Gone Fishin’

Well, I thought I’d be able to sneak in a week of pre-vacation and still manage some sporadic posting, but obviously I was kidding myself. Truth be told, it’s really impossible to maintain the kind of reading it takes to feed the blog with only one eye on the screen. Now I’m heading off on a real two-week vacation for some much-needed R&R and to spend some quality time with my seven year-old son. I’ll be completely offline and will even do my best to resist the temptation to buy the IHT print edition each day, so with any luck […]

McCain’s Strange Logic on NATO Expansion

Gregory Djerejian at his satisfyingly ornery Belgravia Dispatch blog takes John McCain to task for his incredibly poor reasoning regarding NATO expansion to include Georgia. It’s a must-read. I have to say, somewhat regretfully, the pattern that is developing here whereby McCain’s answer to every foreign policy dilemma seems to be more bluster, a harder line, a transparent attempt to out-cowboy Bush, is increasingly disturbing.

Nabucco Contortions

With Russia locking up all of the natural gas supplies that could possibly feed the EU’s Nabucco pipeline project, the logical alternative from a supply perspective is Iran’s immense reserves. Of course, that presents some political hurdles at the moment. But in the event no grand bargain is reached with Tehran, the Turkish Daily News gives us an idea of the form a workaround would probably take: Meanwhile Iran and Turkey have worked out the details, including the pricing, of a deal to produce natural gas in the Islamic Republic and export it to Turkey, senior Turkish and Iranian officials […]

Globalization Stumbles

From a Der Spiegel article (via today’s WPR Media Roundup) on the failure of the latest WTO negotiations on the Doha round: Still, the real reason for the failed negotiations runs deeper. Concerns about globalization have become greater than the hopes it engenders, even in the industrialized nations and the successful emerging economies. . . The result is the death of a grand idea. . . In the coming months, experts expect to see a sharp increase in the number of bilateral negotiations aimed at setting up mini trade alliances. Now this mirrors a theme that I’ve been developing on […]

The Case of Aafia Siddiqui

The first I’d heard of Aafia Siddiqui was yesterday on Arif Rafiq’s Pakistan Policy Blog. Today both McClatchy and the LA Times are on the story. Rafiq’s post, as well as the McClatchy article, gives a pretty detailed account of why the American version of Siddiqui’s arrest “. . .doesn’t pass the sniff test,” as her lawyer told the LAT. There’s no way to turn the sudden re-emergence of a woman who’s been “disappeared” in an intelligence black hole into a public relations windfall. But with five years to prepare a story, you’d think the Bush administration could do better […]

Coordinating Interagency Integration

If you haven’t seen it on the WPR front page yet, give John Nagl’s and Brian Burton’s piece on the need for building civilian institutional capacity for counterinsurgency and nation-building operations a look. Obviously conflict zones are going to command a great deal of American attention and resources in the years ahead, and as Nagl and Burton make clear, unless civilian agencies adapt their training and institutional orientation, they will increasingly see their expertise farmed out to, or absorbed by, the military. As the article also makes clear, the necessary adaptation won’t take place until these agencies are funded and […]

Cheap Oil?

With energy policy pandering the topic of the moment, I found this Foreign Policy interview with Lehman Brothers’ chief energy economist, Robert Morse, noteworthy for his suggestion that the market might already be correcting itself on the fundamentals. Morse underlines the opacity of both supply (ie. How much reserve capacity does OPEC really have?) and demand (ie. How much oil does China really need?) as a driver of the recent price surge. But with increases in Iraqi production and global inventories, and a cost-driven decline in demand, Morse sees oil back in the double digits by election day. If what […]

The Art of Foreign Policy

Nikolas Gvosdev offers a caveat in the assessment of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s life and career: . . .[A] critic of a totalitarian system is not ipso facto a supporter of American-style liberalism. Nor, in seeking to destroy the old system, will such a person automatically endorse everything that the successor regime does. Solzhenitsyn was a bold and prophetic critic to the evils of the Soviet system; he was horrified by what occurred in post-Soviet, 1990’s “free” Russia. Solzhenitsyn’s trajectory is important to keep in mind as we expect and wait for Iranian and Chinese versions; critics of their own systems will […]

In Defense of Holbrooke

Steve Clemons offers an unblinking defense of Richard Holbrooke that amounts to, “The guy ain’t pretty, but he gets the job done.” Comparing him to “global arm-twisters” (talk about a job description) like Brzezinski and Kissinger, Clemons adds: Barack Obama needs someone in close proximity on his foreign policy team that the world knows is tenaciously committed to outcomes and that it fears just a bit. Obama needs to be about hope, about light — but he needs someone who can pursue and defend American interests against thugs in the dark. Clemons is making the case for Holbrooke as Secretary […]

The Military-Development Complex

Melissa Brouwer at the U.S. Diplomacy blog flags last week’s Senate Foreign Relations committee hearing titled, Defining the Military’s Role Towards Foreign Policy. The fact that the military is absorbing both the budget and certain functions of foreign policy is pretty clear by now. Ascommittee Chairman Joe Biden pointed out in his opening remarks (.pdf), the share of development assistance channeled through the Pentagon quadrupled from 5.6 percent in 2002 to 21.7 percent in 2005. And Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has sounded repeated warnings about the funding imbalance between the Pentagon and State Department. Here’s why that’s a problem, […]