Most of the early analysis of President George W. Bush’s Latin American legacy concentrates on his failure to engage the region despite early promises to “look south.” But the emphasis on the outgoing administration’s general neglect of Latin America has diverted attention from the strong alliance that has developed between the United States and Colombia. That alliance is based largely on Plan Colombia, an initiative signed in the late 1990s by former Presidents Bill Clinton and AndrĂ©s Pastrana to combat drug production and trafficking and the criminal organizations that control supply, as well as to stem the flow of illegal […]

Summer has kicked into high gear in the Southern Hemisphere, but that doesn’t mean the economic clouds moving ominously across global markets have only darkened skies in the North. Even in sunny Brazil, where beaches at Copacabana and Ipanema are bustling with tanned soccer players, forecasters say the economy will slow down sharply. Economic downturns almost always mean slides in approval ratings for governments. Why, then, is Brazilian President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva enjoying what may just be the highest approval rating of any president on earth? Lula — as he is chummily known by all Brazilians — is […]

In the new geostrategic “Great Game” between Russia and the West over the future of Caspian and Central Asian energy resources, the prize resembles a set of traditional matreshka Russian dolls. The outermost doll represents the three nations bordering the Caspian itself — Azerbaijan, , Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan. In the middle of the collection is Uzbekistan, the most populous of the new Central Asian nations. The innermost doll consists of the two most easterly “Stans,” Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, rich in hydroelectric potential, but relatively poor in hydrocarbons. As prizes go, it is certainly a tempting one. The Caspian’s 143,244 square […]

As President-elect Barack Obama’s national security team prepares to take office in January, the Turkish government is readying to outflank the U.S.’s Iran policy on a vast scale, having signed a milestone agreement in November to invest $12 billion in Iran’s energy sector. The move presents an immediate conflict between Washington’s efforts to contain Iran’s nuclear ambitions and its desire to wean Europe from Russian energy dependence. As a result, the Obama administration will be forced to choose between overhauling American efforts to isolate Iran or inviting a sour demonstration of America’s waning influence among close allies. As part of […]

MOMBASA, Kenya — In the past, on many days the giant container ships lined up 10 deep just outside the entrance to Mombasa’s seaport, awaiting their turn to offload cargo. It was a sign of East Africa’s growing economy that there were more ships than spots at Mombasa’s cargo terminals. But lately there have been fewer ships. On Wednesday afternoon, just one vessel anchored in the distance, while a handful of outbound vessels emerged from the harbor and turned south. Across Mombasa, people associated with the region’s sea trade are feeling the pinch. Fewer ships mean less work for ship’s […]

TOKYO — Last month the Indian Navy sunk what it believed to be a Somali pirate “mother ship” off the coast of Somalia. The vessel turned out to be a Thai trawler, but the intervention nevertheless highlighted an increasing willingness among Asian nations to take a lead in tackling the growing piracy problem that has garnered worldwide attention and alarm. Notwithstanding the Indian misstep, the results so far are impressive. While the number of attacks off the coast of Africa, including the Gulf of Aden, has jumped about 75 percent this year, Asia’s Malacca Straits had experienced just two attacks […]

PYONGYANG, North Korea — Listless saleswomen loiter against stacked shelves at this most exclusive of department stores. An entire section is filled with sleek white washing machines, driers and flat-screen panel TVs produced by Haier, a low-cost Chinese appliance company. But the saleswomen outnumber customers in the echoing mall and there is little sign of commercial activity. Two taxis wait at the main gate, but neither their drivers nor any customers are to be seen. The iconic image of NorthKorean soldiers standing guard at the 36th Parallel, the line that has separatedNorth from South Korea for over half a century […]

Dmitry Medvedev just completed his first visit to Latin American as Russia’s new president, traveling to Brazil, Cuba, and then Venezuela after attending the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) conference in Peru late last month. Accompanied by an impressive delegation of Russian government officials and influential business leaders, Medvedev used the Lima summit and follow-on tour as an opportunity to meet with other world leaders, promote various economic and defense deals, and reaffirm Russia’s intent to strengthen its presence in South America. Russian officials desire improved relations with South American countries for both economic and political reasons. The surge in world […]

With the security situation in Iraq improved to the point that analysts no longer shrink from using the word “endgame,” Washington has increasingly turned its attention to the alarming situation in Afghanistan, where the insurgency has taken full advantage of safe havens on the Pakistani side of a border that exists largely in name only. Attempts to address the problem of how to intervene militarily without in turn destabilizing an already fragile Pakistan have led to an emerging consensus regarding a “regional approach,” one that includes the India-Pakistan rivalry as a key to stabilizing the South Asian subcontinent. But lurking […]

Pakistan’s Perpetual Precariousness On Nov. 26, 2008, terrorists laid siege to Mumbai, making the poshest area of India’s commercial capital a war zone for several days. The attacks once again raised the specter of an Indo-Pak war. Yet, earlier in the day, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi had arrived in New Delhi to continue recently renewed peace talks with his Indian counterpart. The two South Asian states, playing to a script performed before, had in a short period of time taken two steps forward toward peace and 10 steps back. Relations between India and Pakistan are clearly fragile and […]