If you thought the neocons were vanquished, disappearing along with theBush-Cheney administration, better think again. Their mindset stillanimates most of what the GOP offers in opposition to President BarackObama’s magical apology tour. For while the president won a Nobel PeacePrize for his heartfelt mea maxima culpa, Charles Krauthammer & Co. see no reason to surrender America’s two-decades-and-counting “era ofmaximum dominance” to the Chinese simply because Beijing holds the pinkslip on our national economy. First, some details. Atthe heart of this struggle lie two diametrically opposed views oftoday’s world: one that accepts globalization as the all-powerfulshaper of human destiny, and one […]

In discussing my proposal last week for a Sino-Indian Convention that would define 21st century spheres of influence in Central Asia, a colleague suggested that it was an idea that Otto von Bismarck would have been proud of. They didn’t mean it as a compliment. We think of Bismarck as a caricature of the old European warlord, peering through a monocled eye while croaking about decisions forged in “blood and iron.” Most of all, we see him as someone whose policies were designed for personal and imperial aggrandizement, not the betterment of the people. We distrust his approach to the […]

One aspect of the Obama administration’s foreign policy that has provoked condemnation across the political spectrum is its approach to human rights around the world. Critics have pointed to a visible tendency to relegate human rights to the background in dealing with offending nations, as Washington keeps its focus on what it deems more important objectives. With the volume of criticism rising, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton offered a detailed presentation of her — and presumably the administration’s — approach to human rights. Her speech at Georgetown University last Sunday offered a fascinating view inside the administration’s evolving philosophy. In […]

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It’s not often that a U.S. official defends Iran at an international forum. But U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Jeffrey Feltman did just that at the sixth annual Manama Dialogue, a regional security conference organized by the International Institute for Strategic Studies held in Bahrain on Dec. 11-13. Feltman deflected charges by the Yemeni and Saudi governments that Iran was providing military assistance to Houthi rebels operating along the Yemeni-Saudi border. Meanwhile, at the same conference, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki provided the most detailed counteroffer to date from Tehran regarding proposals that Iran exchange its […]

While Afghanistan has often been touted as the crucible for the regeneration of the Western alliance, it also offers another opportunity for the United States: a means to promote a stabilizing modus vivendi between India and China. In his recent WPR Briefing on China’s stake in containing Pakistani militants, Michael Kugelman observed, “Pakistan’s instability threatens the security of China’s citizens, its government and its energy imports,” particularly when it comes to the “combustible province of Baluchistan.” He notes, “Whenever China has demanded something of Islamabad, the latter has often complied.” And in surveying the Indian strategic view of Afghanistan, Dan […]

Counterinsurgency, commonly referred to by its military acronym, “COIN,” essentially boils down to armed nation-building — a deliberate process of empowering people and weakening guerrillas until a state-friendly balance emerges. By contrast, counterterrorism seeks the tactical annihilation of the enemy. President Barack Obama’s new Afghanistan and Pakistan strategy is an effort to do both, promising to dismantle and disrupt al-Qaida while leaving the expensive and time-consuming job of definitively defeating it to Islamabad and Kabul. Call it COIN-lite. Can such an approach work? For now, yes. But if we extend the time horizon to 5-10 years from now, the outlook […]

When President Barack Obama accepts his Nobel Peace Prize this week in Oslo, it will likely amplify the grumbling of those who think he is being rewarded for circumscribing American power. Obama’s diplomatic efforts to date have elicited complaints that he is “starry eyed” and “weak,” too solicitous of foreign leaders, and even “accommodating” of America’s enemies. These criticisms miss the point. Barack Obama isn’t weak. He just helms a superpower whose power and influence is on the wane. Even as it remains the most powerful nation in the world, the United States is becoming, as the Bush-era National Intelligence […]

A fanatical rebel group formed in northern Uganda in the 1980s has spread to become what one U.S. general labeled a “transnational” threat, prompting the U.S. and various East African nations to work together to defeat the group. The international cooperation is the fruit of years of delicate planning by U.S. officials. The Lord’s Resistance Army, founded by Ugandan Joseph Kuny in 1986, aims to establish a Christian theocratic government in East Africa. But the group’s brutal methods — torture, abduction and rape — belie its religious roots. From Uganda, the LRA spread into neighboring Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo […]

