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Immigration has been a key issue in the French presidential election, with French President Nicolas Sarkozy promising to drastically reduce immigration inflows, as well as to withdraw France from the European Union’s open-border internal Schengen zone unless the EU tightens its own border controls by the end of 2012. Both measures are widely seen as an effort to win over the first-round voters of far-right candidate Marine Le Pen. But according to Saskia Sassen, a professor at Columbia University and an expert on European immigration, Sarkozy is simply the latest in a long line of European presidents and prime ministers […]

Editor’s note: This will be the final appearance of Thomas P.M. Barnett’s “The New Rules” column at World Politics Review. We’d like to take this opportunity to thank Tom for the insightful, compelling analysis he has offered WPR readers each week for the past three years, as well as for the support he has shown for WPR over that time. We wish him continued success. Amid all our current fears regarding the global economy’s potential “double dip” back into deep recession, a longer-term question stands out: How can a supposedly declining America protect the golden goose that is globalization while […]

As U.S. President Barack Obama vies for a second term in office and Russian President-elect Vladimir Putin struggles to reassert his authority at the outset of his third, the so-called Magnitsky bill currently under debate in the U.S. Congress could define U.S.-Russia relations for the next decade. Simply put, if and when the Magnitsky bill passes, Obama will have to sign it. To do otherwise would be electoral suicide. Similarly, Putin and the Russian elite will have to respond in kind. To do otherwise risks their continued authority, which for many members of the Russian elite could amount to actual […]

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Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced last week that Australian troops will withdraw from Afghanistan in 2013, a year ahead of schedule. In an email interview, Anthony Bubalo, the West Asia program director at the Lowy Institute for International Policy in Sydney, Australia, discussed Australia’s mission in Afghanistan. WPR: Was participation in the Afghanistan War seen as consistent with Australia’s key strategic priorities or in competition with them? Anthony Bubalo: Australia’s participation in the war in Afghanistan has been consistent with the history of Australia’s use of its military forces beyond its immediate region, especially in the Middle East. That […]

Vladimir Putin will be inaugurated to serve a third term as Russia’s president next month. The pomp and circumstance of the Kremlin ceremonies, however, won’t be able to hide the fact that, far from being a triumphal restoration of his rightful role, Putin’s return to the presidency is in fact a tacit admission of failure. Putin and his associates have not yet succeeded in achieving the truest mark of success for any political regime: the ability to pass the system intact to a next generation of leadership. The Putin system continues to depend on Putin personally for it to be […]

With the Iran-Pakistan-India natural gas pipeline project a casualty of U.S. opposition and persistent mistrust between New Delhi and Islamabad, India has increasingly turned to Qatar to meet its growing natural gas requirements over the past decade. Holding the world’s third-largest gas reserves after Russia and Iran, Qatar is a natural choice for such a role. But after the recent visit of Qatari Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani to India, the two states are looking to broaden their economic ties beyond trade in energy. Qatar is set to emerge as a strategic investor in India’s infrastructure plans, while […]

In the annals of “strange bedfellow” political encounters, the recent broadcast in which WikiLeaks boss Julian Assange interviewed Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah stands out as a remarkable episode. After all, who would have expected to see Assange — the master hacker, iconoclastic atheist and publicity-loving poster child for technological assaults on orthodoxy — crossing paths with Nasrallah — the reclusive leader, ancient-garb wearer and head of a theocratic organization based on centuries-old scriptures? On closer examination, however, the debut episode of Assange’s show, “The World Tomorrow,” on the Kremlin-funded RT network, which featured Nasrallah as its first guest, is less […]

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Russia and China launched their first joint naval exercises in the Yellow Sea on Monday. In an email interview, Simon Saradzhyan, a research fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center, discussed military cooperation between Russia and China. WPR: How has Russia-China military and defense cooperation evolved over the past 10 years?Simon Saradzhyan: Bilateral military cooperation has developed steadily thanks to a general rapprochement between China and postcommunist Russia. On top of strong economic ties, the growth is based on the convergence of the two countries’ interests in opposing U.S. global dominance, the development of U.S. missile defenses, the expansion […]

Although the tense standoff between Chinese and Philippine warships at Scarborough Shoal in the northern South China Sea has been walked back from the brink, it is a harbinger of more confrontations to come. Indeed, more such incidents are inevitable if China and the four Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member states — the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei — that also claim the sea’s disputed islands and their adjacent waters and resources cannot agree on and implement a robust code of conduct to govern their activities there. Unfortunately, the April 2012 ASEAN Summit in Phnom Penh came and […]

