Category Archives: Security

Coeur of darkness

 Bozize, Chirac, BFFE

The Independent’s Johann Hari writes a long overdue report on France’s secret involvement in the Central African Republic, the most forgotten and under-reported country of Africa.

This is classical, old-fashioned war-reporting and political journalism, an uncompromising indictment of France’s foreign policy in Central Africa (and Africa more generally), and a very uncomfortable read for those who still think *we* are the good ones, and *they* are the underdeveloped ones. Francewatcher will be pleased…

Dr Mohamed ElBaradei on Global Security – Challenges and Opportunities

The Bomb 

Dr Mohamed ElBaradei, the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), gave a lecture this afternoon at the LSE, in which – talking aloofly and rather uninspiringly about the challenges and opportuniteis of global security – he initially came across as the usual hardened UN diplomat and civil servant. But it was during the Q&A session that ElBaradei the man captured with refreshing frankness and a tinge of humour the LSE audience’s hearts.

I am reproducing some of the remarks I found most interesting below for your consumption.

  • On multilateralism: it is often said that multilateralism is dying. This is imprecise. Security multilateralism has suffered significant drawbacks over the last 10 years, but functional multilateralism – the one that created the WTO for example – appears well alive and kicking.
  • On North Korea: the ‘deal‘ wasn’t just due to Chinese sticks, but to a committment to renewed engagement by the US, together with hefty donations of fuel aid and food provisions, provided the vital carrots.  
  • On the rationale for still having an IAEA: the big boys (read: US, China) might be striking deals with the naughty kids (read: N Korea, Iran) on the block, so the IAEA might appear to be doing the dishes (read: be kept out of the negotiating table), but in fact it’s doing more than that, it’s cooking the dessert (read: monitoring compliance), and it’s the only one who has the qualifications for cooking it (read: it’s still recognised as the only impartial actor in the international nuclear security scene) and everyone loves a dessert (read: er…).
  • On nuclear energy and climate change: switching to nuclear energy that is clean, well controlled and safe might be a way to address the global warming challenge while meeting the energy needs of the world. Nuclear energy does not automatically lead to nuclear proliferation as some have argued. These are quite distinct for several reasons, including the fact that the technology to achieve nuclear weapons (such as fuel enrichment processes) is quite different to the one needed to produce atomic energy.
  • On Iran’s Bushehr deal with Russia: this is not illegal and for the reasons explained above it does not mean Iran is acquiring nuclear weapons.
  • On nuclear weapons: these should become a global taboo like slavery and genocide. Full stop.

And finally, the 3 key priorities for an enhanced IAEA:

  1. Stronger legal powers to enforce its mandate;
  2. Stronger committment by the political elites to move towards global nuclear disarmament;
  3. More cash.

We heart ElBaradei.

The Iraq War: the end of a Common European Foreign and Security Policy?

Battle of Trafalgar -

On 20 March 2003, a US-led multinational force – comprising 5 EU Members States (MS) – invaded Iraq, marking the end of a bitter dispute inside the European Union (EU) around the legality of such an attack, and the beginning of a protracted obituary for the EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP). Just days before, Chris Patten’s attempt to salvage the CFSP from the blows it had suffered at the hands the larger MS seemed hopeless at a time when most EU capitals appeared to have reverted to ‘firm national positions’ on matters of foreign and security policy. This was a far cry from the display of unity and solidarity that had characterised the initial European response to the events on 9/11. But while the behaviour of the MS in the run up to the war – and in particular the rift between the UK and France/Germany – undoubtedly represented a setback for the prospects of a more unified and coherent European voice in the international arena, did it also significantly invalidate the rationale that led to the creation of the CFSP? If it didn’t, we have reasons to believe that the CFSP will emerge strengthened (if somewhat altered) from this trial. If, however, the rationale behind the CFSP has truly suffered a fatal defeat, we need to assess whether removing the political objective of a common foreign and security policy would be realistic given the current structure of the EU and the nature of the challenges the MS face in a globalising world.

The rationale for a CFSP

Since 1970, MS had been pursuing a strategy of closer collaboration in matters of foreign policy within the framework of European political cooperation (EPC), a network of bureaucrats and diplomats from their Ministries of Foreign Affairs. Located outside the structures of the EC, EPC was able to flourish because of its informality and flexibility. Decisions were made by consensus on matters which were deemed too sensitive for the public domain, and which excluded security and defence, still firmly under the umbrella of NATO. With the number of exchanges and communiqués between ministries progressively increasing, the real impact of EPC became apparent with the institutionalization of those consultations and decision-making procedures that had come to characterise its workings. This was close to revolutionary in a policy area traditionally considered of ‘high’ ranking status. By the early 1990s, EPC had developed into a full-blown operating culture, ‘oriented toward consensus-building, problem-solving and the creation of common understandings, interests or reference points’ , which formed the basis for joint positions.

