The Summit on Financial Markets and the World Economy, November 2008, Washington, D.C. (White House photo by Joyce N. Boghosian).

One notable feature of the global economy over the half-decade since the collapse of Lehman Brothers has been the fluctuating fortunes of international economic cooperation in general and of the G-20 in particular. The G-20’s public reputation has taken a roller-coaster ride from hero to zero. The story of this rise and fall is also the story of the changing balance of (economic) power in the post-crisis global economy, and of the implications that this shift has had for how the world economy works—and how it doesn’t. This story began when the onset of the financial crisis prompted the elevation […]

A pedestrian walks near an electric market board in Tokyo, Sept. 16, 2008 (AP photo by Katsumi Kasahara).

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. It’s been almost five years now since the global financial and economic crisis formally began with Lehman Brothers’ filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Sept. 15, 2008. In today’s fast-paced, high-tech, hyperconnected world, five years is an eternity. In autumn of that year, the iPhone was barely one year old and only in its second iteration. No one had ever shared a photo of their dessert on Instagram because the service was […]

Editor’s note: This is the second of a two-part series. Part I looked at the domestic politics of Australia’s upcoming elections. Part II examines the foreign policy issues at stake. Bipartisanship is generally the hallmark of Australian foreign policy, and this election is no different. As a result, no matter who wins September’s polls, the focus of Australian policy will remain how best to capitalize on the trading benefits flowing from the economic rise of Asia, while navigating carefully through the security uncertainty that such growth brings to the stability of the region. A particular challenge will be how best […]

Russia has been sending some confusing signals on Iran in recent weeks. Rumors began to circulate that Russian President Vladimir Putin would be heading to Tehran to meet with newly inaugurated President Hasan Rouhani—with some even predicting that Putin would “drop in” on Iran this week after completing his visit to Azerbaijan to confer with Azeri President Ilham Aliyev. Stories were also released that Russia was reconsidering its unilaterally imposed boycott on selling advanced S-300 air defense systems to Tehran, or at least replacing them with another variant, the Antei-2500 system, as a way to get Iran to drop its […]

Editor’s note: This is the first of a two-part series on Australia’s upcoming elections. Part I looks at the domestic politics of the elections. Part II will examine the foreign policy issues at stake. When a desperate Australian Labor Party (ALP) ousted the incumbent prime minister, Kevin Rudd, in June 2010, replacing him with Australia’s first female prime minister, Julia Gillard, no one foresaw that the ALP would be relying on Rudd to bring the party back from political oblivion in 2013. But in June of this year, with polls predicting the ALP would be decimated in the September election, […]

Next month, Sri Lanka’s northern province, which until four years ago was the site of a devastating war between the central government and ethnic Tamil separatists, will hold its first postwar provincial elections. In an email interview, Alan Keenan, senior analyst and Sri Lanka project director at International Crisis Group, discussed the trajectory of Sri Lanka’s politics and governance since the end of the civil war. WPR: How has the end of the war affected the political standing of Tamils in Sri Lanka? Alan Keenan: The political standing of Tamils has been weakened since the end of the war, despite […]

At a joint press conference with his Indian counterpart Salman Khurshid in Ankara last month, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu described Khurshid’s visit to Turkey—the first by an Indian foreign minister in 10 years—as “historic.” The visit can be seen as part of an effort to visibly raise the profile of India-Turkey relations, which have been characterized by steadily expanding common ground on the geoeconomic front. India is now Turkey’s second-largest Asian trading partner, and Turkey is seeking more bilateral high-level exchanges as a precursor to expanded people-to-people contacts. For India, whose president will visit Turkey in the coming months, […]

Having discussed Russia’s policies toward Iran in my last column, I thought it would be instructive to analyze China’s policies toward the Islamic Republic to highlight the similarities and differences in their approaches, which are often overlooked. Beijing shares many of Moscow’s concerns, both regarding Iran’s nuclear program and the West’s reaction to it. But Chinese policymakers are often more timid than their Russian counterparts in defying Western preferences, even as they are at times bolder in seeking advantage from the crisis. During the past decade, China has joined Russia in opposing Iran’s efforts to acquire sensitive nuclear technologies but […]

