A recent New York Times feature article on President Barack Obama’s aggressive counterterrorism approach highlighted the administration’s use of armed drones to target terrorists whose names appear on what is known within the White House as the “kill list.” The president himself makes the final decision over whether to place a terrorist on the list, according to Obama advisers quoted in the article. That was the case for Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S. citizen and al-Qaida operative who was killed by a drone strike in Yemen, where al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula is active. Though drone strikes allow the U.S. to […]

BEIJING — While China’s much-hyped clean energy drive has become bogged down in problems of impracticality and policy incoherence, the U.S. has quietly effected a genuine energy revolution that creates huge cost advantages for America’s manufacturing base going forward. With major structural shifts already underway, changing international energy market dynamics present Washington with an opportunity to fundamentally reorient its foreign policy approach, toward China and a broader range of actors, in the decades to come. In 2011, China overtook the U.S. in terms of renewable energy investment and under current plans will surpass the European Union in 2014. Beijing plans […]

Over the past several months, we have learned more about plans by the U.S. Special Operations Command to take on a greater role globally. As reported by Kim Dozier and others, U.S. special operations forces are working to build a global network of special operations forces in partner countries to meet a wide array of threats. U.S. special operations forces are also marketing themselves to policymakers as the “weapon of choice” after the drawdown in Afghanistan. This push for greater prominence arrives at a time when special operations forces, long the bastard children of the U.S. military, are enjoying unprecedented […]

At its recent Chicago summit, NATO declared that its new ballistic missile defense (BMD) architecture had achieved “Interim Capability.” Nonetheless, questions persist regarding potential contradictions between missile defense and other NATO goals such as nuclear deterrence, Russian unease regarding the entire BMD project and the alliance’s ability to sustain the necessary expenditures to construct a comprehensive BMD architecture. In 2010 at Lisbon, NATO committed to making missile defense a core mission within an alliance context. In particular, member governments agreed in principle to integrate their European missile defense programs with those of the United States, with the goal of providing […]

The European Union’s sovereign debt crisis continues to threaten the eurozone with dissolution, even as austerity budgets and a lack of strategic vision have undermined the EU’s common foreign and defense policy. The two crises, one acute and structural, the other chronic and temperamental, have increasingly brought the European project into question. This World Politics Review special report examines Europe’s troubled horizon. Below are links to each article in this special report, which subscribers can read in full. Not a subscriber? Purchase this document for Kindle or as a PDF from Scribd. Or try our subscription service free for two […]

At its Chicago summit, NATO reaffirmed its commitment to its European-based arsenal of tactical nuclear weapons. In an email interview, Paul Schulte, a nonresident senior research fellow at Carnegie Europe and Carnegie Nuclear Policy and a visiting senior research fellow at the Center for Science and Security Studies at Kings College, discussed NATO’s nuclear weapons. WPR: What is the current size and scope of NATO’s nuclear weapons? Paul Schulte: Some 160-200 U.S. B61 gravity bombs are understood to be deployed in Europe and Turkey, the remains of the alliance’s Cold War arsenal of 7,000 nonstrategic nuclear weapons (NSNWs). They are […]

The Baghdad talks between Iran and the P5+1 bloc, made up of the five permanent U.N. Security Council members plus Germany, seeking to resolve the impasse over Iran’s nuclear program ended with no solution reached but a commitment to meet again in June in Moscow. The foreign policy chief for the European Union, Catherine Ashton, expressed cautious optimism, observing, “It is clear that we both want to make progress, and that there is some common ground.” Most of the commentary on the negotiations has focused on the technical aspects of the diplomacy involved. In this first stage of talks, the […]

Chen Guangcheng, the civil rights activist who made headlines when he sought refuge at the American Embassy in Beijing arrived in the United States over the weekend. The incident strained ties between the U.S. and China, particularly as negotiations over Chen’s future drew international attention to human rights abuses in China, and Beijing demanded an apology for what it called interference in internal matters. But human rights advocates call the story a success in a region where human rights advocacy has proved to be a major challenge for the U.S. “When it comes to advocating for human rights, the U.S. […]

