After seven long years, the Indian government has decided that the time has come to once again make its presence felt in Iraq by naming an envoy to the country. The previous ambassador to Iraq was withdrawn in 2004 as the security situation in the country spiraled out of control. Even after the situation in Iraq had stabilized, with largely peaceful elections last year and the U.S. decision to withdraw its forces completely by the end of this year, New Delhi took its time to come to terms with the rapidly changing realities on the ground. After all, when it […]

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One of the major points of speculation about the impact of the Egyptian uprising is over how a democratic government in Cairo will affect Egypt’s foreign policy, in particular regarding Israel. A just-released Ifop poll of French opinion on the Afghanistan War (via Jean-Dominique Merchet) highlights a point I’ve been meaning to make: Democracies are not immune to unpopular foreign policy. According to the Ipof poll, 72 percent of French people oppose the country’s involvement in the Afghanistan War. That’s slightly higher than the two-thirds who opposed the war at the time that French President Nicolas Sarkozy decided to deploy […]

BEIJING — Following a period of considerable success and strategic evolution, China’s foreign policy has been marked by a less coherent and less constructive approach to international relations over the past year. Nowhere has this shift been more pronounced than on the Asian littoral, a key arena in the country’s international rise, where China’s opaque naval expansion and increasingly abrasive behavior have begun to undermine previous strategic gains. China’s naval modernization is part of an ongoing force-wide attempt to enhance national military capabilities, particularly in nonconventional warfare and peacetime operations. The People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) also has a stated […]

In July 1967, at the height of Mao Zedong’s “Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution,” an editorial appeared in the Chinese Communist Party newspaper the People’s Daily heralding “a peel of spring thunder” sweeping across India. An uprising of tea-plantation workers led by Maoist militants in Naxalbari, a poor and remote district near India’s Darjeeling region, had come to Beijing’s attention. Inspired by the Chinese revolution, the militants imagined that Naxalbari was to be the beginning of a popular revolt that would end with the red flag flying over New Delhi. Such dreams were premature. Within months, the government had brutally suppressed […]

Editor’s note: This is the second of a two-part series on the G-20. Part I examined efforts to rebalance the global economy. Part II examines efforts to reform the global monetary system. Leading up to and throughout the G-20 finance ministers meeting last weekend, murmurs were heard about the role of the dollar and the need to reform the global monetary system. This is nothing new, of course, as a variety of major economies have expressed an interest in demoting the dollar since the global financial crisis broke out in 2008. The most recent examples came from Brazil and China, […]

Left-wing radicalism in South Asia is stronger than at any time since the Cold War, with both India and Nepal challenged by Maoist uprisings. Because it impacts one of the world’s emerging powers, the situation in India is perhaps of greater global significance. But the Nepal case is just as instructive, if not more so. For Nepal’s largely impoverished population of 25 million, which lives in a territory the size of Florida, a bloody decade of people’s war has since 2006 given way to “peace.” Yet to call the situation in Nepal peace is appropriate only if one believes that […]

The decline of the American “empire” has been a persistent theme of the punditocracy these past several years, with the underlying logic being Washington’s inability to extend, ad infinitum, the primacy seemingly conferred upon it at Cold War’s end. The global financial crisis has now further revealed a suddenly — and stunningly — rebalanced global order, and as a result, Americans are supposed to dread the vast uncertainties of our allegedly “post-American world.” Worse, Americans are also being presented with a patently false binary choice: Should the U.S. do what is necessary to regain its primacy or simply let it […]

Editor’s note: This is the first of a two-part series on the G-20. Part I examines efforts to rebalance the global economy. Part II will appear tomorrow and will examine efforts to reform the global monetary system. Over the weekend, G-20 finance ministers met in Paris to discuss steps on how to address persistent global current account imbalances that some fear could send the global economy back into recession. From the outset, the meetings reinforced what we already know about the group: Preferences among the members are incredibly diverse, making progress toward cooperation painfully slow. This is exacerbated by the […]

