Time to Reset the Reset in US-Russian Relations

November 12, 2012 by

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.

China’s Rare Earth Export Restrictions

August 15, 2012 by

The World Trade Organization convened a panel last month at the request of the United States, the European Union, and Japan to rule on China’s export policies for rare earth metals. These countries had earlier held formal consultations which failed to reach agreement. China said rare earth exports are impacted by new environmental and sustainability policies, and there is no intention of market distortion. Rare earths are seventeen metals increasingly used as alloys to significantly change properties of primary metals.

America’s Broken Political Process: Russian Bills Fail in Congress

August 6, 2012 by

In spite of the fact that the U.S. economy continues to suffer and Europe is imploding, the U.S. Congress has left Washington for its traditional five-week summer recess. Among the plethora of legislation that Congress failed to address prior to its departure were two bills concerning Russia — the establishment of permanent normal trade relations (PNTR) and the ‘Magnitsky Act.’ This failure means that the review of these bills will not take place until next month at the earliest — when Congress has only eight working days — or perhaps even during its ‘lame duck’ session following the November elections.

Turkey and the Horn of Africa: Emerging Interests and Relations

July 8, 2012 by

Chatham House in London held an afternoon session on 28 June 2012 dealing with Turkey’s engagement in the Horn of Africa. I was asked to make remarks at this workshop. My opening comments provided a brief synopsis of Turkey’s relations with Ethiopia, Eritrea, Sudan, South Sudan, Djibouti and Somalia. Somalia, where Turkey has made an extraordinary investment, dominated the discussion at the workshop.

Putin vs. the Oligarchs: How a Failure to Protect their Assets could cost him his Job

May 18, 2012 by

With the inauguration of Vladimir Putin to the Russian presidency on 07 May 2012, Russia’s leading entrepreneurs instead of restoration of political stability can see their investments and corporate assets exposed to growing political risks. In the fall of 2011, the country’s middle class together with diverse opposition forces and a bohemian circle of writers, singers and prominent journalists, challenged the corruption of the electoral process in Russia which led to the questionable victory of the pro-government United Russia Party following parliamentary elections. Most importantly, the opposition rallies in Moscow questioned Mr Putin’s ability to deal with Russia’s archaic and non-transparent political and economic system.

A Need for Pan-Asian Institutions in Asia

March 20, 2012 by

For over a decade, many relevant academic journals have prophesized the 21st century as the Asian century. The argument is usually based on impressive economic growth, increased production, trade and booming foreign currency reserves. Undoubtedly, the fact that Asia holds nearly 1/3 of the total world population doesn’t hurt its chances from overtaking the United States and Europe in many areas. However, history serves as a powerful reminder by warning us that economically and/or demographically mighty geographic centers run into problems, especially when the periphery is weakened by several factors.

Russia and the WTO: The Politics of Economics

December 18, 2011 by

After a nearly two-decade accession process completed, the World Trade Organization has welcomed Russia as a member, pending formal ratification from the Duma that is expected to be completed next June. The Kremlin has been struggling to achieve membership in the WTO since 1993. The process was slowed as interest has been mixed over the past decade under the Putin administration, which desired the growth achieved by China but was reluctant to cede any power to the private sector or foreign interests.

China-Africa Relations: The Big Picture

December 6, 2011 by

China has four hard interests in Africa’s fifty-four countries. I exclude from this list interests often cited by Beijing such as support for economic development and political stability in Africa. These are goals or objectives of Chinese policy, but they do not constitute China’s interests any more than they are interests of the United States. China’s principal interest in Africa is continuing access to raw materials, especially oil, minerals, and agricultural products. China now imports about one-third of its total oil imports from Africa. It is important, however, to put this in perspective. China’s oil imports from Africa constitute only about 13 percent of total African oil exports. The United States and European Union each account for about one-third of total African oil exports. On the other hand, China imports about 90 percent of its cobalt, 35 percent of its manganese, 30 percent of its tantalum, and 5 percent of its hardwood timber from Africa.