March 15, 2013 by Binoy Kampmark
It is treated as a petulant child, the infelicitous member of the world community, and devoid of fidelity. Fareed Zakaria in The Washington Post, struggling with his crystal ball gazing, tries to find the tempo the DPRK clicks to. He decides that Karl Marx’s remark about history repeating itself a second time as farce after tragedy requires a third phase: North Korea.
The assumptions, for there are only assumptions, are many. The decisions are not coming from the leader himself, the seemingly child-like steward Kim Jong-Un. No, that would be too much. As with previous ideologies of watching, be it with China, or with the Soviet Union, leaderships can be hostages to factions, to cliques, Mikado-like in their ceremonial impotence. The “experts” are, however, often the last to know.
February 2, 2013 by Conn M. Hallinan
Back in the 1960s, the U.S. peace movement came up with a catchy phrase: “What if the schools got all the money they needed and the Navy had to hold a bake sale to buy an aircraft carrier?” Well, the Italian Navy has a line of clothing, and is taking a cut from a soft drink called “Forza Blu” in order to make up for budget cuts. It plans to market energy snacks and mineral water.
Things are a little rocky in Europe these days.
November 12, 2012 by Patrick Hall
Regardless of which political party occupies the White House, American presidents are allowed a certain degree of latitude on foreign policy, where initiatives are not as constrained by Congressional oversight in comparison to the nation’s domestic issues. The absence of comprehensive oversight does not provide any Commander-in-Chief a blank check, however. Given the current chill between Moscow and Washington, we expect to see limited progress on the issues that confront both nations during Obama’s second term.
The Obama administration needs to find a way to refocus both nations’ policy interests, but it remains unclear how the United States will be able to achieve this objective. Should Washington create security guarantees with Moscow in order to diminish uncertainty? Or should the missile defense shield continue as planned to protect its European allies? Can common ground be found with NATO’s objectives, on Iran and on Syria? Or is it the responsibility of the Obama administration to plot a new course – sans Russia – without completely alienating the Kremlin from possible cooperation?
November 1, 2012 by Conn M. Hallinan
Two years ago Turkey was on its way to being a player in Central Asia, a major power broker in the Middle East, and a force in international politics. It had stepped in to avoid a major escalation of the 2008 war between Georgia and Russia by blocking U.S. ships from entering the Black Sea, made peace with its regional rivals, and, along with Brazil, made a serious stab at a peaceful resolution of the Iran nuclear crisis.
Today it is exchanging artillery rounds with Syria. Its relations with Iraq have deteriorated to the point that Baghdad has declared Ankara a “hostile state.” It picked a fight with Russia by forcing down a Syrian passenger plane and accusing Moscow of sending arms to the regime of Bashar al-Assad. It angered Iran by agreeing to host a U.S. anti-missile system (a step which won Turkey no friends in Moscow either). Its war with its Kurdish minority has escalated sharply.
September 12, 2012 by Timothy W. Coleman
Russia’s recent announcement that it is building a next-generation Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) is squarely designed to address the perceived threats from the US and NATO to build a missile defense system in Europe. While the justification for this new ICBM exudes platitudes of a defensive posturing, the Russian reality is that a new ICBM is the logical next step in its modernization strategy under President Vladimir Putin.
Moscow’s excuse that it feels threatened by NATOs limited and non-operational missile defense system is just that – an excuse.
July 12, 2012 by Daniel Wagner
Upon assuming office, President Obama outlined his vision of a world free from nuclear weapons, calling the existing arsenals of nuclear weapons a dangerous legacy of the Cold War. Obama’s call for a nuclear weapons free world – what is also known as “Global Zero” – will be impossible to achieve in a world where nuclear proliferation is rampant, and where the benefits of Mutually Assured Destruction have been very effective in keeping the peace between nuclear armed states.
So, how far has Obama come towards achieving this goal during his first term in office?
July 7, 2012 by John Lyman
Rarely does foreign policy swing a U.S. presidential election one way or another. And with foreign policy taking a back seat to Obama’s handling of the economy, the Romney campaign should be overjoyed. To the Romney campaign’s chagrin, despite some obvious missteps, Obama enjoys higher poll numbers on his handling of foreign policy than his economic stewardship according to national polls. A debate over foreign policy is something that the Obama campaign would relish.
According to an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll conducted in May, voters approved of Obama handling of foreign policy 47 percent to 43 percent. That poll complies with an ABC News/Washington Post poll released at about the same time. On Iran, an issue that confounded Obama’s predecessor, Obama fairs reasonably well with voters. 49 percent of voters were “somewhat confident” that Obama could prevent the Iranians from obtaining a nuclear weapon, according to a Fox News poll conducted in February.
June 24, 2012 by Daniel Wagner
At a time when America’s influence is waning around the world and the emerging powers are rising, soon to be Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney is trying to restore the validity of the concept of the ‘American century’ and unrivaled American power.
