Cuba became the 54th national government to accede to the U.N.’s Nuclear Terrorism Convention on June 17, in a move meant to burnish the island nation’s counterterrorist credentials, which have been contested by the United States and other foreign governments. In depositing Havana’s instrument of accession to the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism, as the convention is formally known, the Cuban mission to the U.N. issued a statement affirming the Cuban government’s “irrevocable commitment to the fight against terrorism under in all its forms and manifestations.” The Cuban government also exploited the occasion to contest […]

Back before the Iraq surge, “military operations other than war” — a now-antiquated term referring to non-traditional warfare — were treated as “lesser includeds,” filed deep under subsections of big-war plans, doctrine, and acquisition strategies. Today, by contrast, the U.S. national security establishment is increasingly embracing what I like to call the “greater inclusive” paradigm, which recognizes our military’s rising quotient of such operations, not as some rare exception, but rather as the new rule. Thanks to Iraq and now Afghanistan-Pakistan, the military no longer assumes that any force constructed and trained for big wars can automatically handle the “other […]

With events still unfolding inside Iran, it is not yet clear how things will pan out for the Islamic Republic, which now faces its greatest challenge since the regime’s early revolutionary days. But the reverberations of Iran’s internal tumult since the June 12 presidential elections are potentially far-reaching: Iran’s Arab neighbors, Israel, the European Union and, perhaps most importantly, the United States, are all observing developments closely to see how the crucial Middle East power’s internal ructions might impact their own strategic interests. The Obama administration initially chose to tread cautiously, not wanting to hand Iran’s hardliners a rhetorical weapon […]

Like beauty, the value of the United Nations lies in the eye of the beholder. Case in point, David Rothkopf’s recent screed on ForeignPolicy.com against the world’s largest multilateral organization, the latest in a long line of vitriolic — and largely misinformed — attacks on the institution. Only a few years ago, John Bolton, at the time the U.S. ambassador to the body, declared that lopping 10 floors off the secretariat would make little difference in its operation. Superfluous or not, those 10 floors managed to survive Bolton’s U.N. tenure largely unscathed. Although Rothkopf’s rant, too, will likely dissolve away […]

BOGOTÁ, Colombia — Barack Obama’s election as U.S. president last November signaled a defeat not only for his Republican opponent, Sen. John McCain, but also for the outgoing Bush administration’s strongest hemispheric ally, Colombian President Álvaro Uribe. When George W. Bush left office, Uribe lost his strongest ally for the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement, whose ratification is one of Uribe’s key foreign policy goals. Uribe will now travel to Washington next Monday, June 29, to try to wrench a firm commitment from President Obama to push the deal through a hostile Congress. But Colombia’s continued human rights violations and an […]

The political turmoil in Iran has brought new meaning to the maxim, “All politics is local.” In the age of disappearing distances, the fallout from rigged vote-counting in Tehran, Shiraz or Esfahan presents local challenges and opportunities to politicians in Fort Wayne, Beirut or Tel Aviv. Just as authorities in Tehran prove incapable of stopping the flow of information out of the country, the impact of Iran’s post-election crisis has also spilled across its borders, becoming an event with domestic repercussions around the globe. In the West, the crisis in Iran has created a platform on which politicians can stand […]

Omar Bongo, the 73-year-old president of Gabon, in West Africa, died of natural causes on June 8, after 42 years in office. He was the world’s longest-serving, elected head of state, as well as one of its wealthiest — having carefully tailored the nation’s laws to both keep himself in office and fatten his many foreign bank accounts. Bongo left behind a country so accustomed to his rule that his death sparked a nationwide security clamp-down . . . as well as a furious scramble, by his scores of close relatives, to pilfer Bongo’s stashes of cash and to position […]

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — The leaders of Pakistan and Indian recently agreed to restart the stalled “peace” process between the two countries. Known as the “Composite Dialogue,” the talks were suspended after the Mumbai terrorist attacks in November 2008, which India blamed on Pakistan-based militant outfits, primarily Lashkar-e-Tayyaba (LeT). India, however, has limited the focus of any future talks between foreign secretaries to the issue of cross-border terrorism, thereby limiting optimism about their chances of success as well. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari agreed to resume the Composite Dialogue during a meeting on the sidelines […]

