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Americas

In 2013, the Canadian government’s attention will once again be focused on the Arctic. One immediate priority is the upcoming decision by members of Stephen Harper’s cabinet on how to conduct an environmental review for aproposal to develop the Izok Corridor in Nunavut. The plan – put forward by a company headquartered in Australia, but which is a subsidiary of Chinese state-owned resource giant China Minmetals – could bring billions of dollars into the region through its production of an estimated 180,000 tonnes of zinc and 50,000 tonnes of copper a year. Such production, however, is also slated to bring the development of substantial new infrastructure, including open-pit mines, roads, bridges, air-strips and ports, as well as a processing plant.

The American president has signed the bill drafted by Democratic and Republican leaders, which allows the United States to avoid “fiscal cliff”. The solution adopted by the Congress does not, however, solve the problem, but only touches some of its elements (tax policies) and postpones dealing with the others (cuts in governmental spending) for a few weeks. So who won in this dramatic battle, fought late into the first night of the New Year? Choosing the winner depends on one’s point of view, but no matter the viewpoint we take, one thing seems to be certain – the national interest has lost.

A report on deepening democracy released by the Global Commission on Elections, Democracy and Security recognised that the enfranchisement of displaced populations, including refugees, ‘is critical for ensuring the integrity of elections and the establishment of democracy’. But this statement belies a deeper interaction, and even conflict, between the international refugee regime and democracy. What would ‘deepening democracy’ mean for the refugee regime? I suggest that strengthening democratic institutions could deepen divides between refugees and host communities. To ensure that the international refugee regime and democracy can successfully co-exist, we must think not just of deepening democracy, but of also balancing it with the rights of refugees.

Mitt Romney and Barack Obama not only have different blueprints for America. They also have different blueprints for their campaigns for President of the United States of America. Look for example at the four key elements of message (PR), money (fundraising), media (advertising), and mobilization (field operations/get-out-the-vote). The Obama re-election effort is, arguably to an even greater extent than David Plouffe has already acknowledged the 2008 campaign was, modeled on George W. Bush’s 2004 campaign: In terms of message, the goal is to paint Romney (then John Kerry) early as a man of questionable character unfit for the presidency, present Obama (Bush) as a man of principle who you may not like but who is doing what he believes is …

Jason Pack and Andrea Khalil in Monday’s Wall St. Journal. Written in Benghazi, Libya– September 11th now signifies a national tragedy not only for the United States but also for Libya. The killing of Ambassador Christopher Stevens in Benghazi during last Tuesday’s attack on the U.S. mission has upset the delicate political transition from dictatorship to democracy that was unfolding here in Libya. It also has obscured parliament’s prudent selection last Wednesday evening of Mustafa Abushagour—a moderate Islamist and respected technocrat—as prime minister. Yet spontaneous street demonstrations throughout the week denouncing the attack and seeking to pressure the government to act against its perpetrators suggest that Libyans are determined to build an inclusive society, free from fear. On Wednesday night …

The Falklands is a perennial red top tabloid favourite. But aside from providing patriotic copy, it is a squabble with serious diplomatic consequences. What to do (or not do) in the case of the islands remains tricky. Is there a solution? Theoretically, yes; practically, no. Theoretically, both countries could agree to a Hong Kong-like lease-back formula, whereby Argentina is accorded legal sovereignty over the islands but the British continue to govern them for a long period of time. This was a scheme conceived by the Foreign Office prior to the Falklands Crisis of 1982, though it had precious little political support in Britain. In the wake of the war, it became a dead letter. Another possible solution could be for …

In light of last month’s VI Summit of the Americas in Cartagena, Colombia, it seems obvious and commendable that the Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), José Miguel Insulza, would call on the leaders of the region Friday to help coordinate the fight against transnational organised crime. The threat is, he claimed, the “main challenge to security in our hemisphere.” Insulza’s call comes on the heels of the adoption in Cartagena of Mexico’s proposal to create an Inter-American Centre for Coordination against Transnational Organised Crime. It is clear that dealers in drugs, arms and human trafficking (these items increasingly the wares of the same criminal merchants) do not limit their activities to the confines of national borders.  And …

It continues to look like Mitt Romney will be the Republican candidate for President in the fall. While he is still fighting a war of attrition with Rick Santorum, it will take a major game changer for him to lose the primary. So it is no surprise that he is increasingly orienting himself towards the general election. What can the course of the campaign so far tell us about the challenges Romney will face and how he will try to tackle them? The drawn-out primary has been a mixed blessing, forcing Romney to cater to a conservative base out of touch with many Americans, forcing him to spend time and money battling right-wing rivals when he would have preferred to …