No Nukes

Tom Barnett pushes back against the Global Zero goal evoked by President Barack Obama with what is certainly today’s quote of the day, and might even be the quote of the year: The system is nowhere near prepared or integrated enough to abolishnuclear weapons, and even if it was, I’d keep them on the sheerassumption that not everybody and everything I might meet in spacesomeday is going to like me. Anne Applebaum pushes back, too, with a point that is often obscured by the bilateral U.S.-Russian lens through which we see nuclear arms control: Plus I’m not sure the French, […]

Bob Gates’ Army

“This is a reform budget.” More specifically, though, this a formal indictment of the defense procurement process. Even where weapons systems have ostensibly been “cut,” it’s the procurement process and not really the weapon itself at issue. The FCS armored vehicle, for instance, was killed in its current conception in order to be relaunched in a form the army actually needs. The controversial, cost-overrun F-22 will run out its string, but will be replaced by the joint F-35, which offers more applications across the branches without the symbolic procurement albatross around its neck. (Do we really 2,443 of them, though, […]

NATO’s Dead, Long Live NATO

A final thought on this weekend’s NATO summit. In his WPR Briefing on the subject, Soeren Kern had this to say: Obama put a brave face on the paltry results by saying they werea “strong down payment on the future of our mission in Afghanistan andthe future of NATO.” Butby providing only modest assistance incomparison to Obama’s 21,000-troop surge, NATO as an alliance hasessentially failed in Afghanistan. Indeed, the mission in Afghanistanis becoming increasingly Americanized: By the end of 2009, nearlytwo-thirds of the estimated 95,000 permanent foreign military personnelin Afghanistan will be American. Not only do I think that’s right, […]

NATO Copters for Afghanistan

One of the more prevalent military hardware stories that’s been flying just under the radar for the past few years is the shortage of helicopters for multilateral deployments. The EUFOR Chad force ultimately had to accept a Russian offer of eight copters, along with their operating teams, in order to cover the huge theater of operations under their jurisdiction. This Defense Industry Daily article describes how Coalition forces in Afghanistan have been forced to lease copters for non-military use from private contractors, in order to free up military copters for operations. This is a false shortage, to the extent that […]

Andrew Bast’s accompanying interview with Simon Johnson, former chief economist of the IMF and currently a professor atMIT and editor of the Baseline Scenario blog, can be found here. Low expectations preceded last Thursday’s G-20 summit in London, but by day’s end a curious consensus had emerged. Prior to the summit, a rift had emerged between the United States, which was pushing for more economic stimulus, and the Europeans, who urged stricter regulation reforms. French President Nicolas Sarkozy had even threatened to walk out were he not satisfied with the measures taken. (Asked about it upon landing in London, he […]

U.S. President Barack Obama’s debut NATO summit at the Franco-German border over the weekend was a triumph of style over substance. Although allies put on a public face of unity, they were unable to agree on any of the major problems facing trans-Atlantic security. As NATO marks its 60th birthday, the alliance is mired in a profound identity crisis offering little reason to celebrate. The summit was dominated by the problem of Afghanistan and what to do about it. European allies heaped praise on Obama’s new Afghan strategy, which sets benchmarks for progress in fighting al-Qaida and the Taliban in […]

STRASBOURG, France — It’s a virtual certainty that the concerto played by violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter at NATO’s 60th anniversary dinner Friday night wasn’t chosen because of its nickname. Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 5 is known as the “Turkish Concerto” because the composer used oriental themes in the final movement. But as it happened, the one discordant note in an otherwise harmonious summit was the down-to-the-wire threat by NATO member Turkey to veto the nomination of former Danish prime minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen as the alliance’s new secretary general. It took frantic, behind-the-scenes efforts, which delayed the start of the Saturday […]

Perhaps the most significant development coming out of last week’s G-20 summit meeting in London is the news that the world’s leading economies will triple the International Monetary Fund’s lending powers to some $750 billion. The massive investment raises an immediate question: How is influence shifting within the workings of the Fund? To tease out the nuances of these developments, WPR columnist Andrew Bast spoke with Simon Johnson, chief economist of the IMF in 2007 and 2008, and currently a professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management. Many consider Johnson’s blog, The Baseline Scenario, a must-read on the global […]

Music Diplomacy

I’m not going to make a habit of doing this, but today’s two selections reflect my previous post about the disconnect between the political theater of this weekend’s NATO summit, and the political substance that underlies it. And in trying to make a final choice between the two of them, I realized that neither one fully does justice to the situation, whereas together they describe it perfectly. The first selection reflects the political theater and its theme of conciliation, and it wouldn’t surprise me to learn that the song was loaded into President Barack Obama’s iPod before he left for […]

Erdogan’s NATO Tantrum?

