WPR is taking a hiatus from publishing this week, as we do every August. Our briefings, columns, interviews and other series will return Tuesday, Sept. 6. While we’re gone, we thought we’d leave you with a few key articles from our archives that should help you better understand current issues and events. Syria is Turkey’s Litmus Test in the New Middle East The Turks have not been so actively involved in the Middle East since the days of the Ottoman Empire. But Turkey’s leaders have found it difficult to balance the region’s competing interests while staying above the fray. With […]

Editor’s note: This is the second of a two-part series. Part I examined the need for a global economic grand bargain. Part II examines what such an economic grand bargain might look like. BEIJING — The recent market correction and an increasingly bleak economic outlook have sharpened the case for a G-20 economic grand bargain. China has the capacity to take a lead in any such arrangement, using its $3 trillion foreign exchange reserves as bargaining chips for reshaping the global economy to better suit its interests. This could form the bedrock of broad-based and coordinated policy action to address […]

Editor’s note: This is the first of a two-part series. Part I examines the need for a global economic grand bargain. Part II, which will appear tomorrow, will examine what such an economic grand bargain might look like. BEIJING — When the global financial crisis broke in 2008, rather than allow economic forces to run their course, policymakers intervened to set the unholy precedent of nationalizing financial market risks. Moreover, this was done without addressing the structural imbalances behind the boom and bust. Events of the last three weeks have demonstrated the fundamental ineffectiveness of previous interventions and underscored the […]

President Benigno Aquino of the Philippines surprised many when he covertly met Murad Ibrahim, the leader of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), in Tokyo on August 4. The meeting was a clear step forward in a peace process that has haltingly dragged on for some 14 years. Yet the ripple effects it generated exemplify the intractability of the Moro issue and have added a new sense of urgency to the process. Although the content of the meeting remains unreported, it is generally agreed that the event was at least a useful trust-building exercise between warring parties struggling to overcome […]

With the breaking of Libya’s many-month stalemate, the end of a 42-year reign of megalomaniacal tyranny has arrived. As the rebels attempt to consolidate power in Tripoli, however, what lies ahead for Libya as a nation and for the foreign powers that paved the way for Moammar Gadhafi’s ouster remains far from certain. Key to the future of a viable Libya will be law, stabilization and reconstruction so that civil society can be re-established swiftly. After four decades of inequity, revenge will be hard to avoid. Nonetheless, Libya’s National Transitional Council (NTC) has emphasized to rebel fighters that retribution against […]

Following a violent struggle for control of two checkpoints on the Kosovo-Serbia border, the immediate danger of an escalating crisis has been averted. But the cost has been to reinforce the message that violence delivers results. On the night of July 25, Kosovan Prime Minister Hashim Thaci sent special police to seize a pair of border posts in the country’s lawless, Serb-dominated north, resulting in the death of one Kosovo Albanian police officer and injuries to four others. The police withdrew under fierce resistance from the locals, leaving Kosovo Serbs barricading roads to prevent their return. Others torched one of […]

In recent weeks, pundits, diplomats and assorted foreign policy wonks have started raising the alarm on U.S.-Russia relations, with the Obama administration’s much-trumpeted “reset” seeming to be increasingly under threat. A recent travel ban by the U.S. State Department on certain Russian officials believed to be involved in the death of lawyer Sergei Magnitsky elicited an angry response from Moscow threatening cooperation in areas ranging from Afghanistan to North Korea. Russia’s ambassador to NATO, Dmitry Rogozin, has started grousing about U.S. missile defense plans again. And all of this comes against a backdrop of increasing criticism from Prime Minister Vladimir […]

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At long last, Washington looks ready to pass free trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea. Congressional ratification has been a long time in the making — the trade agreement with Colombia was signed in 2006, while the agreements with Panama and South Korea were inked in 2007. The trade deals with Colombia and Panama were, in some sense, part of a last-ditch effort by President George W. Bush to salvage the work put in by former Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton to create the Free Trade Area of the Americas. Hopes for that hemisphere-wide trade zone […]

On Aug. 1, local government officials in China’s Xinjiang province alleged that the ringleader of a deadly attack in Kashgar had been trained in Pakistan. The accusation has injected some sourness into a bilateral relationship often described as “sweeter than honey.” In fact, contrary to the sappy rhetoric, China-Pakistan ties have rarely been trouble-free — and the points of tension long predate what happened in Kashgar. One example is the plight of Pakistan-based Chinese nationals. According to estimates gathered from Pakistani and Chinese media sources, about 35 Chinese workers were kidnapped, killed or maimed in the country between 2004 and […]

