The G-8: Rationalizing the Global Summit System

It’s pretty tough to argue with conventional wisdom, but Richard Weitz does a good job of it in his WPR column today when it comes to the G-8. Weitz points out that the arguments for enlarging the G-8 to a G-14 or a G-20 are mainly based on economic and demographic shifts. That overlooks the significant security component to the G-8 format, an area in which the eight member nations do, in fact, represent the principle global leaders. I wish I’d had Richard’s column to rely on last Friday, during the France 24 program, The World This Week, because I […]

Critics of the Group of Eight (G-8) tend to focus on economic issues in challenging the format’s continued relevance. Citing the decreasing share of the economic resources and clout at the group’s disposal, commentators often advocate replacing it with a G-14, a G-20, or some other, more inclusive body. Such a focus, however, neglects another important aspect of the work conducted by the G-8: Since the 1980s, the group’s annual meetings have given rise to important international security initiatives, which have been sustained and further developed over time. The G-8 structure has also proven sufficiently flexible to incorporate additional partners […]

The news from Latin America has been mostly bad of late, with drug-fueled violence, radical populism, and, more recently, the coup in Honduras grabbing the headlines. Amid this turmoil, however, Latin America has also experienced a quieter and far more positive trend. In countries like Brazil, Uruguay, Mexico, Colombia, and Chile, the region has seen the emergence of governments that are ideologically moderate, economically and socially responsible, and keen for mutually beneficial cooperation with Washington. There has been much talk recently about a “lurch to the left” in Latin America. These governments, by contrast, represent the rise of the center. […]

Amid the Ruins, the G-8 Was Not a Shambles

In the end, the Italians’ legendary talent for snatching success out of impending disaster won the day, and the G-8 summit in the quake stricken town of l’Aquila this week was “a tour de force of last-minute organization,” as the New York Times called it. There was no major breakthrough on any of the main problems confronting world leaders. But there was a useful clearing of the air on such issues as global warming, as well as a burst of generosity by “have” nations towards struggling economies in the developing world and welcome help for agricultural development. Above all, the […]

Drones vs. Pilots

Robert Farley thinks I’m holding onto the past in my defense of piloted fighter planes, and he’s probably right: The question isn’t really one of the relevance of air superiority, orthe likelihood of war with China. Rather, we’re talking about theimminent reality that drones (with human controllers) will, in theforeseeable future, be better able to handle air superiority missionsthan aircraft with human pilots. He goes on to explain why, before adding this: Finally, I’m singularly unconvinced by the notion that we need tomaintain industrial and training capacity into the indefinite futurefor weapon systems that we’ve identified as obsolete. Right or […]

When I taught American foreign policy, I always began my lectures on Vietnam by showing the class Lesson No. 9 from “The Fog of War,” Errol Morris’ penetrating documentary about former Secretary of Defense Robert Strange McNamara. The lesson? In order to do good, you may have to engage in evil. Undoubtedly, that contradictory logic has justified some of the United States’ most ferocious acts abroad. The nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the bombing of North Vietnam, are two extreme examples. Immediately after the clip ended, I would survey the 40-odd college students’ faces looking up at me […]

Pilots vs. Drones

As someone who grew up devouring books on WWI-era fighter aces, and spent countless hours building model WWI and WWII fighter planes (I could probably put together a Spitfire with my eyes closed), I’m probably not a very objective judge of the idea making the rounds that the F-35 might be that last generation of U.S. piloted fighter/fighter-bomber planes. David Axe kicked things off, based on a comment by Adm. Mike Mullen in Senate testimony. Matthew Yglesias and Robert Farley make the case based on the relative expense compared to drones, with drones obviously coming in far cheaper. And Abu […]

WASHINGTON — For more than a week, the State Department has stopped short of defining the military ouster of Honduras President Manuel Zelaya as a “coup.” The reluctance is fueling a political and legal debate over the definition of “coup,” and whether the de facto Honduran government is legal. It has also fueled lingering suspicions that the U.S. might have been involved in the coup, given its longstanding ties to the Honduran military and the increasing criticism Zelaya has leveled at the United States in recent years. Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez has gone as far as to accuse the “Yankee […]

