Global Insider: South Africa-Latin America Relations

South Africa recently signed an agreement on military cooperation with Argentina, expanding the African power’s relationships with Latin America. In an e-mail interview, Dr. Lyal White, director of the Center for Dynamic Markets and senior lecturer at the Gordon Institute of Business Science, University of Pretoria, discussed South Africa’s relations with Latin America. WPR: What are South Africa’s main bilateral relationships in Latin America? Lyal White: While the relationship between South Africa and Latin American countries is improving, South Africa is still conceptually very distant from Latin America. A preferential trade agreement (PTA) exists between the Southern African Customs Union […]

Global Insider: Argentina-Brazil Relations

Argentina signed a letter of intent to join Brazil’s military cargo aircraft development plans, while also announcing that it expects to complete the certification of a light military utility vehicle — for which Brazil is building the engine — by the end of this year. In an e-mail interview, Michael Shifter, president of the Inter-American Dialogue, explains Argentina-Brazil military and political cooperation. WPR: What is the recent history of military and political cooperation between Brazil and Argentina? Michael Shifter: Despite occasional ups and downs, Brazil and Argentina have generally enjoyed a close relationship in recent years. At the end of […]

India: Reality vs. Potential in Strategic Relationships

In contrast to the U.S. and China, with whom India’s bilateral relations have long been hobbled by mistrust or misunderstanding, Russia has proven to be a relatively dependable and accomodating strategic partner for New Delhi. So I was a bit surprised to see, in the context of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s visit to India, that total bilateral trade between the two countries is just $10 billion. Compare that to the $60 billion in bilateral trade between India and China, and it’s positively underwhelming, especially given the potential of the India-Russia relationship. Curiously, that seems to be the overarching theme of […]

Global Insider: Turkey-GCC Relations

Turkey and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) recently failed to reach agreement on a free-trade agreement (FTA) that has been under discussion since 2005 and that Turkish leaders had hoped would be signed by the end of the year. In an e-mail interview, Hugh Pope, Turkey/Cyprus project director for the International Crisis Group and author most recently of “Dining with al-Qaeda: Three Decades Exploring the Many Worlds of the Middle East,” discusses Turkey-GCC relations. WPR: How would you characterize political relations between Turkey and the GCC member states? Hugh Pope: The political relationship between Ankara and the GCC is very […]

Europe’s European Problem

Matthew Yglesias flags what he calls “the shifting sands inside the German political elite” regarding the need to strengthen the European Union’s political-economic governance mechanisms, but then concludes: Leaving aside the policy ideas here, what you’re seeing is a European policy debate. It’s not Germany versus some other country. And it’s not a simplistic “Europhiles versus Europhobes” debate either. It’s a real disagreement about the best way for Europe to proceed, like how Democrats and Republicans argue in Ohio about national policy. Unfortunately, I think that’s putting too optimistic a spin on things. The truth is, this kind of European […]

Afghanistan Strategic Review: Kabuki Theater as Reality TV

There are two ways of reading the publicly released summary of the Obama administration’s Afghanistan Strategic Review. The first, admittedly my initial reaction, is as a politically driven document designed to gloss over the reality of the war in order to reconcile the administration’s promise to begin a drawdown in July 2011 with the need for a continued military commitment to sustain any gains that have been made in the past year. The second, admittedly my subsequent reaction, is as a reality-driven document that reflects the mixed and sometimes contradictory outcomes since the administration’s last policy review, and that correctly […]

France and EU Defense

In the aftermath of the French-British defense cooperation treaty, I’d mentioned that EU defense seemed to be the deal’s big loser. So it’s worth noting that France, along with Germany and Poland, called on EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton to trigger the Lisbon Treaty’s Permanent Structured Cooperation Clause to allow for more robust military cooperation among a core group of EU member states. At the same time, the three also called for more-structured cooperation between EU defense and the NATO alliance. That further raises the possibility, as I also suggested at the time of the France-U.K. deal, that EU […]

