TOKYO – Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan’s political future is already on shaky ground following his first election since taking office a month ago. His Democratic Party of Japan took a severe blow in Sunday’s Upper House elections, with voters turning once again to the country’s longstanding political hegemon, the Liberal Democratic Party. Still, the biggest surprise in yesterday’s voting was the strong showing of the start-up Your Party, indicating that while much of the Japanese electorate is yearning for change and strong leadership, their faith in the two major political parties is fast dwindling. Judging from the reaction of […]

With all of the comparisons being drawn between the presidencies of Barack Obama and Franklin D. Roosevelt, it is surprising that one of FDR’s most famous programs has not emerged as a possible model for U.S. policy today: Lend-Lease. That’s not to suggest that the United States should plunge the rest of the planet into world war as a strategy for domestic economic recovery. But consider the following: First, global security challenges are on the rise. The dark side of globalization means that technologies and capabilities that previously were the prerogatives of states have increasingly filtered down to non-state actors […]

In the two weeks since Gen. David Petraeus was nominated to be the new commander for U.S. and NATO operations in Afghanistan, continuity has been the dominant theme in describing what his replacement of ousted Gen. Stanley McChrystal represents. After all, Petraeus literally wrote the book on U.S. counterinsurgency (COIN) doctrine, which McChrystal tried to apply in Afghanistan over the past year. It only seems natural to expect that Petraeus will maintain the same approach. But continuity is the worst possible option for U.S. efforts in Afghanistan, because it would mean maintaining a strategy that appears increasingly unlikely to succeed. […]

At the end of May, the Senate confirmed Army Gen. Keith Alexander as commander of U.S. Cyber Command. The command’s creation had already been controversial, and as a result, the Senate Armed Services Committee delayed Alexander’s confirmation due to questions over roles and missions, authorities and restrictions. After his confirmation, Alexander specified that the new command is responsible for directing the day-to-day operations and defense of Department of Defense information networks, as well as for the “planning, integration, and synchronization of cyber activities, and when directed . . . for conducting full-spectrum military cyberspace operation[s]” to ensure freedom of action […]

In what has become a tragically predictable cycle, a new war breaks out every few years in the heart of the Middle East. And a quick scan of the region today points to a dizzying number of possibilities for potential conflicts that might erupt. Yet, most people in the region generally agree about where the next major clash will start and which armies it will involve — at least as its principal combatants. As for when the fighting will begin, nobody knows that with certainty. But the drumbeat of warning signs that the moment could come soon is growing louder […]

The United States and Japan commemorated the 50th anniversary of their security alliance last month with an uneasy sense of ambivalence. On the one hand, the sheer fact that the alliance, firmly rooted in the common interests and shared values of both countries, has persisted for so long is reason enough to celebrate. The U.S. and Japan, in addition to being democracies, are the world’s top two economies and two of the largest funders of multilateral institutions. They share a long list of common objectives, from ensuring that China’s rise is peaceful and deterring a nuclear North Korea to policing […]

On Sunday near Okinawa, the Japanese navy spotted two Chinese warships sailing south into the Pacific. The Chinese vessels were in international waters, but their proximity to Okinawa, which hosts a preponderance of U.S. and Japanese military forces, alarmed Tokyo. As a courtesy, navies traditionally announce their routine cruises in advance, particularly when one nation’s ships might pass close to another’s territory. Sunday’s infraction of that protocol was not the first for China. Just three months prior, two Japanese warships patrolling around Okinawa had discovered an unannounced flotilla of at least 10 Chinese vessels, including two submarines. During the encounter, […]

This World Politics Review special report is a compilation of WorldPolitics Review’s top articles on Afghanistan from December 2009 through June 2010. It is an update of WPR’s first special report on Afghanistan, published in 2009. Below are links to each article, which subscribers can read in full. Subscribers can also download a pdf version of the report. Not subscriber? Not a subscriber? Subscribe now, or try our subscription service for free.Obama’s Afghanistan Plan: The Partner ProblemBy Richard WeitzDecember 2, 2009 Navigating Roadblocks in AfghanistanBy Nikolas GvosdevDecember 4, 2009 Can Spheres of Influence Solve Afghanistan?By Nikolas GvosdevDecember 11, 2009 The […]

