The Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP), commonly known as the Pakistani Taliban, has claimed responsibility for an attack over the weekend that killed nine foreign mountain climbers and their local guide, calling it retribution for a U.S. drone strike last month that killed Waliur Rehman, the deputy head of the terrorist organization. Trend Lines spoke with three leading experts on Pakistani security about what the attack indicates about Pakistan’s fight against the Pakistani Taliban. “The militants killed the nine foreign tourists because they knew that this would make headlines in Pakistan and abroad, which would embarrass the government greatly,” Mansur Khan […]

Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor who turned over a trove of information about U.S. surveillance programs to the media and foreign government agencies, continues to dominate the news. His story, like that of U.S. Army Pvt. Bradley Manning, is a complex tangle of important issues involving the privacy rights of Americans during the conflict with transnational terrorism; the process by which the U.S. government decides what information is classified and what is open; and the building of a massive national security bureaucracy that necessarily gives low-level, inexperienced people the power to do great damage to programs they […]

If there was ever a threat to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s leadership in recent months, it was annihilated last weekend. Not a single candidate from Abe’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) lost in the latest Tokyo municipal government elections, while the biggest national opposition party even fell behind the Communists. Though Abe’s political dominance could bring an end to Japan’s stretch of political instability, the country’s economic future remains shaky at best, and the lack of any meaningful opposition to the LDP can only bode ill for the country’s longer-term prospects. Voters in Tokyo, who are generally regarded as […]

Then-European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, with Singapore’s prime minister, Lee Hsien Loong, center, and former Portuguese Prime Minister Jose Socrates, left, at an ASEAN-EU summit, in Singapore, Nov. 22, 2007 (AP photo by Chitose Suzuki).

Editor’s note: The following article is one of 30 that we’ve selected from our archives to celebrate World Politics Review’s 15th anniversary. You can find the full collection here. One of the key differences between Western and Asian cultures is their view of time: Whereas history is linear and consequential as seen from the West, Chinese and other Asian cultures perceive time as being cyclical. In the latter view, the emerging Asian century is simply a natural phase within this recurring flow. As renowned economist Angus Maddison showed, China and India were the world’s largest economies for centuries. Only upon the […]

When Pakistan’s newly elected prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, appointed his Cabinet, he decided to keep two major portfolios for himself: foreign affairs and defense. The move was widely interpreted as emanating from the civil-military imbalance that defines decision-making on foreign and security policy in Pakistan. Senior members of Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) explained that Sharif wanted to prevent the kind of “misunderstandings” between the prime minister and the military on matters of foreign affairs that had occurred in the past, and added, “We’ve been dominated by the military for decades. And they still think they are superior to the […]

Pakistani and Indian officials met earlier this month to discuss cross-border energy cooperation, perhaps signaling that the new government in Islamabad aims to follow through on plans its predecessor spent years talking about. That would be good for both countries. Nawaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party swept Pakistan’s parliamentary election in May, and Sharif took over as prime minister early this month, pledging—among other things—to improve relations with India and address his country’s crippling energy shortage. On June 11, the prime minister’s younger brother, Shahbaz Sharif, the head of government in Pakistan’s largest province, Punjab, reportedly met officials from […]

After many months of false starts, Afghan peace talks may finally officially begin in Doha, Qatar, where the Taliban opposition has established a quasi-official presence. But a newly published study (.pdf) by the International Center for the Study of Radicalization (ICSR) should again remind us that the likelihood of negotiating a sustained peace deal with the Taliban remains small. The report’s authors undertook a comprehensive study of almost three decades of negotiations with Afghan resistance movements, reviewing Soviet-era talks with the mujahedeen guerrillas as well as Western and Afghan government negotiations with the Afghan Taliban. Although generalizing lessons from history […]

Can dialogue be effective in securing America’s strategic interests? This is the challenge extended to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who this past week received two opportunities to show that diplomacy rather than force can bring results in solving two long-standing quandaries. The first was the election of Iran’s former nuclear negotiator Hasan Rowhani to the presidency. An establishment cleric known for his diplomatic finesse, Rowhani replaces the bombastic Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whose fiery rhetoric and outspoken commitment to the country’s nuclear program inflamed Western sensibilities and whose efforts to strengthen the position of the presidency put him on a […]

