In Macedonia peace remains elusive, despite the signing of a political compromise between Macedonia’s ethnic Albanian and Macedonian leaders on August 13. Relations between the country’s Macedonian and Albanian communities are on the verge of a complete breakdown.
President Bush and his Republican colleagues should be congratulated for their call to end our vulnerability to nuclear weapons and to reach beyond cold war policies. The key question is: how should we end this vulnerability.
Kashmir and Kerala, perhaps the two most scenic of the Indian states, are at the northern and southern ends of the country, respectively. During his New Year holiday in Kerala, Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee wrote some “musings” on Kashmir, almost as if he were “thinking aloud.” He wrote that he was determined to address seriously the Kashmir problem, which he identified as one of the bitter legacies of the partition of the subcontinent, while also recognizing both the internal and external dimensions of the issue.
On Saturday, July 14th the Pentagon conducted the fourth intercept test of the National Missile Defense (NMD) system. Delayed by more than 18 months due to technical problems, early reports from Lt. Gen. Ronald Kadish, director of the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization indicate that “everything worked in a nominal (or acceptable) mode.” However, in the aftermath of the successful test–the first in almost two years–Kadish’s remarks were unexpectedly subdued. He cautioned that it takes many weeks to analyze the test data and that, “we have a long road ahead in all the missile defense activities.”
Small arms and light weapons, often ignored in traditional arms control agreements, contribute to the vast majority of death and destruction in conflicts worldwide. Large amounts of small arms not only intensify the lethal effects and duration of fighting, but their ready availability can also lead hostile groups to take up arms in the first place. In post-conflict settings, the continued circulation of small arms among former combatants and new criminals generates an intense atmosphere of insecurity, making it difficult for communities to put a stop to the cycle of bloodshed. In conflicts like those in Angola and Sierra Leone, small arms are illicitly trafficked in exchange for diamonds and other contraband. Closer to home, they are used by drug traffickers and criminals to cut short the lives of urban youth.
President George W. Bush decided April 23rd to offer Taiwan the largest arms package since his father sold various warships and F-16 fighters to Taiwan a decade ago. Bush did deny Taiwan the most expensive and controversial items on Taiwan’s shopping list: four Arleigh Burke-class destroyers equipped with advanced Aegis radar systems. Bush did approve two other weapons systems that mainland China strongly protests: eight submarines and twelve P-3C Orion anti-submarine patrol aircraft (a different version of the same model involved in the recent spy plane incident with China). Also offered for sale are four older Kidd-class missile destroyers. Although these are not nearly as sophisticated as the Arleigh Burke-class, they are twice as big as any existing Taiwanese warship and much more capable than most Chinese destroyers. They would be a major addition to Taiwan’s navy.
A new report by the International Crisis Group (ICG) helps answer the question about what the appropriate responses are to Islamic militancy in Central Asia. The ICG is a highly respected, well connected, expert, private, multinational organization that describes itself as “committed to strengthening the capacity of the international community to anticipate, understand, and act to prevent and contain conflict.” In its new report titled “Central Asia: Islamist Mobilisation and Regional Stability,” ICG makes recommendations to Central Asian governments, external powers, and international organizations.
President Bush worries that the “United States might become militarily engaged” in Colombia. It’s a little late for that. Reports that American civilians were involved in an exchange of fire between FARC guerrillas and Colombian police last week put U.S. military involvement in sharp focus. The millions of dollars invested in renovating military bases in El Salvador, Ecuador, and the Caribbean, together with the training of new counternarcotics battalions, indicate that the U.S. has long term military plans in the region–even if George W. Bush hasn’t figured it out yet. His meeting with Colombian President Andres Pastrana provides an important and timely opportunity to evaluate and even reverse U.S. military involvement.
The air strikes against suburban Baghdad this past week continue and escalate the failed policies of the Clinton administration.
The guilty verdict against Libyan intelligence operative Abdel Baset Ali Mohamed Al-Megrahi may have finally established guilt in the terrorist bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Scotland in 1988, yet it will not usher in a new era for U.S.-Libyan relations. Perhaps, however, it will lead the new Bush administration to re-evaluate the failed anti-terrorism policies of recent administrations.