In This Issue
Defining the Threats in the War on Terror. The Bush administration's lack of distinction between Hamas, Hezbollah, and Al Qaeda may be limiting the number of foreign policy options it has for dealing with Iran's nuclear desires. America's leaders once made meaningful distinctions between different threats in the Cold War and today's decision makers must start making similar distinctions, writes Stanley Foundation director of Policy Analysis and Dialogue Michael Kraig in this recent opinion piece.
The Politics of National Security Budgets. Dr. Gordon Adams, a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, argues that there is currently an imbalance between the resources dedicated to our military and civilian foreign policy tools. Adams identifies several built-in advantages—political, bureaucratic, administrative, congressional—that the Department of Defense has over the Department of State in the competition for resources. In a new Policy Analysis Brief from the Stanley Foundation, Adams also makes suggestions on how to create a better balance and synergy between the two that can better serve US national security interests.
Leadership in Southeast Asia. The Strategic Dialogue on New Power Dynamics in Southeast Asia is a two-year Stanley Foundation project that endeavors to assess and describe new trends, institutions, and relationships in the Asia-Pacific region and their impact on Southeast Asia. The first New Power Dynamics conference on "New Leadership Trends in Southeast Asia" in Jakarta, Indonesia, examined the critical role that domestic determinants play in regional dynamics in Asia. Political transitions, new concerns in governance, emerging civil society, and the growing importance of religion were covered at this March 2007 conference which was highlighted in a recent article in The Jakarta Post.
Beyond the Headlines
Human Rights in Burma. The US Department of State has just released its Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2006, and Burma is identified as having some of the most tyrannical practices in Asia. This follows the recent failure of a UN Security Council resolution condemning Burma for its human rights practices with Russia and China vetoing the resolution. South African president Thabo Mbeki stated that he didn't feel the Security Council was the right body to take on the issue of human rights violations in Burma, but rather it belongs under the purview of the UN Human Rights Council. Now, the United States is pushing the Human Rights Council to take up the Burma issue as soon as possible, but some are skeptical. Meanwhile, some Burmese are protesting against their government for the first time in years.
Talking With Iran and Syria. Now that the Bush administration has said it will enter into talks with Iran and Syria starting with the conference on Iraq, some in the region feel there is room for capitalizing on this opportunity. With the precedent set for ongoing dialogue with Iran and Syria, many hope this is not a one-time deal and that all parties will decide to use this opportunity to schedule additional talks. Apart from the obvious benefit for Iraq itself, the conference could assist in creating a network of officials from the region—including Iran and Syria—which the US can work with to deal with other issues of common interest. Yet, some experts in the region feel that the conference will fail to address the common problem of Iraq, let alone serve as a springboard for other collaboration.