As a strategic approach, the U.S. pivot or rebalance to Asia seeks to expand the American political, economic and military presence in the Asia-Pacific region. While this realignment is not only about China, it is also evident that much of the thinking behind it relates to China, and in particular how a more engaged American leadership in Asia could be potentially productive in steering Beijing toward a path that, from the U.S. perspective, would be beneficial for regional and global order. The strategic shift has led many observers to perceive the rebalance as a means for the U.S. to maintain […]

India’s rise has been accompanied by friction both at home, as a growing middle class pushes for economic security, and abroad, as rivals China and Pakistan jockey for influence. This World Politics Review special report looks at India’s obstacles and opportunities as its seeks its place in the Asian century. Governance A Targeted Approach: India’s Expanding Social Safety NetBy Devesh Kapur and Prakirti NangiaSeptember 24, 2013 In India, Corruption Moves to Top of the AgendaBy Frida GhitisMay 2, 2013 Corruption in India: An IT ApproachBy Prashant AgrawalJanuary 10, 2012 India’s Power Grid Needs More Than Just Increased CapacityBy Catherine CheneyAugust […]

Is there a strategic case for the United States to sustain or expand its efforts to eavesdrop on German intelligence targets? Over the past week, German politicians and the media have grappled with claims that the U.S. National Security Agency listened to Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cellphone calls. For many commentators and the chancellor herself, this is by definition a huge breach of trust between allies. For more cynical observers, there is no serious cause for outrage. All states, they smirk, spy on one another. Both the moralists and the cynics have solid arguments. But both also miss a simple point […]

Washington got two important reminders this week that it cannot take anything for granted in the current international environment. On Tuesday, Saudi Arabia’s intelligence chief, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, was reported as saying that the kingdom is planning to make a “major shift” in its relations with the United States. Then on Wednesday, India and China announced an agreement designed to defuse border tensions. Underlying these two moves is the reality that in a more chaotic, G-Zero world, all countries are going to hedge their bets. It is, of course, important not to overreact. Some sources have suggested that Bandar’s […]

Following a decade-long oil and mining boom, Colombia is facing the challenge of how to harness its energy wealth and push development forward. Since former President Alvaro Uribe opened up Colombia’s oil and mining sectors in the early 2000s, Colombia has gone from producing just more than 500,000 barrels per day (bpd) in 2002 to nearly 1 million bpd in 2012. Over the same period, it has seen foreign direct investment inflows jump from $2.1 billion to $15.8 billion, more than half of which was destined for the oil and mining sectors last year. Some 68 percent of Colombia’s $369 […]

A historic change is underway in the global security system. As Harvard political scientist Stephen Walt wrote, the world is witnessing “a sharp decline in America’s ability to shape the global order.” In the future, Walt and others believe, “the United States simply won’t have the resources to devote to international affairs that it had in the past.” Christopher Layne of the George Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University is even more blunt: “The epoch of American dominance is drawing to a close, and international politics is entering a period of transition: no longer unipolar […]

In early September, the U.S. executed a stunning volte-face in its declared policy on dealing with the use of chemical weapons in the Syrian civil war. Backing away from enforcing a self-imposed presidential “red line” with an already announced military intervention, Washington instead embraced a Russian-developed diplomatic plan that turns Syrian President Bashar al-Assad from a military target into an essential partner in ridding Syria of its WMD stockpiles. The reversal may not have marked “the worst day for U.S. and wider Western diplomacy since records began,” as one retired British diplomat saw it, but the shift definitely raised questions […]

Winston Churchill, the storied politician and former prime minister of the United Kingdom, once said, “I think I can save the British Empire from anything—except the British.” Churchill’s quote cleverly points out that great power decline is not just a function of external factors; often the worst wounds are self-inflicted. In recent weeks, observers around the globe watched with alarm as a dysfunctional American political system pushed the world’s most powerful economy to the brink of default. How could a country with so much global prestige and power risk both over petty partisan squabbling? Why would policymakers choose to squander […]

While the headlines about the latest round of Asian summitry in Brunei and Indonesia focused on U.S. President Barack Obama’s absence and China’s efforts to fill this void, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe continued his impressive efforts to shore up relations with the countries of Southeast Asia as Japan and ASEAN commemorate 40 years of relations between them. Since taking office last year, Abe has visited eight of 10 Southeast Asian countries and plans to visit the remaining two, Cambodia and Laos, before mid-December, when Tokyo will host a special ASEAN-Japan Summit celebrating the 40th anniversary of ties. This diplomatic […]

