Obama, Afghanistan and Domestic Politics

The excerpts from Bob Woodward’s book, Obama’s Wars, have raised the question of whether President Barack Obama inappropriately let domestic political concerns determine or guide his military strategy in Afghanistan. I wanted to comment on that yesterday, but didn’t have time to. In the meantime, Stephen Biddle got there first, and covered some of the ground I had in mind. Biddle argues that in a democracy, popular support is necessary for waging war, so considering whether a strategy will enjoy that support is perfectly legitimate. Biddle frames the argument by reminding us that strategy is “the art of the possible,” […]

Global Insider: India-Russia Defense Ties

Russia and India recently agreed to jointly manufacture a military transport plane. In an e-mail interview, Seema Desai, a London-based analyst in Eurasia Group’s Asia practice, discusses India-Russia defense relations. WPR: Historically, what kind of defense relationship have India and Russia shared? Seema Desai: India and Russia have traditionally shared a very strong defense relationship, with past purchases including fighter aircraft, missiles, submarines, and aircraft carriers, in addition to other equipment such as radars and tanks. Although India still buys the bulk of its military hardware from Russia (around 60 percent), Russia is a less-dominant player than it has been […]

U.S. Brings Aid into 20th Century

Yesterday, in response to the Obama administration’s announcement that it was “changing the way we do business” on development, I remarked on Twitter that it is more likely “changing the way we do bureaucratic infighting on development.” It was a bit snide, I admit, as is the title of this post. And it bears noting that aid advocates have applauded the changes. But really, my expertise on international aid and development comes from having spent some time visiting with development workers of various nationalities while travelling in Ecuador back in 1993 and 1996. Which is to say, I have no […]

Turkey as Test Case of U.S. Approach to Regionalism

The theory behind Turkey’s foreign policy, as summed up by Turkish academic-turned-Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, is the “zero problems with neighbors” policy. As such, Turkey has put increasing effort into resolving longstanding tensions in its regional relations. The results have admittedly been spotty. Bilateral ties with Syria, Iran and Kurdish Iraq are notable successes. The rapprochement with Armenia is still a work in progress. The historic friendship with Israel has suffered dramatically from Turkey’s decision to take a more vocal position on the question of Gaza. But in theory, it’s a great approach to 21st century foreign policy, which is […]

Global Insider: The French Defense Industry

Brazil may be backing out of an expected fighter jet deal with France, while Russia opened an international tender for amphibious command vessels, a contract thought to be all but signed with France. In an e-mail interview, Jean-Pierre Maulny, deputy director of the Institut de Relations Internationales et Strategiques, discusses the current state of the French defense industry. WPR: What have the French defense industry’s export strengths been historically? Jean-Pierre Maulny: Historically, exports represent about 33 percent of the French defense industry’s total revenue, or about €5 billion per year. According to the French government, the trend for defense exports […]

The Long Tail of the Beijing Olympics

From Judy Dempsey, describing China’s increasing reach in Eastern Europe: From the Baltic states to the Balkans, Chinese companies, flush with money, are buying real estate and competing for public infrastructure contracts, especially as Poland and Ukraine work at breakneck speed to jointly play host to the 2012 European soccer championship. I’d already seen some suggestion that Brazil was also turning to China for expertise and support in advance of hosting the World Cup in 2014 and Olympics in 2016. The 2008 Beijing Olympics were seen at the time through the prism of soft power — China’s coming out party. […]

India-Oman Pipeline: Redrawing the Connective Map

This proposed India-Oman deepwater natural gas pipeline represents a potential major shift in the connectivity networks linking Central Asia to South Asia. Once laid, pipelines help determine geopolitical realities for decades, as a glance at the legacy impact of Soviet-Russian pipelines on Central Asian politics reveals. If the Gulf serves as an effective workaround to bypass the Afghanistan-Pakistan transit route, it would dramatically reduce the strategic logic of stabilizing the Af-Pak region. The fact that Iran is involved in this deal as a source country is also a major plus, as it applies additional commercial constraints on Tehran to keep […]

Global Insider: Iran’s Conventional Weapons Capability

With international attention overwhelmingly focused on Iran’s nuclear program and its ultimate objectives, the country’s conventional weapons capability often goes unexamined. In an e-mail interview, Anoush Ehteshami, professor of international relations at Durham University’s School of Government and International Affairs, discusses Iran’s conventional weapons capability. WPR: What conventional weapons capability does Iran currently have, and how much does it devote to defense spending? Anoush Ehteshami: Iran’s conventional weapons capability has gone through a revolution since 1979 and the subsequent severance of ties with the U.S. and other Western militaries. The eight-year-long Iran-Iraq war had the most direct impact, in terms […]

The Case for a European Strategic Vision

With the Great Euro Panic of 2010 drawing to a close and the Great Post-Lisbon Hype long since put to bed, the season for sober analysis of the EU’s malaise is upon us, and Henry Farrell’s insightful essay (via Art Goldhammer) doesn’t disappoint. What I like most is Farrell’s observation that, if the EU is in desperate need of a new raison d’ĂȘtre, it’s not due to some inherent weakness or shortcoming. Rather, it’s in part because its original rationale has been a victim of the union’s success at home, and in part because the union’s alternative model of peaceful […]

WPR on France 24: Which Way for Turkey?