Yet, for those who supported closer political cooperation in foreign and security matters, recognition – which came ‘when EPC was accorded its own section … in the SEA’ – was far from satisfactory. ‘They wanted action, deeds instead of words’ . Their wishes became reality after the Fall of the Berlin Wall forced MS to rethink the political framework of Europe. Embedding foreign and security policy cooperation within the scope of the EU became a strategic move aimed at containing the threat of a reunited Germany. The Maastricht Treaty thus introduced a CFSP as the second (and strictly intergovernmental) pillar of a renamed European Union. Its objectives were: to safeguard the values and interests of the Union; to strengthen security and preserve peace internally and externally; and to promote international cooperation, democracy and the rule of law. It would do so by defining common positions, implementing joint actions and (after the Treaty of Amsterdam) delineating common strategies between MS.

The CFSP was never meant to be an instrument that would bind together – in the way the Single Market and the EMU were aiming to do – the Member States’ different foreign policies, a factor that created – as Christopher Hill pointed out – a significant gap between its true capabilities and the general expectations that surrounded its birth. The sensitivities of several MS on matters of security and defence, coupled with the ambivalence of the US over political integration in Europe outside the framework of NATO, meant the CFSP was never going to have a far-reaching vision. Instead, the CFSP built on the EPC to create a networked environment of ‘cooperative and consultative activities … with regular rounds of meetings at political and official level’ , predominantly between Foreign Ministry officials. This led to increasing levels of policy coordination between the MS in international settings such as the UN and a measurable marked convergence of common decisions, agreements, declarations and contacts with third countries .

The other main aspect of the CFSP was that of security and defence, an area that touched many sensitive nerves, especially of those neutral MS that recoiled at the idea of militarizing the EU. The Treaty of Amsterdam transferred competences for defence from the Western European Union to the EU, stating that the CFSP now covered ‘all questions relating to the security of the Union, including the progressive framing of a common defence policy’ . The meeting between Chirac and Blair in Saint-Malo, where they declared that ‘the Union must have the capacity for autonomous action, backed up by credible military forces, the means to decide to use them, and a readiness to do so, in order to respond to international crises’ , paved the way for the emergence of a common European security and defence policy (ESDP) under the CFSP. The other MS confirmed their intention that the EU ‘shall play its full role on the international stage… give the European Union the necessary means and capabilities to assume its responsibilities regarding a common European policy on security and defence’ . This was a significant departure from the idea of the EU as a ‘civilian power’, one that stemmed from the inability to address the Kosovo crisis, and from the recognition that soft power did not always achieve its objectives.

The Iraq War: the end of the affair?

‘The EU had been divided over the Iraq sanctions issue for quite some time and the divisions became deeper as the US put increasing pressure on Saddam Hussein’s regime’ . Unable to reach a consensus on the threat posed by Iraq, and on the appropriate response to it, MS split roughly into three camps, with pre-accession countries also vociferously expressing their views . Three explanations are usually given for the alleged failures of the CFSP after 9/11. The first one highlights the Member States’ desire to maintain their sovereignty in relation to foreign policy decisions; the second one focuses on the weak institutionalisation of supranational decision-making structures; and the third one is that ‘the EU’s behaviour as international actors is conditioned by Transatlantic relations’ , not so much in the sense of the ‘special relationship’ that some MS enjoy with Washington, but rather in the longstanding ambivalence of the US towards the EU.

While these factors certainly contributed towards the crisis, had they truly undermined the rationale for a CFSP, we would expect it to have been paralysed in its main responsibilities from 2003 onwards, since ‘in [its] handling serious political crises, especially those involving … conflict, the Union has rarely acted as one’ . Yet, since 2003 the EU has embarked on 14 conflict prevention and peacekeeping missions : ‘for the first time, the Union proactively engaged in security affairs, covering a variety of tasks that stretch[ed] from policing tasks to military intervention. The missions showed that the EU was capable of reacting to … humanitarian/security crises and to contribute to peace enforcement, reconstruction and stabilisation’ . Just like the CFSP did not come to a halt in security-related matters, it continued to exert considerable clout over foreign policy. ‘Despite the overwhelming impact of the 11 September events on public consciousness, the many important foreign policy issues which predated them have continued to occupy the EU and the MS’ : with regards to the ICC, the Kyoto Protocol, GM foods, the Israeli-Palestinian crisis and so on, the EU has increasingly expressed its position in a unified manner. In this sense, the long-term rationale of policy coordination that underpinned the CFSP does not appear to have been destroyed by the Iraq debacle.