“We must make sure that the deployment of our troops is not merely the appetizer and that the main course becomes . . . an outbreak of nation-building and infrastructure construction and resources which are . . . not within our capacity to provide for everyone around the world.” After eight years of operations in Afghanistan, and the recent announcement that additional troop deployments will continue to execute a strategy that stretches the military beyond its traditional combat role for at least another 18 months, the above quotation could easily convey the commitment-fatigue prevalent in Washington these days. But the […]

Conservative voices are being raised against what defense hawks consider to be the Democrats’ ulterior motive in addressing health care in America: a none-too-subtle long-term plot to curtail U.S. defense spending and thus render our military forces as strategically impotent as those of our NATO allies. This charge is at once hypocritical and correct, but not for the dark reasons ascribed to the Obama administration. Instead, the Democrats’ implied plot to rebalance domestic versus foreign spending merely responds to America’s demographic trends, while revealing — quite uncomfortably, for defense hawks — the shifting correlation of forces across the global security […]

The president and his national security team have outlined an ambitious strategy for Afghanistan. But if they hope to meet their July 2011 target date for the beginning of a U.S. drawdown, they will have to navigate some unavoidable roadblocks along the way. The first — and most pressing — is the continued weakness of the government of Afghan President Hamid Karzai. Some commentators have written that the withdrawal of presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah from the second round of elections this past fall has cleared the way for Karzai — with U.S. support and aid — to begin necessary reforms. […]

When the White House first announced President Barack Obama’s decision to give a speech in Cairo in order to “reset” U.S.-Muslim relations last June, American pundits from the left and right criticized the speech’s location, its timing and its presumed content. Skepticism dominated Middle Eastern commentary as well. In a region battered by conflict and profoundly suspicious of Western intentions, the history of the 20th century, as taught in schools, was dominated by the narrative of colonialism and national liberation, war and resistance. From this perspective, Britain and France simply passed the imperial torch to the United States. So the […]

Low interest rates have become something of a staple at the U.S. Federal Reserve in recent years. However, early last month, the U.S. central bank took its “cheap dollar” policy to another level by committing to near-zero interest rates for the foreseeable future. The Fed’s decision has its roots in domestic economic goals: With American unemployment hovering above 10 percent, low rates are seen as a way to jump-start bank lending to businesses — a necessary first step in getting these firms to increase staffing. Low rates also make it cheaper to buy a home and should help the U.S. […]

The success or failure of President Barack Obama’s new Afghanistan strategy will depend on numerous international factors, from the contributions of Washington’s NATO allies to the performance of Afghanistan’s beleaguered government. However, few factors loom larger than Pakistan. Indeed, the Obama administration has conceded that unless Islamabad intensifies its efforts against Taliban and al-Qaida forces based in Pakistan, the Afghanistan plan will likely fail. Predictably, the U.S. government has renewed pressure on Pakistan to launch a more aggressive campaign against militancy within its borders. However, Washington has little credibility and leverage in Pakistan, and Pakistani mistrust of the United States […]

President Barack Obama offered a well-articulated if somewhat hazy vision last night of his plans to stabilize the deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan. The core idea is to increase foreign support for the Afghan government and security forces in order to allow them to develop the capacity to improve governance and confront the Taliban insurgency more independently. The basic problem with implementing this strategy is that the Afghan government and security forces continue to experience numerous difficulties. In addition, the administration’s other sought-after foreign partners are either leaving the field of battle or refusing to enter it. In order for […]

This WPR Special Report compiles news, analysis and opinion from WPR’s pages to provide insight into the regional politics and balance of power in Asia. The report includes expert analysis on U.S.-China relations, U.S.-India relations and relations among the countries of the region. Below are links to each article, which subscribers can read in full. Subscribers can also download a pdf version of the report. Not a subscriber? Subscribe now, or try our subscription service for free. U.S.-China Relations Horse Trading with BeijingBy Nikolas GvosdevNovember 20, 2009Balance of Power Key to U.S.-China RelationsBy Ali WyneOctober 22, 2009Restoring the Military Balance […]