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Russia and Pakistan recently held high-level talks on militancy and nuclear proliferation, a sign of warming relations following lingering Cold War antagonism. In an e-mail interview, Dmitri Trenin, director of the Carnegie Moscow Center, discussed Russia-Pakistan relations. WPR: What has been the nature of Russia-Pakistan bilateral relations historically? Dmitri Trenin: For decades, Moscow’s relations with Pakistan have been mostly a function of Russia’s relations with two major powers, the United States and India. During the Cold War, Pakistan aligned itself firmly with Washington, while New Delhi leaned toward Moscow. As an illustration of this dynamic, Soviet-era maps represented the whole […]

It was recently reported that Somali pirates have been holding the crew of the North Korean cargo ship Chilsanbong Cheonnyeonho since it was captured last March. Ten months on, the ship remains detained, with hefty ransom demands likely still outstanding. With no records for the vessel found at maritime insurance tracker Seasearcher, the possibility that its crew may now be facing abandonment is becoming ever more likely. However, given South Korea’s dramatic rescue of one of its own vessels captured by pirates in January, the case of the Chilsanbong now offers the Koreas an opportunity for military cooperation at a […]

Naval power is characterized by fungibility and flexibility. Because of the relatively open nature of the seas, ships and fleets can be transferred between ports and crisis zones in order to conduct operations or exert influence. Indeed, one of the key appeals of naval power is the ability of warships to respond to crises in a variety of locations without requiring a longstanding political and infrastructural commitment. However, of all the major naval powers, Russia remains most tightly constrained by its unfortunate maritime geography. Russian warships based in the Arctic, Baltic, Black Sea and Pacific cannot easily support one another. […]

Editor’s note: This is the second of a two-part series examining Ecuador under President Rafael Correa. Part I examined Correa’s domestic policy. Part II examines his foreign policy. Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa’s radical “Citizen’s Revolution” has surprisingly translated into a foreign policy marked by pragmatism. Some of his moves — such as embracing China, Russia and Iran — have raised eyebrows, while others, such as the forced restructuring of Ecuador’s foreign debt, have prompted some foreign investors to question the wisdom of making long-term investments in the country. But his administration has also restored full diplomatic and commercial ties with […]

Brazil has profited handsomely over the past decade from its economic relationship with China. Exports to the People’s Republic have shot up nearly 20-fold since 2000, and last year alone, Brazil enjoyed a bilateral trade surplus of $5.2 billion, largely thanks to China’s seemingly insatiable appetite for iron ore and soybeans. In 2009, China supplanted the United States to become Brazil’s biggest trade partner, an arrangement that allowed Brazil to skirt the global recession by insulating it from the precipitous drop in exports that most other Latin American countries suffered. The relationship is not likely to change in the near […]

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About 500 Chinese people are said to live in Sulaimaniyah, Iraqi Kurdistan’s second city. Many work in the new Kawa Mall where Chinese flags, lucky cats and paper lanterns present an incongruous scene on the Kurdish landscape. Such immigration and foreign investment is becoming more prominent in the semi-autonomous area run by the Kurdistan Regional Government.

A deadly clash between Thai and Cambodian troops along the border near the Preah Vihear temple has renewed long-running tension between the two Southeast Asian neighbors. The fresh conflict poses a serious threat to bilateral relations and could be exploited, especially in Thailand, in domestic leadership struggles. The dispute has also revealed the limitations of important organizations like the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN). The recent confrontation claimed the lives of three Thai and five Cambodian soldiers, and according to local NGOs forced more than 25,000 people to flee their homes amid fears of further violence. Unconfirmed reports […]

Events in Egypt have taken center stage in global news coverage, displacing developments in Afghanistan in what amounts to a mixed blessing for the Obama administration. For while critics have taken the White House to task for its approach on Egypt, particularly over its mixed messages and lack of a unified response, they have paid less attention to the recent string of Taliban bombings in Kandahar — and the potential implications for the administration’s war strategy. The attacks killed the province’s deputy governor, Abdul Latif Ashna, and targeted the home of Kandahar’s police chief, Khan Mohammad Mujahid, who was not […]

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Burma’s opposition leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, is calling for Western countries to end sanctions against the country’s military regime. She says the sanctions have hurt ordinary Burmese, as about a third of the country’s 50 million people live below the poverty line. Burma’s National League for Democracy’s party says it wants to talk with Western nations about cutting back sanctions against the military ruled state.

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