China’s rapid economic growth over the past 30 years has transformed the world’s most populous country almost beyond recognition and reshaped the international economic and geopolitical landscape, forcing huge shifts in global international trade and investment flows. This growth is now slowing, meaning many of the key dynamics that have accompanied China’s rise are themselves evolving. While many observers are nervous about the Chinese slowdown and its implications, a more balanced, less inflationary and less resource-intensive model of economic expansion may bring more sustainability to China’s development story and allow Beijing to fundamentally rebalance its relations with international partners. The […]

The official Chinese news agency Xinhua reported earlier this month that China was considering relaxing its one-child policy for some families. In an email interview, Therese Hesketh, a professor at the Center for International Health and Development at University College London, explained the one-child policy’s impact and alternative policy options. WPR: What prompted the latest move to consider relaxing the one-child policy? Therese Hesketh: When the one-child policy was introduced in 1979, the government claimed it would last for one generation only. It is important to note that the one-child rule applies to less than half the population: Only urban […]

As the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) shifts to a training and advisory role in Afghanistan in preparation for the planned end of its mission in 2014, the Afghan air force has had difficulty replacing the air support capabilities previously supplied by international forces. In an email interview, Gary Owen, the pen name of an analyst and development worker in Afghanistan who has written on the readiness of the Afghan air force, explained the force’s history and current capabilities. WPR: When was the last time Afghanistan had a functioning air force? Gary Owen: The history of the Afghan air force […]

Joe Biden’s recent visit to New Delhi and Mumbai—the first trip by an American vice president to India in 30 years—occasioned no shortage of handwringing over the state of the U.S.-India relationship. Commentators on both sides point to stalled economic reforms and slowing growth in India combined with uncertainty over how India fits into Washington’s vaunted “rebalance” to Asia. And from one perspective, the glass can indeed appear half empty. Yet the U.S.-India relationship enjoys bipartisan support in both countries, and the underlying strategic logic remains sound. Building on this foundation will require able stewardship in both Washington and New […]

Last month, India agreed to help Myanmar build offshore patrol vessels in an effort to improve ties. In an email interview, Abhijit Singh, a research fellow at New Delhi’s National Maritime Foundation tracking political and strategic developments in West and South Asia, explained India’s strategic relationships in Southeast Asia. WPR: Who are India’s main security partners in Southeast Asia and how expansive are these ties? Abhijit Singh: India’s principal security partners in Southeast Asia are Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam. Security cooperation with these countries is mostly limited to defense dialogues, low-level military exchanges, modest military aid and training, and […]

High-value natural resources have historically been associated with dozens of armed conflicts, millions of deaths and the collapse of several peace processes, and both case studies and statistical evidence confirm that such resources play a role in sparking and fueling armed civil conflict. According to recent research, between 1970 and 2008 the portion of armed civil conflicts that were in some way related to high-value natural resources ranged from 30-60 percent each year. Why is peace so difficult to achieve and sustain in the presence of these resources? High-value natural resources can directly increase the risk of conflict in a […]

The small island-state of Timor-Leste exemplifies the challenge of resource-based development for a poor country well-endowed with a valuable natural resource. Timor-Leste, which gained its independence in 2002, has accumulated $13 billion in its petroleum fund in less than a decade. Some of the largest multinational oil companies are operating in the country, and the revenues continue to flow. And yet, while Timor-Leste has seen very notable improvements in its development indicators in the past few years, it continues to face a massive challenge of converting financial wealth into economic development. There are also heated debates about how to spend […]

For mineral-rich countries, large-scale extractive industry projects are a double-edged sword. On one hand, mining royalties and taxes provide funds that can be invested in infrastructure and social services. Mining projects can also create local jobs and spur demand for locally produced goods and services, supporting livelihoods and spurring economic growth. On the other hand, mining revenues can be—and there is plenty of evidence that they routinely are—spirited or frittered away, leaving little to show by way of long-term productive investment or better living standards. Moreover, mining booms undermine growth in other industries by skewing labor demand and swelling the […]

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Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s recently announced asylum policy made headlines around the world. The approach is punitive, insisting that no asylum-seeker who arrives in Australia by boat without a visa will ever be settled there. Instead, asylum-seekers’ claims will be processed in Papua New Guinea; if successful, that is where they will be resettled. The policy also comes against the backdrop of a steady increase in boat arrivals, or irregular maritime arrivals (IMAs) in the language of Australian bureaucracy. In 2010-2011 there were 4,750 IMAs, while in 2011-2012 there were 8,092. Current estimates are for even more during 2012-2013. […]

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