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  • Author: Jacques Singer-Emery
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Harvard Journal of Middle Eastern Politics and Policy
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: This is the first of a three-part essay series on the different paths the U.S. Congress might take to limit Washington’s support for the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen. Congress is considering a range of options to express its displeasure with Riyadh after Saudi agents murdered prominent Saudi journalist and critic Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in September 2018, and journalists and NGOs around the world continue to highlight human rights abuses perpetrated by Saudi-led coalition forces in Yemen. Of these options, the most notable is the Saudi Arabia Accountability and Yemen Act of 2019. Congress has already voted to condemn President Donald Trump’s unequivocal support for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia: the Senate voted March 13th to end US support for the war in Yemen, echoing a measure that passed the House in mid-February. But, the Saudi Arabia Accountability and Yemen Act would go further still, sanctioning those in the Saudi government responsible for Khashoggi’s death and curtailing U.S. arms sales and military aid critical to the Saudi-led coalition’s war in Yemen. The White House vehemently opposes the bill. If it passes, President Trump is expected to veto it, just as he is expected to veto the Senate’s March and House’s February resolutions.
  • Topic: Government, Law, Military Affairs, Legislation
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Yemen, North America, United States of America, Gulf Nations
  • Author: James Aird
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Harvard Journal of Middle Eastern Politics and Policy
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: As Egypt’s ‘Year of Education’ begins, the government pushes much needed reform in pre-university education across the country. Supported by a $500 million World Bank loan, the government is accelerating efforts to train teachers, build schools, and implement tablet technology in primary and secondary education. The reforms include one ambitious project that is especially deserving of more attention: the expansion of a pilot program adapting Japanese educational techniques to the Egyptian context. At a meeting in Tokyo on February 29th, 2016, Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi announced a joint partnership that sought to link Egypt to Japan through educational development, in part thanks to al Sisi’s personal admiration for Japan’s education system. As part of the joint partnership, Japanese and Egyptian administrators and policymakers set out to reshape Egyptian pedagogy. Modeled on Japan’s Tokkatsu education system, which refers to a program of “whole child development,” Egypt aims to build schools that place great emphasis on teaching students to be responsible, disciplined, and clean, as opposed to the more traditional model prioritizing higher standardized testing scores. A Tokkatsu-inspired curriculum is already being used at over forty schools that accepted more than 13,000 students in September 2018. While President al Sisi plans to personally monitor the new education system, other MENA states should also watch closely. If it successfully contributes to building Egypt’s human capital and improving students’ competitiveness, other states in the region might consider implementing similar educational policies.
  • Topic: Development, Education, Reform, Children, Partnerships, Youth
  • Political Geography: Japan, Middle East, North Africa, Egypt
  • Author: Lydia Sizer
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Harvard Journal of Middle Eastern Politics and Policy
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: On March 17th, 2011, US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice wore green for St. Patrick’s Day as she took her seat at the circular Security Council conference table at the UN headquarters in New York. In Libya, the color green is associated not with St. Patrick, but the misfortune-bringing dictator, Muammar al-Qaddhafi. Ambassador Rice, along with the other representatives of the Security Council, gathered in New York that day to consider a response to Qaddhafi’s repression of anti-regime protesters. They voted unanimously in favor of a no-fly zone over Libya to protect the protestors, supporting a revolution that ultimately led to the dictator’s overthrow and an opportunity for democratic transition. As artillery fire maims the outskirts of Tripoli and rival militias engage in indiscriminate violence that ensnares civilians and trapped refugees, the chances of a democratic future for Libya are fading. Yet, this painful moment in Libya’s history also presents a rare opportunity to harness greater international attention to empower moderate voices and advance a vision for Libya that overcomes division, ensures long-term stability, and weakens the threats of resurgent authoritarianism and transnational terrorism.
