Direct NATO Accession for Georgia?

I’m not really sure what to make of this NY Times report. After failing to secure Membership Action Plans for Georgia and Ukraine this past April in the face of strong German and French resistance to provoking Russia, in the aftermath of the intervening Georgia War that showed both the recklessness of Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili and Russia’s willingness to turn the frozen conflict into a hot war, and despite widespread popular opposition in Ukraine to the very idea of NATO membership, the Bush administration is now pushing to scrap the lengthy MAP procedures that guarantee operational compatibility altogether and […]

The National Intelligence Council (NIC) released Global Trends 2025: A Transformed World last week, with its avowed purpose to “stimulate strategic thinking about the future by identifying key trends, the factors that drive them, where they seem to be headed, and how they might interact.” The release of the report was more specifically timed to inform the thinking of the incoming Barack Obama administration about the broader strategic challenges and opportunities it will confront upon assuming office on Jan. 20, 2009 — and before officials of the new administration become overwhelmed by their daily inboxes. The authors of Global Trends […]

Integrating Russia into the European Security Equation

I like the line of argument from David Capezza’s WPR piece on NATO-Russia relations. Taken to its logical extreme, it suggests that the way to resolve security disputes with Russia — like missile defense and NATO expansion — isn’t to engage in needlessly provocative behavior or to simply capitulate every time Vlad raises his angry head in our airspace, but to integrate Russia into the European security equation. I have my doubts about missile defense in general, in part due to its lackluster testing record. And I think that integrating Georgia into NATO is unnecessary so long as Russia considers […]

A Way Out for France’s Socialist Party?

About the only thing I can think of that promises to be a more difficult and painful task than rebuilding the French Socialist Party is rebuilding the NY Knicks, which explains why I haven’t been covering the PS’s recent efforts to make Bush v. Gore look like a lovefest much. But Art Goldhammer has been, and he offers both a sensible proposal for a shortterm compromise, as well as the likely consequences of a failure to do so. Meanwhile, Real Clear World’s Marc Desnoyers cites Le Monde as identifying far-left Olivier Besancenot and center-right François Bayrou as the two big […]

TOKYO — At last week’s Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, Japan and Russia had been expected to announce plans for a visit by Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to Japan by the end of this year. But the decision to instead postpone the visit until early next year is a fair reflection of the state of political relations between the two nations — technically still at war — in recent years. “Relations have remained stunted,” says Joseph Ferguson, adjunct professor at the University of Washington, who argues that political relations currently lag some way behind economic ties. Ferguson, author of “Japanese-Russian […]

In a speech last Thursday, NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer announced that the alliance’s relationship with Russia will no longer be “business as usual,” while stressing the need for a multidimensional approach towards relations with Moscow. With relations between NATO and Russia greatly strained, Scheffer argued against framing the issue as a choice between Russia and Georgia, declaring that, “No, we will not choose.” If acted upon, Scheffer’s call to action could mark the beginning of a new approach towards Russia. The multidimensional approach, according to Scheffer, includes “a broad cooperative framework embracing virtually all the countries on […]

Syria’s Influence Inflation

Lots of Syria news to digest at the moment, and not all of it terribly coherent. A good place to start, though, is this Brookings paper by Bilal Saab (via Friday Lunch Club). This, in particular, positively leaped off the page: Syria’s pragmatic statecraft during this episode did not emerge in avacuum but is part of a larger tactical reorientation in foreignpolicy. That reorientation began with the 34-day war between Hizbullahand Israel in southern Lebanon in summer 2006. The duration of thatconflict and the extent of the damage Israel’s punitive air strikesinflicted on Lebanon impressed upon Syrian leaders just how […]

Sarkozy’s Leverage Problem

It’s rare to find balanced analysis regarding Nicolas Sarkozy’s foreign policy, no less so in France than in the U.S. The guy has a way of polarizing people to the point where most either love him or hate him, but lose all ability to calmly assess what he’s doing. Part of that has to do with Sarkozy’s frenetic nature itself, which lends itself more to caricature than to calm reflection. Max Bergmann’s analysis at Democracy Arsenal of this John Vinocur IHT column, though, is an exception to the rule, mainly because Bergmann nails the circumstancial opportunity that Sarkozy has tried […]

NO JOY AT THE SUMMIT — To French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s disappointment, Barack “One-president-at-a-time” Obama stuck to his word and refused to meet with any of the world leaders who attended last week’s economic summit in Washington. The French pressed hard, arguing that as current president of the European Union Sarkozy had hoped to be the first transatlantic leader to meet the American president-elect. Throughout the week-end, Sarkozy had a plane on standby to leave for Chicago at a moment’s notice. But no summons came from the Windy City. Meanwhile, there was no sign in Washington of the warm relations […]

