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Current Topic: International Relations

I Demand Satisfaction!
Topic: International Relations 8:06 am EDT, Mar 16, 2009

Another front beckons.

Dennis Blair, the director of national intelligence, told legislators that Mexico was not in control of parts of its territory. The statements put new strain on the United States’ long-conflicted relationship with Mexico. Speaking about Blair’s statements, President Felipe Calderón said he believed there was a new “campaign” against his country.

“I challenge anyone to tell me to what point in national territory they want to go, and I will take them,” Mr. Calderón said in a speech Thursday.

He acknowledged the magnitude of Mexico’s fight and added that its problems were a consequence of Mexico’s location next to “the biggest consumer of drugs in the world and the largest supplier of weapons in the world.”

I Demand Satisfaction!

Send more troops!
Topic: International Relations 7:11 am EST, Mar  3, 2009

Another front beckons.

Mexico is sending thousands more troops and federal police to the country's most violent city, where law and order is on the brink of collapse in a war between gangs supplying drugs to the United States.

"We're throwing everything into this. We are cleaning the house," said President Felipe Calderon in an interview on Mexican television.

Have you seen Gomorrah?

Send more troops!

The Axis of Upheaval
Topic: International Relations 7:50 am EST, Feb 17, 2009

A special report on the coming age of instability.

Niall Ferguson:

Forget Iran, Iraq, and North Korea—Bush’s “Axis of Evil.” As economic calamity meets political and social turmoil, the world’s worst problems may come from countries like Somalia, Russia, and Mexico. And they’re just the beginning.

Jeffrey Gettleman:

Somalia is a state governed only by anarchy. A graveyard of foreign-policy failures, it has known just six months of peace in the past two decades. Now, as the country’s endless chaos threatens to engulf an entire region, the world again simply watches it burn.

From last week, Robert Levine:

The Great Depression brought the New Deal to the United States. It brought the rest of the world Nazism and universal war. This time, though, many nations have nuclear weapons.

The Axis of Upheaval

The Next 100 Years
Topic: International Relations 7:23 am EST, Jan  5, 2009

George Friedman has a new book.

In his long-awaited and provocative new book, George Friedman turns his eye on the future -- offering a lucid, highly readable forecast of the changes we can expect around the world during the twenty-first century. He explains where and why future wars will erupt (and how they will be fought), which nations will gain and lose economic and political power, and how new technologies and cultural trends will alter the way we live in the new century.

Written with the keen insight and thoughtful analysis that has made George Friedman a renowned expert in geopolitics and forecasting, The Next 100 Years presents a fascinating picture of what lies ahead.

From the archive:

Pakistan Pakistan Pakistan Pakistan Pakistan Pakistan Pakistan Pakistan Pakistan Pakistan Pakistan Pakistan Pakistan Pakistan Pakistan Pakistan Pakistan Pakistan Pakistan Pakistan Pakistan Pakistan Pakistan Pakistan Pakistan Pakistan Pakistan Pakistan Pakistan Pakistan Pakistan Pakistan Pakistan Pakistan Pakistan Pakistan



The Russian invasion of Georgia has not changed the balance of power in Eurasia. It has simply announced that the balance of power had already shifted.

The Next 100 Years

Hoax phone call 'almost took Pakistan to war'
Topic: International Relations 7:45 am EST, Dec  9, 2008

"It was a little alarming, to say the least."

The episode – reminiscent of Stanley Kubrick's 1964 film Dr Strangelove – dramatically illustrates how easy it would be for another war to break out between India and Pakistan, even accidentally, following the Mumbai attacks.

From the archive:

A: "You know, we have a lot in common because personally one of my favorite activities is to hunt, too."

P: "Oh, very good. We should go hunting together."

Of course:

"You can't fight here! This is the war room!"

Hoax phone call 'almost took Pakistan to war'

Documents and Disorder
Topic: International Relations 7:53 am EST, Dec  5, 2008

"Will we get to the bottom of the KGB?" Mr. Brent asks.

"Of course," replies the historian. "But the KGB has many bottoms."


This was the largest two-day advance since 1987, and, more importantly, the rest of the entire list is populated by the Great Depression.

Also, from the archive:

Having been told that the world rested on a platform which rested on the back of an elephant which rested in turn on the back of a turtle, he asked, what did the turtle rest on?