  • Topic: Terrorism, Democracy, Refugees, Arab Spring, Conflict
  • Political Geography: Libya, North Africa, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Reva Dhingra
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Harvard Journal of Middle Eastern Politics and Policy
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: The 2018-2019 school year opened with some worrying figures for Syrian children in Jordan. Over forty percent of an estimated 240,000 registered Syrian school-aged refugees remain out of formal school. Despite ongoing efforts, enrollment levels of about 131,000 in September remained well below the target of 170,000 children. With most refugees unlikely to return to Syria in the immediate future—the number of registered refugees increased in 2018—education while in Jordan remains a pressing concern. Funding cuts, school and teacher quality, documentation barriers, and complex mental health and psychosocial problems among refugee children contribute to education shortfalls, but only partially explain the unexpectedly low enrollment of refugee children. The initial education response was fractured between the immediate imperative of keeping children off the streets and the long-term imperative of integrating children into formal school. As the crisis stretches into its eighth year, however, the impulses of the early education response continue to impede efforts to educate Syrian children in Jordan. Despite the best efforts of donors, NGOs, and the Jordanian government, this early approach may have inadvertently increased time out of school for children who, under government regulations, are not allowed to re-enroll after three years. As a result, many of these children will likely never be able to enroll in school again. Examining the refugee education response in Jordan offers lessons for providing education during the early stages of refugee crises.
  • Topic: Education, Children, Refugees, Syrian War
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Syria, Jordan
  • Author: Alper Kaliber, Esra Kaliber
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The International Spectator
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: Recent Turkish foreign policy (TFP) under the successive AKP governments has seen different populist turns. A clear distinction can be made between the thin and thick populisms of TFP, based on the status of the West. The first decade of AKP rule, when foreign policy was thinly populist, was characterised by steady de-Europeanisation, increasing engagement with regional issues and a decentring of Turkey’s Western orientation. The turn toward thick populism has been characterised by anti-Westernist discourses in which the West is resituated as the ‘other’ of Turkish political identity.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Politics, Populism, Anti-Westernism
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: Linus Hagström, Magnus Hagström
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The International Spectator
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: Periods of mutual enmity in US-North Korean relations are typically interrupted by more conciliatory gestures. How can the many twists and turns in this relationship be explained and hopefully overcome so that more long-lasting détente is accomplished? Drawing eclectically on realism and constructivism, we conclude that a nuclear deal should address not only North Korea’s interests in security and regime survival, but also its status concerns. Applying the same theories to the other part of the dyad – the US – we conclude that it may now have material interests in ameliorating the relationship, but that such a development requires US foreign policy discourse to cease depicting North Korea as “irrational” and “evil”.
  • Topic: Security, Nuclear Weapons, Realism, Constructivism
  • Political Geography: Asia, North Korea, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Bertjan Verbeek, Andrej Zaslove
  • Publication Date: 06-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The International Spectator
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: Populism seems to be a well-established notion in public and academic debate alike. Nevertheless, several issues surrounding populism are still contested and thus merit closer attention. These contested issues encompass the extent to which populism is novel and ubiquitous; the scope of the phenomenon; the merits of the various definitions of populism; its political colour(s); the potential danger it poses to democracy; its appropriateness to govern; as well as populism’s impact beyond national borders.
  • Topic: Government, Democracy, Populism, Public Policy, Radical Right, Leftist Politics
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Natasja Reslow
  • Publication Date: 03-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The International Spectator
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: Unintended consequences arising from EU external migration policy are a result of the multi-actor nature of this policy and of policy interactions. In addition, scholars face serious methodological challenges in establishing what the EU’s ‘intent’ is in external migration policy and, therefore, in determining which consequences are intended and which are unintended. The literature on the implementation and evaluation of EU external migration policy is in its infancy, and future work should take into account all policy outcomes – both those that were intended and those that were not.
