Over the weekend, Wikistrat — a Tel Aviv-based technology start-up for which I serve as chief analyst — gathered a group of Israeli and U.S. geostrategists, myself included, to take part in an online scenario-generating drill in response to the ongoing protests in Egypt. Our goal was to work up four feasible pathway trees along which events could develop — two favorable to the Egyptian people, two favorable to the Egyptian regime — and then present them online to interested parties for feedback and voting. The exercise was an attempt to harness the Web 2.0’s wisdom of the crowd for […]

Ian Bremmer and David Gordon, of the Eurasia Group, do not sugar-coat the shape of the new world order emerging in the 21st century. They starkly note: For the first time since the end of World War II, no country or bloc of countries has the political and economic leverage to drive an international agenda. The United States will continue to be the only truly global power, but it increasingly lacks the resources and domestic political capital to act as primary provider of global public goods. There are no ready alternatives to U.S. leadership. They dub this international order “G-zero,” […]

article card

The cache of documents known as the “Palestine Papers” have created much turmoil among Palestinians and subjected some of the best-known officials of the Palestinian Authority to a withering wind of criticism. The papers, 1,700 files of correspondence about the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, were reportedly leaked to the Arab-language Al Jazeera television network by unknown individuals. They have appeared in the Guardian and on Al Jazeera’s English-language Web site, where they were portrayed as evidence that Palestinian leaders betrayed their people by making huge concessions to Israel. But what the documents and the reaction to them really show is something […]

In the background of Chinese President Hu Jintao’s recent visit to the United States was the specter of increased military tensions between China and the U.S. Chinese military capabilities appear to be growing rapidly, with systems like the J-20 stealth fighter and the DF-21 anti-ship ballistic missile threatening key U.S. assets. However, the summit between Hu and President Barack Obama focused more on economic than military issues. And one of the foremost trade problems discussed during the visit was the issue of intellectual property (IP). The United States has consistently criticized China for laxness in IP regulation, complaining that Chinese […]

Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s two-day stay in Moscow on Jan. 20-21 marked his first official bilateral visit and the first state visit by an Afghan president to the Russian Federation since its founding after the Soviet Union’s disintegration in December 1991. The trip — during which Karzai met with President Dmitry Medvedev, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, and other Russian political and economic leaders — provided an important opportunity to both confirm recent growth in formal ties between the two countries as well as impart additional momentum for further expanding the relationship. Karzai was accompanied by most of the Afghan cabinet, […]

Beginning with the Iranian Revolution in 1979, the West has viewed the Middle East and North Africa primarily through the lens of radical fundamentalist political movements. That perspective has narrowed our strategic vision ever since, conflating Shiite with Sunni, evangelicals with fundamentalists, Persians with Arabs, Islamists with autocrats, and so on. But recent events in Tunisia and Algeria remind us that the vast bulk of history’s revolutions are fueled by economics, not politics. In this, the struggle for Islam’s soul is no different than that of any other civilization in this age of globalization’s rapid expansion. All of the world’s […]

The fall of Tunisia’s President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali is the latest reminder of how difficult it can be to encourage “friendly autocrats,” in the Middle East and throughout the world, to undertake reforms. It’s likely that, in light of Ben Ali’s fate, Yemen’s President Ali Abdullah Saleh is reassessing the advice that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave him during her visit earlier this month about moving ahead with political liberalization. But policymakers in Washington are apprehensive as well. Ben Ali’s government was often described as a “liberal autocracy,” where the state propagated a version of Islam more compatible […]

When street protests succeeded in putting an end to the 23-year dictatorship of Tunisia’s President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, the world watched in astonishment. Practically no one had anticipated such a rapid turn of events. To be sure, the expectation that despotic Arab regimes will ultimately fall is widespread. But Tunisia, circa 2011, seemed hardly the place or the time for such a dramatic and transformative uprising. If it could happen in Tunisia, the cry went up throughout the Arab world, why not in our countries? Tunisia’s breathtaking Jasmine Revolution brought to mind the collapse of communism in Eastern […]

