Articles

What Will be the Legacy of the 2014 World Cup for Brazil?

From June 12 to July 13, Brazil will host the 2014 FIFA World Cup across twelve cities. During the tournament an estimated 600,000 foreign visitors and 3 million Brazilians are expected to travel across the country of more than 200 million people. Over 3 billion worldwide will be paying attention to all that happens in Brazil.

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While the outcome of Ukraine’s upheaval may not be clear, this much is: Russia has successfully used sanctions, a pile of cash and natural gas discounts to set back Ukraine’s effort to build itself a European future. Even as Russia shifts focus to ensuring the safety and prestige of next month’s Sochi Olympics, the Euro-Atlantic community must prepare for the next time Moscow threatens to inflict crippling trade, financial, and energy sanctions on its ex-Soviet neighbors. That next time will be soon. 

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How might the FARC peace negotiations impact Colombia's presidential election?

President Barack Obama emphasized "the tremendous progress that’s taken place in Colombia" after meeting with President Juan Manuel Santos at the White House on December 3. His comments come at a pivotal moment as Colombia enters an electoral season.

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Its Prime Minister briefly kidnapped, its oil trapped in the pipelines by protesters, its capital city in chaos, and its high-end hotels increasingly devoid of businessmen, Libya is now reaping the "benefits" of 42 years of ideological one-man rule, eight months of polarizing armed struggle, and two years of seemingly endless and aimless "transition." In an attempt to reverse the descent towards anarchy that has characterized his tenure, Prime Minister Ali Zeidan issued a stern ultimatum on November 11 stating that he would finally take action against protesters at oil installations if they did not surrender to the central government within a week. To frighten his opponents, he added that Western powers might feel a need to intervene if Libya fails to address its power vacuum by itself.

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After eight turbulent years during which conservatives monopolized Iranian politics, the election of centrist cleric Hassan Rouhani on June 14, 2013, marked a new, yet in some ways familiar chapter in post-revolutionary Iranian politics. It was new in the sense that his sweeping victory demonstrated unprecedented popular desire for change and elite recognition of the need for a less confrontational foreign policy. But Rouhani’s presidency is also familiar because the team he has assembled is drawn from the old guard of the Islamic Republic, which enabled the regime to survive following the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq War.

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Nearly seven months after a highly contentious presidential election, Venezuela's political, economic, and social future is increasingly uncertain. On November 8, President Nicolás Maduro ordered the "occupation" of an electronics store chain followed by a call for "Bolivarian militias" to flood the streets to crack down on the "right- wing's fascist economic war." Security forces are enforcing orders, bringing tensions to a new limit and raising the potential for large- scale violence. The National Assembly is likely soon to grant Maduro the power to rule by decree to fight corruption, which would give him new tools to go after his critics and imprison business leaders. As the December 8 municipal elections approach, the economy continues its downward spiral with inflation reaching 54 percent in October.

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Replacing the President by the Ballot Box

Georgia’s elections and its sometimes tumultuous results are not for the faint of heart. The country will hold a presidential election on October 27 and this election is historic: for the first time in its history, an incumbent president will be replaced through the ballot box and not street protests.

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President Obama’s case for striking Syria is perplexing and misguided. Here’s hoping that these attributes will become clear during the debate that will occur now that he has delayed acting and sought Congressional consent. Despite the massive death toll in Syria, which now exceeds one hundred thousand, Obama has been chary (wisely, in my view) of intervening in a complex and increasingly sectarian conflict between a brutal government and an assortment of armed groups animated by discordant visions of that country’s future—or, in the case of the Kurds, a future outside of it. What little Obama has done in support of the Syrian resistance, he has done reluctantly.

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The decision of the Shah Deniz consortium last June to move forward with the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) that will bring Azeri natural gas to Europe brought to life the vision of the Southern Gas Corridor that will help diversify Europe’s sources of natural gas. At first glance, it would appear that by selecting TAP over Nabucco as the European leg of the Corridor, the Shah Deniz consortium has undercut the decade-old effort to diversify Central Europe’s heavily Russian-gas dependent economies with the help of gas from the Caspian region. Upon deeper reflection, however, this is not necessarily the case.

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In “The Nordic-Baltic Region as a Global Partner of the United States,” Atlantic Council Executive Vice President Damon Wilson and Scowcroft Center Deputy Director Magnus Nordenman analyze the significance of the growing trend of Nordic and Baltic cooperation. First written in September 2011, the authors called then for President Obama to agree to meet his Nordic counterparts as a group. This chapter, which is available below, from the Atlantic Council report Nordic-Baltic Security in the 21st Century: The Regional Agenda and the Global Roleexplains why President Obama is meeting with the five leaders of the Nordic nations during his stop in Stockholm on September 4, 2013, following his August 30 meeting with the three Baltic presidents in Washington, DC.

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