  • Topic: Migration, Immigration, Governance, Refugees
  • Political Geography: Europe, European Union
  • Author: Olga Burlyuk, Gergana Noutcheva
  • Publication Date: 03-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The International Spectator
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: There is a gap in IR and EU scholarship concerning unintended consequences in an international context, leaving this important phenomenon understudied. To fill this gap, a conceptualisation of unintended consequences is offered, and a set of common research questions are presented, highlighting the nature (what), the causes (why) and the modes of management (how) of unintended consequences of EU external action. The Special Issue contributes to the study of the EU as an international actor by broadening the notion of the EU’s impact abroad to include the unintended consequences of EU (in)actions and by shedding new light on the conceptual paradigms that explain EU external action.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Politics
  • Political Geography: Europe, European Union
  • Author: Dimitris Bouris
  • Publication Date: 03-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The International Spectator
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: The existing literature on state-building has focused mainly on post-conflict cases and ‘conventional’ examples of statehood, without taking into consideration the particularities of states that remain internally and/or externally contested. The EU’s engagement in Palestinian state-building through the deployment of EUPOL COPPS and EUBAM Rafah has generated various types of unintended consequences: anticipated and unanticipated, positive and negative, desirable and undesirable, some of which fulfill and some of which frustrate the initial intention. These have important reverberations for the EU’s conflict resolution strategies in Israel and Palestine, the most important being the strengthening of power imbalances and the enforcement of the status quo.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Foreign Policy, State, State Building, Police
  • Political Geography: Europe, Middle East, Palestine, European Union
  • Author: Assem Dandashly, Gergana Noutcheva
  • Publication Date: 03-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The International Spectator
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: The European Union’s (EU) impact on the political governance of the European neighbourhood is varied and sometimes opposite to the declared objectives of its democracy support policies. The democracy promotion literature has to a large extent neglected the unintended consequences of EU democracy support in Eastern Europe and the Middle East and North Africa. The EU has left multiple imprints on the political trajectories of the countries in the neighbourhood and yet the dominant explanation, highlighting the EU’s security and economic interests in the two regions,cannot fully account for the unintended consequences of its policies. The literature on the ‘pathologies’ of international organisations offers an explanation, emphasizing the failures of the EU bureaucracy to anticipate, prevent or reverse the undesired effects of its democracy support in the neighbourhood.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Democracy, Economy, Bureaucracy
  • Political Geography: Europe, Middle East, Eastern Europe, North Africa, European Union
  • Author: Frank de Zwart, Karolina Pomorska
  • Publication Date: 03-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The International Spectator
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: “Unintended consequences” is an umbrella concept. It comprises phenomena that differ in crucial respects and consequently, without refinement, it remains a rather blunt instrument for policy analysis. The contributions in this volume, however, show that disentangling unintended consequences by making clear distinctions between various types, makes the concept much more useful for policy analysis. Assessing the impact of EU foreign policies as studied in this volume, we show that “bonuses”, “windfalls”, “accidents”, and “trade-offs” – all unintended – are very different when it comes to the explanation of policy outcomes, or to allocating responsibility for them.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Political Science, Unintended Consequences
  • Political Geography: Europe, European Union
  • Author: Steven Pifer
  • Publication Date: 03-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Ambassador's Review
  • Institution: Council of American Ambassadors
  • Abstract: For nearly five decades, Washington and Moscow have engaged in negotiations to manage their nuclear competition. Those negotiations produced a string of acronyms—SALT, INF, START—for arms control agreements that strengthened strategic stability, reduced bloated nuclear arsenals and had a positive impact on the broader bilateral relationship. That is changing. The Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty is headed for demise. The New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) has less than two years to run, and the administration of Donald Trump has yet to engage on Russian suggestions to extend it. Bilateral strategic stability talks have not been held in 18 months. On its current path, the U.S.-Russia nuclear arms control regime likely will come to an end in 2021. That will make for a strategic relationship that is less stable, less secure and less predictable and will further complicate an already troubled bilateral relationship.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Military Strategy, Nuclear Power, Deterrence, Denuclearization
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Europe, North America
  • Author: Victor D. Cha
