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  • Author: John Feffer
  • Publication Date: 05-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Foreign Policy In Focus
  • Abstract: The bubble is bursting. I'm not talking about the Greek economy, the collapse of which has bankers and finance ministers trembling from Athens to Antarctica. Nor am I talking about the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, which reminds us once again that our current energy security rests on shaky foundations.
  • Topic: Security, Islam, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, United States, Mexico
  • Author: John Feffer
  • Publication Date: 05-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Foreign Policy In Focus
  • Abstract: "I need a little space." When lovers utter these words, it's usually a bad sign for the relationship. They feel suffocated. They're reexamining their commitment. They're checking out other options. But they don't have the courage to make a clean break.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, International Affairs, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: United States, China, North Korea
  • Author: John Feffer
  • Publication Date: 05-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Foreign Policy In Focus
  • Abstract: North Korea and Israel have a lot in common. Neither is a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), and both employ their nuclear weapons in elaborate games of peek-a-boo with the international community. Israel and North Korea are equally paranoid about outsiders conspiring to destroy their states, and this paranoia isn't without some justification. Partly as a result of these suspicions, both countries engage in reckless and destabilizing foreign policies. In recent years, Israel has launched preemptive strikes and invaded other countries, while North Korea has abducted foreign citizens and blown up South Korean targets (including, possibly, a South Korean ship in late March in the Yellow Sea).
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Human Rights, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, South Korea, North Korea
  • Author: John Feffer
  • Publication Date: 04-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Foreign Policy In Focus
  • Abstract: Earth Day was a big event this year. Sting sang on the Mall here in Washington. The citizens of Qatar turned off their power for an hour. The U.S. Navy rolled out its new biodiesel-fueled Green Hornet fighter jet. Okay, maybe the Earth was not so impressed with all the events held in its honor.
  • Topic: Arms Control and Proliferation, Corruption, Government
  • Political Geography: United States, Japan, East Asia
  • Author: John Feffer
  • Publication Date: 04-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Foreign Policy In Focus
  • Abstract: If the Russian army makes the bold decision to invade Germany, we can just nuke those damn communist soldiers into oblivion with the 200 tactical nuclear weapons we deploy in Europe. Oh, they're not communists any longer? Oh, Germany and Russia have excellent relations at the moment? Oh, the Cold War has been over for two decades? So, why do we still have tactical nuclear weapons deployed in Europe?
  • Topic: Security, Cold War, Nuclear Weapons, Treaties and Agreements, Weapons of Mass Destruction
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Germany
  • Author: John Feffer
  • Publication Date: 04-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Foreign Policy In Focus
  • Abstract: Let's imagine that the Cold War was a detour. The entire 20th century, in fact, was a detour. Since conflicts among the 20th-century ideologies (liberalism, communism, fascism) cost humanity so dearly, it's hard to conceive of World War II and the clashes that followed as sideshows. And yet many people have begun to do just that. They view the period we find ourselves in right now - the so-called post-Cold War era - as a return to a much earlier time and a much earlier confrontation. The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq aren't discrete battles against a tyrant (Saddam Hussein) or a tyrannical group (the Taliban). They fit together with Turkey's resurgence, the swell of Muslim immigration to Europe, and Israel's settlement policy to form part of a much larger struggle.
  • Topic: Cold War, Islam, Terrorism, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: Europe, Israel
  • Author: John Feffer
  • Publication Date: 04-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Foreign Policy In Focus
  • Abstract: In the Mayan game of pitz, the first team sport in human history, two sets of players squared off in a ball court that could stretch as long as a football field. The object of the game was to use hips and elbows to keep the ball in the air and, if possible, get it through a hoop set high on a stone wall. The ball was roughly the size and heft of a human head. Indeed, given the sheer number of decapitations in the Popol Vuh, the sacred Mayan text that prominently features the game, scholars have not ruled out the possibility that the teams sometimes played with the heads of sacrificial victims. It's also probable that, at the conclusion of the game, one team or the other fell en masse beneath the priests' daggers.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Arms Control and Proliferation, Imperialism
  • Political Geography: United States, Mexico
  • Author: John Feffer
  • Publication Date: 04-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Foreign Policy In Focus
  • Abstract: The survivors of the devastating earthquakes in Haiti and Chile are still scrambling to deal with the damage. Here, however, pundits are still scrambling to explain the dramatic difference in impact. Haiti's quake on January 12 came in at 7.0 on the Richter scale, leveled the capital city, and left more than 200,000 dead. Chile's earthquake on February 27 registered a magnitude of 8.8, which means it was 500 times more powerful than the Haiti shock. But fewer than 1,000 Chileans died, and the damage to buildings was considerably less.
  • Topic: Humanitarian Aid, Natural Disasters
  • Political Geography: Latin America
  • Author: John Feffer
  • Publication Date: 04-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Foreign Policy In Focus
  • Abstract: I'm not a big fan of Dana Rohrabacher, the grandstanding Republican congressman from California. But last week at a congressional hearing on U.S.-Japan relations, he ably cut through the Pentagon's doublespeak.
  • Topic: Treaties and Agreements, Bilateral Relations, Territorial Disputes
  • Political Geography: United States, Japan, Washington
  • Author: Michael Shank, Marwan Kabalan
  • Publication Date: 04-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Foreign Policy In Focus
  • Abstract: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) apparently has a penchant for badness. For visiting Syria, the Speaker received a harsh reprimand by Vice President Dick Cheney who thought it “bad behavior.” Though the Speaker remained relatively un-phased by the scolding, Cheney made his point. The warning contained a deeper meaning—one that the Speaker understood immediately and that may explain why she passed on House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Tom Lantos' (D-CA) recommendation to do the same with Iran. Take a closer look at Cheney's criticism and two questions arise. Does bad behavior connote an undermining of U.S. foreign policy, i.e. that U.S. officials should not engage in direct dialogue with adversaries? Or, does bad behavior suggest that the legislative branch should not, under any circumstances, challenge the executive branch? According to Cheney, it's the latter. In a radio appearance, the veep said, “The President is the one who conducts foreign policy, not the speaker of the House.” But before examining the schism widening between legislative and executive branches on foreign policy issues, the former point—i.e. should the U.S. dialogue with adversaries—needs attention.
  • Topic: International Relations
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Middle East