some of many potentially fissiparous components. How long before Israel recognizes the independence of the Birobidzhan “Jewish Autonomous Region” in Russia’s far eastern provinces?

Richard Horowitz: Pan Am 103, Revisited

Richard HorowitzJuval Aviv, an Israeli-born New York private investigator, gave a presentation on August 8 at the annual American Bar Association (ABA) convention held in New York. Aviv is president of Interfor, Inc., which describes itself as an “international investigations firm offering comprehensive domestic and foreign intelligence services to the legal, corporate, and financial communities” with offices in thirty-six countries. Aviv has created a mystique about himself by claiming to be the “Avner” character in Steven Spielberg’s Munich, hand-picked by former Prime Minister Golda Meir to lead a team of Israeli assassins to avenge the deaths of the 11 Israeli athletes killed by Black September during the 1972 Munich Olympics. As Aviv told the ABA audience, “Steven Spielberg bought the rights to my life story and Munich is based on that.” Last week, however, Aviv was removed as the keynote speaker at a security conference scheduled for October after I and another security professional brought our concerns about Aviv to the conference director. Aviv gained notoriety when Pan Am hired him to investigate the downing of Flight 103, which exploded over Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988. His investigative conclusion: the Central Intelligence Agency was responsible for the explosion on board the flight. According to his report, the CIA had allowed Syrian drug dealers to ship narcotics to the United States via U.S. aircraft in exchange for intelligence. Someone, however, slipped a bomb into the shipment aboard Pan Am 103, bringing down the plane. While this defense did not help Pan Am in court, Aviv’s report, commonly referred to as the “Interfor Report,” merited a chapter in The 80 Greatest Conspiracies of All Time by Jonathan Vankin and John Whalen (Citadel Press, 2004) and can be found on websites and discussion boards across the Internet. (See number 9 in Another Ten Conspiracy Theories, right after the famous Beatles rumor “Paul is Dead.”)

K. A. Dilday: All Quiet on the Western Front?

K. A. DildayAs always, summer in Western Europe is a quiet time. People tend to take much of the European Union mandated four weeks (at minimum) of paid work leave during August. Official discussions about managing the crisis created by the Ireland’s early June rejection of the Lisbon Treaty have been put off until October, although last week Ireland’s European Affairs Minister, Dick Roche, hinted at the next step by saying that a second vote was necessary if Ireland wants to remain an integral member of the European Union. The implication being that Ireland must continue to vote until they come up with the right answer. Meanwhile, the United Kingdom’s economy falters, and the Poles are going home. According to a report released this summer by Britain’s Institute for Public Policy Research, nearly half of the Eastern European migrants who moved to Britain when EU enlargement made it possible in 2004 and 2007, have returned home as the U.K. economy continues its regression. The United Kingdom’s Office for National Statistics found that even though the population grew by 388,000 in 2007 (one of the smallest jumps in recent years), the proportion of growth attributable to immigration decreased. The Poles and other Eastern Europeans have left the U.K., and if they’ve not gone home, they’ve gone elsewhere—to France, for example, which opened its employment ranks to the 12 newest members of the European Union in July, a year ahead of schedule. While economists likely applaud the economically driven pattern of trans-European migration, it seems it is just what social nationalists fear—migrants driven purely by financial motives rather than a desire to relocate and become part of a national community. France, which assumed the presidency of the European Union in July, introduced a draft European pact on immigration and asylum this summer. It addressed the issues of national values and identity with these lines in the preamble: “The European Council recognizes the interest of the integration contract for third-country nationals who are admitted for long-term residence on their territory and encourages member States to propose it at a national level. This integration contract must be compulsory. It will include the requirement of learning the national language, European national identities and values, such as respect for other people’s physical integrity, equality between men and women, tolerance, compulsory schooling and education for children.” [Emphasis mine] As I wrote in the summer 2008 issue of World Policy Journal, even politicians have difficulty defining their country’s identity—of which “values” form the essential part—as independent from those of Europe. The European Union is expected to adopt France’s pact when it reconvenes in October. Yet while Western Europe has been fairly quiescent on their long summer holidays, the Balkan region, which includes several states that are next in line to be considered for EU membership, has been roiling.



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.



When the Senate Worked for Us:
New book offers untold stories of how activist staffers countered corporate lobbies in the U.S.

MA in International Policy and Development
Middlebury Institute (Monterey, CA): Put theory into practice through client-based coursework. Apply by Feb. 1.

Millennium Project’s State of the Future 19.0: Collective Intelligence on the Future of the World


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