Earlier this month, U.S. Marshals arrested Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade, who was serving as the deputy consul general at the Indian Consulate in New York City. She was accused of committing visa fraud to bring a domestic worker into the United States and of paying the worker less than the minimum wage. The arrest led to a strong rebuke from the Indian government, which disputed the charges and objected to the way in which the arrest was carried out. Commentators in the Indian media have also reacted harshly. In addition to cancelling certain privileges for U.S. diplomats, the Indian government […]

For months the most debated issue in Central Asia has been the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan and the many destabilizing forces it might unleash on the region—among them trafficking in drugs, arms and humans, but also Islamic radicalism. Local leaders and many analysts predict that a severe deterioration of the situation in Afghanistan after the U.S. departs would encourage Central Asian jihadists who had fled their home countries to return and destabilize local regimes. But assessing the current role of Islam and Islamism in Central Asia, and the evolution of Central Asian jihadist groups themselves, reveals that the threat has […]

Recent developments have led some commentators to worry that China and the United States may stumble into a shooting match. Two events in particular have heightened tensions between Beijing and Washington: Last month, China proclaimed an air defense identification zone covering disputed territories in the East China Sea; then, on Dec. 5, a collision was narrowly avoided between the USS Cowpens and a Chinese naval vessel that was accompanying the Liaoning, China’s first aircraft carrier, on its maiden excursion into the South China Sea. Aware of the possibility of a clash that neither country wants, Chinese and American spokesmen have […]

Never again. That was the sentiment I remember hearing over and over from developing country officials following the tumultuous completion of the Uruguay Round negotiations in 1993 that led to the creation of the World Trade Organization (WTO) two years later. Once again, most of them believed, the United States and the European Union had dictated the final terms of a global trade agreement and forced it down the throats of the rest of the world. These countries were determined to have far more say in the shape of any future deals. For the past two decades, until this month’s […]

Last week’s execution of Jang Song Thaek, who was widely seen as offering a modicum of adult supervision to North Korea’s impetuous young ruler, Kim Jong Un, was an ominous turn in a dangerous place. Kim Jong Un, already “the most dangerous man in the most precarious nuclear state in the world,” as Patrick Cronin put it, just became even more menacing. While purges are nothing new in North Korea, executions of someone as senior and well-connected as Jang are unusual. Married to Kim Jong Un’s aunt, Jang was often seen as the state’s second most powerful official. North Korea’s […]

The Dec. 9 demonstrations that saw more than 100,000 protesters flood the streets of Bangkok represent the latest episode in a long-running saga. Thailand’s current political turmoil is, sadly, nothing new. Since becoming a democracy in 1932, it has seen 18 attempted or successful coups d’etat, the most recent of which removed former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, the brother of current Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, from power in 2006. The latest protests were propelled by anger over Yingluck’s push to fast-track an amnesty bill that would have allowed Thaksin to return from self-exile. It was an ill-conceived move that drew […]

Over the past few decades, the shifting dynamics of the nature of war, combined with a maturing field of peace process support, have led to parallel shifts in the nature of mediation in peace processes. There has been a significant increase in the number of ongoing civil wars, as opposed to interstate wars, and the field of conflict transformation has changed accordingly. Under the leadership of Kofi Annan, the United Nations began the process of mainstreaming the inclusion of civil society and other actors into the fields of peacebuilding and conflict resolution. Now, more actors, using more-advanced support mechanisms, are […]

The sacrifices of U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan have been widely reported, but the U.S. war effort has relied heavily on private firms to provide a variety of services, including armed security for convoys and installations. As NATO draws down in Afghanistan and struggles with budget constraints, the United States and others will almost certainly continue rely on these firms, which have attracted scrutiny and criticism over the years. “After the United States leaves Afghanistan, the private security industry will grow,” explains Sean McFate of the Atlantic Council in an email interview, given that “the United States and others […]

Last week, South Korea and Australia struck a tentative free trade agreement after resuming trade talks that had been frozen for more than three years. In an email interview, Jeffrey Robertson, a visiting professor at the Korea Development Institute School of Public Policy and Management, explained the state South Korea-Australia bilateral ties. WPR: What has been the recent trajectory of South Korea-Australia ties? Jeffrey Robertson: Until recently, there were four features common to every Australia-South Korea diplomatic function. First, the Australian side would reiterate that the relationship has a historical basis, beginning with visits of Australian missionaries to Busan during […]

During his recent visit to South Asia, U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel focused on securing a formal agreement to keep U.S. forces in Afghanistan beyond 2014 and an informal accord to continue drone strikes in Pakistan. These are both important topics, but U.S. policymakers need to devote more attention to other issues that could have an even greater impact on U.S. interests in the South Asian region in coming years. While in Kabul, Hagel did not even try to meet Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who has been adding new conditions for a renewal of the Afghan-U.S. status of forces agreement […]

It is understandable that Japan views China’s “rise” with concern. On the list of Japan’s concerns are China’s rapidly growing military expenditure, its increased economic competitiveness, its geographic proximity to Japan and its historical track record of aggressive territorial assertiveness. The most recent manifestation of the tension between the two great powers was the Chinese declaration of an air defense identification zone in the East China Sea, above the Senkaku Islands claimed by Japan as well as China, which calls them the Diaoyu Islands. From the Japanese perspective, China’s behavior is illegal. But this is not the only area of […]

The differing reactions in Israel and India to the recent six-power agreement with Iran highlight the only point of strategic divergence between the two long-time partners: the nature of engagement with a potentially nuclearizing Iran. While Israel has condemned the preliminary agreement and the potentially broader international rapprochement with Iran it signals, India has welcomed it with cautious optimism. More generally, while Israel perceives Iran’s nuclear posture as an existential threat, India sees it more as a geopolitical hindrance to increasing New Delhi’s strategic profile in Tehran. In recent years India and Israel seemingly agreed to compartmentalize these divergences, as […]

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Hamid Karzai is playing a dangerous game with the security of both Afghanistan and the United States. With NATO’s combat mission in Afghanistan ending soon, the Afghan president negotiated a bilateral security agreement with Washington to leave a small U.S. counterterrorism and advisory force in his country. But after convening a national assembly of elders known as the Loya Jirga and gaining their endorsement, Karzai announced that he would not sign the agreement, leaving that to the winner of April’s presidential election. When U.S. national security adviser Susan Rice explained to Karzai that the United States needs the agreement in […]

The Chinese Communist Party’s Third Plenum culminated last month with the release of a reform-minded document outlining significant changes in 60 key areas of the Chinese economy. In targeting government monopolies in industry, as well as controls on the flow of capital, goods and people, while calling for upgrading the quality of governance, the document successfully identifies many of the major bottlenecks to continued rapid socio-economic development. Coupled with recent events in the political sphere, the agenda represents the emergence of President Xi Jinping as a leader and the benchmarks by which he will be judged between now and the […]

China’s responses to the turmoil in Syria over the past two years have been relatively consistent. From the very beginning, Beijing has maintained a firm position that the only solution to the crisis is a political one and that Syria’s sovereignty must be respected. And along with Russia, China has vetoed three United Nations Security Council draft resolutions on Syria. The reason is simple: Beijing objects to external interventions in sovereign states’ internal affairs. There are obvious reasons for this uncompromising adherence to the principles enshrined in the Westphalian system. While the international community’s call for action to stop the […]