A recent New York Times feature article on President Barack Obama’s aggressive counterterrorism approach highlighted the administration’s use of armed drones to target terrorists whose names appear on what is known within the White House as the “kill list.” The president himself makes the final decision over whether to place a terrorist on the list, according to Obama advisers quoted in the article. That was the case for Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S. citizen and al-Qaida operative who was killed by a drone strike in Yemen, where al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula is active. Though drone strikes allow the U.S. to […]

Voters in Egypt gave themselves a jolt during the first round of voting in the country’s presidential election. As soon as the smoke began to clear and a picture of the electoral tally emerged, a sense of bafflement was quickly followed by frustration and anger as the dominant emotions. Almost everyone had reason to dislike the outcome. A disappointment for liberals was expected, but Islamist politicians also saw reason to worry in the voters’ verdict. Like a smoldering battlefield, the electoral landscape was littered with the injured and the wounded. If the results of the vote held on May 25-26 […]

BEIJING — While China’s much-hyped clean energy drive has become bogged down in problems of impracticality and policy incoherence, the U.S. has quietly effected a genuine energy revolution that creates huge cost advantages for America’s manufacturing base going forward. With major structural shifts already underway, changing international energy market dynamics present Washington with an opportunity to fundamentally reorient its foreign policy approach, toward China and a broader range of actors, in the decades to come. In 2011, China overtook the U.S. in terms of renewable energy investment and under current plans will surpass the European Union in 2014. Beijing plans […]

South Korea recently announced plans to open a diplomatic mission at the headquarters of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Jakarta. In an email interview, David Arase, a professor of politics at Pomona College, discussed South Korea-ASEAN relations. WPR: What has brought about South Korea’s renewed interest in improving ties with ASEAN? David Arase: For South Korea’s future, ASEAN encompasses a region second only to Northeast Asia in geopolitical and economic importance. ASEAN is also a key agenda-setter in East Asian cooperation. So Korea is stepping up its diplomatic game with this important regional grouping. The ASEAN Plus […]

As if the economic situation in Europe had not been bad enough of late, an even scarier picture has developed over the past few weeks. Greece is mired in political chaos and seems to be hurtling toward a euro exit. Meanwhile, new questions are emerging about the solvency of some major Spanish banks, and it now appears that much of the eurozone is experiencing what is being called a “slow-motion bank run.” Coupled with the fact that nearly 20 European Union summits have yet to find a solution to the 2-year-old crisis, it is no surprise that uncertainty about the […]

Over the past several months, we have learned more about plans by the U.S. Special Operations Command to take on a greater role globally. As reported by Kim Dozier and others, U.S. special operations forces are working to build a global network of special operations forces in partner countries to meet a wide array of threats. U.S. special operations forces are also marketing themselves to policymakers as the “weapon of choice” after the drawdown in Afghanistan. This push for greater prominence arrives at a time when special operations forces, long the bastard children of the U.S. military, are enjoying unprecedented […]

President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner of Argentina recently led a trade mission to Angola to push for a food-for-oil deal with the oil-rich southern African country. In an email interview, Vasco Martins, an affiliated researcher at the Portuguese Institute of International Relations and Security, discussed Angola’s external relations. WPR: What are the main domestic and international factors driving Angola’s external relations? Vasco Martins: Angola’s domestic interests seem to reside above all in assuring continuing funding for its national reconstruction program in order to enhance the provision of services in several areas and to extend state administration throughout its territory, especially […]

BELGRADE, Serbia — The election of a former ultranationalist as Serbia’s new president has been greeted with surprise in some quarters and alarm elsewhere. But despite Tomislav Nikolic’s far-right past and his penchant for nationalist rhetoric, a radical change in direction by Serbia seems unlikely. Indeed, Nikolic looks likely to find himself presiding over a government headed by the man he defeated, newly ex-President Boris Tadic. Nikolic narrowly defeated the Western-leaning and liberal Tadic on May 20, confounding the widespread assumption that Tadic, president from 2004 until his tactical resignation in April, was a shoo-in for re-election. The victory for […]

RUBAVU COUNTY, Rwanda — Like most of those seeking refuge at the Nkamira Transit Center, Queen Maombi has a harrowing tale of escape from her native Democratic Republic of Congo. Maombi, 34, is one of nearly 9,000 Congolese that have overwhelmed this temporary camp since April, when a fresh wave of violence hit eastern Congo’s long restive North Kivu province. Like Maombi, nearly all of the new arrivals are Congolese by birth but ethnically Rwandan — a distinction that effectively branded them enemies of the state following a mutiny against the Congolese army by soldiers loyal to Gen. Bosco Ntaganda, […]

