Saturday, August 29, 2009


As voters take to the polls this Sunday for Japan’s general election, many foresee significant change occurring in a country that has seen very little in half a century. The Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) has been in control almost continuously since 1955 and voters are looking for a change as concerns about the economy swell.

Last month, Japan’s Prime Minister Taro Aso called for general elections to be held on August 30th amid pressure from his own Liberal Democratic Party to step down. Just one day earlier, the LDP lost the majority to the opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) in the Tokyo assembly; its fifth consecutive loss in a local election. In the lower house, the DPJ currently holds 112 of the 480 seats, but polls suggest that the DPJ may control as many as 300 after the election.

Yukio Hatoyama, the leader of the DPJ and likely Japan’s next prime minister, could take relations with the U.S. in a very different direction than his predecessor. Mr. Hatoyama recently wrote in a Japanese magazine, "The era of U.S.-led globalism is coming to an end and we are moving away from a unipolar world toward an era of multipolarity.” The DPJ has already vowed to stop refueling U.S. military ships in the Indian Ocean and may question the future of the unpopular U.S. military bases in Japan. Since domestic issues have been at the forefront of the DPJ’s campaign many believe they lack real foreign policy experience. While it is hard to decipher what Japan’s new foreign policy direction will be, the U.S. should be concerned that their sphere of influence has shrunk and China’s may grow.

Monday, August 24, 2009


The release last week of convicted terrorist Abdel Baset al-Megrahi by the Scottish government has sparked much criticism from the United States. Al-Megrahi was sentenced to life in prison for the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 that killed 270 people over Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988.

Al-Megrahi was released from prison last Thursday on compassionate grounds – he is diagnosed with terminal prostate cancer - by Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill. Mr. MacAskill decided to release Al-Megrahi to live out his final days in Libya under the condition that he would not receive a hero’s welcome upon his return; a promise the Libyan government broke.

President Obama’s administration has condemned Mr. MacAskill’s decision saying that Al-Megrahi should continue to serve out his sentence in Scotland. Yet, Mr. MacAskill is sticking by his verdict even as Scotland’s Labour Party distances themselves from his decision.

Rumors are on the rise as to what extent the United Kingdom played in persuading the release of Al-Megrahi and the motive behind his pardon. Many are suggesting it was an act to promote a future energy deal with Muammar al-Gaddafi’s oil rich state. Only time will tell if these accusations are true and the United States should hope they are not.

The United Kingdom has been America’s most steadfast ally in the War on Terror, but rumors like these question that allegiance. As for Scotland, their actions are inexcusable. A man responsible for the deaths of 270 innocent people deserves no mercy; he showed none.

Thursday, August 20, 2009


Earlier this week, Taliban insurgents vowed to disrupt Afghanistan’s presidential election as roadside bombs went off in Kandahar, armed insurgents stormed a bank in Kabul, and a rocket struck the presidential palace compound. Fearing this violence would lead to low voter turnout, Afghanistan’s government barred the media from reporting on terrorist activity before Thursday’s presidential election.

This is only the second presidential election Afghanistan has seen since the overthrow of the Taliban in 2001. President Hamid Karzai is widely seen as the frontrunner, but his main opponent, Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, has been gaining ground recently and many believe Mr. Karzai lacks the 50.1% majority needed to prevent a runoff.

The fear among Afghans is not only Taliban retaliation, but election fraud as well. It was reported in today’s Wall Street Journal that fraud has ranged from underage voting to fake voter registration cards to the bribing of election workers to support a specific candidate; all of which directly threaten the future of democracy in Afghanistan.

As Afghans take to the polls today, we must hope for a high turnout as a vote of confidence in democracy. But should election fraud rear its ugly head, Afghans will lose their confidence and their outlook will be: damned if we do, damned if we don’t.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


You don't have to get paid doing what you love most.  Ideally, it would be the best scenario.  But for me, those two roads don't meet.  I believe one day they will, but for now, I will write about my passion for the simple pleasure I receive in doing so.  
I have never thought there to be a red or blue point of view towards foreign affairs.  However, I believe there are people who peer through an impartial lens; no prejudgements, no predispositions, simply unbiased.  And so begins my attempt.

Personally I'm always ready to learn, although I do not always like being taught. -Sir Winston Churchill