Americas Articles

Historical parallels capture the collective imagination, and for good reason. They offer an intelligible way to understand present events and avoid past mistakes. The Vietnam War, for instance, continues to inform American decisions in Iraq and Afghanistan; it warns us of the perils of lengthy occupations, of public sensitivity to mounting casualties, and of the importance of exit strategies. But there is always the hidden danger of taking such parallels at face value. This is happening now, with the widespread comparison of the current economic crisis to the Great Depression.

By Gustavo de las Casas  |  July 10, 2009

Nicolas de Torrente and Fabrice Weissman (“A War Without Limits,” Winter 2008) insightfully document international complicity in Somalia’s recent suffering. The piece leaves the reader incensed at our collective failure but uncomfortably bereft of a way forward. The dilemma is not surprising. De Torrente and Weissman are classic humanitarians. They fight for justice in war but have little to say about the justice of war or how to end it.

By Paul O'Brien  |  July 6, 2009

Soybeans grown by the ton in Argentina’s expansive farmland represent a substantial part of that nation’s export market. Herds of cattle bred and fed in the vast pampas make the country famous for its high-quality beef. But for President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and her husband, former President Néstor Kirchner, such agriculture is the source of large sums of government revenue.

By Mark Isaacson  |  July 6, 2009

The most serious impediments to a serious discussion of defense spending are the myths that surround it. Until these myths are cleared away, no rational debate regarding what the United States and its allies around the world should do to secure their interests is possible. The most urgent need, therefore, is for politicians and the public to know how much the United States and other powers spend, to place these expenditures and their trends in historical context, to weigh the dangers of both excessive and insufficient defense spending, to understand why the US and the world’s democracies maintain armed forces, and why the United States spends so much relative to its potential adversaries.

By Ted R. Bromund  |  July 6, 2009

It is often said that the world is at a nuclear tipping point. By this, analysts mean that the policy choices we make over the next few years may determine if we tip over into nuclear catastrophe or pull back from the various brinks on which we now teeter. Those who thought talk of nuclear disasters was a thing of the past, that the end of the Cold War ended nuclear threats, might want to pay attention to this debate.

By Joseph Cirincione  |  July 6, 2009

As the world hurtles headlong into the deepest global recession since the Great Depression, the controversial cultural and economic tensions that have always existed around the sensitive topics of immigration and immigration policy are again coming to the surface in the United States. A land of immigrants, religious outcasts, and refugees fleeing wars, poverty, starvation, and oppression abroad, the United States has long been viewed as the most welcoming country in the world.

By Vivek Wadhwa  |  July 6, 2009

Mark Osiel’s provocative new book, The End of Reciprocity: Terror, Torture and the Law of War, provides detailed discussions of a number of important moral and legal issues arising for the United States in its ongoing response to the threats posed by the Al Qaeda terrorist network. The specific focus is the US-deployed counter-terrorist methods of sustained detention, torture, and targeted killing of suspected terrorists. The author, Mark Osiel, displays a wide knowledge of relevant literature in a number of fields, including international law, philosophy, sociology and cultural studies.

By Seumas Miller  |  July 6, 2009

You have extensive experience in Pakistani diplomacy and have served Pakistan as Ambassador for two terms. What do you think were the main diplomatic issues facing Pakistan during your ambassadorship and how, if at all, do you think the issues have improved, worsened, or stayed the same? I think that the first challenge of representing a country like Pakistan is the challenge of making people understand Muslim countries and Muslim societies. Pakistan is the second-largest Muslim nation in the world and has more than its fair share of challenges.

By Fatima Loeliger, Maleeha Lodhi  |  July 6, 2009

There is a part of our brain which firmly believes that disaster begets disaster. This intuition probably comes from daily life—for example, we see gambling misadventures lead to a job loss, a painful divorce, and so on. It is also natural to apply this dogma on a macro-level, and the current economic crisis is no exception. A chorus of doomsayers loudly predict that today’s economic ailments will usher in a dark “age of upheaval.” Not surprisingly, these pessimists rush to embrace the 1930s as the empirical centerpiece of their argument.

By Gustavo de las Casas  |  July 6, 2009

Could you characterize the transatlantic relationship between the United States and the European Union?

To start with, no other relationship in the world rests on such a solid foundation: the United States and the European Union are each other’s number one partner. For the past 60 years the transatlantic relationship has been the world’s transformative partnership. America’s relationship with Europe—more than with any other part of the world—enables both of us to achieve goals that neither of us could achieve alone.

By Frank-Walter Steinmeier  |  April 25, 2009