Turkey continues to work along different tracks in its strategy to become the “gas hub” of Europe, as demonstrated by the official visit to Ankara of Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov in late December. Mammadyarov’s visit should set to rest speculation about Turkey’s waning political support for the Nabucco pipeline, as well as Ankara’s supposed reorientation toward Russia. Mammadyarov was received in Ankara by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and President Abdullah Gul before meeting behind closed doors with his Turkish counterpart, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu. Although the details of the talks have not been disclosed, the enthusiastic declarations of […]

The sage’s transformation of the world arises from solving the problem of water. If water is united, the human heart will be corrected. If water is pure and clean, the heart of the people will readily be unified and desirous of cleanliness. Even when the citizenry’s heart is changed, their conduct will not be depraved. So the sage’s government does not consist of talking to people and persuading them, family by family. The pivot (of work) is water. — Lao Tze Water management is, by definition, conflict management. Water, unlike other scarce, consumable resources, is essential to all facets of […]

In the aftermath of Copenhagen, many observers are lamenting the apparent unwillingness of governments to confront climate change. However, this unwillingness simply reflects an essential truth about public policy: The immediate always trumps the distant. For most policymakers, the threat of climate change remains a distant one. Governments prioritize immediate threats, even if doing so hastens the melting of glaciers and the rising of sea levels that may eventually destroy habitats and nations. Another vivid illustration of this mindset is the acquisition by foreign governments of vast tracts of farmland across the developing world. These land deals leave immense carbon […]

Toward the end of World War II, the godfather of geopolitics, Nicholas Spykman, offered his famous analysis that was to become a rule of thumb for many strategists ever since: Who controls the Rimland rules Eurasia, and who rules Eurasia controls the destinies of the world. Spykman had a point. The two world wars of the 20th century came about largely due to attempts by European rivals to tilt the Eurasian balance of power in their own favor. Russia was always a critical component in this balance, but now, due to the country’s aging population and infrastructure, the 21st century […]

Bereft of an ally since the collapse of monarchical rule in Nepal nearly four years ago, China has been struggling to secure its place in the buffer state, wedged between China’s volatile Tibet region and its regional rival, India. Hardly a month goes by now without a high-level Chinese delegation arriving in Kathmandu seeking assurances on its security interests. In February 2005, China offered then-King Gyanendra a lifeline by calling his seizure of power, which otherwise prompted widespread international condemnation, an internal matter. A year later, when the royal regime no longer seemed tenable, China scrambled to build ties with […]

Thanks to the recent global financial crisis, we’ve heard much talk about the coming “de-globalization,” defined by some as the reversal of the now decades-long push to further integrate trade among national economies by disintegrating production and spreading its means across the planet to the cheapest sources. In the past, all forms of growing supply chain connectivity could be justified on price, buttressed by just-in-time delivery capacity. But the market woes of the last year-and-a-half supposedly threw all that logic into question. Price risk is one thing, supply risk quite another. Specialization depends on supply: the greater the specialization, the […]

Last month, the West officially lost the new “Great Game.” The 20-year competition for natural resources and influence in Central Asia between the United States (supported by the European Union), Russia and China has, for now, come to an end, with the outcome in favor of the latter two. Western defeat was already becoming clear with the slow progress of the Nabucco pipeline and the strategic reorientation of some Central Asian republics toward Russia and China. Two recent events, however, confirmed it. On Dec. 14, Chinese President Hu Jintao and the heads of state of Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan personally […]

Chile’s left-wing Concertaci√≥n coalition might very well lose the presidency for the first time since the country’s return to democracy in 1990. But don’t blame outgoing President Michelle Bachelet. With record-high approval ratings, Bachelet would be a shoe-in for a second term, if not for the constitutional prohibition on consecutive re-election. Instead, as the country’s first woman president and, before that, its first woman defense minister, Bachelet will undoubtedly be remembered for breaking the gender barrier to Chile’s most powerful positions. She also appointed equal numbers of men and women to her cabinet when she took office in 2005. Subsequent […]

Analysts have long wondered if the Chinese navy (PLAN) had a third island chain strategy, beyond the publicly declared strategies for the first island chain (centered on Taiwan) and second island chain (extending from Japan to Indonesia). Many American commentators believed that such a strategy would refer to the ability to project power capable of reaching America’s bases in Hawaii. However, China’s recent maritime activities — such as its extended counterpiracy patrols in the Horn of Africa and its involvement in a number of port development projects in Indian Ocean littorals (dubbed the “string of pearls”) — have raised the […]

Immediately after President Barack Obama announced on Dec. 1 that he would deploy 30,000 additional U.S. troops to Afghanistan, NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen declared that the alliance would also step up with a miniature surge of its own. While Rasmussen’s announcement may have been a deft political move, many of the 7,000 troops he cited were pledged well in advance of Obama’s West Point speech, with some of those forces already on the ground. Also, the figure does not take into account planned near-term withdrawals by frontline contributors like the Netherlands and Canada. Finally, although the specific country-by-country breakdown […]

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Over the New Year’s holiday, the Chinese government launched yet another trial balloon to test international reaction to its expanding military reach. The move came in the form of an interview reproduced by the Defense Ministry’s Web site, in which a retired admiral called for China to acquire its first permanent overseas naval base. Although the ministry quickly distanced itself from the proposal, we can expect to see further expressions of Chinese interest in acquiring naval bases in coming years. On Dec. 30, the Defense Ministry’s Web site posted the interview with Adm. Yin Zhuo, who often comments on China’s […]