Editor's Note: The following is reprinted with the permission of the Council on Foreign Relations.
Anders Behring Breivik addressed a Norwegian court today, calling his admitted murder of seventy-seven people last summer the most "spectacular sophisticated political act" since World War II (NYT), while vowing to do it over again if given the opportunity. Breivik said he acted– setting off a car bomb in central Oslo that killed eight and gunning down sixty-nine others at a nearby youth summer camp on July 22, 2011–as part of a Norwegian resistance movement in defense of the alleged Islamic "colonization" of Norway. Breivik, who asked the court to acquit him, said his victims were not innocent because they supported multiculturalism.
"But the case is about more than Breivik's sanity. Viewed from the perspective of Norwegian society, which is known in Europe and around the world for its strict adherence to openness and democracy, the trial is much more a test of the very foundations on which the country stands," writes DeutscheWelle's Gabriel Borrud.
"This is what is at stake during Behring Breivik's trial: more than his punishment, it is how we will understand 22/7. What will our children read in their textbooks in 15 years' time? Will it be seen as the mad act of Behring Breivik alone, or as the product of a growing Islamophobia and political hatred? The conclusion will follow us for generations," writes Aslek Sira Myhre for the Guardian.
Australia to Withdraw Early From Afghanistan
Australia will withdraw its forces from the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan by the end of 2013 (SMH), a year ahead of schedule, Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced on Tuesday. Australia currently has 1,550 troops stationed in Afghanistan.
This CFR Timeline examines the events that precipitated the U.S. war in Afghanistan as well as the history of the war.
CHINA: The British government is expected to discuss the death of British businessman Neil Heywood (WSJ)–whose alleged murder in China late last year has ignited a major political crisis in China–with senior Chinese officials in London this week.
SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA
Karzai Takes Aim at Taliban Leaders
Afghan President Hamid Karzai criticized the Taliban for a recent wave of attacks throughout the country, saying they had killed only fellow Afghans and ensured a continued "foreign presence." But Karzai vowed to continue to seek reconciliation with his Taliban "brothers" (Reuters).
Though toppled from power in Kabul in 2001, the Taliban has become a resilient force active on two fronts–in Afghanistan and Pakistan, explains this CFR Backgrounder.
INDIA: The United States' first female ambassador to India (NYT), Nancy Powell, will arrive in New Delhi later this week amid rising tensions between the two nations over sanctioning Iran's nuclear efforts.
Qaddafi's Son Could Be Tried in Libya
Former Libyan leader Muammar al-Qaddafi's son, Saif al-Islam, may be tried in Libya rather than at the International Criminal Court at the Hague. The ICC, which has indicted Qaddafi for crimes against humanity (BBC), would provide security and legal supervision for the trial.
BAHRAIN: The government has failed to implement adequate reforms (al-Jazeera) following an independent investigation over human rights violations committed in response to last year's anti-government protests, Amnesty International said in a report released today.
Former Mali PM Arrested
The military junta that seized power in a coup last month arrested former prime minister Modibo Sidibe (AFP) and several other former officials. The junta officially handed over power to an interim president, Dioncounda Traore, last Thursday, while a transitional prime minister is expected to be named today.
In his blog "Africa in Transition," CFR's John Campbell discusses the state of the Mali coup and the Tuareg insurrection in the north of the country.
GUINEA BISSAU: The African Union suspended the country's membership following a military coup last week, set to stay in effect until constitutional order is restored.
Russia Overtakes UK, France in Arms Spending
Russia surpassed the UK and France in terms of arms spending for 2011, becoming the third-largest global spender on weapons (Guardian) behind the United States and China. Russia spent approximately $72 billion on arms last year.
U.S. Nominee Named World Bank Chief
The World Bank chose U.S. candidate Jim Yong Kim (BBC), the current head of Dartmouth College, to be its new president. Kim, a development expert, will assume his new role on July 1.
CFR's Laurie Garrett provides an examination of the World Bank's evolution as a global health actor and Jim Yong Kim's career in public health in this Expert Brief.
ARGENTINA: President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner announced yesterday that her government would seize a majority stake in the country's largest oil company (NYT), YPF, which is currently majority-owned by a Spanish energy company. The Spanish government and the European Union immediately condemned the move.
Senate Rejects Obama's Buffet Rule
President Obama's attempt to raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans was thwarted with a Senate vote (WashPost) against consideration of the Buffett Rule Monday.
Even with renewed violence in Afghanistan this spring, GOP front-runner Mitt Romney remains adamant that the time for the United States to negotiate with the Taliban is long past (ABC), especially in light of prior failed discussions. Political correspondent Byron York asks whether Romney will align with his own party since a new Washington Post poll shows 52 percent of GOP voters now believe the war is not worth fighting.
The Republican Party is maneuvering to better appeal to Latino voters (HuffPo), focusing on the fact that Latinos have been hit hard by the economic recession and that the president has failed to deliver on comprehensive immigration reform.
Editor's Note: For more information on the presidential election and foreign policy check out CFR's campaign blog, The Candidates and the World.