In last week’s column I raised the question of whether the United States can succeed in achieving its strategic objectives with regard to stability in Afghanistan and curtailing Iran’s nuclear ambitions through negotiations with the Taliban and the new government of Iranian President Hasan Rouhani. But if the reaction of U.S. pundits to the Obama administration’s efforts to get accused NSA leaker Edward Snowden extradited are any indication, then the sort of protracted diplomatic efforts needed to resolve the Iran and Afghanistan crises are likely to run into considerable domestic political resistance. American commentators on the left and the right […]

Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor who turned over a trove of information about U.S. surveillance programs to the media and foreign government agencies, continues to dominate the news. His story, like that of U.S. Army Pvt. Bradley Manning, is a complex tangle of important issues involving the privacy rights of Americans during the conflict with transnational terrorism; the process by which the U.S. government decides what information is classified and what is open; and the building of a massive national security bureaucracy that necessarily gives low-level, inexperienced people the power to do great damage to programs they […]

This month, there were reports that Ukraine was considering seeking arms deals with both Mexico and Turkey. In an email interview, Taras Kuzio, a fellow at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and an expert in Ukrainian security and politics, explained the recent history and current state of Ukraine’s arms industry. WPR: Who are the main buyers of Ukrainian arms, and in which categories of arms? Taras Kuzio: Developing countries such as Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Thailand, countries in the Middle East and former Soviet client states are the main buyers of Ukrainian arms. The main products are light […]

The European Union is widely considered by students of international relations to be the most successful experiment in international cooperation in human history. According to this view, the EU has demonstrably fostered unprecedented peace, prosperity and power on the European continent. The award of the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize to the Union, on the grounds that it had “for over six decades contributed to the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe” vindicates this view. Yet, the Union is also the subject of increasingly vitriolic criticism by populist parties across Europe, who have made political gains—sometimes […]

When U.S. Vice President Joe Biden took to the podium at last February’s Munich Security Conference, he decided to err on the side of caution. Washington’s strategic shift toward Asia, Biden said, would have no impact on the thriving relationship between the United States and Europe. This was music to the ears of Europeans in the packed banquet hall of the Bayerische Hof Hotel. Biden’s words were clearly aimed at reassuring Europe that despite some difficulties, the trans-Atlantic relationship was intact. Biden said that America and Europe had never been so close. The relationship was alive and well. Nothing could […]

Then-European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, with Singapore’s prime minister, Lee Hsien Loong, center, and former Portuguese Prime Minister Jose Socrates, left, at an ASEAN-EU summit, in Singapore, Nov. 22, 2007 (AP photo by Chitose Suzuki).

Editor’s note: The following article is one of 30 that we’ve selected from our archives to celebrate World Politics Review’s 15th anniversary. You can find the full collection here. One of the key differences between Western and Asian cultures is their view of time: Whereas history is linear and consequential as seen from the West, Chinese and other Asian cultures perceive time as being cyclical. In the latter view, the emerging Asian century is simply a natural phase within this recurring flow. As renowned economist Angus Maddison showed, China and India were the world’s largest economies for centuries. Only upon the […]

With small measures of tangible progress counterbalanced by intermittent stumbles, Georgia-Russia relations seem to have taken two steps forward and one step back since Georgia’s 2012 parliamentary elections swept the opposition Georgian Dream (GD) coalition to power. For all of Tbilisi’s best efforts, Moscow continues to view ties from a zero-sum perspective. While some degree of normalcy may be possible, divergent interests mean that the high-water mark of Georgia-Russia relations might already have been reached. After taking office in October, one of billionaire philanthropist-turned-Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili’s first moves was to appoint a special envoy to Russia. Although the new […]

With the U.S. slowly defining its drone policy, and with drones receiving increasing attention among European defense policymakers due to the recent military operations in Libya and Mali, Europe is laying out its own concerns over the ethics of drone use. Though much of the debate focuses on the use of armed drones for strikes, as conducted by the U.S. in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen, drones are also useful for surveillance and intelligence gathering, in both military and civilian policing operations. For instance, Frontex, the European Union border agency, has expressed interest in the use of unmanned aerial vehicles to […]