Virtually unnoticed, U.S. President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu have quietly set the stage to move forward Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, mend their tense personal relations and build a working relationship that takes the legitimate interests of their two countries into account. In a series of low-key moves, both men have worked to ensure that their meeting today at the White House demonstrates improved relations since Netanyahu last visited Washington in March. Differences then over Israeli settlement policy in Jerusalem produced one of the tensest moments in U.S.-Israeli relations in recent history. Netanyahu canceled subsequent talks scheduled for […]

Almost everyone would welcome greater cooperation between Moscow and Washington on ballistic missile defense. But decades of frustrating experience have taught us that this is precisely the wrong issue to make the centerpiece of the U.S.-Russia reset, notwithstanding what Andrew Futter argues in his WPR Briefing from last week. Rather than waste additional time and goodwill on the endeavor, we need to think more creatively about deepening bilateral collaboration regarding other issues, including promoting regional security in Afghanistan and Central Asia. Nevertheless, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s statements during her visit to Poland last weekend show that the Obama […]

The goal of global partnership between the United States and China, the cornerstone of my strategic vision for the past half-decade, has taken a beating lately. The Great Recession has led too many Americans to doubt in our own economic system and political institutions, while encouraging undue appreciation of China’s. Similar trends can be seen on the Chinese side, with our system unduly discredited and theirs fantastically exalted. Is the world better-served by this growing Chinese hubris than it was by America’s recent bout of the same vice? Hardly. Zero-sum calculations have no place in this age of globalization’s rapid […]

Post-American Afghanistan and the Bush Doctrine

Hard to argue with Harlan Ullman’s analysis of why we’re losing in Afghanistan. It’s a nice succinct summary of a lot of the arguments that many critics of the war, most notably Michael Cohen, have been making. And Rory Stewart is worth reading, too, just to remember the conceptual blinders we’ve collectively got on. I happen to remain relatively optimistic about the political feasability of redefining victory and drawing down the Afghanistan war at or near the July 2011 target date. But I think the subsequent transition will not be toward a full withdrawal, but more toward the kind of […]

Invariably, when Americans engage in nation-building exercises around the world, it is hoped that the indigenous leaders that emerge will be cast in the mold of our Founding Fathers. We are looking for the George Washingtons, Thomas Jeffersons, and James Madisons to take the helm in places like Iraq and Afghanistan. Inevitably, we are disappointed when the Hamid Karzais, the Nouri al-Malikis and others fail to live up to these often-idealized expectations. Maybe it would help if we substituted a different set of historical names and role models. If we can’t get a Washington in Afghanistan, we’d certainly do well […]

Having reached an agreement on the New START treaty in April, the Obama administration’s next step in its pursuit of a new strategic partnership with Russia appears to be establishing some type of joint collaboration on ballistic missile defense (BMD). These recent efforts should be applauded, as they hold the potential to reinforce trust and cooperation between the two powers, as well as to solidify a united defense against the growing threats from Iran and North Korea. Such an accord would also appear to be integral to the prospects of achieving further nuclear arms reductions agreements and working gradually toward […]

World Citizen: Obama’s Real Iran Plan

What exactly is President Barack Obama prepared to do in order to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons? And just how committed is the American president to curtailing the Islamic Republic’s nuclear enrichment efforts? Taken together, these questions represent one of the most important and most consequential unknowns in the realms of diplomacy, foreign policy, and geostrategic planning today. It is no exaggeration to say the course of history will be shaped by what lies behind the veil that is hiding Obama’s true plans for Iran. Bit by bit, an image of the Obama administration’s long-term views on how to […]

Last week, the U.S. Congress overwhelmingly approved updated Iran sanctions legislation, significantly expanding the scope of existing U.S. sanctions against Iran, and in particular, its petroleum industry. The bill’s major impact is to include under the U.S. sanctions regime companies and other institutions that provide goods or services to Iran’s petroleum industry, as well as those that export gasoline to Iran. It also expands the list of possible penalties that the U.S. president can impose, including a prohibition on any transfers of funds through U.S. financial institutions. The new legislation, if utilized judiciously in conjunction with multilateral sanctions imposed by […]

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