The inability to pinpoint the source of this latest lethal bacteria outbreak is creating widespread panic. But we mustn’t let fear cloud our capacity to scientifically assess the nature of the threat and how to best protect ourselves.
Whenever there is a health scare like mad cow disease or avian flu, we are reminded of our atavistic relationship with food. In a globalized food market, methods of optimizing production have exacerbated problems that will pose a serious threat if left unresolved. And the recent E. coli mutations could be just the tip of the cucumber.
Bacteria is getting a bad rap these days as a new strain takes its toll on those unfortunate to have ingested it. But for years these microscopic organisms have helped us in countless ways.
Security handover in Afghanistan
As American troops in Afghanistan begin to come home, it’s better to consider investing more time with a greater number of trainers and redefine measurable and realistic benchmarks than to accelerate a large-scale withdrawal.
The spike in Taliban attacks follows an almost predictable seasonal pattern. But a closer look shows that Afghan forces are capable of negating the insurgents’ ability to hold ground, and this is a sign in the right direction.
Reconstruction in Herat is proceeding slowly but steadily. This relatively stable part of the country, with historic ties to Iran, will prove a testing ground for the security handover in the rest of the country.
The world has changed since plans of rebuilding Afghanistan were put in place. Now strategic thinking needs to address the economic shortfalls of the military commitment. Yet a balance must be achieved so as not to give the impression of defeat.
There are many lessons to be learned from Afghanistan. One of the most glaring, however, is that a new approach to Central Asia as a whole is necessary in order to maintain stability.
With all sides war-weary, now is the critical moment to facilitate the negotiation of a viable peace process. What’s needed is an individual or group that can bring the disparate parties together, gain their trust, and midwife a lasting settlement.
Peace in Afghanistan requires hammering out a deal with the Taliban and reconciling Afghan interests with those of insurgents who want to regain lost power. A daunting task, but history shows it’s possible.
Germany is looking eastward. Perhaps to the detriment of the European dream. But in these times of crisis, all stops get pulled to ensure a sound economy – even if it means pulling away from those in free-fall.
While poised to become the dynamo of Europe, Germany might prefer to coast a little and keep the inflation it dreads at bay.
If anyone can run an efficient nuclear industry, one would think the Germans can. And they have. But popular opinion and Fukushima panic have tipped the scales, and Merkel has traded German energy independence for votes.
With Europe’s most wanted fugitive awaiting trial for war crimes, there is no excuse for not letting Serbia into the EU. Or is there? Some issues, such as Kosovo remain. But most of all, Europe’s willingness to expand in the middle of a crisis will decide.
Although France and the United States both revere the notion of equality, the way Dominique Strauss-Kahn has been treated in his arrest and how his trial is expected to unfold are revealing significant differences.
Middle East & North Africa
The Mediterranean’s shores have always been centers of trade, bringing together different cultures. Why not acknowledge this geopolitical reality and build on it to narrow some of the existing divides between neighbors.
The G-8 recently got together to discuss the transformations occurring in the Arab world. The Deauville Partnership that came out of the summit will explore political and economic solutions. But what is needed more than declarations is concrete action.
The changes in the countries along the southern Mediterranean oblige us to figure out a way to enhance trade. By codifying a Euro-Med Company based on established models, commerce can be facilitated.
In recent months Iran’s President Ahmadinejad has provoked a fight with the allies who have supported him thus far. Could it all be a maneuver to redistribute the government’s complicated power balance in his favor?
Long at the margins of the Middle East geostrategic map, Yemen has often been ignored. But the fact that it is becoming a terrorist haven overlooking a crucial shipping lane makes its descent into chaos worrisome.
The Middle East’s perennial powder keg has been remarkably subdued. Netanyahu has scored some tactical victories of late, but even hardliners fear his policies are increasing the likelihood of an imminent explosion should the Palestinians declare statehood.
With Erdogan throwing down the gauntlet to the Assad regime, Israel needs to reconsider its lapsed relations with Turkey. Certainly the status quo is no longer tenable.
Blessed with natural and human resources, Nigeria could be a powerhouse. But oil wealth mismanagement, widespread corruption and communal strife have plagued it since independence. Recent elections have given a glimmer of hope.
Now that nuclear has been shunned out of fear, increased demand for relatively clean natural gas combined with new technologies for extracting it promise to raise its share in the energy mix.