I had the pleasure of participating in a France 24 panel discussion program on Monday, but which was just posted online yesterday. The subject was Turkey’s role in the Middle East and its EU accession prospects in the aftermath of last Sunday’s referendum. Part one can be found here. Part two can be found here. This was another one where I managed to express everything I had in mind. I might have added my “Turkey as Rorschach test” theory, whereby what analysts say about Turkey reveals more about them than about Turkey. But I think it comes across in the […]

The Great Asia Rebalancing: The Ghost of Huntington

I just wanted to flag two thought-provoking articles on the strategic shifts associated with China’s rise, which I’ve taken to calling, “The Great Asia Rebalancing.” The first is by Hugh White (excerpted from a longer essay here), the second by Michael Clarke. Together, they offer fascinating insights into the strategic choices faced by two historic U.S. allies, both of whom face very real constraints on their ability to keep up with the dramatic changes shaping the global security environment. Clarke notes that with the end of any real security threat either originating from or menacing Europe, the U.S. has effectively […]

BP and Off-Shore Drilling in the Mediterranean

Reaction in the Mediterranean to BP’s plans to start drilling five off-shore wells off the Libyan Gulf of Sirte in October has been surprisingly low key given the British oil giant’s recent track record in the Gulf of Mexico. So far, the only group to express vigorous concern, at least in public, has been archeologists: The seabed off that stretch of the Libyan coast is rich in ancient sites and artifacts, including the remains of a sunken port once vital to Roman shipping. Yet there is nothing particularly reassuring about BP’s new $900 million operation, even as the company continues […]

Global Insider: Taiwan’s Trade Policy

Singapore and Taiwan may sign a free trade agreement, according to officials from both countries. In an e-mail interview, Sheridan Prasso, an Asia Society associate fellow, discusses the evolution of Taiwan’s trade policy. WPR: What has historically been Taiwan’s trade policy? Sheridan Prasso: For decades, Taiwan was able to sustain a high rate of growth by using its low-wage workforce to turn out consumer goods such as shoes and apparel, and electrical products such as clocks and calculators. Much of this was exported to markets in North America and Europe. “Made in Taiwan” was as ubiquitous in the 1960s-1980s as […]

Clinton’s Speech: Obama Likes Europe. Really.

Perhaps because there was so much to digest in Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s review of the Obama administration’s foreign policy at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington on Wednesday, her olive branch to Europe has been largely overlooked. Yet some members of her distinguished audience did a double take when she said, “President Obama and I have reached out to strengthen both our bilateral and multilateral ties in Europe. And the post-Lisbon EU is developing an expanded global role and our relationship is growing and changing as a result. . . .. There is no doubt that a […]

U.S. after Iraq: Africa as Strategic Priority

I mentioned in my first post back from vacation that the U.S. should be focusing its foreign policy attention on Africa in the “post-Iraq” era. The reasons why remained inchoate and intuitive, untilNikolas Gvosdev, in his WPR column today, helped me bring them into focus when he wrote: Beyond Latin America, the [U.S. should] explore ways to bind Western and Southern Africa closer to the United States. . . . Washington should pay more attention to surrounding the United States with a “ring of friends” to its south, rather than thinking of our security as guaranteed by the oceans to […]

China-Japan Maritime Dispute Flares Up

I got an e-mail a while back from a reader who mentioned that he loved our Global Insider items, adding that they’re always highly informative even if the subjects are a bit “random.” I agreed with the former observation, but not with the latter. And a news item that I expect will garner a bit of attention over the coming days will help explain the method behind the apparent madness. We usually pick the GI topics from items on our Leading Indicators channel, based on whether we feel like it warrants closer attention due to its significance or its likelihood […]

Global Insider: Russia-Armenia Defense Ties

Armenia agreed to extend Russia’s lease of a military base in the city of Gyumri until 2044. In an e-mail interview,Kim Iskyan, a director in the Russia and Eurasia practice at Eurasia Group, discusses Russia-Armenia defense relations. WPR: What has historically been Russia and Armenia’s defense relationship? Kim Iskyan: Russia and Armenia have long shared a close relationship, with defense as a critical dimension. Upon the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, there were Soviet bases in all three countries of the Caucasus, but Azerbaijan and Georgia subsequently engineered the departure of the Russian military presence. Armenia, though, wanted […]

Showing 1 - 17 of 251 2 Last