After seven long years, the Indian government has decided that the time has come to once again make its presence felt in Iraq by naming an envoy to the country. The previous ambassador to Iraq was withdrawn in 2004 as the security situation in the country spiraled out of control. Even after the situation in Iraq had stabilized, with largely peaceful elections last year and the U.S. decision to withdraw its forces completely by the end of this year, New Delhi took its time to come to terms with the rapidly changing realities on the ground. After all, when it […]

The rapidly spreading chaos in Libya should give the American people pause, and may end up giving the U.S. military another item to add to its endless to-do list. Setting the stage for what might be called the battle for Tripoli, anti-government forces and rebel military units are moving from the country’s apparently “liberated” east to face off against Moammar Gadhafi’s Praetorian Guard of tribal and regime loyalists. The New York Times described “clusters of heavily armed men in mismatched uniforms clutching machine guns,” “dozens of checkpoints operated by . . . plainclothes militiamen,” and “machine-gun toting foreign mercenaries” stalking […]

As more sickening details emerge of what actually happened to CBS reporter Lara Logan in Tahrir Square on Feb. 13, the partisan rhetoric shows no signs of abating. Some claim that it was “pro-Mubarak” thugs who sexually assaulted and almost killed the 39-year-old mother of two, while others point the finger at “pro-liberation” hooligans. Still others have used the incident to demonize Muslims in general. Such distinctions, however, have nothing to do with why Logan was attacked and, in fact, obscure the real issue. Like many millions of women, girls and young boys around the world, Logan was not a […]

Much analysis of the wave of unrest sweeping the Middle East has identified economic hardship as a crucial motivation for the uprisings. Many Middle East experts pointed to unemployment and the rising price of food in Tunisia to explain that country’s uprising. The same experts pointed to unemployment and mass poverty to explain the subsequent Egyptian uprising. But after Egyptians successfully ousted Hosni Mubarak, unrest subsequently spread to Libya, Algeria, Iran, Bahrain, Yemen and Jordan, countries with very diverse economic conditions. Standards of living in Bahrain and Libya, for example, are much higher than in Egypt and Yemen. Furthermore, the […]

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One of the major points of speculation about the impact of the Egyptian uprising is over how a democratic government in Cairo will affect Egypt’s foreign policy, in particular regarding Israel. A just-released Ifop poll of French opinion on the Afghanistan War (via Jean-Dominique Merchet) highlights a point I’ve been meaning to make: Democracies are not immune to unpopular foreign policy. According to the Ipof poll, 72 percent of French people oppose the country’s involvement in the Afghanistan War. That’s slightly higher than the two-thirds who opposed the war at the time that French President Nicolas Sarkozy decided to deploy […]

BEIJING — Following a period of considerable success and strategic evolution, China’s foreign policy has been marked by a less coherent and less constructive approach to international relations over the past year. Nowhere has this shift been more pronounced than on the Asian littoral, a key arena in the country’s international rise, where China’s opaque naval expansion and increasingly abrasive behavior have begun to undermine previous strategic gains. China’s naval modernization is part of an ongoing force-wide attempt to enhance national military capabilities, particularly in nonconventional warfare and peacetime operations. The People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) also has a stated […]

Bahrain may be the 163rd most populous country on Earth, but for the past week it has taken center stage, along with Libya, in the unfolding drama shaking the Arab world. While the island kingdom carries little of the weight and influence of a political and cultural power like Egypt, the events in Bahrain have the potential to reshape the geopolitics of the Gulf, with knock-on effects for global oil markets and the U.S.-Saudi relationship. Following the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, disgruntled Bahrainis took to the streets to protest corruption, institutionalized racism and the lack of political rights and […]

The current wave of upheaval in the Arab world that has unexpectedly swept away the long-lasting presidents of Tunisia and Egypt and which may trigger regime changes all over the region has also steepened the ongoing rise in oil prices and raised fears about the stability of the global oil market. On Jan. 31, after five days of upheaval in Egypt, the price of a barrel of Brent crude on the London-based Intercontinental Exchange passed the $100 threshold for the first time since the financial meltdown of September 2008. Brent crude is currently trading for more than $105, while prices […]

