Latin American Democratic Crises Prolonged, Not Averted

Even if Paraguay and Venezuela do not slide into total dictatorship, neither will qualify as legitimate democracies in the eyes of other Latin American states and the rest of the world. This serves as an impediment to the kind of Latin American unity necessary for the preservation of regional trading and security blocs MERCOSUR and UNASUR – organizations Paraguay and Venezuela both belonged to for several years before Venezuela was removed from MERCOSUR in late 2016 for violating the bloc’s democratic bylaws. Setbacks such as this stall the movement towards Latin American political and economic integration that underpins both organizations.

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Hungry for Power – When Democracies become Authoritarian

Venezuela and South Korea are both presidential republics/representative democracies; they have a system where the executive branch exists separately from a legislature, and elected representatives – not citizens themselves – vote on legislation. Currently, these two countries are experiencing high political tensions, making headlines all over the world. The two cases share some common threads which are worth noting.

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Forget the ‘ticking time bomb’: Why Africa should invest in its demographic dividend

African development discourse likes to debate whether Africa’s rapid population growth constitutes the desirable demographic (“youth”) dividend, or a much more ambivalent youth bulge. The United Nations defines a demographic dividend as “the economic growth that ensues when there are more working-age people (15 to 64) than the non-working people (14 and younger, and 65 and older).” Conversely, a youth bulge is characterized by “high youth unemployment and widespread protests—a recipe for political instability.” So, which one is it?

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North Korean Clandestine Operations and Southeast Asia: A network through restaurants?

As a component of these schemes, the North Korean Government runs a chain of restaurants throughout the world called Pyongyang Restaurant, featuring hand-selected North Korean waitresses serving North Korean food, karaoke services, and mysterious secret rooms. Although this chain had long existed in China and former Soviet bloc countries, the North Korean government saw potential in entering Pyongyang into the Southeast Asian market during the early 2000s. These new venues allowed North Korea to increase their network of revenue and money laundering, and could serve as potential recruiting grounds.

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Residents of Mosul Trapped between Two “Liberators”

With homes turned into rubble, and civilians facing a dire lack of food, water, electricity, and medical supplies, the people of Mosul are barely clinging to life. They are stuck between the weapons of IS and those of coalition forces. Once the battle slows down, can the residents of Mosul trust either U.S.-backed forces or IS as protectors?

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Diamond Mines Are Not Forever

Hopefully, the challenges of declining diamond revenues, sustaining growth and a growing social service budget will foster new political parties with fresh visions and solutions for Botswana, finally pushing it into the ranks of a truly competitive democracy. But the possibility for a descent into flawed democracy or authoritarianism, or for massive social upheaval in response to economic struggles, cannot be ruled out.  Botswana has been a star in Africa and in development literature, but a stagnant, or increasingly authoritarian Ian Khama-led-BDP, may test whether Botswana's democratic institutions are as enduring as its diamonds or as finite as its diamond mines.

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To Win Hearts and Minds: Chinese Peacekeeping in Africa

On March 10, 2017, China sent 140 peacekeeping police officers for a yearlong deployment to Liberia as part of United Nations peacekeeping operations. Deployments from China are becoming increasingly common as the country becomes more involved in peacekeeping in Africa. Since joining the United Nations in 1971, China has contributed 2,594 personnel to over a dozen UN peacekeeping operations. But China was not always this supportive of UN operations.

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ISIS in Egypt

To say the outlook for the growth of extremism in Egypt is bleak would be an understatement, but to assume that we’ve hit rock bottom would be an even graver mistake. To start, the conflict against the deep-rooted terrorist organizations has been ongoing since 2013, and although al-Sisi commanded the “eradication of terrorism” in the North Sinai region, it would be naïve to think such lofty goals could be accomplished even within a few years.

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Chemical Weapons: A Resurgent Threat

In 1997, much of the world breathed a collective sigh of relieve when the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) entered into force. Those states party to the agreement pledged to destroy their chemical weapons and their production facilities. With 192 states signing on to the agreement, it is widely viewed as an arms control success. However, following the assassination of Kim Jong-nam and President Bashar al-Assad’s CWC violations during the Syrian civil war, the use of chemical weapons seems to be on the rise. 

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The “Travel Ban”: Where is America’s Empathy?

As the debate about refugees and “travel ban” continues to occupy U.S. headlines, President Trump should remember that America’s intervention has created many of the Iraqi refugees he strives to turn away. How can Iraqis reconcile the U.S. invasion of their country with Washington’s ban? If there is one lesson to be learned from the Iraq war it is that America’s decisions abroad matter.

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Expansion or Trade? The Intelligence Challenges of Chinese Island Building

There is no doubt that, over the last few years, China has been following a much more assertive policy in its near abroad. At the center of this aggressive shift is the South China Sea, where China has competing territorial claims with several neighboring states. Although China’s assertiveness in the South China Sea appears to be a key element of Beijing’s foreign policy, the Obama administration responded to Chinese moves with only partial success. As such, the first challenge to the Trump administration from China will likely involve this contested region of the world.

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The world’s newest country is also its most unstable: the failure of international intervention in South Sudan

In a world starkly separated between developed and developing countries, in which fragile states are overrun by UN or state-sponsored missions and injected with foreign workers, in which inflexible templates of democracy and modernization are forced upon countries that do not meet the standards of Western ideologies, the continuing strife in South Sudan serves as a reminder that a one-size-fits-all resolution will not cure all pre-existing problems.

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Fleeing Refugees or Foreign Fighters? Trump's ban misses the point

Many thought it was an empty campaign promise used to broil the deeply entrenched Islamophobia in the hearts and minds of white Americans. Although protecting America from terrorist attacks is and will remain a priority, the aptly titled “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States,” strengthens psychological associations with “evil nations” and indirectly encourages xenophobia instead of appropriately addressing the spread of violent extremism. 

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“Barrow”-ing the Gambian Template: A New American Approach to Africa's Organizations

On December 1, Gambians went to polls... Yahya Jammeh had developed a reputation for both strongman tactics and preposterous boasts during a 22 year presidency, which he suggested could last “a billion years.” The other name on the ballot was Adama Barrow, a realtor... In a signal that 2016 should perhaps be called the Year of the Property Developer, results surprised the world by indicating that Barrow had scored a victory. 

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Desperate Times, Desperate Measures: Polarization around Arab-Israeli Relations

The relationship between the Middle East, the United States, and Russia is uncertain, but it is unlikely to become less contentious in the near future. The newly formed Palestinian unity government, brokered by Russia, opposes the Trump administration; the Trump administration approaches the Arab-Israeli dispute with a seemingly partial outlook. Yet, the President himself displays friendly feelings towards Russia.

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Reacting to Russia: Strategies for Responding to Kremlin Hacking

My analysis makes it clear that the current deterrent goal of intelligence communities throughout the NATO countries is oriented toward the wrong kind of threat. If the U.S. and its allies are to successfully detect and defend against further Russian breaches of cybersecurity, they needs to reorient its strategy according to the Russian blueprint laid out in the Gerasimov Doctrine.

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