Big Questions Loom Over Durban Climate Change Talks

Will the Kyoto Protocol survive? Should climate change be a religious issue? Are wealthy nations delivering on financial promises to help the developing world promote positive environmental change? Such big questions dominated the collective mindset of thousands of delegates converging on Durban, South Africa, from across the globe this week for the U.N.’s 17th annual global climate change talks. But, according to Jon A. Weiss, a U.S.-based climate change policy analyst and founder of the soon to launch nonprofit Lake Climate Group, it’s unlikely many certain answers will emerge by the conference’s close on Dec. 9. Most likely, Weiss told […]

A look at Vietnam’s recent diplomatic moves shows Hanoi increasingly diversifying and intensifying its relations with major powers, a pattern that should be seen as an effort by Hanoi to deal with a more forceful China. Like many countries in the region, Vietnam is increasingly dependent on either direct or indirect economic links with fast-growing China. Furthermore, Vietnam’s political and economic system is similar to — if not modeled after — China’s. Maintaining a friendly relationship with their big neighbor is therefore the top priority of Vietnam’s leaders. Both sides have officially pledged to build a comprehensive partnership, guided by […]

If national security flows from economic strength, then the ongoing global economic crisis is poised to strike at one of the more underappreciated tools in the security kit — the checkbook. We’re all familiar with the term “checkbook diplomacy.” But “checkbook security” has played a largely unsung role in America’s approach to national security over the past decade — from “buying off” Sunni insurgents in Iraq as part of the Surge to funding development projects in Afghanistan as part of the war effort to helping countries in Latin America and Africa improve their capabilities to fight drug traffickers and organized […]

Global Insider: Australia-Indonesia Relations

Australia recently sent two naval ships to participate in a joint naval exercise with Indonesia. In an email interview, Fergus Hanson, director of polling and a research fellow at the Lowy Institute for International Policy, discussed Australia-Indonesia relations. WPR: What is the recent trajectory of Australia-Indonesia relations? Fergus Hanson: Australia-Indonesia relations remain caught in a deep rut. At a people-to-people level there is entrenched distrust. Polling in both countries reveals widespread negative perceptions and suspicions of the other country. Each year since 2006, the Lowy Institute Poll has asked Australians to rate their feelings towards Indonesia on a zero to […]

Editor’s note: This is an updated version of Richard Weitz’s “Strategic Posture Review: Russia,” published in February 2009. In light of the imminent return of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to the Russian presidency, it is worth revisiting the mixed legacy of his previous eight years in that office and highlighting the significant changes in the regional and global environment that have impacted Russia’s foreign and defense policies in the four years since he left it. Upon assuming office on May 7, 2000, Putin began a major campaign to restore the authority of the Russian presidency, which had waned under the […]

A recently filed legal petition claiming that the United Nations acted negligently and recklessly in Haiti is raising difficult questions about U.N. accountability — and its legal immunity. The petition (.pdf), submitted Nov. 3, is already raising the possibility that a legally mandated, but rarely implemented, judicial procedure for civilians living in countries with U.N. peacekeeping missions will be enforced. As a result, the petition’s implications go far beyond the particulars of the Haiti case, in which more than 5,000 Haitians argue that the U.N. has so far failed to provide them with a means of remedy after cholera was […]

One of the most striking aspects of Turkey’s transformation in recent years came in its innovative approach to foreign relations. Ankara’s policy of “zero problems” with its neighbors not only had a catchy name and a low cost of implementation, it also seemed to work — but only for a brief time. Despite its initial promise, the idea of getting along with everyone in a complicated part of the world proved unworkable. Now, with that formula discredited and discarded, Ankara is busy looking for a new policy framework — a new overarching strategy to maximize influence in a time of […]

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