In January, when a U.S. Coast Guard icebreaker escorted a Russian tanker carrying essential fuel to Nome, Alaska, it served as a reminder that the U.S. and Russia have many reasons to continue pursuing a thaw in relations. Unfortunately, beyond the New START agreement and a few other deals, the U.S.-Russia reset, which was announced with fanfare in 2009, seems to have descended into bureaucratic obscurity. While it is essential that the United States maintains a constructive relationship with the Russian federal government, there is much more to be gained in developing working relationships that extend to regional governments, nongovernmental […]

Despite Improved U.S. Relations With Cuba, Barriers to Progress Remain

In the first high-level meeting between the United States and Cuba since former U.S. President Jimmy Carter met with Cuban President Raul Castro in 2010, Sens. Patrick Leahy and Richard Shelby traveled to the island last week to discuss the case of imprisoned American Alan Gross. Though the case has strained relations between the two countries, and though the U.S. remains the only country in the Western Hemisphere without normal diplomatic relations with Cuba, there have been improvements in the relationship, particularly over the past three years. Geoff Thale, who oversees research and advocacy for the Washington Office on Latin […]

Where is the positive vision for U.S. foreign policy in this election? President Barack Obama and on-again, off-again “presumptive” GOP nominee Mitt Romney now duel over who is more anti-declinist when it comes to America’s power trajectory, with both slyly attaching their candidacies to the notion that “the worst” is now behind us. On that score, Obama implicitly tags predecessor George W. Bush, while Romney promises a swift end to all things Obama. Halftime in America? Indeed. But what’s the animating vision, besides rebounding? What course are we setting, besides up? So far, all the candidates’ visions seem negative — […]

The moment Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez called Henrique Capriles “a low-life pig” last week, he dispelled any hopes that the ailing, firebrand president would behave graciously or even with something resembling dignity toward his opponent in the country’s upcoming presidential election. The crass language, and what followed, also made it clear that Chávez will pull out all the stops in pursuing Venezuela’s top job for the fourth time, doing everything within his considerable power to remain in office for life. Had the opposition shown its traditional signs of weakness in advance of the October elections, Chávez might have had the […]

Over the past decade, the western Indian Ocean unexpectedly emerged as a hotbed for maritime crime as pirates — safe-havened in Somalia — menaced seafarers as far east as the Maldives. Shipping companies have been hit hard, with one estimate placing the direct costs of Somali piracy at $5.5 billion in 2011. Despite a multinational naval flotilla deployed to counter the pirates, attacks continued to grow last year. The discussion of Somali piracy predominately characterizes it as an aberration — a situation made possible by a failed Somali state that abuts a major shipping route. Viewed through such a prism, […]

Global Insider: Lack of Infrastructure Holds Back Canada’s Energy Trade With China

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper traveled to China earlier this month, where he met with senior Chinese leaders and signed deals promoting bilateral economic cooperation. In an email interview, Daniel Poon, a researcher at the North-South Institute, discussed trade and diplomatic relations between Canada and China. WPR: What is the nature and extent of energy relations between Canada and China, and how are they evolving? Daniel Poon: Due to years of prioritizing the U.S. market over all others, the extent of Canadian energy and, more generally, commercial relations with China have been relatively limited. In 2010, roughly one-third of Canada’s […]

TORONTO — Wrapping up a trip to China last week, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper described the visit as “very successful.” The trip saw the signing of a number of trade deals worth an estimated $3 billion in oil, natural gas, minerals and other products. But though it also ended with the commissioning of a feasibility study into the possibility of a free trade agreement between the two countries, Harper was quick to advise caution on what remains a long-term goal. That the two economies need each other is not in question. With bilateral trade valued at $50 billion in […]

U.S.-China Relations: Who Holds the Better Hand?

Gordon Chang, author of “The Coming Collapse of China”, talks about the meeting between President Barack Obama and Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping and the prospects of China giving financial aid to Europe. US News Video by NewsLook

Over the past two weeks, the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps conducted Bold Alligator, an exercise off the Atlantic seaboard designed to refine expertise in amphibious operations and test new amphibious capabilities. The exercise included the USS Enterprise supercarrier, three amphibious assault vessels — the USS Wasp, the USS Kearsarge and the USS Iwo Jima — as well as a bevy of support vessels. Nine international partners joined Bold Alligator in some fashion, including Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Spain and the United Kingdom, with the French LPD Mistral representing the most significant allied commitment. The […]

Global Insider: Brazil’s Rousseff is Positioned to Push for Change in Cuba

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff made her first official visit to Cuba last month. In an email interview, David Herrero, a research associate at the Council on Foreign Relations, discussed Brazil-Cuba relations. WPR: How did Brazil-Cuba relations evolve under former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, and what were Brazil’s priorities? David Herrero: Lula significantly expanded political engagement and commercial ties with Cuba. He visited the country four times as president and helped launch a $950 million modernization project — financed mostly by Brazil’s development bank, BNDES — at the Cuban port of Mariel. On the issue of human rights, […]

Canada and China Next Steps Could Include Free Trade Deal

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has signed 21 business deals in China worth nearly $3-billion fueling speculation that a free trade agreement could materialize later this year. World News Videos by NewsLook

Global Insider: UNASUR Defense Agencies Search for Relevance

Chile, Argentina, Paraguay, Colombia, Ecuador and Uruguay recently began to share information on national defense spending as part of a Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) initiative aimed at using transparency to maintain peace in the region. In an email interview, W. Alex Sanchez, a research fellow at the Council on Hemispheric Affairs, discussed UNASUR defense cooperation. WPR: What are the current structures in place within UNASUR for defense cooperation? W. Alex Sanchez: UNASUR’s two main defense bodies are the Defense Council and the Defense Strategic Studies Center. The center, which was created in 2009, is based in Argentina — […]

The four-decade-and-counting saga of the A-10 Thunderbolt II ground-attack aircraft continued last week, when the U.S. Air Force announced that it would cut five A-10 squadrons as part of its effort to reduce costs. The 246 remaining A-10s will, according to the Air Force, continue to perform the close air support (CAS) mission until they are eventually replaced by the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. Defense wonks met the announcement with a storm of criticism, but little real surprise. The long-running fight over the A-10 represents not so much a disagreement over technology, but rather a bureaucratically driven dispute over the […]

Raw Video: Venezuela Parade Marks Failed Chavez Coup

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez presided over a military parade marking the 20th anniversary of his failed coup attempt and affirmed that the country’s armed forces are loyal. World News Videos by NewsLook

Global Insider: U.S. Military Satellite Partnership Goes Wideband and Global

In January, the U.S. and several partner states announced a wideband global military satellite communication partnership, valued at more than $10 billion. In an email interview, Joseph N. Pelton, the former dean of the International Space University and director emeritus of the Space and Advanced Communications Research Institute at George Washington University, discussed the Wideband Global Satellite Partnership. WPR: What are the main objectives of the Wideband Global Satellite Partnership and what countries are participating in it? Joseph N. Pelton: For more than a decade, the U.S. Department of Defense has developed a new strategy of “network-centric warfare” centered on […]

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