Foundations are stepping up their engagement in Sub-Sahara Africa. But will that fundamentally alter the dynamics on the ground? When Warren Buffett donated $30 billion to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation a few years ago, many observers heralded the arrival of a new age of private philanthropy in the Carnegie and Rockefeller tradition. Particular attention has been paid in recent years to the growing engagement of philanthropic foundations in international development, and especially in Sub-Saharan Africa. Enthusiasts have pointed out that foundations offer a new and significant source of financing for development, with the potential to outstrip official development […]

Chinese and Russian leaders meet frequently, but last week was special. President Hu Jintao of China and President Dmitry Medvedev of Russia conferred three times over the course of four days — at the June 15-16 Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit in Yekaterinburg, then later on June 16 at the first-ever heads-of-state meeting of the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India, and China), and again afterwards when Hu made a state visit to Moscow from June 16-18. Hu’s visit helped mark the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Moscow and Beijing. It coincided with the signing of over 40 […]

France and Germany have decided to wait another six months before determining the fate of the troubled A400M military transport plane. The €20 billion project, which is Europe’s biggest collaborative defense program and is intended to replace the aging airlift capacity of European militaries, has been marred by technical problems, and is now three years behind schedule and nearly €6 billion over budget. The original contract for the A400M was signed in 2003 and called for the delivery of 180 aircraft to seven partner nations starting in 2009. But Airbus, the plane maker owned by EADS, missed a March 31 […]

More on IR in Sports

Picking up on my “sports is politics by another means” post from yesterday, Michael Wilkerson, over at FP’s Passport blog, put the call out to readers for more examples. Commenter Chembai points out a couple I missed, including China’s Ping Pong diplomacy and the Beijing Olympics. The boycotted 1980 Moscow games are in the latter category as well, characterized as “one big political statement.” Not really match-ups in the way I was thinking. The Ping Pong diplomacy, too, escaped my memory, because I was thinking more along the lines of confrontation. The brilliance of the Ping Pong diplomacy of course […]

The U.S. men’s hockey team pounces on goalie Jim Craig after a 4-3 victory against the Soviet Union in a medal round match at the the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, N.Y., Feb. 22, 1980 (AP file photo).

I actually had the idea for this post last week. But the news that members of the Iranian soccer team wore green wristbands during their World Cup qualifier against South Korea to signal their support for opposition protests back home made it even more timely. So the following is a list of the Top 5 all-time sporting events with international relations overtones. It's admittedly U.S.-centric, both in choice of matches and sports, meaning that if you're looking for cricket matches that changed the shape of global history, you'll have to look elsewhere. Rankings are based on a combination of drama, […]

The Blue-ing of the Green Party

The Greens have historically been associated with the left, allied with the moderate and far left on the local, national and European level. But according to this article from PressEurop, that could be changing. In both Brussels and Germany, the Greens have now agreed to cooperate with the liberals and Christian Democrats. This, in particular, caught my eye: Elsewhere, Belgian ecologist party MEP Philippe Lamberts argues thatGreens share certain values with the right. “Socialists and free-marketliberals believe that the measure of quality of life is your materialstatus,” he says. “We think, as Christian Democrats do, that the goodlife is not […]

It has been a rough go for the dollar of late. The global financial crisis coupled with concerns about soaring U.S. deficits have caused several of the world’s major holders of American debt to question the greenback’s continued role as the leading international reserve currency. Roughly one-third of the U.S. Treasury debt held by foreign countries lies in the BRIC economies — Brazil, Russia, India, and China — who met in Yekaterinburg, Russia, on Tuesday for the group’s first full-format summit. Ultimately, the meeting did not result in what some had speculated: a specific call for a shift away from […]

To mark a visit by Swedish parliamentarians to the U.S. Navy command ship Mount Whitney, the destroyer Forrest Sherman flew a huge Swedish flag and blared music by the Swedish pop band ABBA from its loudspeakers. It was a moment of levity that belied the deadly serious politics underlying a 12-day, Baltic military exercise. BALTOPS 2009, involving 11 European nations and the U.S., risks provoking Russia, at a time when the Obama administration is working hard to restore U.S.-Russian relations. When the annual exercise was conceived in the 1970s, it focused on preparing NATO nations and their allies for war […]

The U.K.’s Digital Diplomacy

U.K. Ambassador for Multilateral Arms Control and Disarmament John Duncan talks about digital diplomacy — including his use of blogs, Twitter and Facebook. UPDATE: U.S. Secretary gives the U.S. view of digital diplomacy, which the State Department calls “21st century statecraft.”

