Just as the turning of the leaves heralds the arrival of winter’s chill, so too are there unmistakable signs whenever a summit of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization draws near. The media is filled with commentary about “NATO’s crisis,” while statements percolate forth from the alliance’s capitals about NATO’s clear purpose for the 21st century. This is a yearly ritual, with the proclamations of alliance unity and cohesion that inevitably accompany any NATO summit having similarly acquired a totemic quality. When the meeting is over, reality catches up with the vision that has been so ardently reaffirmed. The same issues […]

BEIJING — At its recent plenary session in Beijing on Oct. 14-18, the Chinese Communist Party’s Central Committee rubber-stamped the country’s latest five-year economic plan, oversaw the further emergence of a new generation of political leaders and issued a number of significant policy announcements. Taken together, these events signal a changing political tide in Beijing and the ascendancy of the CCP’s Maoist-influenced “Princeling” faction in the run-up to the 2012 leadership transition. The Princeling faction is so named because many of its key figures are the sons of revolutionary heroes. The Princelings effectively represent the CCP’s traditionalist wing, littering their […]

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Turkey’s deepening ties with China are worth paying attention to regardless of the academic reasoning used to justify them. But I thought Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu’s formulation was worth passing on. Referring to Francis Fukuyama’s famous “end of history” as a framework for understanding the end of the Cold War, Davutoglu instead referred to the Cold War and the colonial period that preceded it as historical anomalies, with Turkey’s foreign policy orientation now reflecting the ways in which history is undergoing a “normalization.” I’ve seen this same anomaly framework applied by French Gen. Vincent Desportes to Cold War approaches to […]

Editor’s note: This article is the second in a two-part series. Part I focused on the impact of budget cuts on the British navy. Part II focuses on the implications for U.S. national security policy. As part of government-wide cuts meant to rein in decades of deficit spending, in October the U.K. Ministry of Defense announced an initial 8 percent reduction in its roughly $63 billion annual budget. The Royal Navy will suffer the deepest cuts, with around one-quarter of the fleet — as measured by tonnage — to be decommissioned and future purchases of ships and planes delayed and […]

Last Friday, Wikileaks released a huge trove of documents on U.S. conduct of the war in Iraq. The release was conducted in collaboration with the New York Times, the Guardian, Channel 4, Al Jazeera, and Der Spiegel, and consisted mostly of U.S. military incident reports. Early reaction has concentrated much more on the substance of the material than on criticism of Wikileaks founder, Julian Assange. In part because of improvements in redaction policies, but also because negative revelations about the Iraq War are no longer as controversial as criticism of the ongoing Afghanistan conflict, attacks on Wikileaks have been more […]

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A number of rail link items have caught my attention recently, and I thought it worthwhile to pass them along. The first is this massive China-Turkey joint development of a Turkish high-speed rail project, with China financing the project to the tune of an estimated $30 billion. The second is this Burma project linking its deep-water port of Kyaukphyu to Kunming, the capital of China’s southwestern province of Yunnan. Then there’s this one, in Africa, linking South Sudan to Uganda. And finally, there’s this rundown of the current rail projects in Southeast Asia. We often talk about ties between two […]

The Nobel Committee’s decision to award jailed Chinese democracy activist Liu Xiaobo the 2010 Peace Prize came just days before China’s Communist Party elite anointed political princeling Xi Jinping as President Hu Jintao’s clear successor, highlighting the two Chinas that now seem to be passing one another like ships in the night. One China is propelled from below by a coastal workforce that is increasingly self-confident in its skills and accomplishments and growing income. The other, larger China is managed from above by political leaders who increasingly worry over the nation’s social stability as they grow more self-defensive in their […]

Space-based solar power (SBSP) may soon emerge as one of the leading sectors of strategic cooperation between India and the U.S., with a recently released report (.pdf) authored by U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Peter A. Garretson making the case for it being the next focus of the growing partnership. There are a number of reasons why SBSP may emerge as the hub for strategic industrial coordination between the two countries. First, neither country can meet its energy needs through existing clean-energy technologies, including nuclear power, and various technological advances over the past few decades have made space-based solar power […]

The news that Turkey and China had organized a joint military exercise at the huge Konya airbase in Turkey’s central Anatolian region last month came as a surprise to many. After all, just a year ago, when clashes between Uighur and Han Chinese broke out in China’s Xinjiang province in July 2009, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused Chinese authorities of mishandling a situation that he compared to “genocide.” What explains such a dramatic improvement in relations between Turkey and China? And how should this military exercise be understood in the context of the current shifts taking place in […]

