As a candidate, Barack Obama promised to withdraw from Iraq, “finish the fight against al-Qaida and the Taliban,” shut down Gitmo and break through the impasse with Iran. But as president, Obama is learning that conducting U.S. foreign policy is far more difficult than simply critiquing it. As a consequence, on the central foreign policy and national security issue of the day — the global struggle against Islamic terrorists and their patrons and partners — there is far more common ground between Obama and former President George W. Bush than Obama’s supporters expected, and less change than his opponents feared. […]

TAWAU, Malaysia — The killing of regional terrorist Dulmatin on March 9 has provided Indonesia with another victory in its campaign against Jemaah Islamiya (JI), while also proving timely: Dulmatin was shot dead just as Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono arrived in Australia, where Dulmatin is widely despised for his involvement in the 2002 Bali bombings that left more than 200 dead, among them 88 Australians. Yudhoyono announced Dulmatin’s death during a conveniently arranged press conference in Canberra. But he is also likely to raise it as a subject of conversation during U.S. President Barack Obama’s visit to Indonesia in […]

CHOWKAY VALLEY, Afghanistan — When U.S. Army Capt. Joe Snowden first asked the elders in this remote valley in eastern Afghanistan to stop growing poppies, they laughed. The poppies, once processed into heroin, fuel the drug trade that provides much of the financing for the Taliban and other fighters in the area, explained Snowden, who is deployed here from the 173rd Airborne Brigade, based in Italy. Although the elders assured Snowden that they understood this, his request still bordered on the absurd. So did Snowden’s request for the name of the leader of the local insurgent cell, which made the […]

President Barack Obama had multiple audiences in mind during his lightning 6-hour visit to Afghanistan this weekend. In both his meetings and his speech delivered to U.S. soldiers and broadcast worldwide, Obama wanted to catalyze improved Afghan government performance, reassure Afghan citizens, bolster U.S. troop morale, and make his commitment to winning the Afghan war clear to global audiences. For security reasons, Obama departed unannounced from Washington on Saturday night, arriving at Bagram airfield, on the outskirts of Kabul, early Sunday evening. He then flew by helicopter to meet Afghan President Hamid Karzai. Afterwards, Obama returned to Bagram to address […]

The dust has far from settled following Google’s decision last week to stop censoring its Google.cn search portal and shift all its Chinese search traffic to its Hong Kong operation, Google.com.hk. But already, the company’s latest move has been portrayed as everything from na├»ve and idealistic to economically foolhardy. Nevertheless, the decision is clearly a bold one, and by using a potentially enormous fissure in the politics of contemporary China to take a stand on the question of information openness, it may also prove to be shrewd. At the very least, Google is playing at a much deeper political game […]

The recent conclusion of a new bilateral strategic arms treaty between the United States and Russia is important for both countries’ security. Yet seen through the prism of nuclear disarmament, it is but a baby step. More substantial progress toward the vision of a world free of nuclear weapons will only come to fruition if a key group of non-nuclear-weapon states help defuse tensions between the nuclear haves and the have-nots. The prime candidates for this job are the states often referred to as middle powers, including Ireland, New Zealand, Germany and Sweden. These nations have a history of activist […]

Visits by Indian heads of government to Saudi Arabia are rare. In fact, when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh arrived in Riyadh on Feb. 27 for a three-day visit, it was the first time an Indian premier had been to the kingdom in 28 years. However, this is one bilateral relationship where substance has clearly preceded style. Not only has Saudi Arabia emerged as India’s largest supplier of crude oil, the desert kingdom is also looking to increase its commercial ties with a rising India as a way to diversify its economy. The visit culminated in a joint declaration (.pdf) that […]

The ASEAN-India Free Trade Agreement (AIFTA), which came into force earlier this year, is undoubtedly a milestone in the burgeoning relationship between India and Southeast Asia. Yet the future of ASEAN-Indian relations is unlikely to be comprised solely of mutually beneficial policies. In order to reap the full benefits of bilateral cooperation, both sides will have to navigate formidable challenges, think strategically about how to expand the relationship, and display courage and vision in their foreign policies. Southeast Asia and India are by no means strangers. Their civilizational and cultural links date back thousands of years and are still visible […]