Last Friday, the Pentagon announced that, by next July, all U.S. troops will leave Manas airbase in Kyrgyzstan. The base has served as the most important transit center for U.S. and coalition troops entering and leaving Afghanistan by air, but that role will soon be replaced by a base in Romania. The move comes in response to a July vote by Kyrgyzstan’s parliament to terminate the U.S. lease at Manas effective one year later, on July 11, 2014. It is not the first time Kyrgyzstan has threatened to end the arrangement. Unlike on previous occasions, this time Washington decided not […]

Earlier this month, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Vietnamese Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh signed an agreement to enable future civil nuclear cooperation between the two countries. While the text has not been made public, it appears that the agreement will not include a so-called Gold Standard provision proscribing Vietnam from enriching uranium or reprocessing plutonium. The agreement marks the latest installment in a decade-long effort by the United States and other major nuclear powers to limit the further spread of uranium enrichment and plutonium reprocessing technologies (ENR), which can provide both fuel for nuclear power and fissile […]

This month, India announced plans to buy eight mine-countermeasure vessels from a South Korean company in a deal worth $1.2 billion. In an email interview, Scott W. Harold, an associate political scientist at the RAND Corp., discussed the state of the South Korean defense industry. WPR: What is the current state of South Korea’s defense industry, and what is driving its growth? Scott W. Harold: From an extremely low base in the 1970s, the Republic of Korea’s (ROK) defense industry has been maturing in a number of areas including ground systems, precision strike capabilities, electronics and shipbuilding. It has also […]

After three decades of protracted conflict and four years of relative peace, a recent event has emerged as a sign that democracy, albeit ailing, is still alive in the island-nation of Sri Lanka. On Sept. 21, 2013, for the first time in 25 years, provincial council elections were held in the war-ravaged Northern Province, offering the country’s ethnic Tamil minority, largely present in the region, the opportunity to choose its own political destiny. Sri Lanka established provincial councils in 1987 as a result of the Indo-Sri Lanka Agreement that called for the devolution of power to the provinces in a […]

In early September, the United States and Indonesia participated in joint counterterrorism exercises, part of a trend of growing military ties between the two countries. In an email interview, Ristian Atriandi Supriyanto, associate research fellow with the Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS) at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University, explained Indonesia’s goals in modernizing its military and its military partnerships. WPR: What are Indonesia’s goals in modernizing its military? Ristian Atriandi Supriyanto: Indonesia’s military modernization is currently based on the Long-Term National Development Plan for 2005-2025, which calls for achieving a “minimum […]

In recent media interviews, representatives of both the Pakistani government and the Pakistani Taliban have signaled willingness to engage in peace talks with the other side. In an email interview, Sadika Hameed, a fellow at the Program on Crisis, Conflict and Cooperation at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, explained the prospects for the talks. WPR: What are the factional interests—on the part of the national and provincial governments, the militants and others—in holding peace talks with the Pakistani Taliban? Sadika Hameed: Many political parties campaigned in the elections held in May on the basis of talks with the […]

The Oct. 7 decision of the Supreme Court of the Maldives to annul the results of the presidential election held a month prior appears to be an attempt to avert the predictable win of ousted President Mohamed Nasheed, a liberal Muslim fighting a lonely battle against powerful conservative forces. Nasheed secured 45.45 percent of the vote, just short of an outright victory. The second-place candidate, Abdulla Yameen, the half-brother of former longtime dictatorial President Maumoon Gayoom, received 25.35 percent. The other two candidates, resort tycoon Qasim Ibrahim and incumbent President Mohamed Waheed got 24 percent and 5 percent of the […]

Two weeks ago a 7.7 magnitude earthquake hit Pakistan, killing more than 300 people and leaving thousands homeless. This came on the heels of floods in August that affected almost 1.5 million people. India, for its part, has not suffered any major natural disasters recently but is facing a larger challenge of continued economic slowdown. Its growth rate has dropped for two quarters in a row in 2013, reaching 4.4 percent, and it has faced a major currency crisis as well. Afghanistan, meanwhile, faces the prospects of even more fundamental challenges to regime stability and state cohesion after the U.S. […]

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