With the Arctic warming twice as fast as the rest of the globe, the ice that covers the Arctic Circle continues to dwindle. Recent estimates suggest that the area will experience ice-free summers by 2030. Until now, the United States has largely avoided the frantic race for control of northern waters. But with the pace of the thaw exceeding expectations, the Navy has launched a strategic plan, the Naval Arctic Roadmap (.pdf), to maximize the U.S. stake in the Arctic. The plan was written by the newly launched Navy Task Force on Climate Change (TFCC), created last May amid growing […]

The EU Needs a Grand Strategy

The EU has filled the post-Lisbon positions that could eventually help transform it into a true global power in the strict sense of the term. But it still lacks a long-term vision of what it hopes to accomplish in order to drive that transformation. That’s the gist of this Sven Bishop post at European Geostrategery, anyway, and I think he’s absolutely right in the diagnosis — especially with regard to the specific areas where the EU needs to come up with some answers: The EU Neighborhood concept, enlargement (read: Russia policy), various regional objectives, global and institutional objectives, and crisis […]

A United Front Against Iran

The IAEA has censured Iran and is demanding Tehran freeze nuclear operations at asecret facility. The stern move by the agency is a victory for theObama administration says Iran expert Ervand Abhrahamian. WorldFocus’Martin Savidge talks with the history professor about what thecensure could mean for United States global positioning among powerssuch as Russia and China.

The Northern Caucasus in Downward Spiral

The Northern Caucasus remains in trouble and Russia is not quite sure what to do about it. The region, notoriously ruled by clans, has seen a steady rise in violence, with Dagestan (gearing up for a change in leadership) and Ingushetia increasingly stealing the spotlight from the better-known bloody insurgency in Chechnya. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has suggested a government post in charge of the region, however that looks more like a propaganda move than one that will actually garner results. Though Medvedev’s solution seems to be superficial, the motivation for it is real. The leader has acknowledged that an […]

The EU’s Stubborn Identity

I’ve had a thought about last week’s EU appointments bouncing around in my head for the past few days, and finally have a moment to get it onto the blog. One of the more common refrains in criticism of the relative timidity of the appointments has been, “Ten years of haggling for this?” What that overlooks, though, is that, although the Lisbon Treaty is indeed the result of 10 years of haggling over the next phase of European construction, it was already in itself a wildly disappointing outcome for federalist Europhiles dreaming of a United States of Europe. And as […]

Georgia Teeters on the Edge

Being an opposition party leader in a country where the media doesn’t pay attention to the opposition is frustrating. So when Georgia’s former Foreign Minister Salomé Zourabichvili had the chance to speak at her alma mater, Columbia University, in New York, her searing criticism of the Georgian government came as no surprise. Zourabichvili’s political adversary, Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, also attended Columbia, but that is where the similarities between the two end. As the leader of the political party, The Way of Georgia, Zourabichvili is fighting to stop what she believes to be the demise of the Georgian state under […]

Last week, the European Union (EU) filled the two new positions established by the recently ratified Lisbon Treaty — president of the European Council and EU high representative for common foreign and security policy. Most of the press coverage following the appointments has focused on the personalities of the individuals selected for the jobs. But this preoccupation with personalities risks obscuring the more profound implications of the EU’s first steps toward implementing the treaty’s provisions. Commentators have generally disparaged the selection of Belgian Prime Minister Herman Van Rompuy as president and Britain’s EU Trade Commissioner Catherine Ashton as foreign policy […]

For nearly three decades, there were few certainties about the global order as starkly tangible as the Berlin Wall. Cutting off East from West both literally and figuratively, it was the most important stitch in the Iron Curtain, and even on the eve of its collapse in the fall of 1989, few could imagine a world without it or the potentially apocalyptic divisions it represented. Yet when the Wall finally fell, eventually taking all of Soviet communism with it, a new set of certainties about the global political and economic order was born. And none has been more pervasive or […]