Iran Tea-Leaf Reading

Tea-leaf reading is about all we can do, after all. But having said that, this Noah Millman exercise in that fine art (via Andrew Sullivan) is a solid primer in terms of which moves to watch in the internal power struggle currently being decided in Tehran. Two thoughts. First, Le Monde is “reporting” (I put that in quotes given how uncertain the situation on the ground is) that Mir Hossein Moussavi has called on his supporters to cancel the planned opposition demonstration today, after supporters of the regime scheduled a counter-rally in the same location one hour prior. The decision […]

In his April 5 disarmament speech in Prague, President Barack Obama endorsed constructing “a new framework for civil nuclear cooperation, including an international fuel bank, so that countries can access peaceful power without increasing the risks of proliferation.” An international uranium fuel bank seeks to address one of the fundamental problems with the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) — namely, that it allows countries to acquire sensitive nuclear technologies that they can then rapidly convert from civilian to military use. According to the most common interpretation of the treaty, states can develop extensive uranium-enrichment and plutonium-reprocessing capabilities while a member in […]

Judah Grunstein and Henry Farrell on

WPR Manging Editor Judah Grunstein and Henry Farrell of George Washington University and the Crooked Timber blog, discussed Iran’s elections, European politics and more in a June 15 discussion hosted by Browse the discussion by topic at

Russia and the Bremer Approach

I’ve already flagged a few stories in the past couple months about Russia’s “Bremer approach” to professionalizing its military. This NY Times piece is basically an update, but with a twist: The malcontents quoted in it are active-duty Russian officers. That would be surprising for a piece running in the St. Petersburg Times. To see it in the NY Times is positively shocking. Russia’s re-emergence is far from a straight-line graph. Lots of deferred maintenance, including ongoing violent separatism in the Caucasus, that wasn’t taken care of while the cash was flowing in. Modernizing its military is necessary. But if […]

The EU Apathy Fallacy

Jean Quatremer revisits the numbers to make the case that the level of abstentionism in Sunday’s EU Parliament elections does not necessarily reflect voter apathy, let alone hostility, towards the European project. Case in point, Poland, where the EU is popular, only saw a 25 percent turnout rate, reflecting the fact that Eastern Europe has low turnouts in general, even for national elections. Quatremer’s analysis of the national abstention rates makes a convincing argument for a more nuanced view than simply “low voter turnout = apathy toward Europe.” In a previous post, Quatremer argues that two obstacles complicated voter engagement […]

Turkey, Europe and the Cyprus ‘Ticking Bomb’

Along the same lines of last week’s post regarding Turkey’s shifting foreign policy priorities, Yigal Schleifer (whose blog Istanbul Calling is must reading if you have an interest in Turkey), flags a paper regarding Turkey-EU relations. Essentially, to assuage doubts about his — and Turkey’s — Western-friendly bona fides, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu reaffirmed Turkey and Europe’s mutual engagement, putting it in the context of a shared history that dates back to the 11th century. Seriously. The dude’s old school. Clicking through to the paper itself (.pdf), I was not surprised to see it identify Cyprus as the “ticking […]

WPR Feature Issue: Intractable Conflict

For those of you who enter the site through the blog, I’d like to encourage you to take a look at our new feature issue, which just went live today. In it, we take a close look at three intractable conflicts that have resisted solutions for generations, and that we’ve all seen drifting in and out of the headlines for decades now: Sumantro Bose examines the Kashmir conflict, Brian Calvert looks at Sri Lanka, and Gareth Jenkins shines a light on Cyprus. (All three sub. req.) What I found most fascinating, in going through them all, is that while the […]

LONDON — Gordon Brown has come a long way from those heady days in April when he basked in the praise of U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders attending the G-20 summit in London. He had, after all, just saved the world. Happy days. That was then. Today, Gordon Brown looks drained and desolate, his political career in shreds, his leadership comprehensively trashed. The local government elections last week and European elections over the weekend could not have come at a worse time for Brown. Already fighting for his political life, the beleaguered British prime minister was left, […]

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