Chinese and Russian leaders meet frequently, but last week was special. President Hu Jintao of China and President Dmitry Medvedev of Russia conferred three times over the course of four days — at the June 15-16 Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit in Yekaterinburg, then later on June 16 at the first-ever heads-of-state meeting of the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India, and China), and again afterwards when Hu made a state visit to Moscow from June 16-18. Hu’s visit helped mark the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Moscow and Beijing. It coincided with the signing of over 40 […]

China’s global priorities might not match up that well with those of your average American policymaker. But they do match up quite well with President Obama’s agenda. That’s the sense I got after spending last week in Shanghai with a bevy of China’s top foreign affairs academics. Although the workshop I attended was focused on U.S.-Chinese relations, there was no shortage of side conversation on the post-election meltdown unfolding in Iran. And nothing I heard in terms of the Chinese sense of priorities bore any resemblance to what you see these days in American newspaper headlines. As during the Cold […]

Winning American wars these days is four parts politics and just one part fighting. Contemporary military doctrine — counterinsurgency and stability operations — tasks soldiers, on the whole, with state-building. Victory, or at least success, means building from the bottom up, rather than destroying from the top down. But because conditions on the ground are so delicate, for the one part of warfare that remains fighting, there’s no room for error. With Gen. Stanley McChrystal taking charge of U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan on Monday, warfighting is on everyone’s minds. McChrystal has been appointed to command the Afghanistan war […]

OSLO, Norway — President Barack Obama’s effort to forge peace between Israelis and Palestinians has taken an unexpectedly dangerous turn. Obama campaigned on a promise to start working for peace in the Middle East from the earliest days of his presidency. He kept his word, but he unwittingly unleashed a new round of diplomacy that is unfolding on the public airwaves, breaking with one of the most fundamental and indispensable tenets of diplomacy. Instead of allowing the parties to quietly negotiate their most politically sensitive differences, Obama has set the tone for grand speeches made before large audiences. This is […]

In Iran, hundreds of thousands of citizens are bravely defying state laws barring protest, with reports emerging of students and demonstrators being beaten and even shot. President Barack Obama has muted his response so far, taking note of the violence, while taking pains not to feed historical Iranian perceptions of U.S. meddling. Some have criticized him for not taking a stronger stand, echoing widespread charges that Obama downplays human rights more generally in his foreign policy approach. The critics are right: Obama has prioritized stability and the shoring up of U.S. power over the vocal advocacy of human rights. But […]

To mark a visit by Swedish parliamentarians to the U.S. Navy command ship Mount Whitney, the destroyer Forrest Sherman flew a huge Swedish flag and blared music by the Swedish pop band ABBA from its loudspeakers. It was a moment of levity that belied the deadly serious politics underlying a 12-day, Baltic military exercise. BALTOPS 2009, involving 11 European nations and the U.S., risks provoking Russia, at a time when the Obama administration is working hard to restore U.S.-Russian relations. When the annual exercise was conceived in the 1970s, it focused on preparing NATO nations and their allies for war […]

NEW DELHI — U.S.-India relations have experienced a period of strain under the presidency of Barack Obama, with India increasingly unhappy about how the new administration is shaping its policy in the South Asian region. It is not just one or two matters that have raised concerns for New Delhi, but rather the gathering impression over the last few months that some of the closeness in relations enjoyed under the Bush administration, exemplified by the U.S.-India civilian nuclear deal, is dissipating under Obama. Some observers say that under Bush, Washington was more concerned about propping up India as a counterweight […]

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave a much-anticipated foreign policy speech on Sunday evening, billed as a response to U.S. President Barack Obama’s address at Cairo University 10 days earlier. Obama’s message in Cairo had been clear: “America will align our policies with those who pursue peace.” So it was no coincidence that Netanyahu opened his speech by declaring, “Peace was always the desire of our people,” and pledging his full support for Obama’s efforts “to bring about a new era of reconciliation in our region.” Also echoing Obama’s repeated emphasis on the importance of speaking the truth, Netanyahu talked […]

Iran Elections: What’s Next for U.S. Policy?

The circumstances surrounding Iran’s presidential election, and in particular the declaration of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as the winner despite opposition accusations of vote rigging, will present difficulties for any attempt by the Obama administration to diplomatically engage the Islamic Republic of Iran. The administration had been circumspect during Iran’s election campaign, but clearly it was hoping for a reformist victory by either Mir Hossein Moussavi or Mehdi Karrubi. Although neither would have guaranteed a thaw in U.S.-Iranian relations, a reformist victory would have made engaging Iran an easier political sell, both in Washington as well as among European and […]

Showing 1 - 17 of 301 2 Last