‘Oslo Reversals’ Reveal West’s Enduring Clout

To follow up on my WPR column from Friday, at the last minute, several of the countries that earlier in the week had signaled they would boycott the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony for Liu Xiaobo reversed their positions before the start of the ceremony. Serbia found itself caught between its close relations with China — which has steadfastly supported Belgrade’s position on Kosovo — and its desire to pursue integration with the European Union. Serbia’s initial decision to honor the Chinese demarche was not welcomed by the European Union, and this past Thursday, in Belgrade, EU Enlargement Commisioner Stefan Fule, […]

Global Insider: Egypt-Iraq Relations

Egypt recently opened a consulate in Erbil, making it the first Arab country with diplomatic representation in Iraqi Kurdistan. In an e-mail interview, Michael Wahid Hanna, a fellow and program officer at the Century Foundation, discussed Egypt-Iraq relations. WPR: Historically, how would you characterize bilateral relations between Egypt and Iraq? Michael Wahid Hanna: Following a rupture over Anwar Sadat’s overture to Israel in 1977, bilateral ties between Egypt and Iraq improved due to Egyptian support for Iraq in its protracted war with Iran. But relations were dealt a subsequent blow by Egypt’s decision to take a military role in the […]

Global Insider: The International Legal Regime for Somali Pirates

A Kenyan appeals court recently ordered the release of nine suspected pirates, ruling that Kenya lacks jurisdiction over events that did not occur within the country’s territorial waters. In an e-mail interview, Eugene Kontorovich, associate professor of law at Northwestern University, discussed the international legal regime for Somali pirates. WPR: What legal regime, if any, applies to captured Somali pirates? Eugene Kontorovich: Captured Somali pirates are tried under the laws of whichever country prosecutes them, which, as in the case of Kenya, may not be the country that captures them. International law allows a nation to try pirates that it […]

Global Insider: U.S.-Australia Space Surveillance

The U.S. and Australia recently agreed to cooperate on future space-surveillance projects, including tracking satellites and space debris. In an e-mail interview, Kirk Woellert, a U.S. government liaison and analyst for Interorbital Systems, discussed U.S.-Australia cooperation on space surveillance. WPR: What is the current status of bilateral space cooperation? Kirk Woellert: The U.S. and Australia have enjoyed a long history of both civil and national-security cooperation in space. On the civil side, cooperative agreements have been in place to conduct activities such as deep-space tracking, earth observation and high-altitude balloon flights. The Parkes Radio Observatory and the Honeysuckle Creek station […]

Wikileaks: The Illusion of U.S. Omnipotence

This analysis of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange’s vision of American power has been making the rounds. According to the author, Wikileaks’ objective is not to release information that the government wants to remain secret just for the sake of releasing the information, but rather to provoke a reaction within the government that will ultimately undermine its ability to function effectively. Andrew Sullivan highlights this passage as the takeaway: [W]hile an organization structured by direct and open lines of communication will be much more vulnerable to outside penetration, the more opaque it becomes to itself (as a defense against the outside […]

Wikileaks: Diplomacy vs. Policy

Having skimmed a few more write-ups of the Wikileaks diplomatic cables release, I have to sign on with the consensus that the revelations offer a very reassuring inside view on American diplomacy. (Sam Roggeveen here, Andrew Sullivan here, and Fred Kaplan here. Update: And the EU Observer, citing European diplomats, here.) For his part, Art Goldhammer is underwhelmed by this Le Monde summary of the dispatches sent by the U.S. Embassy in Paris regarding French President Nicolas Sarkozy, from both before and after his election to the presidency. Goldhammer rightly states that the account reveals relatively little that any close […]

Global-Insider: Russia-Poland Relations

Poland and Russia recently concluded a deal to increase the flow of Russian gas to Poland. In an e-mail interview, Ernest Wyciszkiewicz, program coordinator for international economic relations and energy security at the Polish Institute of International Affairs, discussed Poland-Russia relations. WPR: What is the recent history of Russia-Poland relations? Ernest Wyciszkiewicz: In recent years, Polish-Russian relations have been characterized by numerous crises and controversies over political matters. These extend to conflicting interests in their common neighborhood of Belarus and Ukraine as well as disputes over energy, trade and last but not least history — or more precisely, contradictory versions […]