In the past decade the world was regularly taken unawares by domestic financial accidents that spread to other countries at great speed, following surprising trajectories. Today, we are regularly startled by political incidents that also spread internationally at great speed, on trajectories that are equally surprising.
New reports indicate that Russia could be preparing to resume nuclear testing at its Novaya Zemlya test range. New nuclear tests by Russia, or any other state, would be a very negative international development. Russia should quickly and publicly explain its activities to allay concerns about its intentions. Some administration officials, however, are using the intelligence claims as a justification for why the United States needs to resume nuclear weapons development. This reading is unfortunate, and fails to accept the possibility that Russian moves could be a response to U.S. interest in, and discussion of the development of new nuclear weapons.
A senior administration official has indicated that Iran is working on a new version of its Shahab missile that could potentially reach European allies such as Italy, Greece, Germany, Poland, the Czech Republic, and Hungary. Followin this, the U.S. indicated it would soon announce sanctions against entities that are contributing to Iran’s ballistic missile and WMD programs. Though continued Iranian progress in missile technology is a cause for concern, there is little evidence of an imminent upgrade in the Shahab series.
In contrast to what, for decades, was the usual practice throughout Latin America, the fall of a democratically elected president in Ecuador, Peru and Argentina did not lead to repression by a ruthless military junta and the disappearance of thousands of political opponents. Moreover, society and not the military was the main agent of change.
Israeli-Palestinian tensions and continued talk of military action against Iraq has raised fears of a wider war in the region. For background on the possible use of weapons of mass destruction in future conflicts, we provide summaries on the missile capabilities of countries in the Middle East adapted from a forthcoming Carnegie study.
Ehud Barak, the former Israeli prime minister, has proposed the "unilateral separation" of Israelis and Palestinians by Israel - in effect, a partition of the West Bank. While superficially attractive, this plan is in fact a counsel of despair, and a sign of the decay of the Israeli Left in the face of Prime minister Ariel Sharon's hardline chauvinism.