Paul Hidalgo, Editor-in-Chief
Although Kosovo declared its independence on February 17, 2008, international recognition of its newfound statehood may have come at a high price. During the past eight years of talks and negotiations on Kosovo’s final status, a great deal of consideration was given to regional, continental, and interna-tional concerns. Unfortunately, not nearly as much deliberation went into providing for a functional, stable, and democratic Kosovar constitution and state. As Kosovo now asserts itself as the newest member of the international community, the conse-quence of the internationally led process, which resulted in the development and acceptance of the Ahtisaari plan, may well be paralysis and destabilization of Kosovo’s new constitution and state.
Reclaiming Tradition: Islamic Law in a Modern World
Europe’s long history of religious warfare and the Age of En-lightenment that followed led to the establishment, in most Western countries, of a firm divide between church and state. From this divide emerged the concept that religious morality should be separate from secular law. Coming from a historical and cultural tradition defined by the separation of church and state, many Westerners assume that secularization is a necessary precondition for the emergence of modern, democratic forms of government that respect universal human rights. This belief un-derpins Western policymakers’ promotion of secularization as the path to political, social, and economic reform in the Muslim world. In the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks, U.S. and other Western policymakers have, on the whole, intensified their efforts to cultivate secular democracy in the Muslim world in order to promote reform.
Since September 11, 2001, U.S. foreign policy has largely been driven by the demands of the global war on terror (GWOT). The GWOT initiated by the Bush administration has not only altered the American political landscape, it has strained U.S. relations with the rest of the world, including its allies. Domestically, many Americans complain of threat fatigue—an uncertainty about the identities and tactics of their enemies—the likely duration of the war, and the immense resources required for waging it. With a transforming domestic outlook, the international community is sanguine that shifting U.S. attitudes portend a new direction in the war, as well as U.S. foreign policy.
Can Private Military Firms Play a Role in Darfur?
Emerging at the end of the 20th century amid significant global controversy, private military firms (PMFs) represent a new facet of armed conflict. Although PMFs are relatively new, the concept of for-hire soldiers is certainly not unique; mercenaries have existed since ancient times. As a modern manifestation of the mercenary organization, the public has been extremely critical of these organizations because of their lack of accountability and the ambiguous legality of their work. Recently, the media has been particularly critical of PMFs operating in Iraq and have focused on their immunity from prosecution. The uproar surrounding the recent Blackwater shootings exemplifies the ongoing controversy.
Since 1996, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has been ravaged by war. Over 3.9 million people have died either from direct conflict or indirect war-related causes, making it arguably the deadliest conflict since World War II. Approximately 1.5 million Congolese civilians remain internally displaced and another 400,000 have become refugees.2 Recent national elections and a series of broken peace treaties and cease-fires have ulti-mately failed to bring peace to the DRC, and today violent con-flict continues, primarily in the easternmost regions of the country.