Never mind the ‘rise of the rest,’ that most informed observers see this as the Chinese century, that the U.S. continues to have a difficult time getting its economic house in order, that fiscal and military resources are severely strained, or that the American populace has grown war weary over the past decade — Mr. Romney is determined to put America back on top in the minds of the average American, so that we can feel good about something again. Just how he intends to do this remains a mystery, and it probably cannot be done — surely in the short-term — but it sells well on the campaign trail.
April 28, 2012 by Deepak Tripathi
India tested its first inter-continental ballistic missile, named Agni-V, this month and joined the select group of nations possessing both nuclear weapons and a delivery system capable of hitting targets across continents. Only a few days before, nuclear capable North Korea had test fired a rocket, supposedly to place a satellite in the orbit, but it failed.
Within days, India’s long-time adversary, Pakistan, tested a more advanced version of its Shaheen-1 missile. Named Shaheen-1A, it is capable of hitting targets between 2000 and 3000 miles––a substantially upgraded intermediate-range ballistic missile. Before the latest launch, Pakistan’s longest-range missile, Shaheen II, was thought to have a range of less than 1500 miles.
April 16, 2012 by Jacob M. Henry
“As Prime Minister, I will never gamble with the security of the State of Israel.”
– Benjamin Netanyahu, in a speech to AIPAC, March 5, 2012
Even before Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took the stage at the 2012 AIPAC conference, the crowd of more than 13,000 participants knew what the topic of his speech would be: Iran. Speaking with passion unmatched by any of the other notable speakers, including US President Barack Obama and Israeli President Shimon Peres, PM Netanyahu used biblical quotes, touching personal stories, and unbridled rhetoric to ensure that those in attendance understood that Israel would no longer stand by as Iran developed a nuclear weapons program.
April 12, 2012 by Richard Javad Heydarian
As we inch closer to the crucial nuclear talks between Iran and the world powers, the so-called P5+1, the primordial question is whether this time will be different: Is Tehran willing to make necessary compromises – from greater nuclear transparency to more stringent restrictions on its enrichment activities – to reverse the economic siege that is bringing the country close to the edge? Is she going to use the talks as a delaying tactic or will she finally strike a mutually-acceptable deal with the West?
From the perspective of the Iranian leadership, with sanctions beginning to squeeze the Iranian economy – atop intensifying threats of military invasion and growing Western naval presence in the Persian Gulf – the nuclear impasse is worryingly morphing into a question of regime survival.
April 3, 2012 by John K. Yi
Republican Presidential primary front-runner Mitt Romney declared Russia “without question, [is] our No. 1 geopolitical foe.” This statement accompanied a larger criticism lobbied against President Obama and his hot mic slip last week with Russian President Dimitry Medvedev at the Seoul Nuclear Summit. During a press conference, Obama was overheard asking Medvedev, the soon-to-be Prime Minister, for more time and space regarding the U.S. missile defense system in Europe, stating that he would “have more flexibility” after the November elections.
The days that followed have been a pile on by the Republican Party, who have been longtime critics of the President’s “Reset” diplomacy with Russia. Many on the right have called the incident in Seoul as further evidence of the President’s weakness on security and over willingness to compromise on U.S. interests and her allies.
March 30, 2012 by John Lyman
Despite a still struggling economy and a job performance polling below 50 percent in most polls, President Obama has been able to tout his foreign policy accomplishments as one of the reasons he should be re-elected in November.
Obama’s recently concluded trip to South Korea to liaise with world leaders to address nuclear security and the Iranian nuclear saga went according to schedule, until an “open mic” caught Obama making rather casual comments to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev stating he believed he would have more flexibility to address lingering issues related to nuclear arms reduction after the November election. “On all these issues, particularly on missile defense, this, this can be solved but it’s important for him (Vladimir Putin) to give me space,” Obama, apparently unaware that his mic was on and recording the conversation, was overheard telling Medvedev.
February 26, 2012 by Daniel Wagner
The soon to be re-elected president of Russia, Vladimir Putin’s glorious ‘great power pragmatism’ will quickly be put to the test. Russia finds itself in the center of the convulsing Eurasian landscape and has also placed itself at the heart of the Iran and Syrian quagmires.
Putin must broadcast Moscow’s objectives in a manner designed to remove doubt about its short and long-term intentions, but has made it clear in the final days of campaigning that he is quite comfortable relying on what he has done best historically – stoking Cold War rhetoric.
November 23, 2011 by John Lyman
Whether Obama wins a second term or one of the eight GOP candidates vying for his job, the foreign policy challenges facing the United States will continue to be monumental. From Iran to Afghanistan to immigration policy, the candidates competing for the GOP nomination have sought to portray Obama’s handling of foreign policy as a failure.
And Tuesday night’s GOP debate, hosted by CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, and sponsored by The Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute, highlights that the GOP candidates have yet to develop a coherent foreign policy narrative of their own, other than to posit that each is not Obama.