OTB Foreign Desk

Brief takes on foreign affairs

Today I’m beginning a new feature at Outside the Beltway, OTB Foreign Desk. In each edition of this recurring feature I plan to highlight some stories on foreign news or international relations, possibly a welcome departure from the seemingly neverending domestic bickering. If you have any suggestions for stories that you feel are worth highlighting, please leave them in the comments.

Hu Jintao’s State Visit

Chinese President Hu Jintao’s visit with President Obama concluded last night with a gala state dinner at the White House. A number of contentious issues divide China and the United States: trade (and China’s currency), human rights, China’s territorial claims, intellectual property, its support for rogue regimes, e.g. North Korea, Burma, Iran. At least the pandas will remain at the National Zoo.

Duvalier Charged in Haiti

On his surprise return to Haiti this week, Haiti’s former dictator, Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier was charged by the Haitian government with corruption an embezzlement in connection with his rule of the country presumably in hopes of getting some of the money he took with him back. Four of his former prisoners have now filed suit against him for human rights abuses.

His aides say he plans to return to power. Hasn’t the country suffered enough?

Australia’s Floods Continue

More rain is expected in Australia which will prolong the flood conditions that are afflicting some of the country’s most populated areas. A quarter of its Victoria state is already affected by the floods; large areas of Queensland are also under water.

The floods are expected to reduce Australia’s coal, wheat, and cotton production, pushing the prices of the agricultural products to new records.

Turmoil Continues in Tunisia

Following the revolution that ousted Tunisian dictator President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, the RCD, the party that has ruled Tunisia since independence has collapsed. Some of the members of the ruling elite are now under arrest for corruption; others have left the party and are attempting to distance themselves from it.

Yesterday the Secretary-General of the Arab League warned that the “Arab soul is broken by poverty” and that the events that have taken place in Tunisia may be revisited on other members of the League. Nearly all of the members of the Arab League are dictatorships under one name or another and the populations in most of these countries have grown enormously over the last thirty years. An enormous proportion of their people are under twenty-five, unemployed, undereducated, and with few prospects.

FILED UNDER: World Politics, , , , , , , , , , ,
Dave Schuler
About Dave Schuler
Over the years Dave Schuler has worked as a martial arts instructor, a handyman, a musician, a cook, and a translator. He's owned his own company for the last thirty years and has a post-graduate degree in his field. He comes from a family of politicians, teachers, and vaudeville entertainers. All-in-all a pretty good preparation for blogging. He has contributed to OTB since November 2006 but mostly writes at his own blog, The Glittering Eye, which he started in March 2004.


  1. André Kenji says:

    1-) If you manage to read in a language other than English it could be useful to quote sources in this language. It´s very hard to do a foreign news clipping reading only one language.

    2-) There no mention to South America, Hispanic America or Europe. There is a new president in Brazil, Italy´s Prime Minister is facing problems, United Kingdom is facing problems. There is too much Middle East in American Foreign coverage.

  2. Dave Schuler says:

    Thank you, André. Yes, I read Russian, German, French, and can do a passable job with several other languages including a smattering of Chinese and Japanese. I routinely turn to Russian, German, and French languages sources for news. Unfortunately, relatively few of OTB’s readers are as comfortable with languages other than English. I’m planning to crawl, then walk, then run.

    There were some stories I was holding off on until tomorrow. So, for example, I’d planned to comment on Brazil’s new president and Berlusconi’s sex scandal problems then.

    If you’ve got specific links you think I should take a look at, by all means put them here in the comments. I’ll take a look at them for inclusion. My Portuguese isn’t so hot 😉

  3. John Burgess says:

    An enormous proportion of their people are under twenty-five, unemployed, undereducated, and with few prospects.

    Is it better to have an enormous population under 25 who are unemployed, overeducated, and with few prospects?

  4. André Kenji says:

    Well, most political blogs in any language other than English usually quotes from English sources, even if most of their readers do not read in English. That´s the big point here because you can quote information that your readers wouldn´t find anywhere. Considering that very few reporters read non-English news sources that´s a great advantage that OTB could have over it´s competition.

  5. Neil Hudelson says:

    Going along with Tunisia, Algeria seems to be heating up lately too. And Egypt will be worth watching in the next few months, as I see the same conditions there as was in Tunisia.

  6. michael reynolds says:

    This is a worthy effort, go for it Dave, although I can’t go beyond English and French (plus the slow and inaccurate puzzling out of other Romance languages.)

    I would particularly like someone to make sense of Tunisia. I’m sure it’s lovely to have a dictator overthrown, but that in itself hasn’t always worked out very well. (The Tsar, the Shah, Batista, Somoza.)

  7. Michael says:

    Add Brian Cowen and Ireland to the list.