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The U.S. and Singapore held their first strategic partners dialogue in Washington in January. In an email interview, See Seng Tan, the deputy director of the Institute of Defense and Strategic Studies at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, discussed the strategic relationship between the U.S. and Singapore. WPR: What motivated the recent push to step up bilateral ties? See Seng Tan: The most significant recent development in bilateral ties are the negotiations between the U.S. and Singapore to allow the U.S. Navy to base a number of littoral combat ships in Singapore. The move has been seen, especially by China, […]

Whether in the run-up to the Libya operation or current discussions about the merits of intervening in Syria or Iran, the debate over whether or not to go to war reveals as much about the global conversation over intervention as it does about any particular case. This special report uses WPR’s coverage of recent debates over intervention to review the terms of the debate over the eternal “next war.” Below are links to each article in this special report, which subscribers can read in full. Not a subscriber? Purchase this document for Kindle or as a PDF from Scribd. Or […]

Iran’s decision this week to bar International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors from visiting the Parchin military base, which Tehran allegedly used to test components needed to create a nuclear weapon, may prove to be a turning point in the diplomatic standoff over the country’s nuclear program. Up to this point, the “rising democracies” — especially Turkey, India and Brazil — have been unwilling to support efforts by the United States and Europe to further isolate Iran, in part because they have a much narrower definition of what constitutes a “nuclear weapons capability,” which the U.S. says is an unacceptable […]

Over the past several months, the rapid changes in Myanmar have underlined the remarkable political skill of the government that came to power after the country’s 2010 elections. With its initial steps toward embracing a domestic reform process, the Myanmarese leadership has obtained approval from the other nine Association of South East Asian Nations members to chair the regional bloc in 2014. The domestic opening has also allowed Myanmar to forge economic and political relationships with other Asian countries such as Japan, India and South Korea. Perhaps most importantly, the dramatic thaw in relations with the U.S. has encouraged greater […]

Over the past decade, the western Indian Ocean unexpectedly emerged as a hotbed for maritime crime as pirates — safe-havened in Somalia — menaced seafarers as far east as the Maldives. Shipping companies have been hit hard, with one estimate placing the direct costs of Somali piracy at $5.5 billion in 2011. Despite a multinational naval flotilla deployed to counter the pirates, attacks continued to grow last year. The discussion of Somali piracy predominately characterizes it as an aberration — a situation made possible by a failed Somali state that abuts a major shipping route. Viewed through such a prism, […]

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Six people have been named as suspects in an alleged Iranian bomb plot targeting Israeli diplomats in Bangkok, Thailand, last week. Though the suspects mistakenly set off the explosives while inside their house, the homemade, improvised bombs matched those used in twin attacks the day before in New Delhi, India, and Tbilisi, Georgia. The device in New Delhi, planted on a car door, left four people wounded; the device in Georgia was defused. Israel has accused Iran of being behind the attacks, which Tehran denies. But the method used in Thailand, India and Georgia looked a lot like that used […]

The United States’ relationship with Singapore has been and continues to be one of its most important and successful in the Asia-Pacific. Despite its small size, Singapore has transformed itself into a major player in Southeast Asia and the broader global economy, and has been a consistent supporter of a strong U.S. presence in Asia. Today, the city-state is America’s 13th-largest trading partner, hosts U.S. naval ships in its waters, serves as a model for Washington on issues such as education and offers valuable strategic advice to the United States on a variety of policy questions. These past few weeks […]

Russia has disappointingly blocked for now a U.S. State Department initiative to build a network of U.S.-supported counternarcotics centers in Central Asia. In public, Russian officials denigrate the effectiveness of programs to interdict drug transportation through Eurasia and instead have favored concentrating international resources on fighting opium poppy cultivation in Afghanistan itself. But some Russian officials’ opposition to the initiative is driven by their desire to minimize the U.S. presence in Central Asia. Formally launched in June 2011 as a $4.1 million State Department program, the Central Asian Counternarcotics Initiative (CACI) aims to establish counternarcotics task forces in all five […]

Pakistan’s activist judiciary is once again at war with the country’s executive branch. Last week, the Supreme Court indicted Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on contempt charges for failing to comply with a 2009 court order requiring him to petition the Swiss government to reopen corruption cases against President Asif Ali Zardari, who leads Gilani’s Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP). By month’s end, Gilani could be convicted and removed from office. Nonetheless, in a best-case and entirely plausible scenario, the PPP could still continue to govern till midyear and again win a plurality in National Assembly elections in the fall. The […]

While America has begun an economic recovery of uncertain strength and staying power, we Americans nonetheless face a far longer-term and more substantial national rebuilding project. This daunting task has placed us in a contemplative space, in which we nervously toggle between bouts of renewed self-confidence and crippling self-doubt. But the same thread runs through both cycles of this national bipolar disorder: the assumption that we must bear this burden alone. That assumption is our greatest weakness right now, for it blinds us to the economic opportunities at hand, while encouraging us to adopt an unwise defensiveness in our national […]

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Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper traveled to China earlier this month, where he met with senior Chinese leaders and signed deals promoting bilateral economic cooperation. In an email interview, Daniel Poon, a researcher at the North-South Institute, discussed trade and diplomatic relations between Canada and China. WPR: What is the nature and extent of energy relations between Canada and China, and how are they evolving? Daniel Poon: Due to years of prioritizing the U.S. market over all others, the extent of Canadian energy and, more generally, commercial relations with China have been relatively limited. In 2010, roughly one-third of Canada’s […]

TORONTO — Wrapping up a trip to China last week, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper described the visit as “very successful.” The trip saw the signing of a number of trade deals worth an estimated $3 billion in oil, natural gas, minerals and other products. But though it also ended with the commissioning of a feasibility study into the possibility of a free trade agreement between the two countries, Harper was quick to advise caution on what remains a long-term goal. That the two economies need each other is not in question. With bilateral trade valued at $50 billion in […]

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All eyes have been on Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping this week, as the heir apparent to Chinese President Hu Jintao continues his tour of the United States. But Xi will not be the only new face to emerge this fall, when the Chinese Communist Party will convene its 18th National Party Congress to announce a new generation of leaders in the top party and government positions. The congress convenes every five years to announce changes in policy or to make changes in personnel. But this year, the political transition is particularly important, with more than half of the 25 […]

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