In a metaphor that the traditionally nomadic Somalis would undoubtedly appreciate, it was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Last Thursday, Somali pirates seized the Ukrainian-owned, Belizean-registered freighter Faina as it neared the Kenyan port of Mombasa. It was at least the sixtieth such attack for ransom this year in the waters surrounding the Horn of Africa and the pirates currently hold more than 200 hostages and approximately a dozen ships, mainly around Eyl, on the Gulf of Aden.
Since Russia’s August invasion and occupation of Georgia, the short and long term implications have been much debated. Is Russia reasserting itself in an attempt to become the global power that its predecessor the USSR was? What’s going on inside Putin’s head? Is Russia a “rational actor?” What should NATO do about Ukraine?
John McCain and Barack Obama are expected to talk this evening about foreign policy and national security in the first of three Presidential debates scheduled in the run-up to the election. In a 90-minute segment broadcast to tens of millions of people, the two candidates will each deliver a vision for the future of U.S. foreign policy and its ramifications for the rest of the world. With recent polls suggesting that the race for the White House is extremely close, the debate on foreign policy will prove to be one of the major deciding factors for the American electorate.
French and EU President Nicolas Sarkozy issued a call from the floor of the UN yesterday to expand the Security Council and G8. Declaring that, "The 21st century world cannot be governed with the institutions of the 20th century," he argued that inclusion of today's emerging powers is not just "a matter fairness" but a necessary condition for "being able to act effectively." "We cannot wait any longer to enlarge the Security Council. We cannot wait any longer to turn the G8 into the G13 or G14 and to bring in China, India, South Africa, Mexico and Brazil," said Sarkozy.
The current crisis in China over tainted milk products, including the furious public reaction inside the country, reminds us how hard it is to govern 1.3 billion. It is clearly against the law in China to put dangerous additives into food products. The problem in China has been and remains how extraordinarily difficult it is for the government to enforce such laws, whether it’s product safety or environmental regulations. At the same time large numbers of Chinese demand such enforcement and seek ways to make their wishes known, difficult in a political system with few outlets for expressing the public will.