The U.S.-UAE 123 Agreement on civil nuclear cooperation is set to come into force now that the mandatory 90-day period of congressional review has passed. The deal has the firm backing of the Obama administration, which sees it as a model for countries looking to introduce nuclear energy to their territories. For the UAE, the deal represents a reaffirmation of its close ties to the West as well as a gateway to developing a source of energy that, for a number of reasons, makes sense for the Emirates. The third-party beneficiary of the agreement, of course, is France, with its […]

As the highly publicized rollout of the new U.S. policy on Sudan made clear, Sudan has become an unlikely foreign policy priority for the Obama administration. For this, the Sudanese can thank the Darfur advocacy movement, which effectively put the nation on the map for the American public over the past six years. Sudan certainly deserves every bit of attention it receives. If Africa’s largest nation again implodes, it threatens to further destabilize what is already an unstable region of the world. But the internal tension hidden within President Barack Obama’s newly formulated Sudan policy is that Darfur is no […]

It is downright striking how little attention the wider American discussion over foreign policy pays to Japan. After all, Japan still claims the title of the world’s second largest economy (even if China is expected to overtake it next year). Its relationship with the U.S. has been as intimate as any other between major powers in the last 50 years. U.S. troops are still stationed there 64 years after the end of World War II. And to complicate matters, experts say there has been a longstanding worry on the Japanese side of being abandoned by the Americans. Past American presidents […]

BRUSSELS, Belgium — If all goes as expected and the Lisbon Treaty finally enters into effect in the coming months, the European Union will soon face another major challenge: electing a permanent president for the European Council. The debate has already begun in Brussels over not only who would be the most suitable candidate for the job, but also over the functions the post should include — a subject about which the Treaty itself is particularly vague. Opinions are divided between those who want a strong president that would be the EU’s “face” to the world and those advocating for […]

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One of the most reliable lessons one gleans from observing intra-Palestinian politics is the need to always expect the unexpected. Important events have a tendency not to unfold according to plan. We should keep that in mind when considering Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ sudden call for new parliamentary and presidential elections to be held on Jan. 24. Less than three weeks ago, Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit announced that, at long last, the rival Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah would sign a reconciliation agreement in Cairo on Oct. 26. Egypt, as the mediator that helped craft the deal, […]

Almost 30 years ago to the day, the United States broke off relations with Iran in response to the seizure of the U.S. embassy in Tehran. In doing so, the U.S. lost its most valuable source of information about the Islamic regime. To fill the void of knowledge resulting from 30 years of diplomatic estrangement, the Obama administration has turned to scholars and experts for insight into the Persian nation. Indeed, President Barack Obama’s policy of outreach toward Tehran has been decisively shaped by the wide array of Iran experts, both within the administration and without, from whom he has […]

In a landmark address to the U.N. Climate Change Conference last month, Chinese President Hu Jintao announced Beijing’s commitment to trim the explosive growth of China’s carbon emissions “by a notable margin.” But he also reiterated his country’s hackneyed dictum that industrialized countries should bear most of the burden for emissions-cutting. Hu’s headline-grabbing speech captured the essence of China’s Janus-faced climate change policy — which, despite remarkable progress, continues to be bogged down with implementation problems and overshadowed by China’s concerns with economic growth and its leadership role in the developing world. Currently the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases, […]

BAGRAM, Afghanistan — In March, ordnance exploded on a home in Kapisa province, in northeast Afghanistan. One child died. Another, 6-year-old Razia, was badly burned. When Aziz, her father, took her in his arms, Razia’s scalp came away in his hands. In early interviews, Aziz blamed the explosion on the U.S.-led coalition. U.S. Air Force officers said the ordnance might have been white phosphorous, a specialized incendiary that the Taliban is unlikely to possess. Later, Aziz claimed the Taliban had, in fact, fired rockets on his home. Regardless of who actually caused Razia’s injuries, it was the Americans that evacuated […]

BERLIN — German Chancellor Angela Merkel and her Christian Democratic Party agreed to form a new government with the upstart conservative Free Democrats on Saturday, setting the stage for major changes in both German domestic and foreign policies. The CDU and the FDP, which is led by Guido Westerwelle, have been locked in tough negotiations over both cabinet appointments and policy platforms for weeks. Westerwelle, who is expected to be named foreign minister, was pushing for tax cuts of $52 billion, while Merkel was advocating much more modest cuts. In the end, it appears as if Merkel was the one […]