Removing the second pillar?

Having clarified that an obituary of the CFSP is premature, let us assume that the divisions over Iraq had created such an irreversible fracture within the Union that any form of common foreign and security policy would be forever condemned to demeaning, perhaps even counterproductive, tasks. Is it thinkable to remove it altogether from the EU’s set of political objectives? No, for two distinct reasons. First, it is hard to imagine how the challenges of globalisation could be addressed effectively by MS acting in an uncoordinated manner, without building on the already considerable set of instruments available to them. The interrelated challenges of terrorism, ‘refugee flows, drug production, narcotics trafficking, … international crime, health pandemics … and cross-border environmental disasters’ , increasingly at the heart of Member States’ concerns, can only be addressed effectively within the framework of multilateral coordinated arrangements. Many of these threats are multi-dimensional and are addressed by policies formulated under the first and third pillar, although they impact onto the second one. This of course raises ‘questions of policy coherence both at the state-Union level and with respect to institutional coherence within the Union’ , but it is unthinkable that these will be solved by removing the EU’s capabilities to shape a CFSP.

Secondly, the CFSP is just one of several external relations instruments of the European Union. The process of ‘enlargement, … the new strategic relationship with Russia, the Euromed/Barcelona process, … the network of other association and cooperation agreements, the Cotonou conventions, not to mention the EU’s role in multilateral trade negotiations … are also crucial to the EU’s role in the world and as a foreign policy actor’ , although they do not strictly fall under the remit of the CFSP. Of these, external trade policy is probably the most significant: ‘the EU’s powerful economic and trading positions are becoming all the more important as much of international relations become less focused on “traditional” political and military issues and more focused on economic issues and economic-related issues such as environmental protection and energy supplies’ . Indeed, if anything, this pictures suggests an enhanced – not a diminished – role for the CFSP at the heart of the future of the EU, where foreign policy objectives and security concerns of the MS are joined up in a set of coordinated policies.

Conclusion

The CFSP was never meant as an homogenization of the Member States’ foreign policies, and their different priorities were inevitably going to resurface in the face of the events that followed the attacks on the World Trade Centre. Yet, it would be hasty to dismiss the objective of a common European foreign and security policy as hopeless. While there have been some significant setbacks, especially in the representational areas of prestige and credibility (but not as significant as those suffered by the UN system), these do not appear to have invalidated the underpinning rationale and practical functioning of the CFSP, which continued to pursue its multilateral objectives in the face of the increasingly apparent failure of the US policy in the Middle East. Indeed, the rift within the EU is potentially less significant than the one that might have developed within the traditional unipolar structure of the ‘West’. In other words, the divergence between Atlanticists and Europeanists – far from causing the end of a common European foreign and security policy – might instead represent the ‘first phase of a disintegration that [will] culminate with the emergence of two main poles in the family of the Western World’ .

As Michael Smith points out, the formulation of foreign policy is not simply the product of instrumental rationality, but contingent of social interactions and discursive practices, which remain at the heart of the CFSP. Therefore, we can expect incremental levels of cooperation between MS in the shaping of their foreign policy objectives, especially given the socio-economic patterns of globalisation. However, there are two fundamental divergences between MS over basic principles in international relations : the use of force and Europe’s relationship with the US. Leaving the casus belli of Iraq, the positions of MS in the wake of the crisis appeared to cluster around ethical interpretations of foreign policy, with the UK-led group advocating a new right of intervention, and the Germany-led group supporting pacific methods of conflict resolution . These divergences need to be addressed within a reformed institutional framework, which reaches a compromise between the current intergovernmentalist structure of the CFSP and the need for more effective supranational decision-making mechanisms. In this sense, a greater blow than the Iraq War debacle was delivered to the CFSP by the rejection of the Constitution, which prevented – inter alia – the creation of the position of EU Foreign Minister. Behind this rejection lies the absence of a European public space in debates over foreign and security policy, something which ‘remains the greatest inhibitor of further subordination of sovereignty national traditions, and national expenditure to common policy’ . Creating this space should be one of the first priorities of those who wish to build a stronger and more effective European CFSP.

