South Korean President Park Geun-hye’s mid-January visit to New Delhi marked the steady elevation of her country to the top tier of India’s “look east” policy priorities. India and South Korea are drawing closer because of their complementary technological and industrial strengths, which promise to improve each country’s competitive standing in its emerging regional markets. Indeed, while bringing to the table manufacturing strengths similar to those of Japan and China, South Korea is hamstrung by neither Japan’s nuclear pacifism nor China’s border issues in its engagement with India. In this context, a major irritant in bilateral ties—the long-delayed approval of […]

In the last sections of his 2014 State of the Union address, after devoting a good deal of attention to strategies for restoring America’s domestic prosperity, President Barack Obama turned to U.S. foreign policy. The bulk of his comments about America’s place in the world dealt with Middle East issues—four paragraphs about Syria and chemical weapons, the negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program, the search for peace between Israel and the Palestinians and the continuing struggle against extremist organizations that threaten U.S. interests. Earlier in the speech, the president, focusing exclusively on the perceived benefits to American workers, called on Congress […]

The United States relies on Jordan to help resolve many of the thorniest problems in the region, including fighting terrorism, dealing with the consequences of the Syrian civil war and finding a peaceful resolution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict. It is in this context that U.S. officials recently told the Associated Press that preparations were being made for U.S. Special Forces to train Iraqi troops on Jordanian soil in the near future. According to David Schenker of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a former Levant country director in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the United States and […]

For almost 70 years, the foundation of Saudi Arabia’s foreign policy rested on the kingdom’s relationship with the United States. America guaranteed Saudi security during a famous 1945 meeting between President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and King Abdulaziz ibn Saud aboard the USS Quincy in the Suez Canal. That commitment had stood the test of history. The past three years, however, have brought enormous turbulence to the Middle East, and the Saudis have found Washington’s response increasingly worrisome. Saudi rulers are questioning America’s reliability as an ally and protector. They see the U.S. gradually relinquishing its pre-eminent role and allowing revolutionary […]

With the adoption of a new constitution last weekend, Tunisia became the first post-revolutionary country in the Arab world to forge a political settlement accepted by the broad mass of its people. The process has hardly been swift, but the passage of the document by an overwhelming majority—200 delegates in favor and only 12 against—is a significant achievement. At a time when the other Arab countries that saw popular uprisings in 2011 have been dragged down by polarization and violence, Tunisia provides an example of political compromise overcoming broad national differences. Tunisia’s path to this moment has often been precarious. […]

It would be easy to dismiss the trajectory of Erik Prince, who made a fortune with his security firm Blackwater only to resign and turn to a form of self-exile amid intense public criticism, as a personal drama born from a set of particular historical conditions. Prince revealed this month that he will be the chairman of a Chinese-based company providing security to extractive industries in Africa, suggesting his future will no longer intersect with America’s. But the professional evolution of Prince, Blackwater and its replacements are not simply side effects of American involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan or the […]

Last week’s special session of the board of governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), convened primarily to secure emergency funding for enhanced safeguards activities in Iran, provided an acute reminder of both the IAEA’s importance and its precarious financial situation. The international community demands ongoing high performance from the agency, while chronically failing to replenish resources perilously close to exhaustion. And yet, given the agency’s central role in key nuclear nonproliferation and security efforts, the stakes could not be higher. The IAEA is integral to international efforts as diverse as implementing the interim nuclear deal—and any potential follow-on […]

Editor’s note: This is the fourth of a seven-part series examining conditions in Afghanistan in the last year of U.S. military operations there. The series runs every Wednesday and will examine each of the country’s regional commands to get a sense of the country, and the war, America is leaving behind. You can find the Series Introduction here, Part I here and Part II here. Regional Command East encompasses Afghanistan’s most populous region. The territory extends from Afghanistan’s mountainous eastern border with Pakistan to the central provinces surrounding Kabul, an area characterized by wide variation in terrain, ethnic groups, political […]

