For decades a generation of Latin American thinkers criticized the unequal relationships between the region and developed countries - especially the US. Their preferred weapon was Dependency Theory, which focuses on the pattern of poor countries providing cheap labour and natural resources to rich ones, and receiving in exchange manufactured goods in a way that perpetuates the backwardness of Third World economies. In the last decade, the rise of another developing economy, China, has made the old theory resurface.
The challenges facing leaders and citizens are multiplying and becoming more complex in the post-Cold War international system. As President Barack Obama concluded his European tour in Poland, his rhetoric focused on a new reshaping of the international order for a new century. What has arisen from the various speeches and policy initiatives of the Obama administration is a blurred understanding of the post-1989 multipolar world composed of varied and competing interests. A constant theme is how this Administration builds upon the foreign policy agenda of George W. Bush, commonly referred to as the "Bush Doctrine".
There is nothing like a pile of heads to show that there is something wrong with global policies towards drugs - the so-called war on drugs. The macabre finding was made in the northern Guatemalan province of Petén, near the Mexican border. When local farmers refused to cooperate with a group of men from one of the largest Mexican drug cartels, they were killed with axes and decapitated (27 victims in total and one survivor, who played dead and emerged from the pile of bodies to find the grim message left by the cartel members). A total of 40,000 people are estimated to have died in Mexico since President Felipe Calderón increased the armed response to the drug cartels in 2006. Now the war is going south.
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.