Asoka Ranaweera describes how the current situation of civil war, repression, and lawlessness in Somalia is more due to the complexities of regional geopolitics, than it is to the supposed infiltration of Al Qaeda. And although the Western World is reluctant to play an active role in Somalia since the UN pullout in the early 1990‘s, it is essential for the world to turn its full attention to Somalia in order to better understand the situation and find a solution to the cycle of violence, which has been repeated over and over again in countless post-colonial states.
By Arshin Adib-Moghaddam (for Safe Democracy)
Arshin Adib-Moghaddam describes three reasons that would explain why the international community should not be surprised that Iran continues to say no when it comes to any compromise of its rights under the NPT. First, Iran‘s grand strategic preferences accentuate radical independence, both political and economic. In the second place, Iran‘s foreign policy elites are deeply suspicious of the international community in general and the Western block organised around the United States in particular. The third reason is related to the modified strategic context in West Asia after the demise of Saddam Hussein and the invasion of Lebanon. Adib-Moghaddam writes that the international community in general and the United Nations in particular have thus created their own weakness vis-à-vis Iran and unless the latter does not emancipate itself from the dogma of a new Middle East it will continue to fail in its mission.
Fernando Delage outlines the changes in Asia‘s geo-strategic framework with the entrance of North Korea into the nuclear club. In Delage‘s opinion, China, Japan, and South Korea have a strong motivation to unite, and form a unified foreign policy with regards to Pyongyang. With the danger of nuclear contagion, as well as North Korea‘s new threat to global security, Washington does not trust the possibility of multilateral diplomatic solutions. But while Washington deliberates, Asia should act, and use the diplomatic dynamism instigated by North Korea‘s nuclear test, as an opportunity to take the first steps towards the formation of its own system of security.
Pablo Mieres considers that the phrase a shift to the left, used to describe the political transformation of a good number of Latin American countries, is of little to no use. The complexity and variety of political situations in Latin America go beyond simple catch phrases; with Chile‘s exemplary experience at one extreme, and Chavez‘ Venezuelan regime on the other, while in between Peru, Uruguay, Brazil, Argentina, Ecuador, and Bolivia can be situated. In Mieres‘ opinion, at least two criteria must be used in order to evaluate the manner in which Latin American governments exercise power: first, the role of the state and of the market in the economy; and second, the degree to which the state respects democratic institutions, and the rule of law. Following these criteria, the differences between Latin American nations are more than evident.
Bernardo Kliksberg explains how Nobel Peace Prize Winner, Muhammad Yunus, founded the Grameen Bank and created a system of micro-credit in Bangladesh designed to bring hundreds of thousands of people out of poverty. Yunus, a brilliant economist with a bright future as an academic and consultant, decided to leave his comfortable life behind him in favor of mobilizing cooperation among the poor of his country. In Kliksberg‘s opinion, the time has come to apply Yunus’ successful formula to fight poverty throughout Latin America.
Bernardo Kliksberg explains that in order to resolve the serious threat of crime in Latin America it will be necessary to hold a serious debate on the issue, and not just a demagogic one. In Kliksberg‘s opinion, the discussion has centered on five myths: everything can be resolved with a “strong hand”; in the countries with the least crime the police is the most tough; nobody understand the causes of crime; attacking the causes takes place over the long term; and the police can resolve the problem. In the following analysis, Kliksberg deconstructs each of these myths, and makes it again possible to understand the structural causes of crime and insecurity in Latin America.
Per Persson writes on how the Kurdish conflict presents a major obstacle to Turkey‘s democratization process and subsequent admittance into the EU. Due to the War in Iraq and regional security concerns, the fighting between Kurdish activists and Turkish military has intensified in recent years. Yet, in Persson‘s opinion, it is the process of democratization, and not the ends of joining the EU, that matters most to Turkey‘s future. Even if Turkey decides against membership in the EU, the process of fighting its tradition of intolerance and human rights abuses, and strengthening its democratic institutions will be greatly beneficial for the country and its minorities.
Zidane Zeraoui examines the government of ex-President of Mexico, Vicente Fox Quesada, explaining that Fox‘s policy-making was erroneous from the very beginning. Fox‘s faith in the possibility to change the country, without negotiating with the other political forces in Mexico, brought his government to an impasse and paralyzed all reform. In the name of a poorly understood democracy, Fox carried out an erratic economic policy (without growth), and a disastrous foreign policy (without results). He was also incapable of resolving the growing Zapatista turmoil in Oaxaca. In Zeraoui‘s opinion, the new President, Felipe Calderon, has already begun to differentiate himself from his predecessor in defining his national and international priorities, proving, yet again, that Vicente Fox‘s Presidency was a failure for Mexico.
Pedro G. Cavallero reports on a recent study, which declared only 28 world countries to be full-fledged democracies: Argentina, despite its quarter century long struggle towards democratization, did not make the list. In Cavallero‘s opinion, it is clear that Argentina‘s age-old tradition of vesting power in authoritarian leaders, or caudillos, dies hard. And as President Nestor Kirchner continues to accumulate more power and attempt to circumvent constitutional safeguards on term limits, he is contributing to the weakening of democratic institutions.