Turkish Cypriot President Dervis Eroglu appointed Sibel Siber to head a caretaker government last week after the government of the territory, which is recognized only by Turkey following its 1974 invasion, collapsed on June 5. In an email interview, Michális Michael, research fellow and deputy director of the center for dialogue at La Trobe University, explained the background of the political crisis and its ramifications for the island’s peace process. WPR: What led to the vote of no confidence against former Prime Minister Irsen Kucuk? Michális S. Michael: Eight disaffected deputies from the ruling Ulusal Birlik Partisi (National Ruling Party, […]

Azerbaijani foreign policy officials and analysts see few signs that the election of Hasan Rowhani as Iran’s next president will bring about any meaningful changes in Iran’s foreign policies—whether regarding Israel, Tehran’s controversial nuclear program or Azerbaijan’s tense relationship with the Islamic Republic. Azerbaijan’s foreign policy elites’ main concern is that the West will continue to undervalue Azerbaijan’s importance, leaving Baku in a position where it is forced to accommodate Tehran’s demands, as well as pressures from Russia, to abandon its Western-leaning foreign policy. During four days in Baku this past week, I had the opportunity to discuss Azerbaijan’s relationship […]

BOLOGNA, Italy—It is easy to be deceived by Italy. The country that gave us the term “la dolce vita” knows how to live well. In this northern city, an intersection of Italy’s most remarkable achievements in industry, education, architecture and gastronomy, one could miss the undercurrents of crisis flowing across the nation’s landscape. Like other countries in Europe, particularly those in the south, along the Mediterranean coast, Italy is living through a major economic contraction. On the surface, the drama is less visible than in places like Spain and Greece. Upon closer examination, however, one discovers that the Italian recession […]

Collective defense is a coordinated response to a common security problem by two or more countries. The core of collective defense is political: a commitment by different nations to come to each other’s aid if attacked. Existing collective security arrangements for the U.S. and its allies were designed for one kind of threat. Now they must deal with others, including new threats, if they are to remain relevant to national security. In particular, the U.S. and its allies agree that it would be useful to extend collective defense arrangements against potential cyberattacks, but implementation has proven difficult because of the […]

French President Francois Hollande’s three-day visit to Tokyo, where he met with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, resulted in major agreements on nuclear cooperation and joint development of military hardware. The summit, which also covered a range of other topics, reflected the noticeable improvement in recent years of the two countries’ already solid bilateral ties. Despite often being rivals for foreign contracts, Japan and France remain closely bound through cooperation on advanced technologies. Indeed, the agreement to increase nuclear cooperation was not a total surprise considering that a French-Japanese consortium just won a lucrative $22 billion joint bid to develop […]

Following World War II, the United States hoped that global security could be managed collaboratively by the victorious allies using a network of international organizations, particularly the newly created United Nations. But it quickly became clear that the Soviet Union would be an adversary, not a partner. Initially, U.S. policymakers disagreed on how to respond to the mounting Soviet threat. Great power strategy was new to Americans, something they had to learn on the fly. Neither placating nor threatening Moscow seemed to work. In 1946, Department of State official George Kennan, an astute student of statecraft and history, offered a […]

Last week, at a joint press conference with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang during Li’s visit to Berlin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel openly disagreed with the European Commission’s plans to impose punitive tariffs against Chinese-made solar panels. The commission has accused China of unfair trade practices that undercut European producers. But Merkel’s concerns for German exports to China took precedence over European Union solidarity, highlighting the difficulties Brussels has faced in forging a unified policy toward Beijing. China has been a strategically important partner for Europe for at least two decades, but the economic crisis in Europe has changed the nature […]

At this weekend’s Shangri-La Dialogue, the annual International Institute of Strategic Studies Asia Security Summit in Singapore, U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel delivered a well-crafted speech that reaffirmed the core tenets of the Obama administration’s Asia Pivot and showed how the Pentagon was still executing the strategy despite budgetary constraints and the departure from the administration of some of the strategy’s key architects. Yet the reactions to the speech from the senior Asian defense officials present made clear that the pivot continues to face serious obstacles. Hagel underscored the United States’ enduring security ties with the Asia-Pacific region in […]