  • Publication Date: 03-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Ambassador's Review
  • Institution: Council of American Ambassadors
  • Abstract: There were high expectations at the second meeting of American and North Korean leaders in Vietnam last month after the absence of progress on denuclearization commitments made at the first summit in Singapore last summer. Yet at Hanoi, not only were the two leaders unable to deliver an agreement with tangible steps on denuclearization, but they also dispensed with the joint statement signing, cancelled the ceremonial lunch and skipped the joint press conference. In a solo presser, President Donald Trump said that sometimes you “have to walk, and this was just one of those times.”[2] The President indeed may have avoided getting entrapped into a bad deal at Hanoi. What North Korea put on the table in terms of the Yongbyon nuclear complex addresses a fraction of its growing nuclear program that does not even break the surface of its underlying arsenal and stockpiles of fissile materials, not to mention missile bases and delivery systems. And what North Korea sought in return, in terms of major sanctions relief on five UN Security Council resolutions that target 90 percent of North Korea’s trade, would have removed one of the primary sources of leverage, albeit imperfect, on the regime. In this instance, no deal was better than a bad deal for the United States. Nevertheless, the Hanoi summit has left the United States with no clear diplomatic road ahead on this challenging security problem, a trail of puzzled allies in Asia and the promise of no more made-for-television summit meetings for the foreseeable future. The question remains, where do we go from here? When leaders’ summits fail to reach agreement, diplomacy by definition has reached the end of its rope. President Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo put on the best face they could in Hanoi, talking about closer understanding and continued good relations between the two sides as a result of the meetings, but the failed summit leaves a great deal of uncertainty going forward. South Koreans will frantically seek meetings with Washington and Pyongyang to pick up the pieces. The North Koreans already have sent an envoy to China to chart next steps. While I do not think this will mean a return to the “Fire and Fury” days of 2017 when armed conflict was possible, we have learned numerous lessons from Hanoi for going forward.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Nuclear Weapons, Military Strategy, Deterrence, Denuclearization
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Asia, South Korea, North Korea
  • Author: Alex Vatanka
  • Publication Date: 03-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Ambassador's Review
  • Institution: Council of American Ambassadors
  • Abstract: Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, a cleric who will turn 80 in July 2019 and has ruled over Iran since 1989, has made a political career out of demonizing the United States. And yet, he knows full well that at some point—whether in his lifetime or after—Tehran has to turn the page and look for ways to end the bad blood that started with the birth of the Islamic Republic in 1979. But Khamenei’s efforts to make the United States a strawman are not easily undone in present-day Tehran, where anti-Americanism is the top political football, as the two main factions inside the regime—the hardliners versus the so-called reformists—battle it out for the future of Iran. Meanwhile, President Donald Trump’s “maximum pressure” on Iran has made it all but impossible for Khamenei to meet Washington half-way. Accordingly, the best Khamenei can do for now is to wait out the Trump White House. There will be no Khamenei-Trump summits. That much is abundantly clear if one listens to the chatter from Tehran. But the issue of possible relations with post-Trump America is still hotly contested in the Islamic Republic. In the meantime, with Trump’s re-imposition of sanctions from November 2018, Tehran’s hope in the short term is that Europe, together with Iran’s more traditional supporters in Moscow and Beijing, can give Iran enough incentive so that it can ride out the next few years as its economy comes under unprecedented pressure.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Nuclear Weapons, Military Strategy, Sanctions, Domestic politics
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Middle East, Israel
  • Author: Earl Anthony Wayne
  • Publication Date: 03-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Ambassador's Review
  • Institution: Council of American Ambassadors
  • Abstract: On November 30, the leaders of the United States, Canada and Mexico signed a new trade agreement to succeed the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement. The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) modernizes the 25-year-old NAFTA, but the legislatures in all three countries must still approve it.[1] The new USMCA will preserve the massive trading and shared-production networks that support millions of jobs in the U.S., Mexico and Canada and the ability of North America to compete effectively with China, Europe and other economic powers. Approving USMCA this year is very much in the national interests of all three countries given the $1.3 trillion in trade between them and the many businesses, workers and farmers that depend on the commerce and co-production that interlinks North America. These economic relationships also strengthen the rationale for maintaining strong political relationships among the three neighbors. There was widespread agreement to update NAFTA to reflect the changes in trade practices and in the three economies since 1994.[2] NAFTA does not cover Internet-based commerce, for example. Other areas required modernization, including trade in services, protection of intellectual property rights (IPR), environment and labor, which is a priority for U.S. unions.