Bibliography

Books

  • Nugent, Neill, The government and politics of the European Union (Basingstoke; New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006)
  • Nuttall, Simon, European Foreign Policy (Oxford University Press 2000).
  • Held, D. and McGrew, A., The Global Transformation Reader, Second Edition, Cambridge, Polity Press, 2003, Introduction, Part 1.

Articles in periodicals

  • Cameron, Fraser, European Perspectives: After Iraq, the EU Can Learn from its Disarray, European Affairs, Spring 2003
  • Coulon, Jocelyn (2003), How Unipolarism Died in Baghdad, European Foreign Affairs Review, 8: 537-541
  • Crowe, Brian (2003), A common European foreign policy after Iraq?, in International Affairs, 79, 3: 533-546
  • Deighton, Anne (2002), The European Security and Defence Policy, in Journal of Common Market Studies, 40, 4: 719–741 (November 2002);
  • Hill, Christopher (2004), Renationalizing or Regrouping? EU Foreign Policy Since 11 September 2001, in Journal of Common Market Studies 42, 1: 143-163 (March 2004)
  • Smith, Michael E. (2004), Institutionalization, Policy Adaptation and European Foreign Policy Cooperation, in European Journal of International Relations 10, 1: 95-136

Chapters in Books

  • William Wallace (2005) Foreign and Security Policy: The Painful Path from Shadow to Substance, in Helen Wallace, William Wallace and Mark Pollack, Policy-Making in the European Union (5th edition, OUP, 2005), chapter 17.

World Wide Web (WWW) Sites

What can the international community do about failed states?

Mogadishu 

Introduction

There is no doubt that – in an increasingly interconnected world – failed states constitute a huge challenge for the international community . But exactly what kind of challenge is a matter of debate. For some, it is a normative challenge – how to find a place for them in the global nation-state jigsaw that slowly seems to be coming undone; for others it’s a security challenge – how to contain their contagiousness, and stop them from harbouring criminal or terrorist organisations; and for others still, it’s a moral challenge: how to help those who were caught in the collapse of the state, and are now buried under its rubble. These different perspectives inevitably generate questions on whether the international community should intervene at all, given in particular its dubious track record, so the starting point of my analysis will be to identify the two main reasons behind any form of intervention. I will then look more closely at those areas that need to be improved, drawing from the two main clusters of recommendations around which most of the literature on the subject converges. First of all, I will highlight shortcomings in three theoretical areas of understanding about failed states: the long-term, structural problems that cause their collapse; the local and global dynamics that fuel their internal conflicts; and the normative implications of any type of intervention. Secondly, I will briefly look at those areas of practical intervention that could be improved, not just when a state has collapsed, but also – and most importantly – before it has collapsed.

The grounds for action

The first question that we should tackle is: why should the international community do something about failed states? Is it moving beyond sovereignty when it intervenes in the internal affairs of a country, however weak? And is it really in the interest of the citizens of a collapsed state to see once more a Western polity imposed on them? Analysts like Christopher Clapham have argued for some time in favour of accepting their statelessness as a constitutive element of the international order. In his view, the commercial and NGO sectors are perfectly capable of taking over most of the state’s traditional functions, including justice and personal security. Left to its own devices, he suggests, a collapsed state might actually turn out to be a better polity than anyone previously experienced by its citizens. Indeed, the inhabitants of Somalia might be enjoying the ‘cheapest and most efficient cellphone system on the [African] continent’ , but its real cost goes well beyond the price of a call, and it includes the exposure to predatory criminal networks, the drastic reduction of personal and human security, and the loss of sustainable development prospects.

There are two main reasons why the international community has a duty to act. The first one is humanitarian: to prevent and halt unnecessary suffering of fellow human beings. An estimated 3.3 million people have died in the DRC alone , as a direct consequence of the state’s collapse, and the number of people wounded, displaced, disabled and traumatized is unimaginable. This is a terrible price that not only the current, but also the future generations are forced to bear. Helping them is a moral imperative ‘if we care about global development and peace at all … We cannot stand aside and allow people to starve or be subjected to abuse’ , because ‘war kills development as well as people’ . The second reason speaks instead to the cynics, who don’t see why their taxes should be spent on countries seemingly incapable of standing on their own feet: it is because failed states provide an incredibly fertile ground for terrorism, ‘refugee flows, drug production and narcotics trafficking, … international crime, health pandemics … and … cross-border environmental disasters’ . Indeed, there is growing evidence of ‘a complex relationship between globalizing trends in the world economy and violent conflict in areas and within states at the margin of that economy’ . In this intricate network of criminal and economic interests, several actors stand to benefit from the absence of any security system to obstruct them. Countries who claim to uphold the rule of law can no longer ignore the role played by failed states in the global chain of their domestic problems.

