Negotiations are set to resume in September between Iran and the P5+1 countries — the five permanent U.N. Security Council members along with Germany — with an eye to restarting a diplomatic process that might lead to a resolution of the stand-off over Iran’s nuclear program. The question is whether something akin to the 2003 Libyan breakthrough is possible — or even desirable. By that scenario, Iran would stop all of its efforts to achieve a nuclear weapons breakout capability — notably, the ability to enrich uranium. In return, the U.S. and its Western allies would agree to lift sanctions […]

Brazil has a serious problem: Its economy is growing too fast. No kidding. In today’s global environment of sluggish growth and fears of a recessionary “double dip,” word of this peculiar challenge facing Brazilian policymakers might sound like the setup for a joke. But don’t wait for the punch line. Brazil, like much of Latin America, is showing astonishing resilience in the face of a daunting economic environment that cuts across borders. The region that popularized words such as junta and caudillo, and the countries that for decades served as the inspiration for caricatures of tin-pot dictators — not to […]

Fifteen days after twin suicide bombings killed 76 people in Kampala, Uganda, President Yoweri Museveni used an African Union summit in the capital city to declare war on the Somali group responsible for the July 11 bombing — as well as on foreign fighters aiding the group. “The terrorists should be wiped out of Africa,” Museveni said on Monday. “Let us act and sweep them out of Africa and to where they came from in Asia and the Middle East.” But to secure its borders, cities and regional interests, Uganda must do more than target terrorists. Roving rebel groups, many […]

In terms of volume, the more than 90,000 documents posted on the WikiLeaks Web site has to be one of the largest publications on the Internet of classified U.S. government material. But in terms of content, the so-called Afghanistan War Logs don’t tell us anything that most people who have been following the war even casually don’t already know. For example, U.S. officials have long complained about support within Pakistan’s powerful spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), for foreign terrorist groups — including the Taliban, which the ISI helped establish. The large number of Afghan civilian casualties resulting from coalition […]

There’s no question that globalization, in its modern American form of expanding free trade, just went through its worst crisis to date. But while economists debate whether or not we in the West are collectively heading toward a 1938-like “second dip,” it’s important to realize just how myopic our fears are about the future of a world economy that America went out of its way to create, defend, and grow these past seven decades. First, no matter how severe any second dip becomes, comparing our current plight to the Great Depression of the 1930s is an exercise in profound hyperbole, […]

The 2014 Afghan security plan unveiled by President Hamid Karzai this week at the international conference in Kabul raises once again the question of whether the U.S. and NATO are moving towards a 21st century variant of the “Najibullah strategy” as they seek to determine their end game in Afghanistan. The reference is to the regime of Mohamed Najibullah, the Afghan leader at the time the Soviet Union withdrew its combat forces from Afghanistan in 1989. The Afghan government that the Soviets left behind controlled the major population centers as well as some of the rural regions of the country, […]

In the never-a-dull-moment world of Middle East politics, an important drama is unfolding in yet another key location. Forget for a moment the Iranian nuclear program. Ignore just for now efforts to get Israelis and Palestinians to meet face to face. Set aside the encounter between the Turkish prime minister and the leader of Hamas, speculation about how long the Egyptian president will live and who will succeed him, and the never-ending efforts to form a government in Iraq. It’s time now to take a closer look at the tense events in the inner sanctum of Israeli politics, and the […]

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One of U.S. Army Gen. David Petraeus’ first moves after taking command of the nine-year-old NATO war effort in Afghanistan three weeks ago was to begin forming what the top U.S. military spokesman characterized as “community policing units” to help bolster local security in Taliban-plagued areas. The impetus behind the scheme was simple enough. “We clearly do not have enough police forces to provide security in enough of the populated areas,” top Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell admitted. Nevertheless, reaction to the plan was swift and alarmed. Afghan President Hamid Karzai reportedly objected to it — and for good reason. On […]

The member states of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) finally took resolute action to assist fellow member, Kyrgyzstan, which remains vulnerable to further mass violence and other disorders due to its multiple difficulties. At a meeting this weekend, the foreign ministers of the 56-state grouping endorsed a package plan to increase the OSCE’s presence in the region as a catalyst to mobilize additional international support for the beleaguered country. The same governments will meet again in a few days, at a session of the OSCE Permanent Council in Vienna, where they should endorse the intervention package. […]

With his recent selections of Gens. David Petraeus and James Mattis for command in Afghanistan and Central Command respectively, President Barack Obama signals his understanding that his previously established deadline of mid-2011 to begin drawing down combat troops in the “good war” cannot be met. The two were co-architects of the military’s renewed embrace of both counterinsurgency operations and the associated nation-building project that by necessity goes along with it. Neither flag officer can be expected to preside over a Vietnam-like exit that once again puts troubled and untrustworthy Pakistan in charge of Afghanistan’s fate. And so, despite the conventional […]

U.S. strategies in two key fronts of the ongoing struggle against terrorism and extremism — Afghanistan and Somalia — are predicated on one critical element: the eventual emergence of a central government that can establish its writ throughout the territory nominally under its jurisdiction. And in both cases, the central governments that exist on paper seem to offer little hope for success. Diplomats may recognize Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed, the head of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG), as president of Somalia, and Hamid Karzai has held the presidency in Afghanistan for many years now. But oftentimes it seems that both […]

When the global economic crisis struck, Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez gloated. The woes of capitalism, he believed, would give a boost to his brand, helping spread Chavismo throughout Latin America. Chávez, the designer of that unique ad hoc blend of personality-driven socialism and nervously semi-free markets, prophesied the imminent collapse of capitalism. He confidently promised his followers that, under his leadership, Venezuela would remain “armor plated” against recession. Today, capitalism appears to be limping back to life thanks to generous infusions of government funding. The news for Chávez and his followers, on the other hand, looks rather dismal. Not only […]

The warning was a dire one, especially considering its source. In the July issue of the U.S. Naval Institute’s Proceedings magazine — the unofficial professional journal of the U.S. Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard — an officer of the Indian navy, Akash Chaturvedi, claimed that Islamic extremists had teamed up with sea pirates in Somalia to form a “nexus of piracy and terrorism [that] will be dangerous for both the world economy and security.” The world must act, Chaturvedi insisted, to prevent “another 9/11 — this time at sea.” Events this week only heightened the sense of alarm embodied […]

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Russia and the United States are about to learn how much international goodwill their renewed progress toward nuclear arms control, as manifested by the New START Treaty, will buy them in other WMD nonproliferation arenas. The two countries have recently confirmed that they will miss their already extended deadlines for eliminating their stockpiles of chemical weapons, as required by the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). In principle, this failure could lead to bitter denunciations as well as concrete sanctions imposed by other countries. At present, though, it looks like Moscow and Washington will escape punishment, perhaps in part due to the […]

A growing population had long been considered a prime determinant of national strength — at least until the “population bomb” crowd commandeered the dialogue almost a half-century ago and declared such growth to be a threat to human existence. But since then, with globalization’s rapid expansion encompassing the bulk of the developing world — and specifically demographic behemoths India and China — we’ve seen industrialization and urbanization work their usual magic on female fertility. As a result, humanity is now projected to top out as a species sometime mid-century and likely decline thereafter. To the amazement of many from my […]

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 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 […]

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