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For the past two decades, the ‘failed state’ of Somalia has been ravaged by protracted violence and famine, armed clashes between warlords, and their unpredictably shifting alliances. As the extended mandate of the corrupt and dysfunctional Transitional Federal Government nears its expiration date in August 2012, increasing international attention has created an impetus for a renewed consolidation process leading to the recent London Conference on Somalia. This paper assesses the realistic options for a shift towards peaceful governance, and examines what lessons can be learned from the hitherto existing international approach that has fueled rather than averted violent conflict.

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With four female presidents elected in the past decade, Latin America has seen a spike in female executive leadership unprecedented in any other region thus far in the 21st century. However, having female heads of state is no guarantee that women’s interests will take priority under these female-headed administrations. This paper explores the conceptual distinction between women’s short-term ‘practical’ interests and their long-term ‘strategic’ interests. Whilst all ‘presidentas’ more or less advance the former, commitment to structural change aimed at furthering women’s strategic interests in the long-run has been less clear. This article explores and interprets this mixed record.

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This paper evaluates how U.S. President George W. Bush’s push for democratization in Egypt may have influenced the 2011 Egyptian uprising. It argues that Bush’s “Freedom Agenda” policy towards Egypt had a number of small but significant effects that both heightened and publicized Egyptians’ discontent with former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak – effects which were not necessarily intended or central to the Agenda when it was conceived. Specifically, the Freedom Agenda created a period of limited public dialogue, which further alienated Egyptians from their government, and altered the economic environment – all factors which made the 2011 uprising more likely.

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In March 2011 Italy celebrated its 150th anniversary as a unified country. However, it did so with little of the enthusiasm that had greeted previous anniversaries in 1911 and 1961. Increasing numbers of its citizens have, in recent years, come to wonder whether their long failure to construct a viable political system may be a consequence of a process of unification that had disregarded the history and diversity of their peninsula. This article argues that centralized power was destined to fail in Italy, and that only a federal system will reconcile people of its very different regions to continue living together under the same flag.

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In the last quarter century, Brazil has undergone structural economic changes. This article aims to help the reader understand how Brazil overcame the discouraging scenario of the mid-1980s and early 1990s to become a major global economic power. A unique story of a lively economic policy laboratory is told by laying out eight economic idiosyncrasies that need to be examined in order to grasp the country’s past and future challenges and analyze whether or when it will emerge as an economic superpower.

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In the 1970s, three southern European countries—Greece, Spain, and Portugal— democratized successfully. In light of the transitions underway in the Middle East, understanding the reasons behind their success has taken on new urgency. The paths of all three were fragile and uncertain. Yet, when examining their similarities, we find that their success was due in great part to their charismatic and visionary leaders, including Constantine Karamanlis in Greece, king Juan Carlos and Adolfo Suarez in Spain, and Melo Antunes and Antonio Eanes in Portugal, who not only built consensus towards democracy but also skillfully and courageously stood up against threats to the new regimes.

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Argentina’s public sector spending has consistently outpaced tax revenues—opening up a gap that could only be filled by massive deficits, official currency manipulations, inflation underreporting and other fiscal and monetary hocus pocus. But even that hasn’t worked for current president Cristina Fernández—forcing her to smear opponents and silence critics at the expense of creating sustainable policies. This paper looks at increased export taxes on soy and the privatization of national pensions as examples of fundamental argentine fiscal policy. Through first person interviews with a politician, government worker, businessman and academic, it also aims to imbue the issues with the local politics that shape Argentina’s political realities and that typically fail to make it to the international press.

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Europe urgently needs effective economic leadership to address its trade imbalances, shaky Eurobond markets, and diminishing trust in European integration. The European Union (EU)’s fiscal rules are neither strict enough nor comprehensive enough to hold the currency union together. The status quo is not sustainable. Already wobbly economies in Europe’s periphery face punishing, unaffordable interest rates as private creditors back away from their debt, and the European partners kick away successive chances to devise a comprehensive and feasible debt workout plan. Unfortunately, none of its present political leaders seems capable of meeting the challenge, in particular, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the leader of the EU’s biggest economy, biggest exporter and biggest paymaster. Leaders overly focused on narrow perceptions of national advantage endanger the future of European economic integration and the benefits it has brought all member states.