When the Nobel committee selected Liu Xiaobo as the winner of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize, the distinction brought unwanted attention to China. For obvious reasons, Beijing did not want the world honoring a man who has dedicated decades to challenging the country’s political system. But Beijing, in fact, seems uncomfortable with any kind of attention. Earlier this year, when the Chinese economy overtook Japan’s to become the second-largest in the world, Chinese officials seemed determined to downplay what is by any measure an impressive achievement, declaring that the rising Chinese powerhouse remains “a developing country.” To be sure, China […]

With nations scouring the globe in pursuit of dwindling mineral supplies, the world’s attention has shifted to Mongolia, a country some are heralding as the next resource success story. Among the last places on earth with rich, untapped mineral deposits, this landlocked, underdeveloped country is expected to become one of the world’s fastest-growing economies over the next decade — if, that is, it can address a set of daunting challenges and bring these resources to the market. According to some estimates, there is about $1.3 trillion worth of untapped coal, gold, silver, copper, uranium and zinc deposits in what is […]

In June, Rolling Stone helped bring down Gen. Stanley McChrystal by publishing “The Runaway General,” a Michael Hastings article depicting McChrystal’s staff as contemptuous of civilian authority. Last month, Bob Woodward’s “Obama’s Wars” suggested that the uniformed military had boxed President Barack Obama into an escalation of the Afghanistan War. In tandem, the publications re-awakened concerns about the health of civil-military relations in the United States. Although the military has not directly challenged civilian authority, some observers worried that contempt in the ranks and the effort to control policy in Afghanistan could spell trouble for civilian supremacy. The Winter 2010 […]

Since the financial crisis broke in 2008, the United Nations Security Council has looked like a poor relation to the newly empowered Group of Twenty (G-20). While world leaders tackled the crisis at biannual G-20 summits, ambassadors in New York got on with the daily grind of reviewing peace operations and routinely condemning far-flung atrocities. The council has occasionally been in the limelight, not least during this summer’s tortuous negotiations over new sanctions on Iran. But a top-level meeting on the council’s role convened by Turkey this September was an illustrative bore, producing a statement calling for a “continuous process […]

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One of the pitfalls of the kind of quick analysis that goes into blog posts is that it’s possible, and sometimes even necessary, to click that “publish” button before an argument is fully formed or developed. In my case, when that happens, what’s often missing are the intermediate thought processes that lead from whatever triggers a post to its takeaway. In reading back over it, I think this post on Asian currency cooperation from yesterday is a good example of what I’m talking about. The Ulrich Volz article that triggered the post essentially argued that singling out the yuan exchange […]

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Writing at the East Asia Forum, Ulrich Volz argues that instead of pressuring China to allow the yuan to appreciate, we should be encouraging a regional approach to East Asian currency exchange rates. The problem with leaning on any one currency with regard to the dollar, but in isolation to the others, is that it threatens the exchange-rate stability upon which the increasingly specialized intra-regional chain of production depends. A coordinated regional approach, by contrast, would stabilize intra-regional networks independently of the dollar, thereby allowing for greater flexibility of the whole vis à vis external markets. In other words, the […]

It is hard for most Americans to fathom why the U.S. military should be involved in either Afghanistan or northwest Pakistan for anything other than the targeting of terrorist networks. And since drones can do most of that dirty work, few feel it is vital to engage in the long and difficult task of nation-building in that part of the world. These are distant, backward places whose sheer disconnectedness relegates them to the dustbin of globalization, and nothing more. If only that were true. But as globetrotting journalist Robert D. Kaplan makes eminently clear in his new book, “Monsoon: The […]

Last week India and Russia finalized plans to deliver 250 to 300 jointly developed fifth-generation fighter aircraft (FGFA) and 45 multirole transport aircraft (MTA) to India over the next decade. The Indian defense minister underlined that these would be the flagship Indo-Russian joint development projects, building on the success of the Brahmos cruise missile program as a model. Some wrinkles remain in the two countries’ defense partnership. India raised the issue of inordinate delays in the delivery of Russian defense systems, which result in considerable cost escalation. For instance, India will end up paying Russia $2.34 billion for the delivery […]

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