[3] Mexico, Canada and the U.S. tried to accomplish this NAFTA update with negotiation of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, but in January 2017 President Donald Trump pulled out of TPP, preferring to renegotiate NAFTA.[4] Approval of USMCA by the U.S. Congress remains uncertain. A number of Democrats are asking for stronger enforcement commitment particularly regarding labor. Others express concern that USMCA provisions may keep some prescription medical costs high.[5] Business and agricultural associations are urging approval of USMCA because it will provide certainty to continue the cross-continental collaboration that preserves vital intra-North American markets for manufacturing, agriculture and services and helps them out-perform global competitors. In response to democrat and union concerns, USMCA’s advocates argue that it includes significantly stronger labor provisions and enforcement.[6] Before the agreement moves ahead, however, the three countries must also find a solution to the tariffs the U.S. put on steel and aluminum from Canada and Mexico in 2018 for “national security” reasons. In response, those countries imposed equivalent tariffs on a range of U.S. exports, spreading economic pain across all three countries.[7] Mexico and Canada, as well as key members of Congress, want this problem resolved before approving USMCA.[8] The U.S. International Trade Commission must also assess USMCA’s economic impact. This report is due in mid-April. The administration must also propose implementation legislation (and guidelines) before Congress formally considers the agreement. Congress will then have a limited time to act on USMCA under existing legislation, but members of Congress could drag the process out.[9] The political window for U.S. congressional approval will close this year, however, given the 2020 U.S. elections.[10] President Trump, USTR Lighthizer and others have begun lobbying for approval, as have Mexico and Canada more quietly. The months ahead will thus be vital for trade and long-term relationships in North America and for the continent’s ability to weather well future international competition. Given the enormous economic benefits of approving USMCA, the U.S. Congress, the Administration and the non-government stakeholders should engage intensively to find ways to address concerns raised and find a “win-win” way to approval. Fortunately, the United States public increasingly views trade in North America as positive. According to the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, for example, those seeing NAFTA and now USMCA as “good” for the U.S. economy have grown significantly, rising from 53 percent in 2017 to 70 percent seeing USMCA as “good” this year. This is a solid foundation for rapid approval of USMCA.[11]
  • Topic: Regional Cooperation, NAFTA, Trade, USMCA
  • Political Geography: United States, Canada, North America, Mexico
  • Author: Bruce A. Heyman
  • Publication Date: 03-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Ambassador's Review
  • Institution: Council of American Ambassadors
  • Abstract: Seeing the words “U.S.-Canada Trade War” in headlines is hard to imagine in any year, but to see them in 2018 was jarring. How is it possible that best friends and neighbors who have had the most successful trading relationship in the world now could have an association characterized by the word war? This is hard enough for the average American or Canadian to conceive of, but it was particularly hard for me to do so, as the U.S. Ambassador to Canada until January 20, 2017. When I left Ottawa, I was confident that the U.S.-Canada relationship was strong—indeed, perhaps never stronger. In March 2016, we had a state dinner in Washington for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the first in nearly 20 years. Then-President Barack Obama later repaid the favor and addressed the Canadian Parliament for the first time in more than 20 years. Our two-way trading relationship was valued at a huge $670 billion per year, and while no longer our largest, it was the most balanced, with the United States having a slight but rare trade surplus in goods and services. Through an integrated supply chain, our companies and citizens worked together. On average more than 400,000 people legally crossed our 5,525-mile non-militarized border daily for work and tourism. But the U.S.-Canada relationship was and is much larger than trade. Canadian and American troops have fought and died together from the beaches of Normandy to the mountains of Afghanistan, and our countries are founding members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD)—a unique Canadian-American partnership—patrols the skies above our shared continent. Our intelligence and law enforcement agencies constantly exchange information on threats from terrorism, nuclear proliferation, espionage and complex crimes. Our two countries work together to protect the environment and provide stewardship of the magnificent Great Lakes, where cities such as Toronto and my own Chicago are located. This dense web of mutually beneficial cooperation is based on a shared set of values. Both our countries settled the vast North American continent, providing undreamt-of opportunities to millions of immigrants. Both our countries have an abiding commitment to democracy and the rule of law, and when we fall short, we make the needed changes. Beyond our countries’ being next-door neighbors, the largest number of Americans living abroad live in Canada and the largest number of Canadians living abroad live in the U.S. We are best friends, but more important, we are family.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Regional Cooperation, Culture, Trade Wars, Trade
  • Political Geography: United States, Canada, North America
