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For all the talk about America’s declining global influence, it’s worth mentioning that the Oscar awards were front-page news in just about every English-language foreign daily that I scan each morning, as well as in both French-language dailies I read. Compare that to the French equivalent, the Césars, which, in case you missed it — and unless you’re a film buff, you probably did — took place earlier this week. As for the Césars, among the highlights were the honorary award given to Quentin Tarantino as well as the ceremony’s host, Jodie Foster. To be clear, this isn’t a value […]

Several additional national security strategies have been issued in recent weeks, including the publication earlier this month of both an updated National Military Strategy and the first-ever National Security Space Strategy. Though these texts shed additional light on the priorities and perspectives of the Obama administration’s national security team at mid-term, they serve other purposes than just articulating strategy. The National Military Strategy (.pdf) starts by describing the security environment in which the Pentagon operates, the U.S. military’s core objectives and the Defense Department’s strategies for pursuing them. It then assesses the adequacy of U.S. military capabilities to achieve these […]

Naval power is characterized by fungibility and flexibility. Because of the relatively open nature of the seas, ships and fleets can be transferred between ports and crisis zones in order to conduct operations or exert influence. Indeed, one of the key appeals of naval power is the ability of warships to respond to crises in a variety of locations without requiring a longstanding political and infrastructural commitment. However, of all the major naval powers, Russia remains most tightly constrained by its unfortunate maritime geography. Russian warships based in the Arctic, Baltic, Black Sea and Pacific cannot easily support one another. […]

Editor’s note: This is the second of a two-part series examining Ecuador under President Rafael Correa. Part I examined Correa’s domestic policy. Part II examines his foreign policy. Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa’s radical “Citizen’s Revolution” has surprisingly translated into a foreign policy marked by pragmatism. Some of his moves — such as embracing China, Russia and Iran — have raised eyebrows, while others, such as the forced restructuring of Ecuador’s foreign debt, have prompted some foreign investors to question the wisdom of making long-term investments in the country. But his administration has also restored full diplomatic and commercial ties with […]

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Saudi Arabia is in the process of developing its domestic nuclear energy capacity, and recently concluded nuclear cooperation agreements with Japan. In an e-mail interview, Giacomo Luciani, Princeton global scholar and scientific director of the international energy program at the Paris School of International Affairs, discussed Saudi Arabia’s nuclear energy policy. WPR: What is the history of Saudi Arabia’s nuclear energy plans? Giacomo Luciani: The history of Saudi Arabia’s nuclear energy plans is actually very recent. Interest in adding a nuclear component to the total power-generation fleet emerged in the country only in 2007. Previously, Saudi authorities had taken the […]

Mexico is not known for its start-up ventures, whether in legitimate business or in organized crime. What Telmex and Televisa are to the world of legal commerce — unrepentant monopolists or oligopolists, ruthlessly opposed to new players in their respective industries — the Sinaloa cartel and the Zetas are to the nation’s underworld. Yet that appears to be changing, at least in the criminal realm. The past 12 months in Mexico have been marked by a more significant upsurge of previously unknown groups than at any point in recent history. Among the new gangs: the Resistance, the New Generation Jalisco […]

The Obama administration’s reaction to the dramatic events in Egypt has inspired many analogies in recent days. Its initial caution and clumsiness, followed by its conviction to “be on the right side of history,” reminded optimists of the Bush administration’s reaction in 1989 to the uprisings in Eastern Europe, for example, and pessimists of the Carter administration’s reaction a decade earlier to Iran’s revolution. The Obama administration’s air of ambivalence, however, evokes a perennial condition of international relations. Accustomed as most of us are to power hierarchies, we often overlook how difficult and complex actual relations can be between big […]

Who cares about the United Nations Security Council? Over the past year, major powers have certainly been taking the council increasingly seriously. U.N. experts who argue that the council’s credibility rests on its appeal to big players in the global system were comforted by Germany, India and South Africa’s successful campaigns for two-year seats on the council last year. But some poor, weak governments have decided to defy it, with a series of African leaders, in particular, showing contempt for the council’s authority. In January 2010, President Idriss Déby of Chad insisted that the U.N. withdraw peacekeepers charged with protecting […]