Editor’s note: This is the second of a two-part series on the G-20. Part I examined efforts to rebalance the global economy. Part II examines efforts to reform the global monetary system. Leading up to and throughout the G-20 finance ministers meeting last weekend, murmurs were heard about the role of the dollar and the need to reform the global monetary system. This is nothing new, of course, as a variety of major economies have expressed an interest in demoting the dollar since the global financial crisis broke out in 2008. The most recent examples came from Brazil and China, […]

Editor’s note: This is the first of a two-part series on the G-20. Part I examines efforts to rebalance the global economy. Part II will appear tomorrow and will examine efforts to reform the global monetary system. Over the weekend, G-20 finance ministers met in Paris to discuss steps on how to address persistent global current account imbalances that some fear could send the global economy back into recession. From the outset, the meetings reinforced what we already know about the group: Preferences among the members are incredibly diverse, making progress toward cooperation painfully slow. This is exacerbated by the […]

It was recently reported that Somali pirates have been holding the crew of the North Korean cargo ship Chilsanbong Cheonnyeonho since it was captured last March. Ten months on, the ship remains detained, with hefty ransom demands likely still outstanding. With no records for the vessel found at maritime insurance tracker Seasearcher, the possibility that its crew may now be facing abandonment is becoming ever more likely. However, given South Korea’s dramatic rescue of one of its own vessels captured by pirates in January, the case of the Chilsanbong now offers the Koreas an opportunity for military cooperation at a […]

On Feb. 2, a car exploded 12 miles outside Nouakchott, the capital of Mauritania, killing three suspected terrorists and wounding several soldiers. Mauritanian security forces identified the terrorists’ intended target as the French embassy in Nouakchott, a claim repeated by a man arrested in the operation. However, in the aftermath of the attack, al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) released a statement, claiming the real target had been the president of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, Mohamed Ould Abdelaziz. A few days later, AQIM released another statement to a state news agency threatening additional attempts on the president’s life. The […]

Editor’s note: This is the second of a two-part series examining Ecuador under President Rafael Correa. Part I examined Correa’s domestic policy. Part II examines his foreign policy. Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa’s radical “Citizen’s Revolution” has surprisingly translated into a foreign policy marked by pragmatism. Some of his moves — such as embracing China, Russia and Iran — have raised eyebrows, while others, such as the forced restructuring of Ecuador’s foreign debt, have prompted some foreign investors to question the wisdom of making long-term investments in the country. But his administration has also restored full diplomatic and commercial ties with […]

Brazil has profited handsomely over the past decade from its economic relationship with China. Exports to the People’s Republic have shot up nearly 20-fold since 2000, and last year alone, Brazil enjoyed a bilateral trade surplus of $5.2 billion, largely thanks to China’s seemingly insatiable appetite for iron ore and soybeans. In 2009, China supplanted the United States to become Brazil’s biggest trade partner, an arrangement that allowed Brazil to skirt the global recession by insulating it from the precipitous drop in exports that most other Latin American countries suffered. The relationship is not likely to change in the near […]

Editor’s note: This is the first of a two-part series examining Ecuador under President Rafael Correa. Part I examines Correa’s domestic policy. Part II, appearing tomorrow, will examine his foreign policy. Four years have passed since Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa joined his Venezuelan counterpart, Hugo Chávez, in Latin America’s revolutionary fold. Correa came to office promising to usher in a new era in Ecuador and put an end to the “dark night of neoliberalism.” Now, despite some notable successes, there are increasing doubts about the Correa administration’s stability and longevity as well as about the legacy it will leave behind. […]

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The transformation currently unfolding in the Middle East could be as monumental as the changes in Europe that followed World War II and the disintegration of the Soviet Union. In both of those instances, the goals of the United States and its allies were transparent and consequential: to solidify Western power and establish a world order based on democracy and market economics. This successful model should be pursued once more by providing smart, dual-benefit assistance to all Middle Eastern nations seeking to build free and democratic societies. In the coming months, numerous governments in the Middle East will likely need […]

A deadly clash between Thai and Cambodian troops along the border near the Preah Vihear temple has renewed long-running tension between the two Southeast Asian neighbors. The fresh conflict poses a serious threat to bilateral relations and could be exploited, especially in Thailand, in domestic leadership struggles. The dispute has also revealed the limitations of important organizations like the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN). The recent confrontation claimed the lives of three Thai and five Cambodian soldiers, and according to local NGOs forced more than 25,000 people to flee their homes amid fears of further violence. Unconfirmed reports […]

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