On Nov. 5, 2010, Ghana Statistical Service, the country’s government statistics office, announced that it was revising its gross domestic product (GDP) estimates upward, and as a result Ghana’s GDP per capita almost doubled. The country was upgraded in an instant from a low- to lower-middle-income country. A sense of bewilderment and confusion arose in the development community. When did Ghana really become a middle-income country? What about comparisons with other countries? Shanta Devarajan, the World Bank’s chief economist for Africa, struck a dramatic tone in an address to a conference organized by Statistics South Africa, calling the state of […]

In the coming months, Brazil will host the World Cup and hold elections across all levels of government—all while its once-strong economy shows growing signs of a slowdown, hobbled by the country’s suffocating public sector, trade protection and inflation. Brazil’s GDP shrank in the third quarter of last year, its first contraction since 2009. The current outlook is a far cry from the exhilarating days of 2006-2007 when then-President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, in office 2003-2011, oversaw a massive oil discovery in the Tupi field off Brazil’s southeastern coast and successfully wooed FIFA, international soccer’s governing federation, for World […]

Since October, when President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner had surgery to remove a blood clot in her head, Argentina has been on tenterhooks as people worried about the president’s future, who might be secretly running the country in her stead and mounting evidence that the country is once again headed toward economic collapse. In the most alarming sign of what the future may hold, police officers in Cordoba province went on strike in December to protest their low pay. With no one walking the beat, impromptu gangs formed. Riots then erupted across the country, including in the outskirts of Buenos […]

In NATO’s annual “state of the alliance” report published yesterday, Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen details the areas in which Russia and NATO expanded their “practical cooperation” last year. Russia continued to allow NATO governments to transport supplies to their military contingents in Afghanistan through Russian territory, and joined with the alliance in developing the Afghan Air Force through the NATO-Russia Council Helicopter Maintenance Trust Fund. NATO and Russia also expanded cooperation in counterterrorism, including the Vigilant Skies 2013 exercise, which simulated a joint mid-air response to the hijacking of civilian aircraft, and tests of their joint IED-detection technologies developed under […]

Let us start with a simple question: What was the total fertility rate (TFR) for a given developing country in a given year? The total fertility rate—or the number of children, on average, a woman in a given population is expected to have in her lifetime—is a crucial indicator, as it, in conjunction with mortality and migration, determines the future size, growth rate and age structure of a population. It is a much more important and informative measure than the crude birth rate, which is simply a snapshot of the total number of births in a population divided by the […]

In 2009, President Barack Obama stood before an enthusiastic crowd in Prague and proclaimed that he would make the “peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons” a key administration foreign policy goal, though it may not be achieved in his lifetime. And while his is not the first administration to support this objective—the United States is formally committed to move toward disarmament as a member of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty—Obama was more emphatic than any other recent president of the United States that eventual global nuclear disarmament, and not just nonproliferation in places like Iran, should be a […]

Governments have been collecting data on their citizens almost from the first moment that they came into being. Data was needed to determine what was out there that could be extracted: The Egyptian Pharaohs conducted a census to find out the scale of the available labor force to build the pyramids, and in the Roman Empire, the five-yearly census was all about finding out who was available for military service and what wealth existed to be taxed. But governments have also used data to find out what people needed: The ancient Babylonians collected data from their citizens nearly 6,000 years […]

This month, South Korea announced a major reduction in its target for nuclear power generation, partly in response to domestic safety concerns. In an email interview, Miles Pomper, a senior research associate at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, explained the role of nuclear energy in South Korea. WPR: How important is nuclear within Korea’s current energy mix? Miles Pomper: Nuclear power plays a major role in South Korea’s electricity generation, meeting about 30 percent of the country’s energy needs in 2012, and South Korea is one of the top five nuclear-power-generating countries. South Korea does not have significant […]

More than two years after the December 2011 withdrawal of U.S. military forces from Iraq, the United States is no longer the key foreign player in that country. Today, the Islamic Republic of Iran is arguably the most influential foreign force in Iraqi politics. The 2003 U.S. overthrow of Saddam Hussein had already led to the empowerment of Shiite parties closely aligned with Iran. The Iraqi central government is now dominated by Shiite parties as are, to some extent, the Iraqi military and security forces. Iraq’s estrangement from the Sunni-majority Arab world, especially Saudi Arabia, and the sectarian upheaval in […]

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