Myanmar: A Strategic Asian Hinge?

Myanmar (formerly Burma), occupies a unique place within Southeast Asian cross-border diplomacy. Straddled to the east and west by India and China and controlling access to the Bay of Bengal, the country’s recent re-emergence onto the world stage and flickers of political progress at the hands of a ruling military junta, may signal a larger, more important shift in Asian diplomatic and economic relations. Indeed, the country’s rising strategic importance has not gone unnoticed by the U.S. and China. Yet what is particularly intriguing about Myanmar’s rebirth—long a hermit kingdom…

R2P (Responsibility to Protect): A Panacea in Theory Alone

Globalization has increased awareness, on an international level, the inherent inequities between the developing and developing worlds. This distinction has also become painfully evident through the actions of international institutions tasked with safeguarding the welfare of the world’s citizens. Although human suffering often falls prey to the political and economic elements of globalization, over the last several decades there has also been a rapprochement of people scattered around the globe who strive to regulate the violations of human rights and restore dignity to those who have viciously been stripped of…

One Million Strong: A Campaign for Equality in Iran

One million signatures. It’s a large number to be sure, but in a country of 73 million, it may become a reality. This is what the One Million Signatures Campaign (“Change for Equality”) in Iran seeks to do. Launched in 2006 the campaign has undertaken a mission to change discriminatory laws and secure fundamental human and social rights for women in a country that has a long history of human rights abuses. The campaign was born out of a peaceful protest on June 12th, 2006 as a continuation of the…

Letters from the Roosevelts

President Obama must learn from Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt that the mark of an historic and effective Presidency is to embrace the role of commander-in-chief, especially in terms of the relationship with the media and Congress. With these models guiding his actions, he will be on the right path to a historic presidency and American will have a better chance of being on the right path into the future.

What’s a Democracy to Do? South Africa’s Immigration Problem

After nearly three months in South Africa, I have found a conversation topic on which nearly everyone here seems to have an opinion: South Africa’s neighbor to the north, Zimbabwe. Unlike domestic, more distinctly “South African” issues, such as AIDS or apartheid, I have little trouble garnering frank, enthusiastic (and sometimes unsolicited) perspectives on what exactly to do about the near-decimated country and its dictator of more than thirty years, Robert Mugabe. Views on Mugabe vary widely. Nervous South African whites regard his intended confiscation of virtually all white-owned land…

Occupy Wall Street

There is a nebulous and intangible potential to the Occupy Wall Street movement. More ad-hoc than substance or policy, the movement nonetheless reflects an important, although somewhat misdirected, economic and political critique. Of the cast of characters that occupy Zuccotti Park, (now known collectively as ‘Liberty Park’), it is perhaps the drum circle leading, environmental advocate cum libertarian and gold-standard enthusiast who reflects just how scattered the movements participants are. Indeed, skeptics have questioned whether the array of grievances—from the poetic and arcane to the irate and ill informed—signal an…

The American Disconnect in Party Politics

Partisanship is not a new phenomenon in American politics, neither are the things that divide us: Rich/poor, black/white, young/old, red/blue. Yet there is a sense and a fear that these divisions have come to reflect cracks in the fabric of our democracy. What had previously bound us in a common ambition and outlook—a love of country based on a shared knowledge of how and why it began, an identification with an auspicious beginning that called for us to comport ourselves in the very ideals and aspirations of our founders—has been…

Puerto Rico and Economic Independence

Hindsight is the best economist. It always has the solution for everything. On the 1994 Tequila crisis that started in Mexico: “They should have either managed capital inflows through capital controls, or they should have let their exchange rate adapt to those inflows.” On Latin American hyperinflation: “Policy makers should have recognized that domestic debt issuances used to support ISI policies and an overvalued exchange rate led to unsustainable inflationary pressures once the exchange rate was devalued”. On the European debt crisis: “Governments should get their fiscal policies in sync…