World in Brief: May 20, 2009


As of late April, the Taliban appeared to be making great territorial gains within Pakistan. At one time, according to CNN, the militant group occupied territory only 60 km away from the capital, Islamabad.

Pakistan’s status as a nuclear power complicated the matter further, as the instability of any nuclear power poses a threat to the entire world.

However, at a press conference marking American President Barack Obama’s first 100 days in office, Obama assured he was “confident” the USA would not allow a nuclear arsenal to fall into “the wrong hands.”

Furthermore, Obama stated, “We will provide them all of the co-operation that we can. We want to respect their sovereignty, but we also recognize that we have huge strategic interests, huge national security interests, in making sure that Pakistan is stable and that you don’t end up having a nuclear-armed militant state.”

According to the BBC, since that time, upwards of 15,000 soldiers have been deployed to fight the 5,000 Taliban fighters.

Undeniably, the Pakistani army has issues of its own.

In fact, President Obama even went so far as to state that Pakistan’s “obsession” with historical rival India is “misguided.” As of today, it appears the greatest threat to Pakistani sovereignty comes from within its own borders.


May 9 in Moscow was decidedly reminiscent of the Cold War days.

Fighter planes zoomed overhead as crowds lined streets brimming with parading soldiers and the hoards of weaponry that were on display.

Interestingly, it was just last year that the Kremlin re-instated this Soviet-era practice. This latest Victory Day Parade was to mark Russia’s defeat of the Nazis during the Second World War. At the same time, however, it also showcased the country’s largest display of military prowess in recent memory.

The Globe and Mail reported that, in his speech, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev touted Russia’s “military might.” Moreover, Medvedev stated, “We are sure that any aggression against our citizens will be given a worthy reply.”

According to AFP, Medvedev’s choice commentary was in response to NATO’s current actions within Georgia. Overall, the Kremlin made it clear that the August 2008 war between Russia and Georgia has not been forgotten. It is widely reported that the Kremlin resents such Western involvement in the formerly Russian-controlled territory.

On May 12, the BBC reported that American President Barack Obama would be visiting Russia in early July. The main issue on the table will be rebuilding faltering Western-Russian relations.


On April 27, according to the Economist, the Sri Lankan government issued an “official” halt to all internal military combat missions. However, as conflict on the island nation raged on, such a move appears to have been rather premature.

While Sri Lankans may be no stranger to struggle, the situation grew especially dire.

For 26 years, the Sri Lankan government has been at war with the Liberation Tigers for Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

In recent weeks, the internal war and its rising civilian death toll have received worldwide exposure and forced an international response.

According to the BBC, the Sri Lankan government repeatedly rejected all international calls for a truce. The UN forecasted “a bloodbath” scenario.

However, May 19, BBC reported Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s declaration of “victory” over the Tigers.

In his speech Rajapaksa referred to the Sri Lankan people as “liberated.” This development comes just one day after the LTTE chief was found dead.

The internal struggle is not nearly over, and the future appears decidedly uncertain for the country’s 18 per cent Tamil population.

United States

Mass panic ensued April 24 as a low-flying presidential plane tailed by an F-16 fighter jet could be seen cruising through the skies over Lower Manhattan.

The event, originally scheduled as a government-sanctioned aerial photo mission, revived visions of 9/11 for many New Yorkers.

The issue remains that while federal authorities notified state officials in both New York and New Jersey, a general public warning was never issued.

In the end, the mission turned out to be a photo op gone terribly wrong.

The low-flying plane led to the evacuation of many office buildings as fear and confusion radiated throughout the city.

New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg called the incident “an inconsiderate, badly conceived and insensitive photo op with the taxpayers’ money.”

According to the US Air Force, the cost of the aerial photo op mission was $328,835 USD.

In light of great criticism, the BBC reports that the White House official who approved the mission over New York has resigned.