Yigal Schleifer gives a rundown of Turkey’s opposition to Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen’s candidacy for NATO secretary general. Essentially, because Rasmussen refused to condemn the publication of the Mohamed caricatures way back when, Turkey is considering vetoing his appointment (NATO operates under consensus rules). T(here’s also the question of a Danish news outlet that allegedly serves as a PKK mouthpiece, but that doesn’t support the point I’m about to make, so I’ll downplay that part.) Turkey’s argument is based on the image problems Rasmussen’s “involvement” in the incident will create in the Muslim world. I would argue that […]

NATO’s Last Stand

What stood out most in President Barack Obama’s various press conferences I watched today was the divergence between the political theater in the run-up to the NATO summit, and the political substance that underlies it. On the political theater side, Obama acknowledged the French and German contributions to the war effort, while French President Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel declared their full support for Obama’s Afghanistan strategy. On the political substance side, Obama made it clear that France and Germany need to contribute more troops, and Sarkozy and Merkel said, Non, and Nein, respectively. It’s not that there’s no […]

LONDON — British Prime Minister Gordon Brown might have been excused for savoring the sweetest moment of his political career yesterday evening. By the time the final slaps on the back had been delivered and the G-20 world leaders had left London, Brown’s stock had never been higher. It had been his crisis summit. And at first glance, it was a success, as summits go. For 24 hours, Brown had enjoyed what for him has become the unusual comfort of high praise, luxuriating in the warm words of fellow leaders. And none were warmer than those of the undoubted superstar […]

The 2012 London Olympics may still be several years away, but yesterday, the city played host to a different type of games altogether — the G-20 summit on the global economic crisis. This time, the competitors were not the world’s premier athletes but rather political leaders representing the world’s most powerful economies. By the end of the conference, though, no single country emerged atop the podium. Instead, the clearest winner appears to be the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which received another boost in its quest to reassert itself as the protector of global economic stability. Still, if the world’s rising […]

WPR on France 24

World Politics Review managing editor, Judah Grunstein, will appear as a guest commentator on France 24, from 9-12 EST, during live coverage of President Barack Obama’s arrival at the 60th anniversary NATO summit in Kehl, Germany and Strasbourg, France.

Know When to Fold ‘Em

French President Nicolas Sarkozy got a side meeting in London with Chinese President Hu Jintao after all. France, like Britain before it, reiterated its longstanding Tibet policy — which amounts to public relations stunts to burnish human rights bona fides, while officially giving Tibetan aspirations for independence the shaft. For its part, China agreed to take the diplomatic high road and let bygones be bygones. Meanwhile, President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev got acquainted in a very lawyerly way during their side meeting. They have agreed to agree on what they agree on (START negotiations), while reserving the […]

The Changing Political Calculus of Transatlantic Relations

Three posts about the upcoming summits (G-20 in London, NATO in Strasbourg) got me thinking about the politics of President Barack Obama’s transatlantic diplomacy: James Joyner wonders whether European Obamamania will survive the week, Heather Hurlburt points out how the diffusion of global power has diluted and complicated diplomacy, and Art Goldhammer scolds French President Nicolas Sarkozy for his threat to walk out of the G-20 summit. A few scattershot thoughts: My sense is that for a number of not necessarily coherent reasons, European Obamamania has already faded significantly since the election, and even a bit since the well-received Munich […]

The Changing Political Calculus of U.S.-Israel Relations

I thought I’d dash off a quick and breezy morning post on an issue that’s about as quick and breezy as a hand grenade. Any trouble I get myself into is entirely Matt Eckel’s fault: So, we’re now in a position where if the Israeli government does whatNetanyahu is hinting it might do [i.e., bomb Iran’s nuclear installations], the Obama Administration will have toeither be blamed by association and throw its whole Middle Easternagenda to the dogs, or publicly and severely sanction Israel and openup a political s%&! storm in Washington that could derail anynumber of other projects. Support for […]

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