Against the backdrop of the Middle East’s ongoing upheaval, especially the violence in neighboring Syria, Turkey’s once-vaunted “zero problems” foreign policy strategy now looks severely outdated. Though Turkey will continue to seek a balanced, multivector foreign policy, the liabilities of its strategy, as illustrated in Syria, have laid bare Ankara’s continued Western moorings. The unrest in Syrian began as an extension of the Arab Spring protests earlier this year, but grew into a full-scale uprising after government security forces unleashed bloody crackdowns that have caused more than 1,400 deaths to date. Thousands of refugees have since streamed across the Turkish […]

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia — A U.N.-backed court in Cambodia has begun its initial hearings into war crimes allegations with mixed success and predictions of a long and bumpy road ahead for a tribunal described by legal experts as more complex than the Nuremberg trials held immediately after World War II. Its importance was underscored by the United States ambassador at large for war crime issues, Stephen Rapp, who called the Khmer Rouge tribunal “the most important trial in the world.” Rapp, in Phnom Penh for the start of the proceedings, drew parallels between the Khmer Rouge tribunal and the trials […]

In retrospect, the gradual crumbling last year of diplomatic relations between Turkey and Israel was a harbinger of some of the changes that would subsequently come to the rest of the region. For decades, Turkey was one of the few Muslim nations that had good relations with the Jewish state. Ankara maintained strong diplomatic, military and economic ties with Israel. But then democracy started gaining ground in Turkey, and when an Islamic party came to power, the relationship started to deteriorate. Now, with politicians in both countries having scored points over the rift, calculations on both sides point to the […]

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African leaders recently agreed to take the first steps toward integrating three existing African trade blocs, which would create a 26-member trade group stretching from Egypt to South Africa. In an email interview, Peter Draper, a senior research fellow at the South African Institute of International Affairs, discussed the proposed Grand Free Trade Area. WPR: What is the driving force behind combining Africa’s regional trade blocs into a broader African free trade bloc? Peter Draper: There is no single driving force; rather, at least three separate motivations can be identified. At the level of high politics, the ideal of creating […]

Mexico’s next major political milestone, the 2012 presidential election, is still off on the horizon, but for the impatient, Sunday’s gubernatorial contest in Mexico state offers a sneak preview of what to expect a year from now. The campaign to govern the most populous state in the country pits the Institutional Revolutionary Party’s (PRI) Eruviel Ávila against Luis Felipe Bravo Mena of the National Action Party (PAN) and Alejandro Encinas of the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD). Despite the stature of both Bravo Mena and Encinas — a former presidential chief of staff and a former mayor of Mexico […]

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Coverage of last week’s regional security conference in Guatemala City was dominated by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s announcement that the U.S. intends to spend some $300 million helping Central American governments combat drug-related violence. While the announcement might be considered politically delicate, given the growing unpopularity in Mexico of similar U.S. assistance in recent years, it also raises the question of how much Central American nations may be willing to match the U.S. commitment. “What you see is that Central America governments’ own investment doesn’t match the magnitude of the problem, particularly when it comes to dedicating resources […]

The public commentary on the International Monetary Fund’s search for a new managing director to replace Dominique Strauss-Kahn consistently stressed the need for a non-European to be selected in order to relegitimize the IMF. Now that French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde has been named to the job, one could understandably expect the fund to slide into irrelevance. Whether this is the case, however, depends less on the actual selection process and more on how Lagarde handles the day-to-day operations of the fund once she takes over. Maintaining some continuity with the fund’s Strauss-Kahn era, while breaking with it on Greece, […]

The Libya intervention has capped a difficult decade for airpower. While the combination of airstrikes and special forces units on the ground quickly overthrew the Taliban regime in 2001, the utility of airpower in counterinsurgency was called into question over the course of the long wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. It was hoped that the intervention in Libya would restore airpower’s luster by quickly defeating a tyrant bent on destroying his political enemies. But the campaign launched by the West’s most powerful air forces has thus far failed to dislodge Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, or even to force him to […]

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Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse recently met with Chinese President Hu Jintao on the sidelines of an economic summit in St. Petersburg, Russia, where the two leaders pledged closer cooperation. In an email interview, Swaran Singh, a professor and chairman of the Center for International Politics, Organization and Disarmament at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, discussed China-Sri Lanka relations. WPR: What is the recent history of China-Sri Lanka relations, and what is driving the relationship? Swaran Singh: China has been a major source of economic, military and technical assistance for Sri Lanka, which in turn supports China on its […]

