TOKYO — Despite having denied newspaper reports that it is planning to drop its efforts to acquire the F-22 Raptor, the Japanese government seems no closer to securing an order of the stealth fighter in the face of an American export ban. The U.S. is said to be wary of lifting the ban because of a well-publicized data leak concerning the U.S.-developed Aegis defense system by a Japanese officer in 2007. The approach has left some Japanese policymakers and U.S. analysts frustrated. “I find the U.S. policy in this case incomprehensible,” said James Auer, director of the Center for U.S.-Japan […]

GADHAFI REACHES OUT — In recent days, Washington has been the target of a mini-media blitz by Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, including an op-ed piece in the New York Times and a video conference with Georgetown University students. The advertised purpose of both was to push Gadhafi’s idea of a one-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian impasse, which he calls Isratine. But as commentator Dana Moss points out in the Guardian this week, the quirky Libyan leader is reaching out to the Obama administration “using his stance towards Israel as bait.” According to a Libyan source in Tripoli, Gadhafi is disappointed […]

In his first major interview since taking office, pointedly given to the Arab-language network Al-Arabiya, President Barack Obama reached out to the Arab and Muslim world, vowing to forge “a new partnership based on mutual respect and mutual interest.” The president reiterated his wish to engage with Iran in a sharp reversal from his predecessor. “It is important to us,” he highlighted, “to be willing to talk to Iran.” Given Obama’s new emphasis on reconciliation in the Middle East and his willingness to speak directly to controversial interlocutors, is the U.S. government hinting it will hold direct talks with Hamas? […]

Enduring Conflicts and New Challenges for Obama in Africa

The inauguration of President Barack Obama was filled with tremendously moving images, perhaps none more striking than the crowds who gathered in Kogelo, Kenya — the birthplace of Obama’s father — to watch the ceremony. Archbishop Desmond Tutu and the South African newspaper Business Day both compared Obama’s election to that of Nelson Mandela, the first democratically elected president in South Africa. As elsewhere in the world, Obama’s task will be to maintain that enthusiasm in the face of real challenges. Although Africa has been billed as one of the Bush administration’s foreign policy successes, three conflicts continue to dominate […]

While few can predict exactly what new policies will be implemented by the incoming Obama Administration, it is clear that addressing climate change will be among its top priorities, and that any successful approach to the challenge will involve international cooperation. The outlines of a solution are relatively simple. Over time, global carbon emissions need to be reduced, which means that current emitters — largely in the developed world — will need to reduce their emissions. Countries in the developing world, meanwhile, will need to limit the increase in their emissions as their economies grow and modernize, so as not […]

Long before we knew who the 44th president of the United States would be, Latin America experts began debating the list of priorities that should guide the next administration’s regional policy. From Foreign Affairs to the Brookings Institution to the Washington Office on Latin America — every magazine or think tank with a background in the region was shopping a set of ideas that could reverse the low tide of the Bush years. Some argue for more emphasis on free trade, a robust regional security initiative, and a strategy to isolate Hugo Ch├ívez and his populist ilk; others want to […]

When throngs of Brazilians take to the streets of Rio de Janeiro next month for the famous Carnival, Barack Obama will be there, dancing to the sultry beat of the samba. Obama masks are all the rage as preparations for the Carnival kick into high gear. When the party starts, hundreds, maybe thousands of Brazilians with Obama masks will hit the streets. Not surprisingly, the new president of the United States has become a celebrity in Latin America, just as he has in the rest of the planet. While at times it seems the entire globe is cheering Obama in […]

MADRID, Spain — Barack Obama begins his presidency with an unprecedented level of goodwill among Europeans, who are hoping he will reverse many of the unpopular policies that embittered transatlantic relations under his predecessor. As the contours of Obama’s foreign policy come into focus, however, much of the onus for smoothing the frayed relationship will lie with Europe, not the United States. Obama faces a daunting list of domestic and foreign policy challenges, at a time when the United States’ historic levels of debt — combined with the faltering American economy — will force him to call on Europeans to […]

In recent years, Brazil has generated a level of international interest and excitement that was wholly unexpected and unpredictable as little as 10 years ago. As one of the so-called BRIC countries — the emerging powers of Brazil, Russia, India and China — Brazil has been drawing increasing attention on a variety of fronts. Brazil’s economy has been growing steadily and solidly since roughly 2002, with low inflation, expanding trade, and gradually declining public debt. As a consequence, the country has been an inviting location for both foreign direct and portfolio investment. Internationally, Brazil has been in the forefront in […]

Just over a decade ago, a sea of supporters dressed in red and lining the streets of Caracas celebrated Hugo Chávez’s landslide election victory in Venezuela, marking a watershed in the Latin American political landscape and signaling the emergence of the so-called populist left in the region. Chávez was subsequently followed by a wave of left-wing leaders elected across the continent — Lula in Brazil (2002), Néstor Kirchner in Argentina (2003), Tabaré Vázquez in Uruguay (2004), Evo Morales in Bolivia (2005), and a year later Michelle Bachelet in Chile and Rafael Correa in Ecuador — leaving roughly 75 per cent […]

In the 21st century so far, regional integration has been one of the most notable elements of South American foreign relations. Picking up speed in recent years, the continent’s heads of state have enthusiastically met in numerous summits, promising increased political, economic, social, and development cooperation. Across the spectrum, governments are expanding current integration frameworks and entering into new agreements. Expectations are no less grand. As Brazil’s President Luis Inacio “Lula” da Silva recently stated, “South America, united, will move the board game of power in the world, not for its own benefit, but for everyone’s.” Economic integration is a […]

Pray for Zimbabweans. Their economy, shrinking for a decade, is suffering hyperinflation of more than 230 million percent. The government, which has no money to keep most primary and secondary schools open, has even closed down several hospitals during a cholera epidemic. The disease has left nearly 1,200 people dead and more than 23,000 others infected, according to the United Nations. With food, water, electricity and public services all scarce, Zimbabwe confirms Hobbes’ belief in the harshness of existence. President Robert Mugabe, the country’s sole leader since independence in 1980, deserves much of the blame. He has clung to power, […]