This month, China and the U.S. concluded a deal to “phase down” emissions of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), a highly polluting form of greenhouse gas. In an email interview, Adam Moser, assistant director of the U.S.-China Partnership for Environmental Law at Vermont Law School, explained the difficulty the U.S. and China have had on climate change cooperation and the significance of the recent agreement. WPR: What in the past has limited cooperation between the U.S. and China on climate change? Adam Moser: First, both countries have domestic political situations and interest groups that have contributed to their limited cooperation on climate change, […]

The annual plenary meeting of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) later this month in Prague will focus attention once again on India’s application for membership in the group. Since 2008, India has been campaigning to join the NSG, which governs all legal transfer of nuclear technology and material globally. While the India-U.S. civilian nuclear deal concluded that year raised India’s hopes of inclusion, the NSG remains bitterly divided over the issue, with a U.S.-led bloc supporting India’s candidature and a China-led bloc vehemently opposing its entry into the group. The stand-off has frustrated India’s deep-seated desire to become an equal […]

Last month, Turkish President Abdullah Gul visited Turekmenistan to discuss bilateral ties. In an email interview, Bayram Balci, a visiting scholar focusing on Turkish foreign policy at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, explained Turkey’s broader relationship with the Central Asian republics. WPR: What has been the recent evolution of Turkey’s relationship with Central Asia, and why does Turkey prioritize the region in terms of its foreign aid? Bayram Balci: The last major political event between Turkey and Central Asia was the 10th summit of Turkey and the other Turkic republics—Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan—which took place in Istanbul […]

In a visit this month to Central America by Chinese President Xi Jinping, China extended a $900 million line of credit to Costa Rica, the only Central American country that recognizes Beijing and not Taipei as the government of China. In an email interview, Cynthia Watson, professor of security at the National War College of National Defense University, explained China’s expanding contacts in Central America, and why most Central American countries maintain diplomatic relations with Taiwan. Her comments are personal analysis, not official U.S. government policy. WPR: What have been China’s recent efforts to expand ties with Central America, and […]

National security policy can resemble the fashion industry. A defense strategy that is in vogue in one era can fall out of fashion, only to come back into style, perhaps in slightly different form, at a later date. So it is with deterrence. This strategy was central during the Cold War, but 9/11 convinced many people that deterrence was no longer useful. In the years after, however, interest in deterrence revived as scholars and government officials sought ways to adapt it to meet contemporary threats. This deterrence revival is a mixed blessing. Just as it was during the Cold War, […]

Collective defense is a coordinated response to a common security problem by two or more countries. The core of collective defense is political: a commitment by different nations to come to each other’s aid if attacked. Existing collective security arrangements for the U.S. and its allies were designed for one kind of threat. Now they must deal with others, including new threats, if they are to remain relevant to national security. In particular, the U.S. and its allies agree that it would be useful to extend collective defense arrangements against potential cyberattacks, but implementation has proven difficult because of the […]

French President Francois Hollande’s three-day visit to Tokyo, where he met with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, resulted in major agreements on nuclear cooperation and joint development of military hardware. The summit, which also covered a range of other topics, reflected the noticeable improvement in recent years of the two countries’ already solid bilateral ties. Despite often being rivals for foreign contracts, Japan and France remain closely bound through cooperation on advanced technologies. Indeed, the agreement to increase nuclear cooperation was not a total surprise considering that a French-Japanese consortium just won a lucrative $22 billion joint bid to develop […]

Following World War II, the United States hoped that global security could be managed collaboratively by the victorious allies using a network of international organizations, particularly the newly created United Nations. But it quickly became clear that the Soviet Union would be an adversary, not a partner. Initially, U.S. policymakers disagreed on how to respond to the mounting Soviet threat. Great power strategy was new to Americans, something they had to learn on the fly. Neither placating nor threatening Moscow seemed to work. In 1946, Department of State official George Kennan, an astute student of statecraft and history, offered a […]

This weekend’s informal U.S.-China summit in California had several key objectives: personal trust building between U.S. President Barack Obama and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping; halting the negative momentum in bilateral relations; reducing tensions regarding disputed issues; and signaling to domestic and international audiences that the United States and China can work together. But the main objective—and outcome—of the meeting was mutual reassurance. The summit resulted in only general statements and did not achieve specific policy commitments. But it came at a very early date in China’s domestic political cycle, just three months after the completion of Beijing’s power transition. […]

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