This is the third of a three-part series on Thailand’s slide toward authoritarian rule. The first article discussed the domestic effects of Thailand’s faltering democracy. The second article discussed the regional effects. This final article discusses the broader implications for the U.S.-China rivalry in Southeast Asia. Thailand’s democratic crisis has complicated its relationship with the U.S., pushing Bangkok closer to Beijing. Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva’s dubious legitimacy and Thailand’s progressive slide toward a military regime have left the U.S. undecided on how to proceed. Washington has not openly condemned Bangkok, but neither has it offered the political support that the […]

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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 […]

When then-Col. Hugo Chávez launched a military coup against the civilian government of Venezuela in 1992, he had not yet grasped the potential value of winning a democratic election. Luckily for Chávez, his coup attempt failed, and he survived to play the democracy game. Today, 12 years after winning his first election for what at the time was meant to be a single five-year presidential term, Chávez has become a master of the game, writing and rewriting the rules, and testing the willingness of his followers to believe they still live in a democratic country. There is no certainty, however, […]

India has recently seen a succession of visits by the top leaders of the permanent Security Council members. The British prime minister was in India in late July, and the American president came calling in early November. Visits by the French president and the Chinese premier followed earlier this month. In contrast to the high-profile U.S. visit, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev flew into India almost unnoticed on Dec. 21. Although the Soviet Union was India’s staunchest ally during the Cold War, India has drifted away from post-Cold War Russia. This stands in stark contrast to India’s ties with the U.S., […]

Two weeks ago, the Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce graduated its 50th class. Having completed not only an 18-month program of study but also a gamut of comprehensive exams, the roughly 30 graduating students are now ready to enter the foreign-policy workforce. But the Patterson School is just one element of an archipelago of schools focusing on international policy that collectively helps staff the Foreign Service, the intelligence community, a variety of non-governmental organizations, and corporations with international divisions. Other schools with the same mission include the Elliot School of International Affairs at George Washington, the Walsh School […]

The International Criminal Court (ICC) will rule on whether to issue summonses for six men accused of crimes against humanity for their alleged roles in violence following Kenya’s disputed 2007 presidential election. But in announcing the suspects’ names on Dec. 15, ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo indicted the entire East African nation, saying that “we had to launch this because nothing was happening in Kenya.” It was an overt and pointed critique of the government of national unity born from the post-election violence. Although only barely able to hold itself together, the government has managed to strengthen Kenya’s already entrenched culture […]

For Ban Ki-moon, the past few weeks have arguably been the most dramatic he has encountered since becoming United Nations secretary-general nearly four years ago. In Côte d’Ivoire, U.N. peacekeepers are guarding the internationally recognized winner of this month’s presidential election while the country slides toward chaos. Meanwhile, in New York, the Security Council spent Sunday locked in fruitless debates on the simmering Korean crisis. Ban, as South Korea’s former foreign minister, can do little to shape the council’s discussions of his home country’s security. He has based his tenure on maintaining good relations with both Washington and Beijing, and […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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After nine years of war in Afghanistan and seven more in Iraq, Americans are understandably weary of military interventions designed to remake or rebuild failed or fragile states. Nevertheless, many countries are still falling apart, or worse, falling into the hands of fundamentalists, terrorists, and other militants who disregard popular will and care little for human suffering. As a result, such nation-building interventions will remain necessary for the foreseeable future, as the U.S. involvement in Yemen, Somalia and Pakistan demonstrates. So instead of renouncing these missions, the U.S. must better define why and how it will carry them out, to […]

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao visited New Delhi last week for the first time in almost five years, accompanied by more than 300 Chinese business leaders. The composition of Wen’s delegation made clear that the Chinese were eager to return to the formula successfully pursued by Chinese and Indian officials during the past two decades: keeping their issues of divergence — primarily strategic issues such as their boundary disputes, PRC ties with Pakistan, and the Sino-Indian military rivalry — in the background, while focusing their talks on areas of greater potential convergence, such as expanding mutual trade and investment opportunities. Although […]

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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 […]

After a year of turmoil in Sino-Indian relations, India hosted Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao last week with a degree of fanfare. Wen’s visit came at a time of newfound assertiveness in India’s China policy. Having tried to brush significant divergences with Beijing under the carpet for years, New Delhi policymakers have been forced to acknowledge — if grudgingly so — that the relationship with China has become increasingly contentious. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh suggested just a few weeks ago that “China would like to have a foothold in South Asia and we have to reflect on this reality. . […]

In a column two weeks ago, I described the outlines of a proposed grand-strategic bargain between China and the United States. Basically, the “term sheet” that I helped draw up proposed various bilateral compromises over the security issues — Taiwan, North Korea, Iran and the South China Sea, among others — that keep the relationship clouded by profound strategic mistrust. The resulting climate of confidence would encourage Beijing to invest some of the trillions of dollars it holds more directly into our economy, instead of simply using them to facilitate our skyrocketing public debt. Since the column appeared, I and […]

Last week, China reported that over the past year, consumer prices had risen 5.1 percent. While prices have been creeping up in China for months now, the report grabbed international attention, and for good reason. As the world’s factory and its second-largest economy, China’s inflation rate has serious consequences for the global economy and domestic stability. To some extent, inflation in China is a delayed result of the $586 billion stimulus package Beijing announced in 2008. Following the initial onset of the global financial crisis, the People’s Bank of China (PBC) embraced a period of loose monetary policy as a […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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