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Council on Foreign Relations
Al-Shabaab

IntroductionAl-Shabaab (aka the Harakat Shabaab al-Mujahidin, al-Shabab, Shabaab, the Youth, Mujahidin al-Shabaab Movement, Mujahideen Youth Movement, Mujahidin Youth Movement), is an Islamic organization that controls much of southern Somalia, excluding the capital, Mogadishu. It has waged an insurgency against Somalia's transitional government and its Ethiopian...

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The Fine Print on Defense Spending

Introduction: "Tough Choices"On the campaign trail, President Barack Obama made repeated vows to overhaul the Pentagon budget process (PDF). And despite inheriting a defense establishment embroiled in two wars and still fielding major weapons systems developed decades ago to fight the Soviet Union, most analysts...

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ASEAN: The Association of Southeast Asian Nations

IntroductionThe Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is an alliance promoting economic and political cooperation by fostering dialogueamong its ten members: Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. Now experts say the group may pursue a bigger role in the...

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Transportation Infrastructure: Moving America

IntroductionTransportation experts view the call for dramatic federal government action in response to the economic crisis as an opportunity to overhaul the U.S. system of highways, bridges, railways, and mass transit. A series of sobering report cards from the American Society of Civil Engineers documents...

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Moving America: Transport Infrastructure at a Crossroads

IntroductionTransportation experts view the call for dramatic federal government action in response to the economic crisis as an opportunity to overhaul the U.S. system of highways, bridges, railways, and mass transit. A series of sobering report cards from the American Society of Civil Engineers documents...

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The Obama Template

After a month of political back-and-forth, President Barack Obama's plans to address the most daunting U.S. economic crisis in 80 years are coming into focus. Speaking to a joint session of Congress on February 24, Obama outlined his strategy to rescue the struggling financial sector while simultaneously...

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Cooperating with China

No one expects the secretary of state to play the leading role in U.S. policy toward the global economic crisis. For Hillary Clinton, on her first extended overseas tour as America's top diplomat, this poses something of a dilemma. The economy ranks second to none...

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NATO in Afghanistan

After seven years of urging coalition countries to beef up troop commitments in Afghanistan, Washington appears to have concluded the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) cannot be relied upon to provide the "hard power" needed to counter Taliban gains. As a result, the United States...

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Modified Food's Moment?

More than 40 million people joined the ranks of the undernourished in 2008, increasing the number of very hungry to nearly one billion. Feeding them has become harder in the midst of a global financial crisis, with economic bailouts dominating the agenda of the rich...

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How Green is Thy Stimulus?

The Obama administration hopes money spent to stimulate the economy out of recession can do double duty by advancing its green agenda. Along with congressional Democrats, the administration infused the stimulus bill with initiatives meant to create "green jobs" that President Obama says will include...

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Sudan's Fractured Internal Politics

IntroductionFor the past four years, significant U.S. attention has been devoted to the crisis in Sudan's Darfur region, in which roughly two hundred thousand have died and more than two million have been displaced. A hybrid African Union/United Nations peacekeeping force remains only partially deployed,...

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The Sri Lankan Conflict

IntroductionFor almost thirty years, the Sri Lankan government has been engaged in a bloody civil war with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). More commonly known as the Tamil Tigers, the LTTE wants an independent state for the island's Tamil minority. In February 2002,...

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Closing Guantanamo

IntroductionOn his second full day in office, President Barack Obama signed an executive order calling for the closure of the detention camp at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba. White House officials say the move is part of an effort to repair America's image...

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Israel’s Political System

The KnessetSeats in Israel's legislative assembly, the Knesset, are assigned through a system of nationwide proportional representation: Rather than electing individual candidates, voters cast ballots for an entire party. Any party receiving more than 2 percent of the vote is assigned a proportional number of...

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Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (aka Tamil Tigers) (Sri Lanka, separatists)

IntroductionThe Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), also known as the Tamil Tigers, are a separatist group in Sri Lanka. For the past thirty years, the LTTE have been agitating for a homeland for ethnic Tamils, who feel persecuted by Sri Lanka's ethnic majority, the...

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Iran and the Future of Afghanistan

IntroductionIn crafting a new approach to the war in Afghanistan, U.S. military and political leaders say Iran-once dubbed a member of the "axis of evil" by former President George W. Bush-could play a key role. Despite ongoing concerns over Iran's nuclear program and allegations of...

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Pakistan's Fickle War

Militancy in Pakistan has been spreading inward from the lawless tribal region along the Afghan border. The Pakistani Taliban has seized large swaths of territory (CSMonitor) in North West Frontier Province (NWFP). Militants have also increasingly mounted attacks in Peshawar, the provincial capital, as well...

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Pakistan's Muddled War

Militancy in Pakistan has been spreading inward from the lawless tribal region along the Afghan border. The Pakistani Taliban has seized large swaths of territory (CSMonitor) in North West Frontier Province (NWFP). Militants have also increasingly mounted attacks in Peshawar, the provincial capital, as well...

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China's Military Power

Scope of the ThreatSince the 1990s, China has dramatically improved its military capabilities on land and sea, in the air, and in space. Recently, China has begun to project its military power beyond the Pacific Ocean by deploying a flotilla of small warships in December...

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Countering China's Military Modernization

Implications for the RegionChina has been steadily building up its strategic and conventional capabilities since the 1990s. Eighteen years ago, experts say, China had a "bare-bones" military: basic capabilities, but nothing sophisticated or top-of-the-line. But two decades of double-digit spending increases have changed that picture....

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Europe's Energy Predicament

The Russia-Ukraine energy dispute, which halted natural gas shipments to the rest of Europe in the first weeks of 2009, highlighted multiple dilemmas confronting the European Union as it seeks to carry out ambitious new "green" energy policies. The incident demonstrates the difficulty of coordinating...

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