Sarkozy Plays to Type

The problem with the personality types that often make their way to the summit of power is that they are very often unfamiliar with the concept, let alone the dangers, of overplaying one’s hand. So Nicolas Sarkozy decides to throw a follow up summit conference on the financial crisis with British Prime Minister ex-Prime Minister Tony Blair, to the great surprise of the assembled leaders at this past weekend’s summit in Washington, who had agreed to at least a working plan on how to follow up on regulating global financial markets, if nothing else. The choice of British prime ministers […]

MADRID, Spain — Spain is on high alert for a possible terrorist attack following the arrest on Nov. 17, of the head of the Basque terrorist group, ETA. Mikel Garikoitz Aspiazu Rubina, known by his nom de guerre, Txeroki (Cherokee), was detained along with another ETA suspect in a pre-dawn raid by French police in the southern French Pyrenées region, near the Spanish border. Aspiazu, 35, who is believed to be behind several recent attacks, including the bombing of the Madrid airport in 2006, is the second key ETA leader to be captured within the last six months. In May, […]

Russia, Venezuela to Sign Nuclear Reactor Deal

The Guardian reports that Russia and Venezuela will sign a preliminary agreement next week clearing the way for Russia to build the country’s first nuclear reactor. A lot of the speculation about Barack Obama being tested if elected president centered on conflict scenarios. But I think this sort of development — situated squarely in the provocative zone where the multipolar and globalized world overlap with the Monroe Doctrine — is closer to what we’ll see over the next six months. Christopher Moraff’s WPR piece on how the Obama administration might address the “new reality” of Latin America is a good […]

Russia Plays the Cyprus Wedge?

Nothing has been signed yet, but Kommersant is reporting that Cyprus President Dmitris Christofias will be shopping for Russian anti-missile systems, along with some tanks and helicopters, during his upcoming visit to Moscow. I’m not sure what to make of this. Should Russia agree, it seems like a pretty provocative gesture towards Turkey, which was already a bit rattled by the Georgia War. Russia is one of Turkey’s major trading partners, and Christofias was elected on a platform of Cypriot reconciliation. So it would seem that closer integration — as long as it weren’t of the military hardware variety — […]

On Oct. 30, Murat Zyazikov resigned as president of Ingushetia — a small, mainly-Muslim republic in Russia’s North Caucasus region. Zyazikov’s fate was likely sealed two weeks previously, on Oct. 18, when a military convoy was ambushed by insurgents between the villages of Alkhasty and Surkhakhi, leaving approximately 50 servicemen dead. The ambush was the largest of its type yet seen in the republic. Ingushetia lies directly to the west of Chechnya (the Ingush and the Chechens are close ethnic relatives), and the leaders of the insurgency in Ingushetia have drawn inspiration from their Chechnyan counterparts, who have been fighting […]

Global arms sales continue to grow, according to the Congressional Research Service (CRS), with the value of worldwide weapons contracts rising by an estimated 9.2 percent in 2007. The CRS put the value of major arms transfer agreements at almost $60 billion, up from $54.9 billion the year before. The United States accounted for over 41 percent of the sales, or approximately $24.8 billion, a significant increase from the 2006 figure of $16.7 billion. Russia still ranked second, but the value of its arms transfer agreements actually fell from $14.3 billion in 2006 to $10.4 billion in 2007. Conversely, the […]

Sarko’s Missile Misstep

Art Goldhammer reads the tea leaves on French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s abrupt about face on the American-Russian standoff over European-based missile defense. On Friday, at an EU-Russia summit in Nice, Sarkozy had called for what amounted to a mutual cooling off period, whereby both sides would postpone deployment of measure and countermeasure for six months. But in Washington, he reversed course, stating that the missile defense system is a good idea after all. Like Art, I’d imagined, when I first saw the news Friday, that Sarkozy would not have floated this kind of plan had he not had some sort […]

The Way Forward for EU Integration

I’m not sure if a former prime minister of Belgium is necessarily the person we want to be listening to when it comes to political integration (in this case, of the European variety). That said, Guy Verhofstadt (via AFOE) is right. While the rest of the world is eagerly trying to take advantage of the financial crisis to reshape the global order, Europe still hasn’t answered the fundamental question of whether it wishes to pursue economic integration designed to increase its prosperity, or political integration designed to increase its power and influence. The argument in support of the former that […]

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