Nick Clegg’s boyish good looks and silver tongue have been compared to former Labor Prime Minister Tony Blair. But the more appropriate comparison is with U.S. President Barack Obama. For the unexpected surge in popularity of the neophyte leader of Britain’s Liberal Democrats is proving to be transformative. British politics, it seems, will never be the same again. Until the first televised leaders’ debate in the current electoral season, Clegg’s party was unable to break through the 20 percent barrier in the polls. Within hours of that first debate, the Lib Dems had catapulted to more than 30 percent. And […]

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At the risk of taking an overly contrarian position on the EU’s handling of the Greek debt crisis, I think that there’s an argument to be made that the best deal was reached for everyone involved at the soonest possible moment. That it didn’t come sooner is a reflection of the institutional and political weaknesses both of the EU and Greece. But I don’t think that earlier versions of the bailout plan, which amounted to symbolic signals, would have effectively held off markets. It’s not certain that this one will either, with regard to the risk of contagion in Spain, […]

When the finance ministers of the G-20 nations met on the sidelines of the annual IMF-World Bank meetings in Washington last weekend, it marked the sixth time they had convened since the fall of 2008. When the G-20 leaders meet this summer in Toronto, the total number of summits held since the global financial crisis erupted will hit double digits. And yet, despite early cooperation that addressed the global liquidity shortfall, little substantial progress has been made in the area of international financial regulation. Given the trauma that the entire world economy has suffered, in part due to a lack […]

Despite fist fights and smoke bombs within the parliament building as well as protests outside the Supreme Rada, Ukrainian legislators yesterday ratified the controversial Russian-Ukraine base-for-gas agreement. According to the deal’s provisions, in exchange for Moscow accepting lower prices for Ukraine’s gas purchases, the Russian Navy can remain at its Sevastopol base in the Crimea for another 25 years after the current lease expires in 2017. Ukrainian protesters attacked the new government under President Viktor Yanukovych for allegedly “trading sovereignty for gas.” While the precise amount of revenues that Russia will forego by subsidizing gas sales to Ukraine will depend […]

At a meeting last week in Tallinn, Estonia, the foreign ministers of NATO’s member states began addressing the question of what to do about the estimated 200 U.S. tactical nuclear weapons stationed in Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and Turkey. The missiles’ controversial presence is shaping up to be the most important issue facing the alliance’s heads of state during their November 2010 summit in Lisbon. Many critics argue that these weapons have no plausible military purpose. In a World Politics Review briefing early last month, Johan Bergenäs offered a variety of reasons why the Obama administration should unilaterally withdraw […]

At first glance, it is difficult to put a positive spin on hardliner Dervis Eroglu’s victory in Turkish Cyprus’ presidential elections on April 18. The result certainly challenges the future of negotiations to reunify the 1.1 million inhabitants of the Mediterranean island, 80 percent of whom are Greek Cypriots and 20 percent Turkish Cypriots. Eroglu, who has been prime minister of the self-declared Turkish Republic of North Cyprus for 19 of its 27 years, won just over 50 percent of the votes. President Mehmet Ali Talat, the pro-compromise incumbent whose pledge to solve the Cyprus problem had brought him to […]

The summit meetings held last week in Brasilia — of both the India-Brazil-South Africa forum (IBSA) and the Brazil-Russia-India-China group (BRIC) — seem to confirm that any Iran sanctions resolution likely to secure passage in the United Nations Security Council will not live up to the Obama administration’s expectations. The leaders of the emerging “world without the West” — who all traveled to the Brazilian capital after attending the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington — were able to compare notes from their bilateral meetings with U.S. President Barack Obama as well as from other communications with senior U.S. officials. Indian […]

On May 9, voters in the German state of North Rhine Westphalia (NRW) take to the polls to decide what in the past has typically been a quiet, local parliamentary election with little impact on the national agenda. This year, however, is different. German Chancellor Angela Merkel and her center-right Christian Democratic Union-Free Democratic Party coalition government are in danger of losing the Bundestag, the upper house of the German government, in the elections. Plagued by infighting and the inability to agree on a comprehensive agenda, the coalition has stumbled through a number of domestic missteps, from an unpopular tax […]

