Ground Reports from Lebanon

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Lebanon is one of the most diverse nations in the Middle East. The country is home to many religious communities and serves as an experiment in Middle East pluralism. In part because of Lebanon’s pluralistic makeup, it has been in a near-constant state of conflict for decades. Frequent meddling by and skirmishes with Israel and Syria have left some Lebanese desperate for a sense of security and stability, which Hezbollah has readily been able to provide. New America Fellow Nir…

Trouble for the Happy Pakistani Couple

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AP is reporting that Nawaz Sharif’s party has pulled out of cabinet positions from the coalition government with the PPP led by the late Benazir Bhutto’s husband Asif Zardari. While they’ve pledged to try to work out their differences, my sense is that despite the triumphalism and high expectations of democracy cheerleaders, the coalition continues to reside on a shaky foundation that can fall apart at a moment’s notice. The difference is over judges dismissed last year by President Musharraf…

Authorizing Torture One Memo at a Time

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From the same person who broke the story on Prime Minister Tony Blair’s January of 2003 conversation with President Bush that sealed their agreement to invade Iraq regardless of the UN Security Council outcome (and even use a UN plane to bait an attack), Matrix Chambers Barrister and University College London Law Professor Philippe Sands has produced a stunning cover story in Vanity Fair magazine this month on the legal maneuvers that laid the foundations for a US policy of…

Steve Coll on Capturing Bin Laden — the Literal and the Literary

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Update: The book event with Steve Coll will be streaming live here starting at 12:15pm today. Two of America’s leading terrorism experts, Steve Coll and Peter Bergen, are suggesting that Osama bin Laden is at his most vulnerable point since 2001 due to new political alignments and his increasing unpopularity — both of which may soon unmask his whereabouts. But with a recent government report suggesting Ayman al-Zawahiri has emerged as the “strategic and operational chief,” will bin Laden’s inevitable…

Concert of Democracies as a Shell Game?

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The concert of democracies idea has been bandied about for quite a while in both liberal internationalist and neoconservative circles. (There is perhaps a reason for that as Professor Tony Smith has argued). But recently it’s been taken up by Sen. John McCain. Some of his supporters of his like Charles Krauthammer are excited by this idea because they believe it’s the very Trojan horse they have been seeking to undermine the United Nations system, and with it the fanciful…

Miliband, China, and the World Without the West

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UK Foreign Secretary David Miliband has begun to cultivate a reputation as a young, thoughtful, and charismatic diplomat amidst more seasoned but less dynamic peers. When he spoke to the Young Atlanticists two weeks ago in Bucharest, he seemed to enjoy playing to this persona. In contrast to every major leader and head of state who addressed the Young Atlanticist Summit, Miliband stood out by doffing his jacket the moment he sat down, rolling his eyes at the reading of…

Food as a (re)New(ed) Strategic Lever

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The slew of stories on the fallout from rising food prices have primarily concentrated on the immediate political effects of riots and social upheaval mostly in developing nations. But the long term political effects — especially if high prices endure as some reporting and expertise suggests — could follow the “energy security” trend and pose real implications for balance-of-power politics. The lesser reported story is that the spike in food prices has precipitated interesting deals and swaps between nations —…

After Bucharest: Energy Security and Russia

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(Gas pipeline map from The Economist, Jan. 24, 2008) One of the leads for this week’s Economist emphasizes the role of energy security for Europe, and in particular, pipeline diversification over missile defense. It was the subject of much interest last week at NATO’s summit in Bucharest, so much so, that the parallel Young Atlanticist Summit held a six hour NATO simulation exercise focused exclusively on drafting a NATO position paper on energy security. As part of the simulation set…

<em>Live from Bucharest</em>: Morning Coffee with Karzai

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For the early birds on the east coast (or the late night blog readers on the west coast), President Hamid Karzai will address the Young Atlanticist delegation in Bucharest along with students at the University of Kabul via a video teleconference link – which you can tune into live by going to the Young Atlanticist homepage (for those who miss it, I will eventually post links to where the recordings are saved). Karzai might also face a tough crowd, particularly…

<em>Live from Bucharest</em>: Estonian President Cautions “Don’t Be a Marx-ist”

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Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves‘s refreshingly wry sense of humor and sharp wit provided welcome relief from an intenisve Young Atlanticist Summit day of speeches, lectures, and meetings (especially for those of us who were still sleepless from jetlag, fretting over lost baggage, and breaking in an assemblage of borrowed attire that was one bolo tie away from saying “Dont Mess with Texas”). Bow-tie clad Ilves spliced in his acerbic humor to complement a tough but well-articulated set of posiions…