After seven long years, the Indian government has decided that the time has come to once again make its presence felt in Iraq by naming an envoy to the country. The previous ambassador to Iraq was withdrawn in 2004 as the security situation in the country spiraled out of control. Even after the situation in Iraq had stabilized, with largely peaceful elections last year and the U.S. decision to withdraw its forces completely by the end of this year, New Delhi took its time to come to terms with the rapidly changing realities on the ground. After all, when it […]
Diplomacy & Politics Archive
Opposition forces in Libya say they’re planning a final assault on the capital Tripoli. It’s essentially the last part of the country that remains under the control of long-time leader Colonel Gaddafi and protesters say his days in power are now numbered.
A lot of international relations theories are being stress-tested by events in the Arab world right now, with some emerging better than others. Two in particular that are worth mentioning are Ian Bremmer’s 2006 book, “The J Curve,” which predicts a dangerous dip into instability when closed, authoritarian states attempt to open up to the world; and Evgeny Morozov’s new book, “The Net Delusion,” which critiques the notion that Internet connectivity is inherently democratizing. (In the interests of transparency, I work as a consultant for Bremmer’s political risk consultancy, Eurasia Group, and penned a pre-publication blurb for Morozov’s book.) Both […]
When she was first named foreign minister last November, I, like most observers, noted Michèle Alliot-Marie’s reputation as a professional, the kind of minister who could be counted on to take care of business and not make headlines. She arguably delivered on the first count, but was done in by her abject failure to deliver on the second, with the never-ending revelations from her ill-fated Christmas holiday in Tunisia fatally undermining her legitimacy as the face of France’s foreign policy. Nevertheless, it’s worth repeating that Alliot-Marie’s failings were a function of her professionalism — that is, they reflect the standard […]
The U.S. and Pakistan are currently engaged in a diplomatic tussle over Raymond Davis, a CIA contractor held in Pakistan for allegedly killing two men in Lahore in January. The U.S. has called for Davis’ release, citing his diplomatic immunity. In an e-mail interview, Linda Frey, professor of European History at the University of Montana and Marsha Frey, professor of European History at Kansas State University, co-authors of “The History of Diplomatic Immunity,” discussed the history and operation of diplomatic immunity. WPR: What does diplomatic immunity cover and exclude, and who receives it? Linda Frey and Marsha Frey: As a […]
If the debate about how the U.S. and the international community should respond to the carnage in Libya highlights one thing, it is that we still have not arrived at either a domestic or global consensus about when and why to intervene militarily in the affairs of a sovereign state. I include Iraq in the title of this post for three reasons. First, the pre-emptive nature of the Iraq invasion in many ways served to sidetrack the debate over humanitarian interventions. Second, the outcome of the Iraq War served to chasten the broad middle of the policy debate, if not […]
As more sickening details emerge of what actually happened to CBS reporter Lara Logan in Tahrir Square on Feb. 13, the partisan rhetoric shows no signs of abating. Some claim that it was “pro-Mubarak” thugs who sexually assaulted and almost killed the 39-year-old mother of two, while others point the finger at “pro-liberation” hooligans. Still others have used the incident to demonize Muslims in general. Such distinctions, however, have nothing to do with why Logan was attacked and, in fact, obscure the real issue. Like many millions of women, girls and young boys around the world, Logan was not a […]
Much analysis of the wave of unrest sweeping the Middle East has identified economic hardship as a crucial motivation for the uprisings. Many Middle East experts pointed to unemployment and the rising price of food in Tunisia to explain that country’s uprising. The same experts pointed to unemployment and mass poverty to explain the subsequent Egyptian uprising. But after Egyptians successfully ousted Hosni Mubarak, unrest subsequently spread to Libya, Algeria, Iran, Bahrain, Yemen and Jordan, countries with very diverse economic conditions. Standards of living in Bahrain and Libya, for example, are much higher than in Egypt and Yemen. Furthermore, the […]
Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh has instructed security forces to protect protesters who call for an end his 32-year rule. At least 15 people have been killed since anti-government demonstrations began on February 16.
On Wednesday, 20 deputies of Ukraine announced a new political faction called “Reforms for the Future.” The new union is mostly made up of former members of the Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc, supporting the reforms of President Viktor Yanukovych, as well as its own reforms, such as a state-run health care plan.
One of the major points of speculation about the impact of the Egyptian uprising is over how a democratic government in Cairo will affect Egypt’s foreign policy, in particular regarding Israel. A just-released Ifop poll of French opinion on the Afghanistan War (via Jean-Dominique Merchet) highlights a point I’ve been meaning to make: Democracies are not immune to unpopular foreign policy. According to the Ipof poll, 72 percent of French people oppose the country’s involvement in the Afghanistan War. That’s slightly higher than the two-thirds who opposed the war at the time that French President Nicolas Sarkozy decided to deploy […]
BEIJING — Following a period of considerable success and strategic evolution, China’s foreign policy has been marked by a less coherent and less constructive approach to international relations over the past year. Nowhere has this shift been more pronounced than on the Asian littoral, a key arena in the country’s international rise, where China’s opaque naval expansion and increasingly abrasive behavior have begun to undermine previous strategic gains. China’s naval modernization is part of an ongoing force-wide attempt to enhance national military capabilities, particularly in nonconventional warfare and peacetime operations. The People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) also has a stated […]
For players of the decades-old parlor game of divining succession in despotic Arab regimes, one rule never varied: The current dictator would personally choose his successor, almost always selecting one of his sons to head the regime after his death. Until this week, that dynastic pattern seemed certain to apply to Libya’s Col. Moammar Gadhafi, whose sons have spent years seeking their flamboyant father’s favor and jockeying for position within that most peculiar of regimes. The eccentric, histrionic and often-buffoonish Gadhafi has provided four decades of outrage, disbelief and even entertainment for outside observers. For those living under his rule, […]
Niger held a first-round presidential election in January that will go a to runoff between the two leading candidates March 12. The vote is expected to bring an end to military rule in the West African country, following a February 2010 coup. In an e-mail interview, Alex Thurston, a doctoral candidate in the Religion Department at Northwestern University and author of the Sahel Blog, discussed Niger’s election. WPR: What are the ethnic, political and institutional fault lines in Niger, and which of the main candidates represents them? Alex Thurston: News reports have emphasized political fault lines in the presidential election, […]
Last weekend I attended a conference in San Antonio on the relevance of Thucydides’ “History of the Peloponnesian War” to the practice of contemporary American foreign policy. Sponsored by the Liberty Fund, the conference’s motivating concept and focus was the relationship between democracy and empire in Thucydides. The conference attendees included scholars of several stripes, including War College faculty, former policymakers from the Bush administration and prominent think tank fellows. This was no dry academic conference focused on textual minutiae. Rather, it was intended to give policymakers — and those who educate policymakers — space for thinking about what Thucydides […]
Bahrain may be the 163rd most populous country on Earth, but for the past week it has taken center stage, along with Libya, in the unfolding drama shaking the Arab world. While the island kingdom carries little of the weight and influence of a political and cultural power like Egypt, the events in Bahrain have the potential to reshape the geopolitics of the Gulf, with knock-on effects for global oil markets and the U.S.-Saudi relationship. Following the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, disgruntled Bahrainis took to the streets to protest corruption, institutionalized racism and the lack of political rights and […]
The future of Libya appears to be a knife-edge, as airforce fighter jets have bombarded the capital, Tripoli, reportedly on the orders of leader Muammer Gaddafi. Witnesses in Tripoli say that mercenaries are roaming the streets, firing at anyone they see in a bid to dissuade people from demonstrating against Gaddafi.