The EU President: Stumbling into the Post-Lisbon Era

BRUSSELS — The designation last week of two relatively unknown figures for the highest posts in the European Union led to widespread criticism across Europe. At a heads of state meeting in Brussels on Thursday evening, the 27 member states of the EU designated BelgianPrime Minister Herman Van Rompuy as president of the European Council, and Britain’s EU Trade Commissioner Catherine Ashton as high representative for common foreign and security policy (HR). Van Rompuy is credited with putting an end to a lengthy political crisis between Belgium’s francophone and Flemish communities that virtually left the country without a government for […]

Armenia’s Struggle With an Open Border

As Armenia and Turkey come closer to opening the border between the twofeuding countries, Armenians both home and abroad grapple with whatthis will mean for the Armenian economy and cultural identity. Whilethe Armenian diaspora champion the effort to stop the agreement frommoving forward, those at home struggle with the isolation the feud hascaused.

This Week’s WPR Video Highlights

Here are a few of this week’s highlights from WPR’s video section: PresidentBarack Obama held one of his now-classic town hall meetings in Shanghaiwith Chinese students. The twist? Carefully picked attendees andquestions. In this video, Jim Lehrer interviews human rights experts who saythe Internet, a topic Obama made sure to mention in his talk with thestudents, is the key to human rights in China. Former Secretaryof State Henry Kissinger says the Obama administration has made greatgains for U.S.-Russian relations in this interview with Russia Today. IraqiVice President Tariq al-Hashemi has brought a much anticipate electionin Iraq to a halt. In […]

The EU Chooses Continuity

A couple quick thoughts on the “unknowns” named yesterday to the new Lisbon-created EU positions. To begin with, despite all the talk the last few months about the “EU president,” it’s clear that the EU heads of state decided to stick with the language of the treaty and name a president of the European Council. The same holds true for the post referred to as the EU foreign minister, but whose official title is EU high representative for common foreign and security policy. Both of the appointees, Belgian Prime Minister Herman Van Rompuy as EU president and Britain’s EU Trade […]

Kissinger Says Progress Will Continue for U.S. and Russia

Russia Today interviews former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.Kissinger says that since the Obama administration has taken office,great gains have already been made in the Russia-U.S. relationship. Hefurther explains that common interests such as curbing armsproliferation in Iran will bring the two powers even closer. OnAfghanistan, Kissinger says that after deliberations are over he thinksthere will certainly be a troop surge and that he is confident thiswill be the right decision.

Off the Radar News Roundup

– China plays both sides of the DMZ, hosting the speaker of the ROK Parliament and a high-level DPRK military envoy at the same time. – New Zealand’s Prime Minister John Key has refused to meet with the Dalai Lama, explaining, “The reason simply is I’ve decided that I wouldn’t get a lot out ofthat particular meeting.I’ve seen him in the past, I may see him in thefuture.” If there’s a foreign policy equivalent of Maslow’s pyramid of needs, defending human rights would figure on the high end. That’s why the Dalai Lama will have an easier time getting meetings […]

After years as a sidelined figure on the European political stage, Serbia is now attracting growing attention from both West and East. While continuing to line up its bid for European Union membership, Serbia is also the focus of Russia’s renewed interest in the Balkans. In October, Belgrade signed deals with Moscow that include support for a controversial oil pipeline, a generous loan deal and the establishment of a Russian base in Serbia that has the potential for military use. Some even see Serbia’s deepening ties with Russia as inimical to its pro-Western stance. But for the time being, Serbia’s […]

EU President: The Knives Come Out

The knives are coming out in the EU president sweepstakes, which will be decided this evening at an EU heads of state meeting. Already today I’ve seen a piece describing a whisper campaign against Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt, who as the current occupant of the pre-Lisbon rotating EU presidency is in charge of organizing the selection process. Reinfeldt has been demanding a shortlist of two names enjoying the potential for unanimous consensus. Given how hard it is to meet that qualification, and how opaque the deliberations are, there’s a lot of room for arbitrary interference. (I’ve lost the link […]

An End to the ‘Banana Wars’

Thanks to stubborn and persisent negotiations, the longest-running trade dispute in the history of the WTO is close to being resolved. This lends support to the flagging notion of negotiated settlements, and banishes the possibility of a banana-centric counterinsurgency doctrine from seeing the light of day.

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