ABOARD U.S.S. DONALD COOK — In 2008, Somali pirates hijacked more than 100 large commercial vessels, provoking a massive international response. More than 40 warships from a dozen navies subsequently assembled to patrol the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean. At the same time, diplomats forged consensus approaches that included U.N. declarations governing operations in Somali waters, military accords uniting formerly rival navies, and legal frameworks for prosecuting suspected pirates in various national jurisdictions. The result, a year into this “global war on piracy,” is that successful hijackings are way down. In the three months ending in September 2008, […]

Although Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou’s historic rapprochement with China has ushered in a period of stability in cross-strait relations, the military imbalance between the two neighbors continues to grow. Beijing’s military modernization is rapidly dwarfing Taipei’s capabilities and blunting Washington’s ability to defend its ally in the event of conflict. Left unchecked, this growing imbalance will make it increasingly difficult for Taipei to maintain the necessary deterrent required to preserve its independence from the mainland, and for long-term stability to prevail in the Taiwan Strait. The calm that has pervaded the Taiwan Strait since Ma’s inauguration last year is certainly […]

KUALA LUMPUR — If timing matters in the art of diplomacy, then those responsible for the death of Noordin Mohammad Top did the foreign services of Indonesia and Malaysia a big favor. The killing of Southeast Asia’s most wanted terrorist came as neighborly relations were sliding rapidly into a political abyss amid declarations of a “cultural war.” Opportunists on the fringe were even calling for the real thing as the foreign ministers from both countries tried to mend a few broken fences torn apart over the historic origins of a traditional dance. “As for Noordin M Top, while Indonesians were […]

Saudi Arabia Looks Beyond an Oil Economy

In an interview with PBS’ Nightly Business Report, Saudi Arabian oilminister Ali al-Naimi talks about his country’s plans to move beyond aneconomy that is so heavily dependent on oil, and about the opening of themulti-billion dollar King Abdullah University for Science andTechnology in Thuwal, Saudi Arabia.

How to Reform the U.S. Decision-Making Process

Steve Clemons of the New America Foundation and national security reform expert Jim Locher discuss how the chain of command that is described in the Goldwater-Nichols Act could be expanded to include inter-agency systems. Locher says that the White House is currently lacking an integrated effort between agencies that would allow departments to share expertise.

The term “lawfare” is increasingly used to characterize the pervasive role of law in the conduct of war, but there is nothing new about the concept. Law has always played a role in war, requiring that a pragmatic balance be struck between the necessities of war and the need to protect the innocent. The significance of this balance between military necessity and humane treatment under the law has never been more central to the credibility of U.S. military operations than it is today. The real question raised today is whether “lawfare” will come to define a fundamental distortion of this […]

NATO Secretary General Defends Alliance’s Afghanistan Contributions

NATO’s new secretary general says thealliance remains committed to the fight in Afghanistan, despite greaterviolence in the country and a rising death toll among U.S. and NATOtroops. Monday in Washington, Anders Fogh Rasmussen said the need formore resources to battle Taliban militants comes at a time when publicsupport for continued operations in Afghanistan is waning in manyallied nations. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington.

TOKYO — Days after being formally elected Japan’s new prime minister, Yukio Hatoyama hit the diplomatic ground running, traveling to New York last week to deliver a speech at the U.N. meet on climate change, before heading to Pittsburgh for the G-20 summit. The trip was widely viewed as a success, with Reuters saying Hatoyama handled his diplomatic debut with “aplomb.” The Japan Times praised his “strong” start, particularly his pledge to slash Japan’s greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent on 1990 levels. The headline-grabbing promise on emissions is just the latest sign, according to veteran Japan commentator Karel van […]

In addition to potential effects on Germany’s economic, energy, and foreign policies, the results of the Sept. 27 national elections raise questions about the future of Germany’s longstanding practice of military conscription. Although Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) continues to support compulsory military service more than any other major German party, her preferred new coalition partner, the quasi-libertarian Free Democratic Party (FDP), opposes it. Unlike most other NATO countries, Germany stubbornly adheres to the principle of compulsory military service. At present, all male German citizens are subject to nine months of conscription in the Bundeswehr (the German armed […]

During the last five decades, Colombia’s foreign, defense and strategic priorities have been driven and determined by the country’s internal armed conflict, with the “War on Drugs” becoming the dominant paradigm from the 1980s onwards. This, in turn, has defined Colombia’s relations with Latin America — particularly, in recent years, with its Andean neighbors, Ecuador and Venezuela — as well as its relationship with the United States and Europe. Colombia’s struggle to stem cocaine production, its fight against the drug cartels that sprung up around the drug trade, and its war against the largest and longest-running guerrilla insurgency in Latin […]

Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva speaks during a ceremony in Brasilia, Monday, Sept. 28, 2009. (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres)

In recent years, Brazil has put forward a more ambitious foreign policy with the aim of expanding the country’s presence in global economic negotiations, multilateral institutions and regimes, and regional affairs. [1] An active presidential diplomacy has spearheaded this approach, concerned with simultaneously deepening ties with the industrialized economies and the emergent South. Relations have been reshaped with the United States and the European Union, ties have been deepened with China and India, South-South multilateralism has been renewed and an unprecedented presence in South America has been asserted. A diversified set of “external fronts” has also led to an innovative […]

September is the showcase month at the U.N. headquarters in New York. In 2009, in addition to rolling out the red carpet for newly elected leaders from the U.S. and Japan, the organization also made ambitious attempts to address climate change and nuclear nonproliferation. Compared to past years, expectations were sky high, as President Barack Obama delivered a speech detailing his administration’s commitment to multilateralism after years of U.S. neglect. With Washington’s full backing, the U.N. seems ripe for an image makeover to accompany the structural facelift currently in progress. However, despite the optimism, no one is forecasting any progress […]

Imagine a day, perhaps sometime in the next year and a half, when world leaders triumphantly proclaim that an agreement has at long last been reached in the Doha Round of global trade negotiations. Hosannas pour forth from editorial writers and commentators, all declaring that after so many disappointments and failures since the talks were first launched in 2001, the breakthrough accord heralds a giant leap forward for global commerce and international economic cooperation. Could it happen? Glimmers of hope have emerged from the World Trade Organization in recent months that a compromise may be in the offing, one loosely […]

The U.N. climate change negotiations currently underway and set to conclude in Copenhagen late in 2009 seek to establish new arrangements in anticipation of the termination of the Kyoto Protocol in 2012. According to our current understanding of the science, a successful outcome to these negotiations is critical to maintaining a stable climate, even if the estimates of the costs of damage from inaction vary widely. The negotiations are currently beset by a series of obstacles. But if these are overcome, the resulting agreement will change the global landscape in terms of trade, politics and the entire international system. The […]

NATO Commodore Steve Chick on Pirates

Royal Navy Commodore Steve Chick, seniorofficer of a NATO counter-piracy force on the Gulf of Aden, discussesthe state of Somali piracy, during a visit to the U.S.S. Donald Cook inSeptember 2009. Video by David Axe.

Parag Khanna: ‘Invisible Maps’ at TED

At the TED Global Conference in Oxford, England, Parag Khanna looks atinternational borders, globalization, and how to create a prosperous,peaceful and integrated world. By looking at the “Invisible Maps”behind political borders, Khanna demonstrates how economic, demographicand cultural factors — such as Chinese migration into Russia, and theconstruction of oil and gas pipelines in the Mideast and Central Asia– are shaping the geopolitical future.

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