Against the backdrop of the Middle East’s ongoing upheaval, especially the violence in neighboring Syria, Turkey’s once-vaunted “zero problems” foreign policy strategy now looks severely outdated. Though Turkey will continue to seek a balanced, multivector foreign policy, the liabilities of its strategy, as illustrated in Syria, have laid bare Ankara’s continued Western moorings. The unrest in Syrian began as an extension of the Arab Spring protests earlier this year, but grew into a full-scale uprising after government security forces unleashed bloody crackdowns that have caused more than 1,400 deaths to date. Thousands of refugees have since streamed across the Turkish […]

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia — A U.N.-backed court in Cambodia has begun its initial hearings into war crimes allegations with mixed success and predictions of a long and bumpy road ahead for a tribunal described by legal experts as more complex than the Nuremberg trials held immediately after World War II. Its importance was underscored by the United States ambassador at large for war crime issues, Stephen Rapp, who called the Khmer Rouge tribunal “the most important trial in the world.” Rapp, in Phnom Penh for the start of the proceedings, drew parallels between the Khmer Rouge tribunal and the trials […]

Mexico’s next major political milestone, the 2012 presidential election, is still off on the horizon, but for the impatient, Sunday’s gubernatorial contest in Mexico state offers a sneak preview of what to expect a year from now. The campaign to govern the most populous state in the country pits the Institutional Revolutionary Party’s (PRI) Eruviel Ávila against Luis Felipe Bravo Mena of the National Action Party (PAN) and Alejandro Encinas of the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD). Despite the stature of both Bravo Mena and Encinas — a former presidential chief of staff and a former mayor of Mexico […]

The public commentary on the International Monetary Fund’s search for a new managing director to replace Dominique Strauss-Kahn consistently stressed the need for a non-European to be selected in order to relegitimize the IMF. Now that French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde has been named to the job, one could understandably expect the fund to slide into irrelevance. Whether this is the case, however, depends less on the actual selection process and more on how Lagarde handles the day-to-day operations of the fund once she takes over. Maintaining some continuity with the fund’s Strauss-Kahn era, while breaking with it on Greece, […]

BEIJING — China’s expanding economic engagement with Latin America has been largely based on securing access to the continent’s abundant natural resources. But despite the opportunities presented by the wave of Chinese capital, concerns have arisen over the asymmetric and one-dimensional nature of China’s relations in the region, which generally conform to the classic center-periphery model. Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping’s recent three-country tour of the continent was aimed at addressing these concerns, outlining a blueprint for how China’s incoming leadership intends to deepen its international relations and consolidate recent economic foreign policy gains. In 2010, more than 90 percent […]

Any hopes that volatile global oil markets would settle has been dispelled by events over the past two weeks: With OPEC unable to agree on a price target at its latest meeting, the International Energy Agency (IEA) decided to release 60 million barrels of strategic reserves. As a result, markets have little idea how to set prices. A 7 percent price drop following the IEA’s actions suggests that the market is trending downward. But while lower prices will be welcome news to consuming countries, the IEA is playing a dangerous game in seeking to influence short-term sentiment by putting more […]

Against the backdrop of a sputtering economy and a spate of scandals battering India’s global image, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee is in Washington today. The visit — largely touted as a damage-control and public relations initiative — will see the senior minister meet U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and American industry leaders to reinforce the message that the Indian growth story is still robust and that the country remains an attractive investment destination. The timing of the Mukherjee-Geithner summit is also significant, as it takes place shortly before U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s visit to New Delhi in July […]

The discovery of Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, Pakistan, has raised uncomfortable questions about both Islamabad’s relationship with terrorism and Washington’s relationship with Islamabad. Even as the U.S. edges toward its goal of “disrupting, dismantling and defeating al-Qaida in Pakistan and Afghanistan,” a cocktail of other groups in Pakistan — Harakat-ul-Jihad ul-Islami (HuJI), Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM) and Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) key among them — are ready to step into any void left by al-Qaida, often with official support. In fact, Islamabad has an economic incentive to keep them alive: As long as such groups are active, the U.S. will provide Pakistan with […]