Another turtle.

And that turtle?

"Ah, Sahib, after that it is turtles all the way down."

Documents and Disorder

What Makes Piracy Work?
Topic: International Relations 7:52 am EST, Dec  5, 2008

Virginia Lunsford:

As the rest of the world considers what to do about the increasingly problematic modern Somali pirates, it would behoove us to think beyond superficial and simple naval solutions on the high seas and consider the five factors underlying the long and productive careers of the Mediterranean corsairs. To analyze Somali piracy more deeply and ultimately suppress it, we must ask ourselves these vital questions:

* Who are these Somali pirates?
* Where do they find recruits, and how many of them are available?
* Why do they take up piratical activities?
* Do we know the exact number, character, and location of all of their havens?
* Are these pirates organized, and if so, how are they organized, and is this organization strong and effective?
* Do the Somali pirates enjoy any outside sources of support?states or groups (including terrorist groups) that are providing money, goods, weapons, intelligence, or other help to their cause?
* Do these pirates maintain close bonds between one another with a keen sense of solidarity and cohesion, and if so what is the nature of this solidarity, from where does it come, and is it powerful and abiding?

From the archive:

Arrrrg, Mateys! Ye can be the captain of the seven seas of your tub! Shiver me timbers!

See also:

“It was wonderful,” said Ms. Fatuma, 21. “I’m now dating a pirate.”

What Makes Piracy Work?

Global Trends 2025: A Transformed World
Topic: International Relations 7:37 am EST, Nov 21, 2008

"Global Trends 2025: A Transformed World" is the fourth unclassified report prepared by the National Intelligence Council (NIC) in recent years that takes a long-term view of the future. It offers a fresh look at how key global trends might develop over the next 15 years to influence world events. Our report is not meant to be an exercise in prediction or crystal ball-gazing. Mindful that there are many possible "futures," we offer a range of possibilities and potential discontinuities, as a way of opening our minds to developments we might otherwise miss.

Some of our preliminary assessments are highlighted below:

* The whole international system—as constructed following WWII—will be revolutionized. Not only will new players—Brazil, Russia, India and China— have a seat at the international high table, they will bring new stakes and rules of the game.

* The unprecedented transfer of wealth roughly from West to East now under way will continue for the foreseeable future.

* Unprecedented economic growth, coupled with 1.5 billion more people, will put pressure on resources—particularly energy, food, and water—raising the specter of scarcities emerging as demand outstrips supply.

* The potential for conflict will increase owing partly to political turbulence in parts of the greater Middle East.

From the archive:

Any student of Chinese history will tell you that when ignorance gives way to hubris you're one step away from a revolution.

Global Trends 2025: A Transformed World

The Battle of the Bugs
Topic: International Relations 7:30 am EST, Nov 19, 2008

Do you shudder at the thought of entering a Blackberry-free zone?

Consider this 1987 Newsweek article:

What can diplomats do to keep their communications secure? They can trade in their Selectrics for manual typewriters, which don't emit buggable signals. They can banish computer-controlled telephones, which can be programmed remotely to pick up all sounds in the room just like a live microphone. An entire embassy-or key rooms-could be shielded with copper to keep electromagnetic signals from reaching listening posts. But in this day and age, it's virtually impossible to function without computers, and it's immensely difficult and expensive to ferret out sophisticated electronic ears planted in walls. Unless the debuggers make technological breakthroughs of their own, diplomats may have to get used to Magic Slates.

There are alternatives, of course:

The Battle of the Bugs

The Dark Art of Cyberwar
Topic: International Relations 7:44 am EST, Nov 14, 2008

"[We] need to get together and at least try and figure out what the rules of the game are."

"We might have less collateral damage if we can decide when cyberwarfare is allowed."

From the archive, a selection of worrywarts and their blithesome brethren:

According to one who was present, Churchill suddenly blurted out: "Are we animals? Are we taking this too far?"

John Arquilla worries about a “wildcard” threat: “individual hackers of very great skill.”

"You might call it, the art of fighting, without fighting."

Bush: first of all, we have said that whatever we do ... will be legal.


The Vista Content Protection specification could very well constitute the longest suicide note in history.

The Dark Art of Cyberwar

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