At its recent Chicago summit, NATO declared that its new ballistic missile defense (BMD) architecture had achieved “Interim Capability.” Nonetheless, questions persist regarding potential contradictions between missile defense and other NATO goals such as nuclear deterrence, Russian unease regarding the entire BMD project and the alliance’s ability to sustain the necessary expenditures to construct a comprehensive BMD architecture. In 2010 at Lisbon, NATO committed to making missile defense a core mission within an alliance context. In particular, member governments agreed in principle to integrate their European missile defense programs with those of the United States, with the goal of providing […]

EU naval forces operating off the coast of Somali conducted their first raid on the Somali mainland earlier this month. In an email interview, Hans-Georg Ehrhart, the head of the Center for European Peace and Security Studies of the Institute for Peace Research and Security Studies at the University of Hamburg, discussed the EU’s anti-piracy operation. WPR: What is the makeup of the European Union’s Operation Atalanta, in terms of force commitments and contributing countries, and how has it evolved over time? Hans-Georg Ehrhart: Operation Atalanta was launched in 2008 and has seen its mandate extended several times, now running […]

The Chinese economy, which has been a driver of global economic growth even as the United States and the European Union have worked to handle their own economic crises, is slowing down. Falling real estate prices combined with a decline in exports and consumer confidence have finally become barriers to growth in an economy that has long seemed unstoppable. Headlines have warned of the ripple effects that a continued economic slide might have, and the two experts who spoke with Trend Lines said the downturn underscores the need for China to make some changes in its growth strategy. Patrick Chovanec, […]

According to partial election results, Ahmed Shafik, who served as prime minister under former President Hosni Mubarak, and Mohamed Morsi, the candidate nominated by the Muslim Brotherhood, will face one another in a runoff to become the first freely elected president of Egypt. The race represents a struggle between the old order, which Shafik wants to restore, and the powerful Islamist opposition. And an expert who spoke with Trend Lines explained that the outcome is likely to polarize politics even further. “We are back to ground zero of Egyptian politics in the Mubarak era of the old regime versus the […]

At its Chicago summit, NATO reaffirmed its commitment to its European-based arsenal of tactical nuclear weapons. In an email interview, Paul Schulte, a nonresident senior research fellow at Carnegie Europe and Carnegie Nuclear Policy and a visiting senior research fellow at the Center for Science and Security Studies at Kings College, discussed NATO’s nuclear weapons. WPR: What is the current size and scope of NATO’s nuclear weapons? Paul Schulte: Some 160-200 U.S. B61 gravity bombs are understood to be deployed in Europe and Turkey, the remains of the alliance’s Cold War arsenal of 7,000 nonstrategic nuclear weapons (NSNWs). They are […]

The Baghdad talks between Iran and the P5+1 bloc, made up of the five permanent U.N. Security Council members plus Germany, seeking to resolve the impasse over Iran’s nuclear program ended with no solution reached but a commitment to meet again in June in Moscow. The foreign policy chief for the European Union, Catherine Ashton, expressed cautious optimism, observing, “It is clear that we both want to make progress, and that there is some common ground.” Most of the commentary on the negotiations has focused on the technical aspects of the diplomacy involved. In this first stage of talks, the […]

Too often, political and economic analysts summarily lump Bolivia together with the rest of South America’s leftist governments. That has not been a comfortable category to be in over the past decade, and recent developments on the continent — such as Argentina’s nationalization of Spanish oil company YPF in April and Venezuela’s January announcement that it would withdraw from the World Bank-hosted International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes, a key arbitration forum — have only further rattled investors and governments. Even moderate Brazil has recently raised eyebrows with its tough treatment of multinational oil companies. But President Evo Morales’ […]

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos visited China earlier this month, where he and Chinese President Hu Jintao signed an agreement to begin considerations for a free trade agreement. In an email interview, Benjamin Creutzfeldt, a lecturer and researcher in contemporary China studies at Externado University in Bogota, Colombia, discussed relations between Colombia and China. WPR: What is driving increased diplomatic and economic ties between China and Colombia over the past decade? Benjamin Creutzfeldt: The driving force behind contact between China and Colombia has been and continues to be trade. Over the past decade, China’s need for the types of raw […]

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