Best Drupal HostingBest Joomla HostingBest Wordpress Hosting
WORLD POLICY ON AIR

World Policy Journal is proud to share our weekly podcast, World Policy On Air, featuring former Newsweek On Air host David Alpern with timely insights from global affairs analyst Michael Moran of Transformative.io, risk and geostrategy consultants. Click here to subscribe on iTunes!

THE LATEST

AddToAny
Share/Save

Swadesh M. Rana: U.S. Rediscovers the UN in Afghanistan

As the Obama administration increases the U.S. troop presence in Afghanistan, it seems also to be planning for a gradual disengagement and a more imminent NATO exit with an old friend and partner—the United Nations. Indeed, President Obama has rediscovered the United Nations, and hopes the global body can help set the stage for a graceful exit without dominating the scene. It won’t happen, though, by replacing the 90,000 U.S. and NATO troops now committed there with another UN peacekeeping operation or by creating a new organizational unit in the Secretariat that Washington has often berated as cumbersome, top-heavy, and wasteful. The disengagement task is entrusted instead to the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) that was established after the U.S.-led military action to overthrow the Taliban regime. Building upon the UN experience in Afghanistan since 1982—after the Soviet troop withdrawal from an inconclusive and costly war that began in 1979—UNAMA was tasked with two civilian missions in 2001: development and humanitarian issues, and political affairs. It is now headed by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s special representative, Kai Eide, a veteran Norwegian diplomat who has represented his country at NATO and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and whose appointment to this position in March 2008 was fully supported by the United States and NATO. With a current staff of 1,500, around 80 percent of whom are Afghan nationals, UNAMA is now called upon to strike a balance between the military and civilian components of international assistance to Afghanistan by some 80 countries, 20 international agencies, and 40 non-governmental organizations (NGOs). An immediate task for UNAMA is to prepare for and ensure fair, impartial, and credible elections in Afghanistan this August. Underlying this act of faith in the UN to secure the elections is a long overdue and more nuanced U.S. view of the nature of the global threat of terror, Al Qaeda and Taliban operations in southwest Asia, and the terroristic activities in Afghanistan. The Bush administration saw Afghanistan as the headquarters of Al Qaeda that could be destroyed after a military ouster of the Taliban regime. It viewed Al Qaeda as a global monolith of Islamic fundamentalism with a well-defined chain of command that could be broken with superior intelligence and military action. And, of course, it wanted Osama bin Laden dead or alive—with the help of a democratically elected President Hamid Karzai after his interim installation with U.S. support. The Obama administration sees the global terror network as less of a monolith driven by Islamic fundamentalism and more a labyrinth of organized crime, drug cartels, illicit arms traffic, contraband trade, political dissidence, and individual disaffection. It is looking at southwest Asia as the crossroads of terrorism and nuclear proliferation with a growing collusion between the ideologically driven, militant Taliban and disaffected groups opposed to the ruling regimes in Afghanistan and Pakistan. It is also mindful that the current government in Afghanistan lacks true legitimacy. Indeed, the 2001 presidential elections in Afghanistan were boycotted by 50 percent of the electorate amidst vociferous local resentment over some voters casting their ballot twice and others supporting candidates who were encouraged to withdraw their names so that the U.S.-backed President Hamid Karzai could be declared the clear winner.

Azubuike Ishiekwene: Sudan Puts Africa in Tight Spot

This was not how Muammar Gaddafi wanted to start his tenure as chair of the African Union. The priority of the Libyan leader was to hit the ground running with his dream to create a United States of Africa. Now, the urgency of Gaddafi’s grand ambition must wait as the continent’s leaders struggle to come to terms with last week’s arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir issued by the International Criminal Court. For decades, Africa has been plagued by notorious leaders. When one of the continent’s most gifted writers, Chinua Achebe, says in his book that the trouble with Nigeria is squarely that of leadership, he is perhaps speaking not only of his nation, but of Africa as a whole. From Mobutu Seseko to Idi Amin and from Sani Abacha to Robert Mugabe, the continent has had to grapple with leaders who would rather destroy their countries than give up political power. Once in a while, a Julius Nyerere, Joachim Chissano, or Nelson Mandela comes along to renew hope and the promise of a future. But, more often, the continent’s landscape is blighted by tyrants who start off on a promising, even messianic note, and yet end up leaving their countries in the throes of war, disease, and deeper misery than before. That’s the story of al-Bashir, who the continent’s political leaders condoned for six years—because confronting him meant confronting the very demon that haunts many of them. So, what will the African Union do about al-Bashir’s indictment? It has called for a suspension of the sentence. There are muffled concerns about the safety of the civilian population, especially around the Darfur area, and also the fate of the 7,000-strong AU troops that had only in January received UN reinforcement. In a foretaste of the grimmer days ahead, Khartoum kicked out 10 major humanitarian agencies struggling to provide food and water to about 1.5 million people, prompting suggestions of a possible AU emergency meeting to discuss Sudan. But talk is cheap.

Swadesh M. Rana: Guantánamo's Detainees — Diplomatic Quagmire or Security Risk?

America's European partners in its war on terror are not committing on when or whether to take in any detainees from Guantánamo. "There was nobody very hot about this, that's perfectly true," said Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg on January 26, after a meeting of the European Union. His nation holds the rotating presidency of the 27 member EU which includes 21 of the 26 members of NATO. Austria is against taking any released prisoners. The parliament of Finland is split on the issue. Denmark would need to change its asylum laws to accept any detainees. Sweden sees no political or national security benefit in admitting them. Poland has no experience in dealing with this kind of prisoners. Italy and Spain would consider a U.S. request only if endorsed by the EU. European opposition to this plan is vociferous. "I do not understand why we give the impression that Germany needs to accept prisoners. Guantánamo was established by the U.S. We did not run it. We did not use it," says Wolfgang Bosbach, deputy leader of the Christian Democrats. "Don't forget these inmates are not kittens-it's a risk for us to bring them into Europe." says the Dutch Foreign Minister, Maxime Verhagen. London has already made a "significant contribution," said U.K. Foreign Secretary David Miliband. England has already accepted nine of its citizens and six of its residents formerly imprisoned at Guantánamo. France has found little support for its plan to lead an EU fact-finding mission to Guantánamo to ascertain the background of the current detainees and assess the security risks in accepting at least 60 persons who, while they face no charges in the United States, are likely to be tortured or persecuted if returned to the countries of their origin.

FALL FUNDRAISER

 

Around WPI

Jihad in Sub-Saharan Africa 

This paper, “Jihad in Sub-Saharan Africa: Challenging the Narratives of the War on Terror,” examines the history of Islamic movements in Africa's Sahel region to contextualize current conflicts.

World Economic Roundtable with Vicente Fox 

In this World Economic Roundtable, former Mexican President Vicente Fox discusses his current quest to make his country a hub for technology. 

Intern at World Policy


Want to join our team? Looking for an experience at one of the most highly sought-after internships for ambitious students? Application details here.

 

Al Gore presides over Arctic Roundtable 

As the United States prepares to assume chairmanship of the Arctic Council in 2015, this inaugural convening of the Arctic Deeply Roundtables launches a vital conversation for our times. 

SPONSORED

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


Are the U.S. and China on a collision course?
Get the facts from Amitai Etzioni in “Avoiding War with China.”

WEEKLY NEWSLETTER

To learn about the latest in media, programming, and fellowship, subscribe to the World Policy Weekly Newsletter and read through our archives.

World Policy on Facebook

FOLLOW US