Developing better understanding of the causes, dynamics and normative implications of state failure

If action is an imperative, then the first step towards addressing the problem of state failure is to deepen the theoretical understanding of its causes. While some have pointed out that ‘there is nothing novel about the phenomenon of state failure’ , others have argued that ‘the withdrawal of (the Cold War) powers … paved the way for factions … to be strengthened and for the state to lose authoritative legitimacy’ . In fact, while both of these interpretations have some truth in them, they risk overshadowing those local dynamics, histories and actors that often lie at the heart of a state’s collapse, and that connect with the bigger regional and international picture. Research needs to be broadened on those factors – collapsing income levels, failing democratic procedures, predatory or patrimonial elites, declining government legitimacy, the role of natural resources – that have contributed in many cases to a state’s failure, while recognising the difficulty of ‘deploy[ing] the results of massive surveys of conflict and state collapse to predict failure’ .

The second issue, which requires closer attention by the research community, is the resilience of conflicts spawn by a state’s failure, and in particular the intricate web they weave with the global political economy. Although ‘the presence of economic motives … in wars is not so much a new phenomenon as a familiar theme in the history of warfare’ , it is also true that ‘the globalization of new economic patterns … appears to be increasing the … reliance on commercial exploitation as a quick way to solve the problems of political authority’ . Whatever caused a state’s collapse in the first place is not necessarily what keeps its internal conflict going. Rather than defeating the enemy, these conflict economies have a vested interest in prolonging it, and their ‘crystallisation … within weak states can only be understood within a broader global context’ . For this reason, many institutional efforts have been made to ‘increase the management and transparency of natural resources in conflict-prone regions. The Kimberley Process, the Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade Action Plan and the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative are three such examples the EU supports … (but) they are relatively new and do not yet cover the wider range of “conflict resources” which feed into and flow out of conflict’ . This is an area of research where the international community should make more efforts, especially in relation to the role played by the private financial sector – the so called ‘white collar crime’ .

Thirdly, humanitarian interventions are very contested, not only because of concerns that they might constitute a Trojan horse for darker imperialistic motives, but also because they raise a number of legal qualms. The shortcomings of the current international normative framework to deal with sub-state violence arise mainly from the ‘state-centric framework within which the donor countries and international organizations, especially the UN and its agencies, necessarily’ have to operate when dealing with failed states. Addressing these legal aspects forces the international community to think whether it might have reached a moment in history when a global nation-state system might no longer be viable, in the context not only of failed states, but also of the emergence of new supranational polities such as the EU . The international community must begin to reflect courageously about the extent to which it needs to reform its global governance structures to accommodate these new challenges, and more immediately address the shortcomings of an international legal framework which poses huge restrictions on border modification .

Improving actions to prevent conflict and build long-term peace

Policy stemming from the above-reflections is already being implemented on the ground, through a number of peacekeeping operations and conflict-transformation initiatives. The first, and most logical, step the international community should take in this respect is to deepen the learning about the best practices and mistakes of the most recent interventions. Nick Grono summarized the inadequacies of traditional approaches to failed states as little attention span, historical imprecision, tunnel vision and lack of conceptual understanding . Several other analysts and academics have brought these (and other) shortcomings to the attention of policy-makers , but the crucial challenge is to ensure that these recommendations are taken on board, for example by building a political case for long-term engagement in peacebuilding and peacekeeping operations. This is not always an easy task, given the reluctance of political actors to sacrifice resources and lives in favour of international interventions, and more generally their aversion to joining the policy dots.

Implementing targeted policies that address the causes of a state’s collapse means devoting more attention to the nexus between policy fields that until recently were considered relatively independent. Policies relating to home security, financial flows, cross-border migration, drug-control, ODA and international trade are now recognised as interrelated, and contributing to the structural weakness and eventual collapse of a state. The EU and DFID, for example, have devoted considerable efforts in the last few years to ensure high standards in policy-coordination, in ‘recognition that peacebuilding and conflict prevention are not simply sectoral policies but represent a broader approach to policy-making … (so) every measure at the disposal of the EU – be it in the field of health, trade, governance – may thus contribute to conflict prevention’ . In practice, there are still huge discrepancies, especially in relation to trade and conflict prevention , and policy coordination is still far from perfect between the different EU pillars and the 27 Member States.

