Spotlight Articles

The Chilean Presidential and Parliamentary elections of the first-round general election on November 17th and the second round run-off for the presidency between remaining candidates Michelle Bachelet and Evelyn Matthei on December 15th, 2013 were decided by problems, not by ideology, and by past rather than future issues.

By Katja Siepmann, Miguel Zlosilo, ROLAND BENEDIKTER  |  March 23, 2014

Summer 2013 brought one of the most violent fighting seasons in Afghanistan since the US military and state-building effort began in 2001. On the cusp of the momentous 2014 presidential elections and a year before the majority of international coalition forces would depart from the country in the midst of transferring security functions to the coalition-supported Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF), the Taliban is dug in and still ferocious. It is testing the Afghan security forces, which since June 2013 are supposed to be taking the lead in providing security throughout the country while international forces are increasingly disengaging from combat and departing Afghanistan.

By Vanda Felbab-Brown  |  September 24, 2013

It happens all the time, but it still surprises me when I hear the women I work with in India’s rural villages discuss violence and forced sex with disconcerting nonchalance. They say things like, “if I don’t cook well, can’t take care of the children well or refuse sex, I will have to face a beating. In these villages, living in a violent home is so commonplace that to live without violence is described as a supernatural occurrence. Of the women who don’t face violence, others will say, “Yes, a few have very good kismet or destiny.”

By Suniti Neogy  |  September 23, 2013

The possibilities for constructing environmentally sustainable public transit infrastructure in the United States are strongly shaped by the logic and policies of neoliberalism. In brief, neoliberal ideology advocates for the extension of market-based principles in the arena of the state in order to “liberate” both public services from so-called state inefficiencies and capital “squandered” by taxation that could be more profitably deployed by private actors. Accordingly, neoliberal governance frameworks promote fiscal austerity and market discipline over the state.

By Stephanie Farmer  |  September 23, 2013

In the shadow of China’s and India’s inroads into the African continent, South America’s emerging power, Brazil, has been increasing its presence in Africa. However, its role in Africa has remained relatively unnoticed by international media and academia thus far. Brazil’s low visibility in Africa cannot be explained exclusively by the fact that its financial engagement is still limited in comparison to that of China or India. An explanation would also need to include the unique way the South American power has interacted with Africa. Brazil has presented itself as a partner for Africa’s development challenges rather than as a business partner.

By Christina Stolte  |  March 30, 2013

Thirty years of research have identified common facets of social movements (i.e. grievances, resources, ideology, and opportunity) that challenge and change government systems. An example was the 1989 demise of the Soviet socialist bloc in Eastern Europe, which is described in Oberschall’s 2000 article “Social Movements and the Transition to Democracy” and in Opp & Gern’s 1993 study, “Dissident Groups, Personal Networks, and Spontaneous Cooperation: The East German Revolution of 1989.” Once again we are witnessing a region-wide upheaval, this time in the Middle East as the Arab uprisings that began in Tunisia continue to ripple across national boundaries. It is too early to say with certainty how or why this cascade started, much less tell where it is headed. However, some basic facts make the situation worth inspecting carefully, especially since youth have been on the forefront of numerous movements throughout history. This has surely been the case in the contemporary Middle East.

By Brian K. Barber, James Youniss  |  March 30, 2013

 In October 2012, Malala Yousafzai was shot by the Taliban in Pakistan’s northwestern town of Swat when she was returning home from school in a van. Why did the Taliban perceive a schoolgirl as a grave threat to its agenda of radicalizing youth? Armed with pen, enlightened with knowledge, and charged with the passion of fighting for the right to girls’ education, 14-year-old Malala has had no less of an impact than a drone in combating Talibanization.

By Syed Fazl-E-Haider  |  March 30, 2013

The ascendance of the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) on August 2009 was praised as the first genuine power transition in Japan’s postwar history. However, there were just as many—or more—who were anxious about the new DPJ-led Japanese government’s capacity to govern. After all, the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) had dominated most of the five decades of Japan’s postwar history as the ruling party. The sole role of the opposition parties, including the DPJ, was to criticize the policies presented by LDP-led governments. It was obvious, therefore, that the DPJ would be inexperienced at ruling. The question was how long it would take before the DPJ grew to become sufficiently able to play the role of a ruling party.

By Yuki Tatsumi  |  January 31, 2013

The forces of trade protection in the United States are on the rise—yet again. The presidential campaign has provided a new opportunity for some to take a more isolationist position on issues of international commerce. However, these interest groups overlook the many ways in which a global marketplace generates, directly and indirectly, very positive long-term effects on American consumers, workers, entrepreneurs, and on the nation in general.

By Murray Weidenbaum  |  January 31, 2013

The Visa Waiver Program (VWP), which allows foreigners from certain countries to enter the United States without a visa for less than 90 days, has grown from a pilot program helping the tourism industry and strengthening diplomatic relations to one of the most important programs affecting US security and the US economy. According to the US Travel Association, VWP travelers spent more than US $51 billion in the United States in 2008. This spending generated 512,000 jobs, US $13 billion in payroll and US $7.8 billion in federal, state, and local taxes. The VWP has enabled the travel industry to become an important component in the national effort to rebuild the struggling US economy.

By C. Stewart Verdery, Jr., Jessica R. Herrera-Flanigan  |  January 31, 2013