Iran-South Africa Trade Talks

It’s always advisable to take Iranian claims of potential commercial agreements in its energy sector with a gran of salt. But the recent South Africa-Iran trade talks do seem to point to what Nikolas Gvosdev identified as the weak link in the whole League of Democracies concept floated during the U.S. presidential election. Namely, that the South-South perspective in particular, and emerging powers’ interests more broadly, don’t necessarily correspond with the American agenda to isolate “rogue” nations. Not surprisingly, sovereignty and non-interventionism are pretty important issues to countries that identify as much with the intervenees as with the interveners.

Ross Pick Provides Clue to Obama’s Iran Approach

The Washington Times, citing the Nelson Report, reports that Barack Obama has selected Dennis Ross to coordinate the administration’s policy toward Iran. The Ross pick is not surprising given that Ross was one of Obama’s top foreign policy advisers during the campaign, and often spoke about Iran policy. So what does the pick say about the administration’s likely approach to Iran? Ross laid out his approach to Iran at a June panel at the Center for a New American Security in Washington. I live-blogged the event, and you can read my post here. In a nutshell, Ross said he favored […]

Gas as Political Tool

Without harboring any naivete regarding Russia/Gazprom’s use of energy supplies as a geopolitical weapon, it seems odd that a pricing dispute suddenly becomes a “gas war” (Danger Room) when Russia shuts off the gas, but not when Ukraine stops paying for it. Whether or not Ukraine owed $1.5 billion or $2.1 billion for November and December deliveries, they hadn’t made the payment (NY Times). And that’s independent of the price for 2009 deliveries. Michael Hancock, writing at, says: This comes as just another step towards normal usage of gas and oil aspolitical tools. The idea that some resources or […]