A bipartisan commission last week reiterated its warning that the U.S. government is responding inadequately to the threat of bioterrorism. Shortly before last fall’s national election, the U.S. Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism issued its major report (.pdf), “World at Risk.” It included detailed guidance to the next U.S. presidential administration about what steps to take to counter the spread of weapons of mass destruction or their potential use by terrorists. The commission’s latest report (.pdf), affirms that, “Progress has been made, but the clock is ticking.” Like “World at Risk,” the October […]

This week, “The Thinkers 50” Web site named their 50 most influential business thinkers in the world. Atop its list stood the Indian-born, University of Michigan professor, C.K. Prahalad — a visionary whose analysis of the market opportunities to be found in the emerging global middle class is must reading for anyone seriously given to strategic thought in the age of globalization. Globalization is often described as a “race to the bottom,” whether to the lowest price or the least protection for workers and the environment. While relevant, these statements are untrue: High levels of globalization connectivity clearly correlates with […]

As part of the recently signed Kerry-Lugar Bill authorizing $7.5 billion in economic assistance for Pakistan over the next five years, the U.S. Agency for International Development and the U.S. State Department will be expected to “assist efforts to enhance civilian control and stable constitutional government” in Pakistan, as outlined in the draft metrics for evaluating progress in Pakistan presented by the Obama administration to Congress in September. The goal is to enhance Pakistan’s local capacity for sustainable communal and economic growth so that counterinsurgency (COIN) efforts can be successful. Rebuilding civil society will be even more important as a […]

The United States and France have joined a chorus of disapproving African states to condemn recent events in Guinea — events that have dimmed hopes that the isolated and resource-rich West African nation might finally achieve democratic civilian rule following the death last December of longtime autocrat Lansana Conté. One voice that has opted against singing from the international hymn book, however, is arguably Guinea’s most important interlocutor: China. Instead of opprobrium, Beijing appears to have offered Guinea incentive, in the form of a multi-billion dollar investment in oil and minerals — the latest installation of the checkbook diplomacy that […]

First there was Hugo Chavez in Venezuela. Then there was Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Iran. And now there is Omar al-Bashir in Sudan. In many ways, this is no surprise. President Barack Obama pledged during his campaign that he would, unlike his predecessor, engage in talks with even the country’s most ominous adversaries. In April at the Summit of the Americas, when the president ran into Chavez, the moment made for a remarkably smiley photo opportunity. No such meeting has occurred with the Iranian president, but intense negotiations have resulted in a possible breakthrough in the standoff over Tehran’s nuclear program. […]

When mass protests erupted in Iran following charges of fraud in last June’s presidential election, Western leaders — particularly U.S. President Barack Obama — took pains not to taint those domestic disturbances with foreign fingerprints. To foreigners concerned about Iran’s nuclear aspirations, the sight of muscular internal dissent suddenly presented new and intriguing thoughts: International opposition to the Iranian nuclear program is not the only problem faced by the ruling powers in the Islamic Republic. The disturbances revealed one of Iran’s great weaknesses: widespread discontent with a regime of questionable legitimacy. Now that the regime has suppressed the protests, however, […]

As the People’s Republic of China celebrated its 60th anniversary, many observers understandably used the occasion to advocate strengthened cooperation between China and the United States. However, the substance of bilateral cooperation depends considerably on the balance of power between the two countries. The ongoing debate over the trend in the Sino-American balance centers primarily on three problematic assessments: – The “G-2” assessment, which argues that China and America are the two powers whose partnership is most needed to address global challenges, discounts the cooperation that they require from Europe and emerging powers to make substantial headway. – The “Chinese […]

NEW DELHI — The controversy caused in Islamabad by the Kerry-Lugar Bill, which authorizes an annual grant of $1.5 billion to Pakistan for military and non-military purposes over the next five years, is by now well-known. But because of its implications for the entire South Asian region, the bill has also been greeted with alarm in India. The bill’s explicit goal, as stated by the U.S., is to shore up Pakistan’s civilian government under President Asif Ali Zardari by providing monetary assistance to build roads, schools and other infrastructure. The implicit hope is that this will turn widespread Pakistani antipathy […]

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