Middle Eastern television audiences and the residents of Abbottabad can attest that there has been no shortage of the theatrical in Barack Obama’s foreign policy. His first television interview, given to Al-Arabiya in the first month of his tenure, was an attempt to use his own background and charisma to make an appeal to Muslim publics, while the raid to kill Osama bin Laden combined dramatic theatre on a global stage with an effective use of American power to achieve concrete goals. These events have captured the imagination.
The Third Annual US-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue (S&ED), a round of bilateral talks that are meant to improve relations and cooperation between the two largest economies in the world, was held on 9-10 May 2011 in Washington, DC. For as much lip service as has been given to China as the nation to restore bipolarity to the world order, it seems more and more that the two countries are far too economically co-dependent to truly be opposite forces outside of their own bilateral relations. What was most interesting about this year’s round of talks was China’s open concern for its significant investment in the US Treasury, and how willing it is now to use its influence.
Last month British deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg visited Mexican President Felipe Calderón. In addition to the improvement of trade, the two leaders also agreed for their countries to tackle together such global concerns as security and human rights. Yet while Calderón is intending to address these issues on an international level, the Mexican people are facing serious domestic difficulties.
With the current unrest in the Middle East it appeared that, all of a sudden, everybody seemed to have forgotten about what President George W. Bush once described as “the biggest threat to civilisation itself”. Yet, with the assassination of Osama Bin Laden, Al-Qaeda has again taken centre stage in global politics and media coverage. The question that remains is: What is left of Al-Qaeda? Contrary to the popular assumptions, Al-Qaeda never fitted the description of an organisation because it lacks the very one element in order to be defined as such: structure.
Looking at the Latin America’s current position in the Human Development Index (HDI), which was created by the UN to measure life expectancy at birth, the adult literacy rate and a decent standard of living based on GDP, the general situation looks promising. Most of the countries rank between high and medium on the HDI. Apart from Colombia, Chile, Mexico, Costa Rica and Peru, most of the region’s countries have leftist governments. Some countries have created their own independent groups, such as the Bolivarian Alternative for Latin America and the Caribbean (ALBA), which is a proposed alternative to the US-sponsored Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA).
On 18 February, the US vetoed a UN Resolution describing Israeli settlements in the Occupied Territories as “illegal” and “constituting a major obstacle” for peace. First submitted by Lebanon in late December 2010 on behalf of the Arab Group and the Palestinians, the resolution was co-sponsored by over 120 nations and received the endorsement of all other veto-wielding members on the Security Council. In the hope of attracting a unanimous pledge of support the resolution was specifically drafted to include wording contained in past UN resolutions as well as US and EU statements on the topic of Israeli settlements.
Meu nome é Njoki. Como você está? Obrigada. I thank my seatmate for a quick Portuguese language lesson and memorize the introductory lines one last time as our plane from Oliver Tambo Airport in Johannesburg lands at Guarulhos Airport in São Paulo.