  • Author: John Campbell
  • Publication Date: 03-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Ambassador's Review
  • Institution: Council of American Ambassadors
  • Abstract: Nigeria is the giant of Africa. Depending on the price of oil, it has sub-Saharan Africa’s largest economy, and UN agencies estimate that its population will reach 450 million by mid-century, displacing the United States as the third most populous country in the world. Nigeria is active diplomatically in international fora such as the UN and the World Trade Organization, and the scope of its diplomatic representation is comparable to that of the United States. Nigeria’s bilateral relations with the United States have been close and productive on African issues of mutual concern. With Nollywood—Africa’s largest film industry—and numerous artists and intellectuals of world stature, Nigeria has considerable soft power in Africa. Hence, the success or failure of its democracy influences the continent as a whole. For such reasons and more, Nigeria’s democratic trajectory and overall stability are in the national interest of the United States. A bargain between the Nigerian military and civilian elites resulted in the restoration of civilian governance in 1999 after a generation of military rule. With their resumption, elections have become important to the competing and cooperating elites (now including senior military officers) who run Nigeria. Elections reaffirm their government’s legitimacy in their own eyes, that of other Nigerians who vote and foreign governments. However, what Nigeria’s elections have in form, they lack in democratic substance. By and large, the nation’s elections are not about Nigerians making a choice among candidates. Instead, these elections are more often a contest between elite networks. Nigerian society is still largely organized by patron and client relationships, and voters cast their ballots as their patrons direct. Extreme poverty—which is on the rise in Nigeria—also provides a bevy of people willing to vote the way someone tells them in exchange for cash; truly independent voters are rare. Elites also present elections to Nigeria’s international partners as evidence that the country is becoming a modern democracy, opening for them the possibility of a personal role on the larger world stage. Hence, national elections have been held regularly every four years, in 1999, 2003, 2007, 2011, 2015, and 2019. The logistical quality of Nigerian elections has been generally poor. The elections of 1999 were so bad that President Jimmy Carter, an election observer, left the country rather than be seen to endorse them. The worst ever were those of 2007, when I was the U.S. Ambassador, with chaos, violence and wholesale rigging. But those elections resulted in the country’s first genuinely civilian president since the end of military rule, Umaru Yar’Adua. (His predecessor, Olusegun Obasanjo, though the country’s first nominally civilian leader, had governed in the style of a military head of state.) The subsequent elections of 2011 were characterized by exceptionally high levels of violence. In their aftermath, domestic and international pressure resulted in the introduction of some reforms in election procedures.
  • Topic: Military Affairs, Authoritarianism, Elections, Democracy
  • Political Geography: Africa, Nigeria, Sub-Saharan Africa
  • Author: Michelle D. Gavin
  • Publication Date: 03-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Ambassador's Review
  • Institution: Council of American Ambassadors
  • Abstract: One needn’t have a preference among the 23 candidates who contested for the presidency of Zimbabwe last summer to find the overall result of the elections deeply disappointing. What had been billed as a chance to turn the page on Zimbabwe’s international isolation, economic collapse and politics of fear instead exposed continued political violence, the unwillingness of the powers that be in the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union–Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) to create a genuinely level playing field for political competition and elites’ overall contempt for average citizens. But while all of this makes it tempting to write off hopes for meaningful change in Zimbabwe, it is possible that the country is only at the beginning of a long and slow transition—the same process of reimagining the underpinnings of the state that is underway in many of its southern African neighbors.
  • Topic: Elections, Democracy, Violence, Transition
  • Political Geography: Africa, Zimbabwe, Southern Africa
  • Author: Julius Tsal
  • Publication Date: 03-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Ambassador's Review
  • Institution: Council of American Ambassadors
  • Abstract: In 2018, the U.S. Embassy in Tbilisi initiated people-to-people (P2P) exchanges to the United States for agricultural scientists and university leaders from the Russian-occupied Georgian territory of Abkhazia. An initial study tour in the spring of 2018 focused on mitigating the devastating agricultural damage from the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (BMSB), and a second tour in the fall of 2018 focused on higher education leadership. Despite political sensitivities and logistical hurdles, such people-to-people programs increase participants’ understanding of the United States and give them an unbiased, first-hand experience of American civil society, its culture of innovation and democratic values. For otherwise isolated Abkhaz thought leaders, these experiences directly counter Russian anti-Western propaganda and demonstrate the benefits of Georgia’s pro-Western choice.
  • Topic: Agriculture, Civil Society, Imperialism, Propaganda
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Europe, Eastern Europe, Georgia, North America