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In the course of a conversation with Michael Cohen yesterday evening, we agreed that the greatest existential threat the U.S. faces right now is the political paralysis in Washington that might keep the U.S. from enacting the course corrections needed to avoid financial and strategic insolvency. But if the U.S. is its own worst enemy, I noted, how is that so very different from the rest of the world today? Almost everywhere I look, I see countries that are through their own policy failures or strategic shortsightedness creating the greatest challenges they now face. So, which country is not its […]

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff has had a rocky seven months in office. Having already shuffled her cabinet three times, twice due to corruption scandals, Rousseff is now facing a brewing controversy in the Tourism Ministry that has the potential to force a fourth cabinet change. One might expect the shaky start to undermine Rousseff’s credibility, but so far she has managed to weather the storm. Despite her lack of charisma, her inexperience as a politician and a cabinet tainted by corruption allegations, she remains popular. Her approval rating stands at 67 percent, according to a poll by Brazilian firm IBOPE […]

Despite the jubilation that followed South Sudan’s largely peaceful vote for independence in January, relations with northern Sudan have since deteriorated. In May, just weeks ahead of South Sudan’s July 9 independence day, the Sudanese army occupied the contested Abyei border region. In response, the United Nations Security Council authorized a peacekeeping mission, UNIFSA, to monitor the border and protect civilians there. On Aug. 4, four Ethiopian peacekeepers deployed with UNIFSA were killed after their vehicle struck a landmine in Abyei. Three of the soldiers reportedly died from their injuries after a United Nations medical evacuation helicopter was delayed three […]

As the Republican-controlled House advances its legislative agenda, U.S. civilian assistance to Pakistan looks likely to be one of the early casualties. In addition to new conditions on assistance to Pakistan, approved by two House panels, White House officials expect that the overall aid package is likely to shrink as well. But before lawmakers cut aid to Islamabad, they should consider the role it plays in realizing long-term U.S. interests. The Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act of 2009, more commonly known as the Kerry-Lugar-Berman Act, tripled financial assistance to Pakistan’s civilian institutions by pledging $1.5 billion annually for five years. […]

Despite numerous statements by Philippine and U.S. authorities over the past few years highlighting progress in the fight against terrorism, recent events in the southernmost corner of the Philippines show that the battle there is far from won. On Aug. 1, seven Philippine marines were killed — five of them beheaded or mutilated — and 21 others wounded after being ambushed by some 300 alleged members of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) in Patikul, in the Sulu Archipelago. Unconfirmed reports say that 11 ASG members were also killed in the fighting. The ASG, often labeled a local terrorist group, has […]

The latest crisis in Kosovo, which erupted in late-July, seems to be abating after a NATO-brokered deal between Belgrade and Pristina. However, the incident focused attention on the region’s most-recent frozen conflict: Kosovo’s north. The crisis followed the decision of the government in Pristina to impose a trade ban on goods from Serbia, in belated retaliation for Serbia’s 2008 ban on imports from Kosovo after its declaration of independence. Serbia does not recognize Kosovo’s independence and still considers it to be an integral part of its territory. Most of the international community, under U.S. leadership, has recognized Kosovo as an […]

The Taiwanese government of President Ma Ying-jeou has denied that it harbors plans for siding with Beijing in territorial disputes over the South China Sea. Yet the notion that the resource-rich and strategic waters should be the starting point for cross-Strait military cooperation is gaining traction on the island. Since last year, the People’s Liberation Army Academy has repeatedly called for cooperation with Taiwan in protecting “common ancestral rights” in the region’s disputed waters. At the same time, China has regularly invited retired Taiwanese military brass to cross-Strait symposiums where cooperation in the South and East China Seas as well […]

Last Thursday will likely be remembered as a low point for Chilean President Sebastián Piñera. Police clashed with students during an unauthorized protest, inviting unflattering, if exaggerated, comparisons to the military dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet. The same day, the Center for Public Studies — known by its Spanish acronym, CEP — released a poll finding that Piñera’s popularity had dropped to just 26 percent, the lowest level of any Chilean president since the return to democracy in 1990. The two events were hardly coincidental. Like his predecessor, former President Michelle Bachelet, who faced student protests of similar magnitude in 2006, […]

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