The recent visit of Vietnamese Prime Minister Phan Van Khai to the United States highlighted the extent to which Vietnam remains wedded to the Chinese model of reform. Substantial, if often plodding, economic reform continues as an excuse for near nonexistent political reform. His visit also exposed the hypocrisy of the Bush administration which continued to call for widespread political reform in the Middle East in the same week it soft-peddled the need for the same reform in Indochina.
Are the War and Globalization Really Connected?
To be radical, in the oldest sense of the word, is to go to the root. One strength of truly progressive analysis is that it places what appear to be isolated events in a larger context. It seeks to make connections between seemingly disparate political issues by revealing underlying ideological frameworks.
Afghan Elections: U.S. Solution to a U.S. Problem
Afghanistan will undergo the first presidential elections in the country’s history on October 9, 2004. As if surprised by the fact that Afghans could want a voice in their country’s future, President George W. Bush touted the over 10 million Afghans registered to vote as “a resounding endorsement for democracy.” The real surprise is that, despite rampant anti-election violence and threats of violence, so many people were brave enough to register. This certainly indicates that Afghans are desperate for a chance to control their own lives. But, even though many will risk their lives to vote, the majority of Afghans played no part in decisionmaking regarding the schedule and structure of the elections, and will not benefit from the results. This election process was imposed by the United States to solve “Afghan problems” as defined by the United States. In reality, the problems facing Afghans are the results of decisions made in Washington in the 1980s and 1990s.
Afghanistan: Democracy Before Peace?
Afghanistan’s first election in decades is less than a month away, and, contrary to dire predictions by many analysts and observers, the UN-led voter registration program has proven to be a remarkable success. As of August 21, 2004, one week following the official close of the registration period, 10.35 million Afghans had registered to vote, 41% of them women. The registration drive was perhaps too successful—the number of voters registered exceeded the estimated number of eligible voters by more than 800,000. To some, this discrepancy would be cause for concern, but not to President Karzai. “People are enthusiastic, and they want to have cards,” Karzai recently explained. “If they want to vote twice, they’re welcome,” he quipped (Washington Post, August 12, 2004). Karzai and UN electoral officials are correct to point out that such inconsistencies are inevitable in a first election, especially in a setting as complex as Afghanistan. Nevertheless, the issue is emblematic of an expanding array of challenges to the electoral process that has prompted many prominent Afghans and international observers to reaffirm doubts about the timing of the country’s first experiment with democracy.
Attacks Against the World Court by Bush, Kerry, and Congress Reveal Growing Bipartisan Hostility to International Law
On July 9, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) determined that the Israeli government’s construction of a separation wall running through the occupied Palestinian West Bank was illegal. Among other things, the ICJ noted that the construction of the first 125 miles of the proposed 450-mile barrier “has involved the confiscation and destruction of Palestinian land and resources, the disruption of the lives of the thousands of protected civilians and the de facto annexation of large areas of territory.” The court called on Israel to cease construction of the wall, to dismantle what has already been built in areas beyond Israel’s internationally recognized border, and to compensate Palestinians who have suffered losses as a result of the wall’s construction.
The Hand-Over that Wasn’t: How the Occupation of Iraq Continues
The U.S. occupation of Iraq officially ended on June 28, 2004, in a secret ceremony in Baghdad . Officially, “full sovereignty” was handed from the Americans to the Iraqi Interim Government. But it was clear from the start that this was sovereignty in name, not in deed. First, there is the continued military occupation: 138,000 U.S. soldiers and Marines, plus 20,000 troops from other countries and an estimated 20,000 contractors, all fully under U.S. control and immune to Iraqi laws. Equally debilitating, however significantly less well reported upon, is the continued political and economic occupation by the Bush administration and its corporate allies.
U.S. Public Diplomacy: A Tale of Two Who Jumped Ship at State
In politics, the name of the game is often zero sum. At times one country may have a positive advantage in reputation and influence while others like North Korea, China and Cuba may be on the negative side. At the end of World War II, no country could compete with the victorious United States in ascendancy. Through its competitive economic and ideological advantage, the United States was able to rebuild war-torn Japan and Germany through the Marshall Plan and to create a marketplace for goods and ideas that overshadowed its formidable but lesser competitor, the Soviet Union.
From Keynesianism to Neoliberalism: Shifting Paradigms in Economics
Nuclear Dominoes: Will North Korea Follow Libya’s Lead?
The Libyan Foreign Ministry’s December 19, 2003 “Statement” outlining its plan to “get rid of [weapons of mass destruction] materials, equipment and programs, and to become totally free of internationally banned weapons” prompted some to ponder whether North Korea might be next.(1) Will the Northeast Asian “rogue state” join the Middle East “rogue state” in renouncing its nuclear weapons programs? The Japanese weekly magazine Aera questioned whether Kim Jong Il would follow the cooperative path of Moammar Gadhafi, or continue along the confrontational, and ultimately self-destructive, path that Saddam Hussein trod.(2) In an interview with the Nikkei Press, Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage held out this offer: if they chose to voluntarily end their weapons programs like Libya, North Korea “would very rapidly find herself integrated into the vibrant community of East Asia.”(3) Neither of these two statements, however, addresses the central fact that the capacity to produce nuclear weapons, or the threat of their production, is the lone asset that the North Korean government under U.S. threat has as a bargaining chip in its effort to survive. Like other states, North Korea and Libya respond to international developments not as part of a “rogue alliance” but on the basis of analysis of their specific interests and needs.
Libya’s Return to the Fold?
Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Qadhafi’s surprise announcement on 19 December to commit to “disclose and dismantle all weapons of mass destruction” has furthered speculation that Tripoli may soon be removed from the American list of state sponsors of terrorism. Such a move would bring about an end to U.S. economic sanctions that have been in place in one form or another for the past 30 years. Since the September 11th terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, DC, the Libyan regime has made significant and progressive steps to rejoin the international community. Tripoli’s desire to emerge from international isolation and end its pariah status now stands at a critical juncture: Does Qadhafi mean what he says and will Washington reciprocate and normalize relations with Libya?