G-8: Eight is Enough

Reading through this European Voice article by Richard Gowan and Bruce Jones (it’s sub. req., but Global Dashboard has a write-up here), I can’t help but think that the G-8 would be more relevant if it returned to its exclusive Euro-Atlantic roots, as opposed to the neither/nor affair it has become. As Gowan and Jones explain, U.S.-EU splits prevent any broader agreements from being reached with the emerging powers, while the broader format prevents the U.S. and EU from meaningfully hashing out their differences. They argue for maintaining the current format, while simply doing a better job of organizing it. […]

WPR on Bloggingheads

World Politics Review managing editor Judah Grunstein appeared on Bloggingheads with Will Ferroggiaro of the Fund for Peace, to discuss the use and perception of American power. The full video can be seen here. Below is the segment on European expectations of America:

After a protracted election campaign, the 35-member Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) finally selected Yukiya Amano of Japan as its next director general earlier this month. Amano’s tenure will begin following the retirement of current IAEA head Mohamed ElBaradei at the end of November. Ambassador Amano will certainly face no shortage of challenges when he begins his four-year term. As detailed in a 2008 report (.pdf) by a panel of senior experts, the IAEA must surmount major weaknesses if it is to manage the surge in dangerous nuclear material that will result from the growing […]

TORREÓN, Mexico — In addition to completely reordering Mexico’s political landscape, the mid-term legislative elections on July 5 marked a step forward for gender equality in the country. The opposition Institutional Party of the Revolution (PRI), previously the third-largest party, scored a huge victory. The PRI took a near-majority in the lower house of Congress, which had been dominated by the National Action Party (PAN), won five of six gubernatorial races, and a number of state and local contests around the nation. The two leading vote-getters — the ideologically amorphous PRI and the center-right PAN — are both expected to […]

In a Time of Crisis In the past year, we have witnessed a global emergency, with the world experiencing the worst economic meltdownsince the 1930s. This crisis will not be a one-off. Over the next 20 years, we will be confronted with a series of systemic and interlocking risks that will cross national borders with alacrity. As a result, the divide between domestic and international policy will largely be erased. To carve out a strategic response to these risks requires huge effort. Our assumptions about the world were formed in another age and are ill-suited to contemporary challenges. The international […]

In 1946, George Kennan keyed the famous “Long Telegram,” which identified the Soviet Union as an enemy of the United States. In 1947, the original telegram was reworked and published in Foreign Policy magazine as “The Sources of Soviet Conduct.” Together, these documents formed the codex for the U.S. Cold War strategy of containment, and thereby the basis of the eventual U.S. victory in that conflict. Here’s what a “Kennan” might have written for the 21st century. The Nature of the Threat Posed by Globalization We are now engaged in a conflict that will dictate whether we succeed or fail […]

For a fleeting moment in early June, it looked as though Russia’s 16 years of World Trade Organization (WTO) negotiations were nearing a successful conclusion. After talks on the sidelines of the St. Petersburg Economic Forum, EU Trade Commissioner Catherine Ashton told forum attendants that the country’s WTO accession should be completed by the end of the year. Russia’s chief WTO negotiator Maxim Medvedkov echoed her optimism, saying this was “a good window of opportunity” to join the organization. In the days that followed, some experts began looking forward to the nullification of the Jackson-Vanik Amendment with respect to Russia. […]

Judah Grunstein and Will Ferroggiaro on

WPR Managing Editor Judah Grunstein and Will Ferroggiaro of the Fund for Peace discussed America’s priorities, the U.S.-European relationship and more in a July 6 discussion hosted by Browse the discussion by topic at

Happy Fourth of July

“Otherstates indicate themselves in their deputies . . . . but the genius ofthe United States is not best or most in its executives orlegislatures, nor in its ambassadors or authors or colleges or churchesor parlors, nor even in its newspapers or inventors . . . but alwaysmost in the common people. Their manners speech dress friendships –the freshness and candor of their physiognomy — the picturesquelooseness of their carriage . . . their deathless attachment to freedom– their aversion to anything indecorous or soft or mean — thepractical acknowledgment of the citizens of one state by the citizensof all […]

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