JAKARTA, Indonesia — Before U.S. President Barack Obama’s scheduled visit to Indonesia this week was postponed, expectations in both Washington and Jakarta were running at a fever pitch, especially in anticipation of the possible signing of a “Comprehensive Partnership” between the two countries. On one side, Washington is eager to strengthen relations with Southeast Asia’s largest democracy in the face of growing Chinese influence. The fact that Indonesia is home to the world’s largest Muslim population also plays into the Obama administration’s efforts to further reach out to the Muslim world and improve its global standing. Finally, Indonesia’s geostrategic location […]

Some foreign policy analysts believe that President Barack Obama’s legislative victory on health care reform this week will have a positive impact on his ability to make progress in the foreign policy realm as well. Clearly, Obama’s credibility in the eyes of foreign governments would have been severely — perhaps even irreparably — damaged had he failed to pass the flagship legislation of his domestic agenda, despite overwhelming Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress. But the White House is not out of the woods just yet. For the president to build on the momentum he gained from the health […]

As the first day of spring swept across the northern half of the globe, Iranians at home and abroad celebrated Nowruz, the Persian New Year. The ancient holiday’s traditions date back centuries, but new customs have started taking hold in more recent times. This year, amid profound internal divisions and growing international tensions, the Official Nowruz Greeting became a new vehicle for mobilization and an occasion to outline strikingly different visions of the past, the present, and the future of Iran. The Nowruz messages offered by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the country’s two top opposition leaders, and U.S. President Barack […]

The African Union’s Madagascar Sanctions Hypocrisy

The news cycle from Africa is usually predictable, with isolated sparks of individual and community hope amid a heavy dose of despair caused by socio-economic depravity, political squabbles and violence. Last week’s coverage would not have been any different, had it not been for the announcement that the African Union had imposed sanctions on Madagascar’s rulers. The sanctions mark the first time the regional organization has ever invoked such an instrument, despite a plethora of more-brutal regimes on the continent deserving such punishment. The AU’s Peace and Security Council was not necessarily wrong to impose targeted sanctions on Madagascan President […]

The State Department is close to winding up the initial phase of a Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review. Mandated by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the QDDR aims at creating a more robust civilian capacity for U.S. global engagement. As part of that effort, the review’s fourth working group addresses the task of “building and deploying an effective civilian capacity to address crises, conflicts, and countries in transition.” The review provides a historic opportunity to strengthen the expeditionary capacity of civilian agencies to deal with overseas conflicts. In 2005, after bungling stabilization and reconstruction in Afghanistan and Iraq, the Bush […]

Despite genuine efforts at engaging Tehran, such as the Nowruz greetings issued by President Barack Obama this past Saturday and a similar Internet video released the previous year, the Obama administration has proven unable to resolve U.S. differences with the Iranian government over Iran’s nuclear program, regional security issues, or other disputes. Developments thus far do not portend any greater success this year. The decades of hostility and mistrust between Washington and Tehran made any bilateral reconciliation effort inevitably problematic. The unanticipated advent of a powerful mass movement in Iran seeking to change the regime’s policies — and, perhaps, the […]

The government of South Korean President Lee Myung-bak has adopted the catchphrase “Global Korea” to signify its desire to play a more assertive role as a contributor to the international community. The same aspiration is reflected in South Korea’s emerging approach to global security issues as reflected in its 2008 Defense White Paper (.pdf), which states that in addition to maintaining stability on the Korean peninsula and building the foundations for national security and prosperity, a core national security objective is “enhancing competence and status internationally.” This widening outlook is particularly striking to those who are accustomed to Korea’s longstanding […]

During the 2008 presidential campaign, Barack Obama famously declared that he was running for the nation’s highest office not simply to end the war in Iraq, but to change the mindset that got America involved in Iraq in the first place. More than a year into his presidency, he is discovering that such a seminal transformation is far easier said than done. From Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay to repairing America’s impaired global image, precious energy and political capital is being spent extricating America from the disastrous impact of the Bush administration’s stewardship of U.S. foreign policy. But as catastrophic as […]

America’s Ideals as an Antidote to Foreign Policy Partisanship

Partisanship is the lifeblood of democracy, but it also has harmful effects that can be especially damaging to foreign policy. Politicians are entrepreneurs seeking markets, so there is always someone willing to become the advocate of any position for which there is a constituency. Such behavior can be craven, but it guarantees that all elements of the citizenry will find their champions. “Ambition must be made to counteract ambition,” said the Founding Fathers, meaning that this competition within the government would prevent a concentration of power that could threaten the liberties of citizens. The founders distrusted parties, which they called […]

Showing 1 - 17 of 601 2 3 4 Last