Within the realm of international affairs, the biblical truism out of Ecclesiastes perhaps says it best: that at the end of the day, “there is nothing new under the sun.” Or is there? Indeed, since the end of the Cold War, debates have raged about a host of thorny issues, from the kind of polarity that the new international system will sustain, to the potential for regional blocs to emerge as players on the world’s stage. The recent emergence of the so-called ‘BRICs’ (Brazil, Russia, India, and China) into the realm of world power politics has likewise altered the tenor of popular discourse about the role of developing countries as formidable players in their own right. Given these developments, surely this is an appropriate time to explore our theme: new international players.
In truth, many of today’s debates in international affairs are not strictly new, having proliferated within different contexts and moments throughout the course of human history. The same is generally true of the players involved, as well. And yet, at this moment, they are all somehow, and in some way, new again. Perhaps, therefore, what is new are the particular changes in ideas and ways of thinking. These shifts are what inspired us to approach this seemingly straightforward theme in both traditional and creative ways.
Our first section, “New State and Non-State Players,” begins with a look at Brazil, penned by international correspondent Joshua Goodman. Goodman’s article is followed by Reidar Visser’s examination of the Shiite clergy in Iraq, which he argues is a non-state player par excellence whose impact extends beyond the Iraqi state to include the wider Middle East. Finally, four writers from the International Center for Research on Women round out our first section by exploring the largest group of ‘new international players’ globally: women.
Our next section, “Rethinking Institutional Players,” looks at two influential international institutions, the United Nations and the International Criminal Court (ICC), with an eye towards reforming both and making them international players renewed. Journalist Matthew Lee explores power politics within the UN by examining the institution’s response to the recent violent counter-insurgency campaign in Sri Lanka, while journalist Angelo Izama discusses the problems and inefficiencies in the political strategy of the ICC in Central Africa.
Our final section pays due to one of the most influential, but least appreciated, players throughout history. In “New Ideas in International Affairs,” ideas take center stage, bringing with them their potential power to alter the status quo. This section begins with Erik Jones’s timely examination of the export-led growth strategies of surplus countries, and the contribution of these strategies to the global imbalances that lay at the [End Page 1] heart of the current economic crisis. Jones’s piece is followed by an equally timely article by Ömer Taşpınar on terrorism—currently one of the greatest challenges in international affairs—in which he recommends an ideational shift from fighting terrorism to fighting radicalism. Donna Oglesby’s piece, meanwhile, calls for a new course and strategy for U.S. diplomacy, with the goal of making it more effective in a world of many rising new international state players. The section ends with Jacob Heim’s policy piece in which he advocates for the greater application of power cycle theory in national security assessments.
The exploration of our theme is followed by Sean Brooks’s extensive review of Mahmood Mamdani’s recent book, Saviors and Survivors: Darfur, Politics, and the War on Terror (2009). We also congratulate our SAIS Prize winners, Sana Khan for her article on microcredit, Maany Peyvan for his photo essay on religion in India, and David Fowkes for his review of Paul Collier’s Wars, Guns and Votes: Democracy in Dangerous Places (2009). Finally, our issue concludes with a response to an article in our previous issue, Cities.
We thank our advisory board for helping shape and guide this issue, and our entire staff of associate editors for their hard work. Enjoy. [End Page 2]