BEIJING — China’s expanding economic engagement with Latin America has been largely based on securing access to the continent’s abundant natural resources. But despite the opportunities presented by the wave of Chinese capital, concerns have arisen over the asymmetric and one-dimensional nature of China’s relations in the region, which generally conform to the classic center-periphery model. Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping’s recent three-country tour of the continent was aimed at addressing these concerns, outlining a blueprint for how China’s incoming leadership intends to deepen its international relations and consolidate recent economic foreign policy gains. In 2010, more than 90 percent […]

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The start of a U.N.-backed war crimes trial for the four surviving leaders of the Khmer Rouge may finally set the stage for Cambodia to bring real closure to the graphic horrors it suffered during the latter half of the 20th century. “The trial is highly important in terms of Cambodian culture,” says Luke Hunt, a World Politics Review contributor and freelance journalist who has covered Cambodia and greater Asia for the past three decades. “I’ve spoken to many Khmers who believe in the total cathartic experience of seeing their tormentors put in the dock and their personalities laid bare […]

The triple catastrophe represented by Japan’s March 11 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear emergency has thus far had two main effects on Japan’s national security policies. First, the crisis has focused the attention of Japanese security managers inward toward domestic humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations. Second, it has reinforced the Japanese-U.S. alliance, which had already been strengthened by the Japanese government’s decision to abandon its earlier quest for a more independent security policy in light of increased external threats from the East Asian mainland. Given this increased salience of external threats, Japan’s earthquake-induced domestic preoccupation may prove to be of […]

Proponents of the responsibility to protect (R2P) doctrine contend that it is necessary to reform the post-1945 United Nations noninterventionist regime in order to come to grips with armed conflicts that take place entirely inside independent countries but that produce grave human rights violations. As it stands, the U.N. regime is fundamentally restrictive, resting on a doctrine of nonintervention as set out in Article 2 of the U.N. Charter. Armed force can lawfully be employed only for two basic purposes: national defense and international peace and security. Those two elements of the U.N. justification of lawfully going to war, known […]

U.N. Security Council Resolution 1973 (.pdf) resulted in prompt international action that delivered Libyans from the murderous violence Moammar Gadhafi had already inflicted on civilians early in March, as well as from violence he continued to threaten against what he called, in an eerie echo of Rwanda’s murderous regime in 1994, the “cockroaches” who opposed him. Earlier, the council’s Resolution 1970 (.pdf) had unanimously approved an arms embargo, asset freeze, travel ban and reference to the International Criminal Court. In addition, the U.N. Human Rights Council unequivocally condemned Libya, which led to the General Assembly’s unprecedented decision to suspend Libyan […]

When do humanitarian crises resulting from internal conflicts merit international military intervention? Despite the formal international consensus endorsing an international “responsibility to protect,” there is very little agreement on when armed intervention in another state’s internal conflicts is justified and appropriate. Even among Western nations, where support for this concept is strongest, there is no general agreement as to what ought to trigger international intervention. The ongoing U.S. and NATO military intervention against the Libyan government has become the first test case for the responsibility to protect (R2P) doctrine since U.N. member states approved it in 2005. However, the manner […]

Despite all the favorable rhetoric regarding the responsibility to protect, governments continue to hesitate to embrace wholeheartedly the doctrine whereby, in the event a state is unable or unwilling to prevent its citizens from dying in large numbers, other states must be prepared to intervene. Governments from around the world endorsed this concept in the abstract at the September 2005 World Summit, but have been reluctant to apply it in reality. Indeed, Paragraph 139 of the World Summit Outcome document hedges, noting that application of the principle will be undertaken “on a case-by-case basis.” Some experts, however, have argued that […]

Any hopes that volatile global oil markets would settle has been dispelled by events over the past two weeks: With OPEC unable to agree on a price target at its latest meeting, the International Energy Agency (IEA) decided to release 60 million barrels of strategic reserves. As a result, markets have little idea how to set prices. A 7 percent price drop following the IEA’s actions suggests that the market is trending downward. But while lower prices will be welcome news to consuming countries, the IEA is playing a dangerous game in seeking to influence short-term sentiment by putting more […]

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