Now that the Nuclear Security Summit will become a recurring event, with the next one scheduled for 2012 in Seoul, national governments will need to integrate this new mechanism with the existing major multinational efforts designed to counter nuclear terrorism. Despite differences in membership, emphasis, and other dimensions, three prominent initiatives directly support the summit’s objective of enhancing international cooperation to prevent nuclear terrorism: the Global Partnership against the Spread of Weapons and Mass Destruction, United Nations Security Council Resolution 1540, and the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism. Last week’s summit documents endorsed their activities, without specifying how the […]

Russian officials have recently accused U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan of “conniving with drug producers” and urged the coalition to pursue aggressive aerial eradication operations against Afghanistan’s opium poppy crops. Despite having spent over $1 billion on counternarcotics programs in Afghanistan since 2002, including eradication efforts, the U.S. and the U.K. have failed to curb the illicit drug industry there. Moscow’s tough stance on narcotics stems from its own internal consumption levels, which have steadily reached epidemic proportions. According to 2008 records, up to 21 percent of the world’s production of illicit opiates ended up in Russia, resulting in […]

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Remarks by Under Secretary for Political Affairs William Burns on”U.S.-Russia Relations in a New Era: One Year After the ‘Reset,’” atthe Center for American Progress. Burns walks attendees through thecomplicated history of U.S.-Russia relations, a period mired inmisconceptions and disagreements. He then goes on to discuss thestrengthening of this relationship that he believes still has a longway to go, but has many areas in which the two nations can focus on.

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As Britain’s three candidates for prime minister wage heated campaignsahead of the May election, Simon Marks reports from London on thepolitics behind the country’s very first American-style public debate.The debate covered a range of topics from domestic affairs to thebudget deficit to funding for Afghanistan and was the first in a seriesof three that will culminate with a debate on the economy. Having trouble viewing this video? Click here to watch.

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Walter Russell Mead has some typically thoughtful things to say on the persistence of American power and influence. But if Mead is right that this week’s Nuclear Security Summit is an illustration of the ways in which America still sets the global agenda, it seems that he might not have paid as close attention to the BRIC and IBSA summits that followed it. In addition to both summits articulating alternatives to the Obama administration’s Iran policy, the BRIC summit also produced a joint declaration setting a 2010 deadline for reforming the IMF and World Bank to better reflect the shifting […]

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I could have included this in my previous post on President Barack Obama’s nuclear nonproliferation agenda, but it’s significant enough to warrant its own post. As Obama has pushed for UNSC sanctions against Iran, there’s been a lot of tea-leaf reading going on about Russia and China’s willingness to come on board. Parallel to that, there’s been a lesser amount of attention given to the “bad” UNSC that a sanctions resolution faces, and most notably Brazil and Turkey’s opposition to sanctions. But this week demonstrated how those tracks are far from parallel. So even while Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and […]

After months of speculation over whether Russia and China would come on board for a new round of sanctions against Iran, the parameters of a new United Nations Security Council resolution appear to be taking shape. Conversations between President Barack Obama and his Russian and Chinese counterparts, Dmitry Medvedev and Hu Jintao, at this week’s Nuclear Security Summit seem to have produced a consensus among the “permanent five” Security Council members. Two obstacles remain: the actual crafting of any resolution — and whether the final product will pass muster with the U.S. Congress. Up to now, the Obama administration has […]

The firestorm of controversy battering the Catholic Church shows no sign of dying down, as the institution and its leaders continue to endure scorching new accusations of pedophile priests abusing young children, and of Vatican officials covering up their actions. Amid all the fury, the Vatican made a bold move: In a reversal of a decades-old pronouncement, the church forgave the Beatles for having deemed themselves more popular than Jesus. Reading praise of the Beatles’ music in the church’s official L’Osservatore Romano, one could almost hear the sound of the Vatican fiddling as it burned. Perhaps the piece by Vallini […]

TBILISI, Georgia — Despite disagreeing over whether France should sell four Mistral-classamphibious vessels to Russia, most Western defense analysts seem tobelieve that the deal will not only happen, but is an item of overblownconcern. However, prevailing opinion in Washington and Brussels standsin sharp contrast to Eastern European capitals, where unease over thesale remains strong and is rooted in very different assumptions overMoscow’s intentions. Many in the West simply do not believethe vessels would significantly alter the balance of power in theregion, pointing to the relatively minor combat capability they wouldadd compared to existing capabilities in Russia’s fleet. Proponents andthose indifferent […]

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