News broke Sunday night that Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier had returned to Haiti after an absence of 25 years. The dictator’s return capped off a difficult year for Haiti, as the island continues to recover from an earthquake, a hurricane, a cholera outbreak, and a contested presidential election. Many worried that Duvalier intended to take advantage of the chaos and suffering that still plagues the country in order to regain influence. Though Duvalier has now been charged with corruption dating from his time in power and may instead face trial, the alarm triggered by his arrival is a reminder that, […]

On Jan. 14, two of the world’s oil giants, Russia’s Rosneft and BP, announced an unprecedented “strategic global alliance,” in which they will be exchanging shares and expanding their joint ventures, including launching a new Arctic oil-drilling project. Both companies bring important assets to their new alliance, but the deal has alarmed foreign governments and environmentalist organizations due to its potential commercial, security, and ecological implications. The arrangement also raises interesting questions related to the Russian government’s economic modernization program. Through the deal, Rosneft will acquire 5 percent of BP’s shares, while BP will obtain an additional 9.5 percent share […]

President Barack Obama came into office promising a new sort of bilateral relationship with China. It was not meant to be. Washington hasn’t changed any of its long list of demands regarding China, and Beijing, true to historical form, has gone out of its way to flex its muscles as a rising power. With the recent series of revelations concerning Chinese military developments, the inside-the-Beltway hyping of the Chinese threat has reached fever pitch, matching the average American’s growing fears of China’s economic strength. Of course, the world’s established No. 1 power always greets the challenge from a rising No. […]

The Obama administration has been transmitting a relatively clear set of signals regarding its policy toward Afghanistan ever since the strategic review was completed in December 2010: Progress has been made, but it is “fragile” and “reversible.” According to this argument, since U.S. and allied efforts are showing the first green shoots in terms of being able to train and deploy Afghan security forces that could end up holding territory on their own, it would be irresponsible to change course now. The current strategy must be given sufficient time to play out, even if that does not neatly dovetail with […]

When Brazilian voters went to the polls last year, they voted for continuity. In electing Dilma Rousseff, a 63-year-old technocrat who had never run for office before, they responded to the pleas of their popular outgoing president, Luiz InĂ¡cio Lula da Silva. Lula, as he is known, had made his preference clear. “A vote for Dilma is a vote for me,” he told them, with both leaders promising that she would continue moving Brazil down the same path. When it comes to foreign policy, Dilma, as Brazilians call their new president, has also said she will follow her predecessor’s line. […]

We have long known that retired military officers have a cozy relationship with the military-industrial complex. A recent article in the Boston Globe fleshed out the nature of this relationship, detailing the extent to which retired senior officers have moved to private-sector defense companies in the last decade. Indeed, this career path has become considerably more common: “From 2004 through 2008, 80 percent of retiring three- and four-star officers went to work as consultants or defense executives, according to the Globe analysis. That compares with less than 50 percent who followed that path a decade earlier, from 1994 to 1998.” […]

Although the referendum in South Sudan appears to be occurring without major incident, the main challenges lie ahead on the way to an independent South Sudan, the universally expected outcome of the voting and subsequent six-month transition period. The referendum was a key component of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) that ended decades of conflict between the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) based in the South, and the Sudanese government in Khartoum, led by Omar Hassan al-Bashir, who seized power in a coup in 1989. Unfortunately, the CPA and subsequent rounds of talks have failed to resolve several important […]

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates unveiled his much-anticipated budget cuts last Thursday, signaling the beginning of the end of the decade-long splurge in military spending triggered by Sept. 11. Gates presented the package of cuts as being the biggest possible given the current international security landscape, warning that any deeper reductions could prove “potentially calamitous.” Frankly, I find that statement hard to swallow. How can America basically match the rest of the world’s defense spending combined, and then describe anything less as “potentially calamitous”? Clearly, given the “nation’s grim financial outlook,” as Gates himself put it, we’re going to have […]

As Russia begins its countdown to elections for the Duma at the end of this year as well as the presidential ballot in early 2012, two predictions are making the rounds. The first is that Prime Minister Vladimir Putin will reclaim the presidency, which the constitution required him to vacate in 2008. (Article 81.3 prohibits anyone from holding the office for more than two consecutive terms.) The second is that the “tandem” formed by Putin and current President Dmitry Medvedev, Putin’s former chief of staff, is not sustainable and that an open break between the two will occur sooner or […]

Showing 1 - 17 of 211 2 Last