Year in Review: International Affairs in 2011

Happy New Year, everyone! 2012 is off to a snowy start here in Pittsburgh, and this seems like a perfect time to review what has happened over the past 360-some odd days.

As always, the global stage was full of tumult and change: 2011 saw the deaths of influential world figures (Warren Christopher, Muammar Gaddafi, Vaclav Havel, Steve Jobs, Kim Jong-Il, and Osama bin Laden, for example); uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa; the withdrawal of American forces from Iraq; devastating natural disasters (earthquakes in Japan and New Zealand, typhoon in the Philippines, floods in south-east Asia, and famine in the Horn of Africa); and economic crisis in Europe.

We’ve scoured the web to find some of the best of the “2011 in Review” resources, and compiled them below. Are there any we’ve missed? Let us know in the comments.

2011 Year in Review (Reuters): Photos and descriptions of the most important news stories of the year, including a dramatic 60-second multimedia video presentation of the key stories, and some of the top images from 2011.

Best Articles of 2011 (Foreign Policy Magazine): Although not necessarily highlighting the most important news stories of the year, here are the most-read articles from in 2011.

Best International Relations Books of 2011 (Foreign Affairs): In every issue of Foreign Affairs, scholars review recent academic and nonfiction books.  At the end of 2011, the reviewers were asked to select the best ones.  Here you will find the best books in a number of categories, including: Western Europe; the Middle East; the Western Hemisphere; Eastern Europe; Economic, Social, and Environmental Subjects; Asia; Africa; the United States; Military, Scientific, and Technological Subjects; and Political and Legal Subjects.

Personal Favorites from 2011 (A Realist in an Ideological Age): Stephen M. Walt is a professor of international affairs at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and writes a blog, A Realist in an Ideological Age, for Foreign Policy.  In this post, he shares his favorite blog posts from the past year, all of which are worth a read.

Shots Seen ‘Round the World (Foreign Policy Magazine): Fifty of the best/most important photographs from 2011, as selected by Foreign Policy.

Top 5 Foreign Policy Books in 2011 (Foreign Policy Association): The FPA asked its staff, editors, writers and bloggers to select the best books about foreign policy. Here is what they came up with.

Top 5 International Documentaries of 2011 (Foreign Policy Association): The FPA asked its staff, editors, writers and bloggers to select the best international documentaries on issues related to U.S. foreign policy. Here is what they came up with.

Twitter’s 2011 Year in Review (Twitter): It is no secret that social media is playing an increasing role in current events. Here is a look at some of the key stories, hot topics, and important moments of 2011 — as seen on Twitter.

Your Top 10 Stories of 2011 (The Guardian): Links to the top ten news stories of the year, as selected by readers.

The Year in Foreign Policy (Foreign Policy Association): The FPA looks at several key foreign policy events that promise to shape the coming year, including the 2012 election.

Year in Review (Foreign Policy Blogs Network): The FPA’s blog network has a number of great, topic-specific “Year in Review” posts, all of which can be found here. Read about 2011 in Russia or Israel, or the year in Global Food Security or War Crimes (to name just a few).



>Globalization and You…and Twitter


Regardless of where globalization lands on one’s political compass, the world got a lot smaller just over the past decade. And you don’t need to be a Cold War scholar or Fortune 500 CEO to understand globalization, either. See X-Box Live, where gamers compete with their counterparts all over the world.  See Facebook and Twitter. During the contested Iranian elections this past summer, protesters organized through Twitter, a social medium once thought to be exclusively for following the lives of celebrities. But globalization is more than just a novelty; it’s a coalescence of all aspects of life: economies, culture, the environment, science and technology. For better or worse.
In a sense, there is a correlation between 19th century America and the 21st century globe. The expansion across the continent into the Wild West is not unlike the expansion of international markets, sciences, workforces and ways of life.  Just as America shrank, so shrinks the planet. There are certainly pros and cons about the issues. But at the heart of it, globalization is as much about competition as it is about culture and communication. Here are a few facts about the new world in which we are living.

Did You Know? 

  • China will soon become the largest English speaking country
  • The top 10 jobs in 2010 did not exist in 2004
  • If Myspace, with its 200 million users, was a country, it’d be the 5th largest in the world. 

To learn more about globalization, be sure to check out and learn more about its costs and benefits. The site offers expert analyses across disciplines. There is also a link for teachers who wish to incorporate these topics into their curriculum.

Also check out Douglas McGray’s “Lost in America” and his opinion about the role American public education in the globalizing world.