Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Role of Trade and the Commerce Department in U.S. Diplomacy

Discussions on trade, especially in this current financial climate, begin at the intersection of two of the biggest concerns facing the American people: the economy and foreign policy. In this podcast, Dan Keenaghan, Deputy National Director for the U.S. Commercial Service of the International Trade Administration, explains how trade can be used as a tool for American diplomacy and highlights specific examples where trade has opened lines of communication through business, often leading to a greater understanding of foreign cultures and even friendships.

Download Podcast - Trade and U.S. Diplomacy 02.21.08

Sunday, February 15, 2009

President Obama's Special Envoys and Amb. Holbrooke goes to South Asia

President Obama’s decision to deploy a diplomatic envoy strategy in several global hotspots was a swift and strong move, but is this tactic effective? In this podcast, Ambassador S. Azmat Hassan (ret.) reviews the recent trip of Amb. Richard Holbrooke, the President’s newly named Special Envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan and examines the diplomatic tool of Special Envoys.

Download Podcast - Envoy Diplomacy and Amb. Richard Holbrooke 02.14.09

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Morgan Tsvangirai named Prime Minister of Zimbabwe

Following nearly a year of political turmoil, Morgan Tsvangirai was sworn in today as Prime Minister of Zimbabwe's coalition government. Facing rampant hyperinflation, a widespread cholera outbreak and almost 90% unemployment Mr. Tsvangirai steps into a particularly difficult state of affairs. The former Secretary-General of the Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) and founder of the opposition party the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), Mr. Tsvangirai is no stranger to difficult times. Two years ago he found himself tortured and imprisoned by loyalists of President Robert Mugabe. Now he is expected to put past ills aside, and help move a country crippled at the hands of a despotic regime into a prosperous future. The real question is, will this political experiment succeed, or will today’s events simply mark another chapter in the traumatic history of failed African states? Curiously, Mr. Tsvangirai must now work to rebuild his struggling country with the same man who drove it into the ground. Truly, the prospects for Zimbabwe’s future are inextricably linked to the tenuous relationship between President and Prime Minister.
By: Freedom-Kai Phillips

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Sri Lankan Resistance Over

Reports from Sri Lanka indicate that time and territory are about to run out for a decades old opposition group, the Tamil Tigers. The Sri Lankan army has taken control of Kilinochchi, a city on the northern tip of the island that was the political and military headquarters of the Tigers. Aid groups cannot keep up with the steadily increasing humanitarian crisis, the last hospital in the region has been forced to evacuate. The last remaining rebel fighters are hemmed in around Mullaittivu, a town on the northeast coast. Designated a terrorist group by the U.S. in 1997, the Tigers are reported to have purchased arms from Myanmar, Ukraine, Cambodia and other sources, with profits from drugs and human trafficking, money laundering, piracy and credit card fraud. The violence has been ruthless on both sides, Tamils and government troops alike, but the government's first moves in the next few months will be critical in deciding whether the bloodshed is truly over. A rapid and substantial overhaul of Sri Lanka's human rights laws and the majority's treatment of ethnic minority groups must occur to ensure that opposition groups don't turn to violence instead of a strong system of social justice.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Pakistani court frees A.Q. Khan

As U.S. special envoy Richard Holbrooke prepares to depart for Pakistan, Afghanistan and India next week; a court in Pakistan freed Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan today, the father of Pakistan's nuclear program. Dr. Khan, who was placed under house arrest in 2004 has been called the "world's leading black market dealer in nuclear technology". Watch AP Video.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Tony Blair's Multipolar Worldview

The former Prime Minister spoke at Seton Hall University's Whitehead School of Diplomacy and International Relations on Tuesday, February 3rd. The reception was warm, and at the same time, Mr. Blair took no steps towards admitting mistakes in his foreign policy. Many Europeans (and Americans) fault him for not opposing former U.S. President George W. Bush on Iraq. In front of the packed auditorium, which included scholars, ambassadors, business leaders and the university community - Mr. Blair warned that today's global problems were too large and too intertwined to be solved by only a few nations. He said that even if the U.K. reduced its CO2 emissions to zero, China will have made up the difference in 18 months. He also called the G8 and UN Security Council out of date, noting that counties such as India and Brazil needed seats at the negotiating table. On the whole, he demonstrated that he understood the gravity of the world's problems ahead, but like many other equally stumped experts, he did not present a plan to fix them.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

World Economic Forum, Davos 2009

The World Economic Forum held its annual conference in Davos, Switzerland last week - and there were many notable moments. While blame for the global financial meltdown was directed at the absent Americans, the real standouts of the summit were Russian P.M. Vladimir Putin and China's P.M. Wen Jiabao. Listen to the complete summit wrap-up in this 9 minute podcast.

Download Podcast - Davos 2009 01.31.09