Ireland to Vote Again on Lisbon Treaty

The EU Observer is reporting that the EU heads of state gathered in Brussels for a two-day summit have reached an agreement on a second Irish referendum on the Lisbon Treaty before the end of 2009. As a condition for the do-over, Ireland received EU assurances of non-intervention on taxation and social issues like abortion and euthansia, as well as assurances regarding Irish worries about how European defense would impact the country’s neutrality. The 26 also agreed to maintain the “one country, one commissioner” system on the EU High Commission. The Lisbon Treaty had envisaged a rotating commission of reduced […]

Brussels Terror Cell Arrested

Last week in her regular WPR column, World Citizen, Frida Ghitis presciently called attention to the threat that Pakistani-based terrorist networks pose to Europe. Today, police in Brussels arrested what is being reported as an al-Qaida linked terrorist cell after one of the fourteen people under surveillance, who had arrived last week from either Pakistan or Afghanistan, recorded a last testament video and bid farewell to his family. The arrests come on the eve of an EU heads of state summit, and although the police are unsure whether the summit was targeted, the risk it posed led them to accelerate […]

NATO’s Russia Options

When word leaked of the Bush administration’s efforts to get NATO to scrap Membership Action Plans for Georgia and Ukraine (which the alliance had already postponed in April) and instead immediately begin the process of raising the two countries’ militaries to alliance interoperability standards with an eye towards eventual membership without the MAP’s formal process to guide it, my initial reaction was to wonder what Whiskey and Tango’s favorite dance is. But Jeffrey Mankoff, writing at the New Atlanticist, offers a pretty compelling argument for the idea: The problem is that a decision on NATO membership is fundamentally political, and […]

The Brown-Sarkozy Tandem

Enlightening and entertaining piece from John Vinocur in the IHT on the relationship between French President Nicolas Sarkozy and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown. As far as bilateral relations built on personalities, the two make an odd, and as Vinodur notes, unstable match. Of course, Sarkozy has a way of making any match (e.g. his marriage) seem odd and inherently unstable. A lot of the current cooperativeness between the two is a result of the leadership gap in Washington at the moment. I suspect that once President-elect Obama becomes President Obama, both men’s attention will turn, in large part, to […]

The Cold Peace

I don’t have too much time to develop this thought, so I’ll treat it like an actual blog post and just toss it out there. Scanning today’s most stubborn foreign policy challenges, I’m struck by how many of them are either deferred maintenance on unresolved post-Cold War arrangements or direct legacies of Cold War policies. The Russia-Georgia conflict driving so much tension in U.S.-Russia relations, for instance, is a result of the “frozen conflict” approach to the thorny details of a final status agreement on the disintegration of the Soviet Union. The terrorist threat emanating out of the Afghan/Pakistani FATA […]

Unlike his week-long trip to South America in late November, peripatetic Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s recent two-day visit to India attracted little notice in Washington — and for good reason. The Russian and Indian governments did sign important agreements, but none that marked any fundamental transformation in their bilateral relations, or that directed it in ways that threaten American security interests. If anything, the trip highlighted the fact that countering terrorism in South Asia is a shared goal of Russian, American, and regional officials, thereby raising the possibility of enhanced Russian-American security cooperation in this important area. This was Medvedev’s […]

BLAIR’S OPTIMISM — Thetrouble with Tony Blair is that he’s so good with words that you tendto forget the message and just sit back and enjoy the music. Thinkingback on it, though, his report on the state of play in theIsraeli-Palestinian impasse, delivered in Washington to members of theCouncil on Foreign Relations, seemed to offer little concrete evidenceof progress. The former British prime minister has spent thepast year as the Middle East Quartet’s point man in the region. Hisfour-point plan for jump-starting the peace process was clearlyaddressed to the Obama administration. (What isn’t, these days?) But toborrow a current Afghan […]

The Carter Curse

In the National Interest, Nikolas Gvosdev suggests that in order to avoid the kind of infighting that led to the paralysis of the Carter administration’s foreign policy, President-elect Obama should task his national security team based on their constituencies, and then manage them properly to keep them out of each other’s lanes. It makes sense, but there’s one thing that’s always escaped me about the “Carter paralysis” analogy: Given the hand he was dealt in terms of the post-Watergate institutional crisis of the presidency, and the post-Vietnam crisis of American global influence, not to mention the domestic faultlines and divisiveness […]

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands — Concerns over terrorism rise at moments like this, when a massacre garners intense media attention, as did the attacks in Mumbai. But terrorist plots and efforts to stop them have become a common event in many parts of the world. And in Europe, where investigations, disrupted plots, and arrests have become a regular occurrence, many of the cases show disturbing links to the events in India. In the aftermath of the terror in Mumbai, tensions between India and Pakistan continue to grow, as Delhi points a finger at its neighbor and rival as the source of the […]

Timing Engagement with Iran

Given that President-elect Barack Obama campaigned and won on a platform of engaging Iran diplomatically, the question now becomes not only how, but when. The timing is complicated, as Blake Hounshell of FP Passport points out, because of Iran’s upcoming presidential election, with some analysts (Brookings and CFR in a joint report) urging immediate steps, and others (CEIP’s Karim Sadjadpour) cautioning against giving Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s hardline foriegn policy a diplomatic victory to run on. Foreign Policy Watch’s MDC argues that current circumstances — including Obama’s popularity in Europe — provide America with a strong bargaining position, and has […]

Who Will Mediate for Turkey?

Is it possible that Turkey has been so busy lately mediating other countries’ disputes that it’s got no time to resolve its own? Hurriyet reports: Turkey has made no effort to ease tensions with Greece to defuse a long-running territorial dispute, Greece’s foreign minister said in an interview with Reuters on Tuesday. “While we made a conscious effort from the Greek side — such as the Greek prime minister’s visit to Ankara — Turkey did not reciprocate,” Bakoyanni told Reuters. On a related note, a quick check through the Turkish press revealed almost nothing but bad news: a bomb explosion […]

Dmitry Medvedev just completed his first visit to Latin American as Russia’s new president, traveling to Brazil, Cuba, and then Venezuela after attending the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) conference in Peru late last month. Accompanied by an impressive delegation of Russian government officials and influential business leaders, Medvedev used the Lima summit and follow-on tour as an opportunity to meet with other world leaders, promote various economic and defense deals, and reaffirm Russia’s intent to strengthen its presence in South America. Russian officials desire improved relations with South American countries for both economic and political reasons. The surge in world […]

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