Even as the debate over the lessons learned by the U.S. government in Afghanistan continues, several clear conclusions have emerged. One is that U.S. agencies repeatedly underestimated the time and resources needed to support a nation wracked by decades of war, while they failed to follow a consistent plan for civilian recovery efforts. U.S. personnel also lacked the training needed to be successful in the field, and monitoring and evaluation efforts did not receive the policy attention required to enable course corrections and learning.
Los hondureños hicieron historia el 28 de noviembre al elegir a la líder de izquierda Xiomara Castro como la primera presidenta en la historia del país. En un país plagado por inestabilidad política y polarización, los hondureños también demostraron cómo se debe transferir el poder presidencial en una democracia al recibir Castro gentilmente a su oponente conservador, quien luego emitió un comunicado pidiendo "reconciliación y unidad". El nuevo gobierno enfrenta enormes desafíos, que incluyen altas tasas de violencia criminal, corrupción endémica, inseguridad alimentaria crónica y migración irregular. Castro podría verse tentada a tomar atajos políticos y éticos para abordarlos. Pero el número récord de votantes el fin de semana pasado mostró un fuerte deseo de trabajar en los problemas del país en las urnas, no a través de la violencia o medios fuera de lo legal.
Hondurans made history on November 28, electing leftist Xiomara Castro as the country’s first woman president. In a country plagued by political instability and polarization, Hondurans also demonstrated how presidential power should be transferred in a democracy as Castro graciously received her conservative opponent, who then issued a statement calling for “reconciliation and unity.” The new government faces enormous challenges, including high rates of criminal violence, endemic corruption, chronic food insecurity and irregular migration. Castro could be tempted to cut political and ethical corners in managing them. But the record numbers of voters last weekend showed a strong desire to work on the country’s problems at the ballot box, not through violence or extra-legal means.
When the United Nations began its annual campaign to end violence against women 30 years ago, no one had Myanmar on their radar. But in recent years, Myanmar’s military has escalated its use of sexual and gender-based violence to terrorize women and girls — most infamously against ethnic minorities, notably the Rohingya. Confronted by these atrocities, the international community has issued widespread demands for accountability and justice that have yet to come to fruition.
It’s been 40 years since the U.N. adopted a resolution to end persecution based on faith and defend religious minorities. USIP’s Knox Thames says decades later, “It’s a work in progress … While the situation is bleak, there is a global movement that is starting to build and trying to meet this challenge.”
Anniversaries serve as natural inflection points, opportunities for introspection, to take stock and to consider where to go next. November 25 marked the 40th anniversary of the 1981 U.N. Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief. Despite its unwieldy name, the aim was simple: to promote freedom of religion or belief and condemn discrimination based on faith. The 1981 Declaration was a culmination of almost four decades of U.N. efforts to develop international legal protections for freedom of belief to defend minorities from persecution. Forty years later, however, almost two-thirds of humanity live in countries with restrictions on the practice of faith.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s recent trip to Kenya, Nigeria and Senegal was a major step toward re-establishing U.S. engagement on the continent, says USIP’s Makila James: “Showing up matters in Africa … it’s important to demonstrate to Africans that Africa is vital to U.S. national interests.”
Venezuelans elected governors, mayors and local officials November 21 in a vote condemned by many as stacked hopelessly against the opposition or simply fraudulent. An increased turnout over elections last year appears to reflect many Venezuelans’ growing belief that they have gained little with voting boycotts. They believe participation in even a flawed election advances the concept of “re-institutionalization,” which aims to progressively reform the machinery of democracy after years in which it has been undermined by the ruling party. Advocates of this strategy say that restoring democracy must be a long game of incremental advances.
Since 2001, when the Bush administration created a unit within the White House to work on faith-based initiatives, Democratic and Republican administrations alike have sought to engage religious actors worldwide in support of their diplomatic, development, and defense initiatives. This report, based on the authors’ decades of experience working within and outside government, offers specific suggestions for steps the U.S. government can take to clarify the nature of its religious engagement mission and to better coordinate that mission in relation to its other peacebuilding and national security priorities.
The United States must ensure that its focus on the Indo-Pacific region does not come at the cost of its interests in other parts of the world where China also poses a challenge, according to U.S. National Security Council Coordinator for the Indo-Pacific Kurt Campbell.