Finally, there are different ways to approach a failed state, once the causes and dynamics of its collapse have been observed. Some are more intrusive, such as peacekeeping operations, or military endeavours that aim to avert humanitarian disasters, but others are more subtle. Joseph Nye, for example, has talked about the EU’s soft power as a means to achieve important political goals, one that has often been overlooked by traditional approaches to failed states and conflict, but has so far been quite successful in the South Caucasus. In this sense, preventing ex ante – rather than addressing post facto – state collapse is a more long-sighted (and cost-effective) way of dealing with the problem, and the international community should give more practical recognition to effective conflict prevention, for example by establishing and supporting appropriate early-warning systems . Of fundamental importance is the need for the international community to back the right actors in their peacebuilding and conflict prevention efforts, and in particular to recognise the positive role that local and international civil society organisations can play in strengthening social networks and building peace.

Conclusion

Lev Tolstoy once said that all happy families resemble each other, but that each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. This is true of failed states too. Whatever perspective the international community might take on the reasons behind their failure, it must recognise that there is never a simple cure that can be administered at reasonable doses, and that will act as a universal panacea. Each state failure is the result of multiple forces and dynamics, some external, many more internal, which have singularly converged to cause the collapse. Given the vast complexity of the issue, it is not surprising that in most cases the international community has failed to address the problem of failed states in an effective manner. But highlighting past mistakes to make sweeping generalisations about one-size-fits-all solutions would be arrogant as well as ineffective. There is no one answer to the question: ‘what can the international community do about failed states’? There is only a mutually-supportive and policy-savvy experimentation, coupled by a committed determination to find lasting solutions on a case-by-case basis.

Bibliography

Books

  • Berdal, Mats & Malone, David M. (2000) Greed and Grievance, Economic Agendas in Civil Wars (Boulder, Colo: Lynne Rienner Publishers)
  • Kaldor, Mary (2003) Global Civil Society, An Answer to War (Cambridge: Polity Press)
  • Rotberg, R. (ed. – 2003) When States Fail: Causes and Consequences (Princeton: Princeton University Press)

Articles in periodicals

  • Barkin, Samuel J. The Evolution of the Constitution of Sovereignty and the Emergence of Human Rights Norms in Journal of International Studies, 1998, Vol. 27, No. 2, pp. 229-252
  • Fearon, James and Laitin, David, Neotrusteeship and the Problem of Weak States, in International Security, Vol 28, No. 4 (Spring 2004), pp. 5-43

Chapters in Books

  • Clapham, Christopher (2003) The Global-Local Politics of State Decay, in Rotberg, R. (ed.) When States Fail: Causes and Consequences (Princeton: Princeton University Press)
  • Herbst, Jeffrey (2003) Let Them Fail: State Failure in Theory and Practice, in Rotberg, R. (ed.) When States Fail: Causes and Consequences (Princeton: Princeton University Press)

World Wide Web (WWW) Sites

Blog-hopping: Pienso (Luego Existo)

Think...

Another very interesting discovery, Pienso is an English-speaking blog on ‘development, economics, international business, social enterprise, latin america and more dismal thoughts‘. Tons of links to really interesting sites and blogs and weekly link-drops with tens of articles and occasional editorials, such as these:

Development:

Africa:

Social Enterprise:

International Affairs:

Economics:

A slightly economistic, pro-private sector and anti-third sector bias, if I spotted correctly, but certainly an informed author. Check him out.Update: on second thought, this guy’s right up my alley. I love almost all his links, now that I’ve checked them properly. Will keep a close eye on his posts.

North Korea tests nuclear weapon

Military Parade, Pyongyang 

In an important Sense, there is no ‘Third World’ in respect of weaponry, only a ‘First World’… Even the possession of nuclear weaponry is not confined to the economically advanced states. ” Antony Giddens, 1990 

The field of scientific research in the DPRK successfully conducted an underground nuclear test under secure conditions on October 9, 2006, at a stirring time when all the people of the country are making a great leap forward in the building of a great, prosperous, powerful socialist nation.” -Pyongyang, Oct 9, 2006

See BBC, Bloomberg, MSNBC, NYTimes, Guardian, Independent.

Also, a very insightful article on the Washington Monthly by Fred Kaplan on How the Bush Administration let North Korea get nukes and his subsequent analysis of the crisis on Slate.