The conversation in the new and old media over the last several weeks has been dominated by reports about uprisings in Tunisia, Libya and Egypt and violent clashes in Bahrain, Yemen, the Ivory Coast, Iraq and elsewhere. In Libya, fighting currently is reported to take place close to strategic oil installations. Because of the scarcity of claims arising out of similar events in investor-state arbitration, political risk insurance claims determinations by the U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) can play an important role to develop this area of law and fill these gaps in future investor-state arbitral arbitrations.
By Elvin Lim
What is it about conservative opposition to Obama’s policy in Libya? It appears conservative critics think he has done both too little too late in Libya, and also too much. While there is agreement on the Right that whatever Obama does is bad policy, the divergent critical voices are not so much evidence of
By Elvin Lim
The Obama administration is having a hard time responding to critics who disagree with its decision to intervene in Libya. Some on the Left do not want another war; while some on the Right don’t want a multilateral approach to war and one authorized by the UN. Both sides, of course, are using a “separation of powers” line, charging that the President failed to seek congressional approval, but the procedural objection disguises a substantive disagreement. The fact is
By Philip Howard
Political discontent has cascaded across North Africa and the Middle East. Entrenched dictators with decades of experience controlling political life have fallen or had to make major concessions. In the West, some observers discount the role of digital media in political change, others give it too much emphasis.
Digitally enabled protesters in Tunisia and Egypt tossed out their dictator. The protests in Libya have posed the first
By Ervin Staub
A few hours after the 9/11 attacks, speaking on our local public radio station in Western Massachusetts, struggling with my tears and my voice, I said that this horrible attack can help us understand people’s suffering around the world, and be a tool for us to unite with others to create a better world. Others also said similar things. But that is not how events progressed.
Our response to that attack led to three wars we are still fighting, including the war on terror. How we fight these wars and what we do to bring them to an end will shape
What does Osama bin Laden really want from us? Listen to this podcast and find out.
Michael Scheuer was the chief of the CIA’s bin Laden unit from 1996 to 1999 and remained a counterterrorism analyst until 2004. He is the author of many books, including the bestselling Imperial Hubris: Why the West is Losing the War on Terrorism. His latest book is the biography Osama bin Laden, a much-needed corrective, hard-headed, closely reasoned portrait that tracks the man’s evolution from peaceful Saudi dissident to America’s Most Wanted.
By Elvin Lim
American foreign policy elites are now facing the difficult choice of deciding if our short-term goals are in fostering democracy in the Middle East, or in quietly propping up authoritarian allies in the region. Even if policy-makers have a choice, it not an easy one to make. Certainly, in the long run, democracy in the Middle East would likely remove the breeding conditions for terrorism and resentment towards the West, but in the short run, transitioning toward democracy is a highly volatile project and in the meantime our strategic interests in the region could be compromised.
By Geneive Abdo
Over the past several weeks, leaders of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood have placed on public display the lessons they have learned as Egypt’s officially banned but most influential social and political movement by trying to pre-empt alarmist declarations that the country is now headed for an Iran-style theocracy.
Members of the venerable Brotherhood, founded in 1928 by an Egyptian school teacher to revitalize Islam and oppose British colonial rule, have so far stated no plans to run a candidate in the next presidential election, and they surprised many by their halting participation in the transitional government, after the fall of President Hosni Mubarak.
By Louis René Beres
For millennia, states and empires have negotiated formal agreements to protect themselves. Usually known as treaties, these agreements are always in written form, and are always fashioned and evaluated according to pertinent international law. Problems arise, however, whenever particular signatories decide that continued compliance is no longer in their own “national interest.” It follows that treaties can be useful when there exists an enduring mutuality of interest, but can become more or less useless whenever such mutuality is presumed to disappear.
The mood of celebration in Egypt after the resignation of the president is uncontainable. Egyptians know there are unanswered questions and uncertain times ahead, and the country’s woes have not been wiped out overnight, but they have achieved something that a few weeks ago was unthinkable, and they are proud not just of that achievement but of the way they did it: The 25 January Revolution, as it is being called here (from the date of the first protests), has been an incredibly impressive peaceful mass movement (sometimes confronted with sickening violence) of young and old, men and
By Dennis Baron
Western observers have been celebrating the role of Twitter, Facebook, smartphones, and the internet in general in facilitating the overthrow of President Hosni Mubarak in Egypt last week. An Egyptian Google employee, imprisoned for rallying the opposition on Facebook, even became for a time a hero of the insurgency. The Twitter Revolution was similarly credited with fostering the earlier ousting of Tunisia’s Ben Ali, and supporting Iran’s green protests
The protesters are standing firm, and are not impressed by the concessions the government is offering. Yesterday we watched the growing line—halfway back onto the Qasr al-Nil Bridge—of people queuing to get through the double security cordon (army first, protesters’ popular committee volunteers next) into Tahrir Square. The first thing that struck me was that people were prepared to stand in line to join the protest: standing in line is not a common phenomenon in Egypt—people normally form a scrum, and push—but here they were lining up (in the rain), flags and banners in hand, for their right to protest. The second thing was the diversity: a lot of young
By Elvin Lim
As the situation continues to unfold in Egypt, and as the White House continues to walk a fine line between support for democracy and support for a new regime which may not be as pro-American as Hosni Mubarak‘s was, Publius, the author of the Federalist Papers may lend us some wisdom.
It may surprise some people, but Publius was no fan of democracy. “Democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention,” Publius wrote in Number 10. The mob cannot rule, though the mob may
We are all fine. Many dramatic events over the last few days. Particularly disturbing was the battle for the Interior Ministry just up the road from my house, which went on for eight hours on Saturday: we heard and watched the police firing tear gas and live fire (including automatic weapons) and the protesters ducking into back alleys to make and throw Molotov cocktails. Also very disturbing the violent clashes that are happening right now on Tahrir Square, while the army stand and watch.
By Elvin Lim
Two contested frames are now emerging from the “chaos” in Egypt. Either the popular revolution has created chaos, including looting and the escape of inmates from prisons, or the government has constructed an image of chaos, so that its turn to emergency powers would be justified and necessary.
It is telling, and not a little sad, that both sides are courting the military – a fundamental and embedded institution of Egyptian life and politics. On the one hand, state television in Egypt depicted President Hosni Mubarak visiting an army operations center, showing that he