Piero Ignazi describes how the crisis in the Middle East tested the orientation and decision-making readiness of the newly transformed Italian foreign policy under the Romano Prodi government. The new, more active approach of the Prodi government to practice equal favoritism of all parties concerned, helped greatly to reach a ceasefire to the conflict in Lebanon, and to agree on the deployment of peace-keeping troops, which Italy will help lead. Italy‘s active position has met with overwhelming support by a majority of countries including, surprisingly enough, the US and Israel, raising the question as to whether this success was simply a fluke of circumstance, or whether it represents the beginning of a more assertive foreign policy that will bring Italy greater status in the international community.
Per Persson describes how after almost a century of power, the Social Democrats are losing support in Sweden. With the economy on the ups, all rational reasoning would point to the easy re-election of the Social Democrats and current Prime Minister Goran Persson, but preliminary polls show the opposite. In Persson‘s opinion, many Swedes are dissatisfied with the current government’s foreign policy, unfulfilled promises of job creation, the arrogance of the Social Democrats, and with the disproportionate amount of power that Prime Minister Goran Persson has gained. The Social Democracy Party is firmly rooted within Swedish society and change, Persson points out, will not be easy, but the time may have come to give the opposition a fresh chance at government.
Bernardo Kliksberg explains how inequality has become inherent in all aspects of Latin American society from income, health and nutrition, to education, access to credit, and the possibility for advancement. And while many economists claim that this inequality is only a necessary step in development, Kliksberg believes that it is the primary cause of poverty in Latin America and that with proactive government planning a solution can be found. Government, business, and society must all unite behind the ideal of social responsibility in order to do away with corruption in government and corporations, and support equal opportunities, healthcare and education for all citizens, democratization of credit, and aid to small business.
Miguel Huezo Mixco recounts the history of massacres committed by the military in El Salvador in the 1980’s, explaining that during this period the government adopted policies designed to exterminate the civilian population, principally peasants. These government-sponsored crimes have served as precursors for the apprenticed violence of gangs and organized crime currently rocking Salvadoran democracy. In Huezo Mixco‘s opinion, the solution to violence does not solely depend on understanding the crime being committed today, but on recognizing the tragic impact that decades of trivialized crime has had on Salvadoran society.
Walid Salem explains how false peace, in which one side controls the other side without fulfilling any of its obligations, has been one of the biggest impediments to ending war in the Middle East. Salem gives three examples on how unilateral peace of control has gained support among intellectuals throughout the world, but clarifies that neither peace of control, nor conflict management solutions, nor confidence building measures will bring an end to the violence. In order for the wars to end, peace must be based upon equality of both sides and not on control of one side over another. Following this process, Salem gives a possible strategy to achieve peace between both Israel and Lebanon, and Israel and Palestine.
Ciro Di Costanzo explains why the civil resistance movement led by candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (PRD), which is protesting the supposed fraudulent recent elections in the heart of Mexico, will fall apart over time. Di Costanzo believes that this civil resistance, Mexican style, lacks convincing arguments and proof and is merely a reaction of suspicion over an autocratic cultural tradition that no longer exists. The resistance is following a risky strategy, which could endanger Marcelo Ebrard‘s (PRD) entering government in Mexico City, and could harm the democratic institutions it claims to uphold.
Eric L. Napoli writes that in this summer’s war in Lebanon, the US responded by stalling cease fire negotiations in favour of Israeli interests while Europe‘s reaction was to do nothing, thus demonstrating that the EU still lacks the political will and infrastructure for impeding an acute humanitarian crisis in its own front yard. Napoli, thus, questions European passivity towards the human tragedy of its neighbours. He explains how on one side of the Mediterranean hundreds of civilians have lost their lives and thousands are homeless and turned into refugees, and on the other side, the Europeans are getting their feet wet, but not by defending their neighbours’ human rights or counterbalancing US foreign policy. The Europeans are on vacation.
Mario Sznajder analyzes the political impact that the war in Lebanon has produced in Israel, where military and civilian protests are calling for the dismissal of Olmert‘s government, and governmental investigations are looking into the decisions made during the war. It is obvious that the unilateral pullout of Lebanon in 2000 did nothing to stop Hezbollah‘s strategy, and in Sznajder‘s opinion, the same will be true of the West Bank. Even if Israel pulls out and establishes the security wall as an international border for the new Palestinian state, eventually missiles will begin to fall from that border too. The only option left, therefore, is negotiation.
Mario Esteban describes how the reforms to democratize the Vietnamese government, being instituted by the Communist Party of Vietnam, could serve as a valuable model for political change in China. Yet, while many liberal voices are applauding Vietnam‘s transformation, many more conservative leaders refuse the idea of following in Vietnam‘s footsteps. Instead of fulfilling his promise to reform, Hu Jintao has chosen to continue the rigid framework established by Deng Xiaoping of economic growth, and party control of army and administration. In Esteban’s opinion, China is still far from democracy.