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Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte announced his resignation Monday after his coalition government failed to agree on austerity measures needed to bring the Dutch budget into conformity with the European Union’s recently agreed-upon deficit limits. Budget talks in the Netherlands broke down after Geert Wilders’ euroskeptic Freedom Party abandoned negotiations over the weekend. “The news from the Netherlands drives home the fact that this crisis is no longer a crisis of the periphery. It is often portrayed as the core counties versus the periphery, as the North versus the South, but the Netherlands is a core country in the North,” […]

With the world’s eyes again focused on Bahrain thanks to both a high-profile motor sports event as well as continued political strife, last week would have been a tough one in which to declare one’s support for the ruling regime. Yet that is exactly what Ed Husain of the Council on Foreign Relations did, earning him much derision on blogs and social networking sites. On Twitter, Husain first praised Bahrain’s foreign minister, Khalid al-Khalifa, as “visionary” and then disparaged what he referred to in scare quotes as the “opposition,” as if the Shiite Bahrainis who have been protesting for greater […]

Given the pressures that globalization generates for individual states, regions have obvious incentives to develop their cooperation in the economic field. Equally, given the costs of conflict, there is a compelling argument for regions to develop effective mechanisms for conflict management. Although these lessons apply to all regions, in Southern Africa the process of regional cooperation has been viewed more skeptically, mainly because the obvious disparities of power between South Africa and its neighbors raise the question of whether a more balanced and equitable set of regional relationships can be achieved. Though this is certainly a valid concern, it ignores […]

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Venezuela threatened in early April to retaliate against a European Union decision to ban Venezuelan state airline Conviasa from flying in the EU. In an email interview, Susanne Gratius, a specialist in EU-Latin America relations at the Madrid-based think tank FRIDE, discussed EU-Venezuela relations. WPR: What is the history of European Union-Venezuela relations under President Hugo Chavez? Susanne Gratius: Relations are distant but cordial. Unlike U.S. policy, there are no diplomatic tensions or open conflicts between the EU and the government of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez. Despite limited mutual interests, the EU has become the main donor and a principal […]

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Citing a payment dispute, Egyptian Natural Gas Holding has announced that it is terminating its deliveries of natural gas to Israel, bringing an end to a deal that, since it was signed in 2005, had supplied Israel with 40 percent of its natural gas. Media reports have focused on the impact this sudden termination of the deal might have on the fragile peace agreement between the two countries. But Brenda Shaffer, an energy policy expert at the University of Haifa in Israel, told Trend Lines that the news does not have serious implications for Israel’s longer-term energy security, as the […]

Russia has been in the international spotlight in recent months, with frustration over endemic corruption, lingering anger over December’s manipulated Duma elections and Vladimir Putin’s carefully orchestrated return to the presidency bringing Russian protesters out into the streets in greater numbers than at any time since the fall of the Soviet Union. But despite its political crisis, Russia retains the ability to impact U.S. interests worldwide: The Kremlin is unafraid to flex its still-considerable muscle abroad, blocking U.S.-led efforts to sanction and topple the bloody government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, threatening to upend European and even global security over […]

Even in the corridors of the Chinese Communist Party’s headquarters in Zhongnanhai, few would have predicted the remarkable rise in China’s comprehensive national strength since Deng Xiaoping launched the Reform and Open policy in 1978. China’s evolution has been one of the most remarkable feats of governance ever seen. But rather than the definitive manual in strategic planning that it is sometimes portrayed as, the history of China’s post-Mao transformation reads more like a great picaresque novel, in which the protagonist has been forced to beg, steal and kill; navigate untold pitfalls and reversals; and escape from several tight squeezes […]

With its rich civilizational history and long tradition of argumentation, India is no stranger to grand strategy. In 300 B.C., Chanakya, better known as Kautilya, the main adviser to King Chandragupta during the Mauryan Dynasty, wrote “The Arthaashastra,” a treatise on statecraft, military strategy and economic policy still referred to by many strategists today. Yet many foreigners and Indians alike have noted that this tradition of strategic thinking has not found its way into contemporary Indian foreign policy. In 1992, the American analyst George Tanham famously wrote (.pdf) that India had “produced little formal strategic thinking and planning.” Pratab Bhanu […]

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