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 […]

Afghanistan Attack on CIA Carried Out By Double Agent?

NewsHour talks to the Washington Post’s David Ignatius and authorJarret Brachman about the alleged Jordanian double agent whosuccessfully completed a suicide mission against CIA operatives inAfghanistan. The incident has brought to light long-standingintelligence ties between Jordan and the United States.

China’s Naval Ambitions and Conventional Hegemony

If you haven’t read them yet, take a look at Richard Weitz’s WPR column on China’s interest in overseas naval bases and Saurav Jha’s WPR briefing examining China’s “third island chain” strategy. When you’re done, take a second, too, to read Hugh White and Sam Roggeveen, both at the Interpreter, on China’s aircraft carrier ambitions. White argues that China is unlikely to follow the orthodox path to great naval power status, because, as he says, it would be dumb to do so. It’s a cost-intensive move at a time when the naval environment favors denial over control. And Jha’s article […]

Military Intelligence Goes Civilian

There’s a lot to digest from Gen. Michael Flynn’s internal report (.pdf) on the U.S. intelligence effort in Afghanistan, not least of which is that it was released by CNAS. Flynn, after all, is the acting commanding general of the . . . U.S. intelligence effort in Afghanistan. When I first saw the report mentioned in a blog post, my mind’s eye inserted a ghost “(ret.)” after his name. Given Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ recent remarks about airing policy debates in public being a career-ending offense, one wonders whether that won’t, rightly or wrongly, soon be the case. As for […]

Last month, the Indian central government abruptly ended days of violent protests by carving out a federal state for the Telangana region of Andhra Pradesh. In an effort to end a five-decade-long internal conflict, the world’s largest democracy ceded a state for the greater good of stability and governance. India’s war-weary neighbor, Sri Lanka, would do well to take a page from New Delhi’s playbook as it looks to foster peaceful relations with its own minority Tamil population. The Sri Lankan government must take advantage of its recent military defeat of the Tamil Tigers insurgency (LTTE) by negotiating for political […]

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 […]

Karzai Frustrated by Foreign Forces

Afghan President Hamid Karzai is accusing NATO and U.S. forces of taking the fight against the Taliban too close to home. In an interview with Al Jazeera’s Hashem Ahelbarra, Karzai said that if night raids continue on Afghan civilians, foreign military forces will have more than just the Taliban to deal with. Karzai says that he wants Afghan sovereignty returned to the people.

Afghanistan’s Cabinet and Attempted Reform Efforts

Afghanistan’s parliament rejected 17 or President Hamid Karzai’s 24 cabinet nominees. NewsHour’s Margaret Warner speaks with Afghanistan’s ambassador to the U.S., Said Jawad, about what the vote means for his country’s political future. Said says that though the rejections could be seen as a setback, the parliament’s decision is a step in the right direction for the democratic process in Afghanistan.

End to HIV/AIDS Travel Bans Applauded

A Dutch man was the first person to take advantage of a change in U.S. policy removing travel restrictions for individuals with HIV/AIDS, after the ban was lifted Monday. Rights advocates and the United Nations applauded the move, as well as a similar one by South Korea, while calling for 57 other countries with various restrictions in place to follow suit. “We’re very excited to finally see the end of this discriminatory and harmful policy. Getting rid of the HIV ban has been a part of our core mission since we were founded in 1994,” Victoria Neilson, legal director at […]

The governments of the United States and its NATO allies routinely characterize Afghan President Hamid Karzai as corrupt and incompetent. These unjust accusations come after the West grossly mishandled Karzai for years, often placing damaging and contradictory pressures on him since he assumed the presidency in 2004. Karzai’s recent decision to expel two ministers tarnished by graft allegations is a positive sign of his efforts to improve the effectiveness and transparency of his administration, one that warrants recognition from the often-critical international community as a concrete example of good governance. The silence from the West following these firings speaks volumes […]

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 […]

Global Insights: China Tests Waters on First Overseas Naval Base

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 […]

Among the questions raised by Germany’s elections in September 2009 was the impact Chancellor Angela Merkel’s new coalition partners would have on Berlin’s foreign policy orientation. A number of developments since then have provided hints of areas of continuity, as well as others of potential change and even internal conflict. Among the areas of continuity is Germany’s approach to the internal politics of the European Union. In the recent race to secure the EU’s top post-Lisbon Treaty jobs, Berlin remained circumspect, preferring to leave the more powerful portfolios to other countries. The main struggle ended up being between London and […]

Political pundits across America seem committed to the notion that our just-concluded decade deserves the moniker “worst ever,” with the formulations ranging from Time’s demonic “decade from hell” to Paul Krugman’s self-flagellating “Big Zero.” But if Krugman could call it “a decade in which nothing good happened,” much of the planet might find our myopic bitterness a bit much — as if the entire world should stop spinning just because the Dow Jones Industrial Average forgot to exit the decade higher than when it entered. Why are we so convinced that the last 10 years, the decade of the Naughts, […]

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia — Two days after Cambodia repatriated 20 Uighur asylum-seekers fleeing China, the two countries signed trade agreements worth more than $1 billion, bringing significant investment, loans and grants to the impoverished Southeast Asian nation. Both countries deny a deal was struck, but China’s growing ability to leverage its economic power in the region combined with Cambodia’s weak rule of law have observers believing otherwise. China insisted the Uighurs were outlaws, saying they participated in deadly protests earlier this year, while Cambodia contended it was merely following its immigration laws by deporting them. Rights advocates, however, said the […]

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