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Iran remains the one significant unsolved problem for the United States in the Persian Gulf. Over the course of the past decade, US policy has inadvertently allowed Iran to become the dominant power in the region. The best US policy might be to avoid seeking to control events in Iran, instead, leaving the various factions in Iran to fight amongst themselves. (From a lecture delivered at the Bologna Center, November 11, 2010, adapted by Shirin Mohammadi and William J. Burke)

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Cuba provides an ideal lens through which to study the Obama administration’s foreign policy of engagement. For half a century, the US economic embargo, coupled with diplomatic isolation or limited engagement, has failed to force democratization on the island. As Raúl Castro has led Cuba down a path of economic reform, the Obama administration has slowly transformed its Cuba policies. This article contends that these recent shifts in US-Cuban relations will allow American policymakers to capitalize on an essential set of political, economic, and strategic gains by ending the embargo and normalizing diplomatic relations.

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As president of the European Commission, Romano Prodi played a crucial role in the creation of a shared European currency and in the 2004 eastern enlargement of the European Union (EU). Twice prime minister of Italy, he set his country on the path toward adopting the euro. On February 15, 2011, he sat down with the Bologna Center Journal of International Affairs to explain why it is so difficult to lead Italy, why Europe lacks strong EU-level leaders and a “single voice,” and why Europe’s time as a global leader is not yet over.

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The leadership styles of and relationships between the authoritarian regimes and militaries in North Africa are important factors in understanding the dynamics of the current upheaval in the region. Inhabitants of the region, affected by blogs, social networks, and liberal European and American culture, demanded either a more rational, value-driven, and open leadership responsible to the people, or a constitutional system. Further, the United States and its allies should maintain political and military distance from the movements sweeping the region as not to discredit them, while training the local population in polling, election monitoring, and the like, to create a basis of democratic action that would ensure the success of the transition process.

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This paper analyses to what extent the Green party challenged traditional political practices that have driven Colombian politics for more than a century. It argues that the Green Party’s presidential campaign for the elections held in 2010 constitutes a significant advance towards the strengthening of Colombian democracy. The Green Party focused on fighting clientelism and involving the citizens as agents of its campaign. However, the weak presence of the Green Party in the rural areas as well as its lack of experience in dealing with the press led to its defeat.

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the Bologna Center Journal of International Affairs had an opportunity to interview Mr. Divjak in his office in Sarajevo, and subsequently over the telephone from Italy. Translation provided by Jadranka Poljak (SAIS BC, 2011).

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Despite much discussion of the resource curse in recent years, a consensus on a development model for resource-rich states has not emerged. Such states have tremendous economic potential but have tended to under perform when compared to resource-poor states due to a higher propensity to resort to civil conflicts. This article argues that the key to escaping the resource curse is through the application of a rentier state development mode, which creates political stability while increasing GDP per capita through (1) increased military expenditures, (2) private goods transfers to elites, (3) redistributive economic programs, and (4) security guarantees from foreign states.

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Most United Nations (UN) peacekeeping missions during the last two decades were perceived by the general public to have failed. This article draws upon lessons learned from the 1990 UN mission in Namibia and identifies necessary geopolitical and institutional conditions to ensure a sustainable and successful peacebuilding process for the conflicts of today. Domestic political capacity and support from key international stakeholders are shown to be necessary for a peaceful democratic transition. However, smart timing during the preparation and implementation phases, as well as the structural design of a mission, are crucial prerequisites for support of any political effort for peace.

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As a result of different experiences of the processes of political liberalization and market-oriented reforms over the past few decades, there is a clear divide in styles of political leadership in Latin America today. Consolidated democratic regimes have been generally successful, addressing social concerns while maintaining responsible fiscal policies. on the other hand, economic and political instability have plagued those countries where populist regimes have mobilized marginal groups through the use of anti-elitist rhetoric. for these populist states, the example of their successful Latin American neighbors may offer guidance for a future transition to a different style of political leadership based on responsible fiscal management and social progress.

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This paper surveys the history of political leadership in Italy and the evolution of anti-political culture from Garibaldi, to Mussolini, and throughout the republican era. First, several lessons are drawn regarding effective leadership and political development through analysis of the most important political figures in Italian history. It will show that Italy is not a country with a history of outstanding political leaders. Looking at more recent developments, this paper argues that the reign of Silvio Berlusconi is the natural product a long history of Italian anti-political culture. Yet despite his rejection of politics, Berlusconi has ironically become a strong political leader—but still falls short of becoming a great statesman.