Editor’s note: This is the second of a two-part series on rebel groups in Central Africa. Part I examined recent moves toward peace and stability in Chad and the Central African Republic. Part II examines ongoing instability in Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. While Chad and the Central African Republic (CAR) are dismantling rebel groups and moving toward greater stability, Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) are continuing on a violent path. On July 9, Sudan will become two nations. The Republic of Southern Sudan, which will enter independence as one of the poorest […]

Thailand has enjoyed a relative calm in the past few months. Political demonstrations have been orderly, and a string of bombs that shook the capital toward the end of 2010 did not continue into 2011. This lull, however, could be merely the calm before another storm. In fact, with a general election scheduled for July 3, a distinct lack of fundamental change characterizes Thailand’s faulty democratic system, offering scant hope for a political resolution to the country’s longstanding fault lines in the short-to-medium term. A key prerequisite for any definition of democracy is that elections decide who governs. In Thailand, […]

Against the backdrop of an escalating crisis with Vietnam over territorial claims in the waters off the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, China declared that it would boost its “offshore surveillance capability.” This, a Chinese state media report claimed, was aimed at forestalling any aggressive moves by China’s neighbors in its claimed maritime territories. Though the report did not name any particular nation, the message was seen as being squarely directed at Vietnam, which Beijing has described as being “overtly hostile” in its recent actions and pronouncements. China’s decision to enhance its ocean surveillance capability is not surprising. […]

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I just wanted to add a couple of final thoughts to my post last week on the Libya . . . war. I initially agreed with the Obama administration’s sense that the U.S. participation did not rise to the constitutional threshold of war powers. But just about every online writer whose opinion I respect considers that assessment to be not only unconvincing but ridiculous on its face. That, combined with the fact that we now know the administration arrived at it by cherrypicking its own internal legal advice, makes me realize that I, like the Obama administration, was taking an […]

Editor’s note: This is the first of a two-part series on rebel groups in Central Africa. Part I examines recent moves toward peace and stability in Chad and the Central African Republic. Part II will examine ongoing instability in Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. On June 12, the government of the Central African Republic (CAR) and the country’s last major rebel force, the Convention of Patriots for Justice and Peace, signed a peace agreement. The following day, mediators in Chad reached a peace deal with the Popular Front for Reconstruction, a rebel movement based in the CAR […]

Sen. John McCain is worried about the direction of U.S. foreign policy, especially within his own party. Some Republican presidential contenders have questioned the nation-building mission in Afghanistan. Others point out that the undeclared war in Libya is neither necessary nor constitutional. “This is isolationism,” an aghast McCain declared on the ABC News program “This Week.” Isolationism? The term “isolationist” is little more than a slur. It essentially means someone who thinks the U.S. should engage in fewer foreign wars than the speaker does. The term emerged in the late-19th century, when it was made popular by the ardent militarist […]

A month after the mission that killed Osama Bin Laden, defense analysts are pointing to a growing collaboration between conventional and irregular forces and are calling for a lighter global military footprint, one based on raiding and strike capability rather than ponderous presence. The newfound enthusiasm for “collaborative warfare” is reviving a concept once thought dead: network-centric warfare (NWC). Paradoxically, NWC has proved itself well-suited to low-intensity operations and the culture of special operations forces, where once it was commonly associated with high-intensity conflict against a peer competitor. But NWC’s low-intensity revival also suggests that it will continue to face […]

BEIJING — Some China-watchers have argued recently that the rule of law is weakening in the People’s Republic. However, a less-commented-on countertrend is the re-emergence of legal processes inspired by indigenous conventions and traditions such as trial by public opinion. The trend seems to be deepening, reflecting a profound ideological shift in China’s legal approach. Moreover, this shift may help explain China’s more assertive foreign policy over the past 18 months and also has significant implications for the country’s leadership aspirations in Asia and its continued integration in international institutions. Indigenous Chinese legal process adheres to what has been called […]

With oil prices nearing $120 a barrel and Libyan exports shut down, all eyes were on the 12 members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) during their meeting in Vienna earlier this month. The International Energy Agency (IEA) had strongly urged OPEC, which produces 40 percent of the world’s oil and holds much of the spare capacity, to raise production output to stem rocketing oil prices and prevent a potential double-dip recession. That did not happen. In what Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi labeled one of the worst meetings he had attended, the proposal by Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, […]

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