ABOARD THE U.S.S. NASHVILLE — In his civilian clothes, Dr. Augustus Vogel stood out among the khaki, green and blue uniforms of Nashville’s military crew. As the U.S. Navy’s science liaison for the amphibious ship’s six-month “smart power” mission delivering training, humanitarian and scientific assistance to six West African nations, Vogel’s responsibilities were as unusual as his dress. On April 17, Vogel sat down in the vessel’s plush officer’s lounge to confer with a small team of diplomats and naval officers. The topic of their hour-long discussion: fish — and the catching thereof — in the bustling, anarchic Gulf of […]

As an IMF note to the G-20 leaders gathered at the recent London summit put it, “Growth also plunged across a broad swath of emerging economies. Against this backdrop, global activity is expected to contract in 2009 for the first time in 60 years.” In 1998, the Asian financial crisis left a lasting mark on politics in Southeast Asia. The Suharto regime fell in Indonesia and, arguably, ongoing turmoil in Malaysia and Thailand can be traced to the impact of ’98. However, this time around, the region is expected to come through the current recession relatively unscathed, in comparison with […]

Several analysts have noted that China is leveraging the global financial crisis to increase its economic clout — for example, by going on a commodities “shopping spree,” contributing $40 billion to the International Monetary Fund at the G-20 summit, and pushing for a greater voice in reforming international economic institutions. Recent developments, however, suggest that it is going further. China is using the crisis to step back and consider how it can rise in a more sustainable manner. That move is borne not only of its desire to be a world power, but also of its recognition that its strategy […]

Delegations from across the Western Hemisphere will descend upon the twin island Caribbean nation of Trinidad & Tobago this week for the fifth Summit of the Americas. A hemispheric agenda on energy figures prominently among the issues they will be addressing. For months, the summit offered the hope of a new, more positive, approach to coordinated regional energy policy. But the array of financial challenges facing the global economy has since divided the attention of policymakers. Now, prospects for comprehensive dialogue on energy security in the Americas can only be described as diminished. There is still a chance for the […]

article card

Up until now I have avoided addressing the issue of piracy off the coast of East Africa. I’ve done this both because it’s not a personal area of focus, and because the coverage of the issue, both in the mainstream media and the blogosphere, has been extremely heavy – arguably heavier than the issue merits. I’m not saying that the disruption of a major strategic waterway doesn’t matter. It does. Still, compared with wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, a global financial and economic crisis, the creeping disaster of climate change and nuclear proliferation, this is a second-tier problem getting first-tier […]