2011’s most popular articles: “How immigration will change Brazil” and more

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1. How immigration will change Brazil (April 10)

As we're stuck in traffic on Avenida Paulista, São Paulo's most famous boulevard, the cab driver interrupts our small talk, struggling to hide his disbelief and skepticism. "But why would you want to live here, in a third world country, rather than in Europe or America?" READ ARTICLE

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2. Book review: “The future of Power” by Joseph Nye Jr. (July 26)

Joseph Nye, professor at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, is one of the world’s most influential foreign policy thinkers. This is partly due to his highly unusual decision to not only mingle with policy makers, but to actually hold important positions in US government at several moments of his career, thus gaining insights that provide him with a unique perspective. Nye has also had the courage to try to expand his readership beyond academia, and several of his concepts such as soft power and smart power have turned into household concepts – even if that achievement has earned him some criticism among fellow academics, who accuse him of overly targeting non-academic readers. READ REVIEW

3. China vs. India: Will the “contest of the 21st century” lead to war? (November 27)

Whenever two rising powers sit next to each other, the chance for conflict greatly increases as their growing spheres of influence quickly overlap - one of the main reason why Europe's history is full of bloody wars. This unfortunate constellation now becomes increasingly visible in Asia, where a rising China and a rising India begin to claim influence over the same regions. After India and Vietnam agreed to jointly explore oil in the South China Sea, an aggressive op-ed in The Global Times (a Chinese newspaper) accused India of "poking its nose where it does not belong." China is busy creating alliances with India's neighbors, while India has - to China's dismay - begun to strengthen ties with Japan, Australia, and the United States. While trade between India and China is growing, this alone may not be enough to prevent an escalation - as World War I made abundantly clear. Similar to today's China and India, Imperial Germany felt "encircled" - a word analysts from both China and India use with growing frequency. READ ARTICLE

4. India's Afghanistan Challenge (May 15)

Deploying Indian troops to stabilize the country is theoretically feasible, but risky as it may erode India’s image as a benign actor in Central Asia. In addition, it would feed Pakistan’s paranoia of encirclement, reducing chances to normalize ties with Islamabad. Despite India’s largesse, Afghans consider themselves closer to neighboring Pakistan, which can be ascribed to ethnic kinship: Almost 50% of Afghans are Pashtuns, like many Pakistanis who live along the Durand Line that separates the two nations. READ ARTICLE

5. Why South Africa’s BRICS entry is good for Brazil (April 30)

South Africa’s addition gives the BRICS a truly global dimension, thus increasing its representativeness, and lending further weight to its joint statements. It also ends Brazil’s geographic isolation. Previously, the group consisted of three geographically connected Asian countries plus a faraway member in South America. Relations between China, Russia and India, after all, are centuries old and marked by their proximity, contrary to ties with Brazil, which were insignificant before the end of the Cold War. With South Africa’s addition, this changes, and the group’s epicenter can no longer be said to lie in Asia. READ ARTICLE

6. New York Times: Fundação Getulio Vargas ranks third in the emerging world (December 2)

This week the New York Times published the results of a poll in which it asked hundreds of chief executives and chairmen to select the top universities from which they recruited. Ranked 98th in the world, the Fundação Getulio Vargas (FGV) appears as the leading university in Latin America. It ranks 3rd in the BRICs (behind Fudan University and Tsinghua University, both in China), and 6th in the Southern Hemisphere (behind five Australian universities). The fact that a Brazilian institution is able to compete internationally reflects the country's growing influence. READ ARTICLE

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7. Book review: “How to Run the World: Charting a Course to the next Renaissance” by Parag Khanna (February 2)

In his new book, Parag Khanna, Director of the Global Governance Initiative at the New America Foundation and author of “The Second World”, seeks to answer how we can deal with global challenges in a more effective way in the years to come. In merely 214 pages, Khanna covers a vast array of challenges – from climate change, nuclear proliferation, poverty, human rights to the Middle East Conflict to the disputes in Kashmir, Iran and Afghanistan. As a natural consequence, some of his analyses seem a bit rushed (for example, his thoughts on nuclear proliferation are limited to just a few pages). Yet Khanna’s aim is not to engage in profound historical analysis; rather, the book can be understood as a smart brainstorming session on how to tackle the world’s most urgent problems. Academics will frown at his approach as Khanna’s assertions are not based on empirical research, yet he is certainly courageous for approaching big issues in a sweeping way. READ REVIEW

8. Is global leadership possible without regional leadership? The case of Brazil and India (January 24)

Successfully assuming regional leadership would thus certainly have positive consequences for both countries. For example, if Brazil could convince all South American nations to unanimously support its candidacy for a permanent seat on the UN Security Council, its chances to succeed would dramatically increase. The same applies to India. Yet the truth is that each country’s neighbors, notably Pakistan and Argentina, have been the most formidable obstacles in India’s and Brazil’s power project. Regional leadership, however, is difficult, costly, and full of risks. Brazil’s accommodating policy towards Venezuela, for example, has been sharply criticized, but taking a tougher stance towards autocratic leaders such as Hugo Chavez means running the risk of being called an imperialist in the region. India’s ability to influence the region is severely hampered by the presence of China. Lashing out against Myanmar’s junta is thus only likely to drive Rangoon deeper into China’s arms, an argument that is increasingly true for Venezuela as well. READ ARTICLE

9. Book review: “Brazil on the Rise: The Story of a Country Transformed” by Larry Rohter (January 30)

The fact that Brazil is on the rise is certainly nothing new, especially given its membership in the highly visible BRIC outfit created ten years ago. Yet while dozens of books on China and India flood the market every year, the number of authors who attempt to present a succinct yet comprehensive overview over contemporary Brazil remains low. Larry Rohter’s attempt to fill the gap is therefore to be welcomed. READ REVIEW

10. Book review: “The Dragon’s Gift: The Real Story of China in Africa” by Deborah Brautigam (August 15)

Deborah Brautigam has studied China in Africa for decades, and her latest book arguably provides the best analysis on the market. In a very well-structured and data-rich compilation, Brautigam is able to dispel popular myths; for example about China’s supposedly negative influence on governance in African states. READ REVIEW