This week, the news broke that Ryan Crocker, arguably the finest U.S. diplomat of his generation, was resigning from his post as the U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan. Crocker, who came out of retirement to serve as ambassador in Kabul, will be stepping down this summer, a year earlier than scheduled. The news is a blow to U.S. efforts to surround the military strategy in Afghanistan with a diplomatic framework to stabilize the country. As such, it is the latest setback in a war that has been a humbling experience for both the United States and its Western allies. The most […]

“The [Organization of American States] is an enemy of the U.S. and an enemy to the interests of freedom and security,” said Rep. David Rivera, a Republican congressman from Florida, in July 2011 as he joined the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s GOP majority in voting to cut off U.S. funding for the OAS. Rivera’s low regard for the organization was matched by Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, who in urging the nations of Latin America and the Caribbean to form a new regional bloc excluding the United States said, “You can’t expect much from the OAS. It’s like a corpse that […]

Photo: U.S. President Barack Obama and Afghan President Hamid Karzai at the Presidential Palace in Kabul, Afghanistan, May 1, 2012 (official White House photo by Pete Souza).

The U.S.-Afghan strategic partnership agreement that President Barack Obama recently signed in Kabul with Afghan President Hamid Karzai is especially noteworthy for the lessons it successfully draws from similar agreements with Iraq and other countries, as well as for the pitfalls it avoids repeating. For the past 90 years, negotiations toward such security agreements have repeatedly proved unsuccessful, divisive and downright destabilizing. Britain’s attempt to reach a similar treaty with Iraq in the 1920s contributed to years of tumult and instability in that country. In Iran in the 1960s, the Shah’s security agreement with the U.S. prompted an intense backlash […]

This week’s NATO Summit in Chicago, attended by the heads of state and government of alliance member states as well as senior representatives of various NATO partner countries and organizations, was less ambitious than some recent summits. With regard to the alliance itself, the summit announced no new members, or even a timetable for the four aspirant countries, and raised no funds for collective missions, as in Afghanistan. That said, the summit did perform the important function of reaffirming that despite their economic problems, member countries have been fulfilling all the vague commitments they made at the November 2010 Lisbon […]

Earlier this month, the Brazilian navy successfully tested an indigenously designed and manufactured anti-ship missile. In an email interview, Dinshaw Mistry, an associate professor of political science at the University of Cincinnati, reviewed the state of the global missile industry. WPR: Which countries currently have an indigenous missile capability, and in what ranges, and which countries are currently seeking to develop this capability? Dinshaw Mistry: About a dozen countries currently build ballistic missiles with varying ranges. The United States, Russia, France and China have built long-range missiles that serve as nuclear weapon delivery systems. China, Israel, India and Pakistan have […]

With NATO leaders meeting in Chicago for the alliance’s biannual summit of heads of state and government, attention will be focused on the gathering’s high-profile agenda items. In some ways, it’s a lineup of the usual suspects, with the summit’s declaration likely to resemble a collection of increasingly implausible platitudes worthy of a Mad Libs satire: Whether regarding Afghanistan, the alliance’s European-based missile defense system or the move toward “Smart Defense” to maintain military capabilities in the face of budgetary constraints, few observers will be convinced by the declarations of progress, confidence and resolve, respectively. As is customary for a […]

The narrative that U.S.-Russian relations are set on a downward path with the return of Russian President Vladimir Putin to the Kremlin has received a major shot in the arm with this week’s “summit-gate” saga. Aware that the inability to reach any accord between Russia and the United States over the contentious issue of missile defense would overshadow the NATO summit in Chicago, the Obama administration deliberately changed the location and timing of the G-8 summit, originally scheduled in Chicago immediately after the gathering of the Atlantic alliance, to the presidential retreat at Camp David the weekend before. This change […]

Advocates of the G-8, what few are left of them, might be forgiven for having a case of the “told ya so’s” this year. The importance many observers have attached to tomorrow’s gathering of G-8 leaders at Camp David in Maryland seems to vindicate those who defended the summit format against charges of irrelevance over the past few years. Certainly, the G-8 is no longer the control room of the global economy that it once was. The shift of the global economy’s dynamic center of gravity to Asia, unlocked by globalization and accentuated by the global financial crisis, has made […]

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