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Archive for August, 2010

Mexico’s state elections

Sunday, August 22nd, 2010

DURING the campaign ahead of Mexico’s state elections on July 4th, many feared that the gruesome run-up to the vote would overshadow the results. Two candidates were murdered, and countless others were intimidated: one would-be mayor found a decapitated corpse deposited outside his home. The atrocities, including four dead bodies hung from bridges on election day, were attributed to drug gangs reminding the country who rules the roost.

Yet the vote itself, in 14 of Mexico’s 31 states, provided a surprise that could redraw the country’s political map. The opposition Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), which ruled Mexico from 1929 to 2000, took over the lower house of Congress from Felipe Calderón’s conservative National Action Party (PAN) in 2009. It had been forecast to sweep all 12 of this year’s contests for governorships before winning the presidency after Mr Calderón steps down in 2012. Instead, it took just nine, the same number it held before the vote. Read on from The Economist

Why Russia Matters

Sunday, August 22nd, 2010

A year and a half after Barack Obama hit the “reset” button with Russia, the reconciliation is still fragile, incomplete, and politically divisive. Sure, Russia is no easy ally for the United States. Authoritarian yet insecure, economically mighty yet technologically backward, the country has proven a challenge for U.S. presidents since the end of the Cold War. Recent news hasn’t helped: The arrest in July of a former deputy prime minister and leader of the Solidarity opposition movement, Boris Nemtsov, provoked some of the harshest criticism of Russia yet from the Obama administration. Then last Wednesday, Russia announced that it had moved anti-aircraft missiles into Abkhazia, the region that broke off from Georgia during the August 2008 war. The announcement was hardly welcome news for the United States, which has tried to defuse tensions there for the last 24 months. 

Yet however challenging this partnership may be, Washington can’t afford not to work with Moscow. Ronald Reagan popularized the phrase, “Trust, but verify” — a good guiding principle for Cold War arms negotiators, and still apt for today. Engagement is the only way forward. Here are 10 reasons why