Thursday, February 28, 2008
Importance of a Relationship with the U.S.
Then I was sent this interview with India's former national security advisor Brajesh Mishra. Just to give the context, he is a strong supporter of the U.S.-India nuclear deal and of improved ties with the U.S. But he rejects the idea that an improved relationship between New Delhi and Washington is America doing a favor for India--and doesn't see why this requires India to abandon other profitable ties. He says,
"But we should not give importance only to the Indo-US dialogue. When French President Nicolas Sarkozy, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown or Russian President Vladimir Putin [Images] come here don't they discuss similar issues? Why should we give importance only to the Indo-US dialogue? There is Indo-French, Indo-UK, Indo-European and Indo-Russia dialogue going on. What is happening is that India is beginning to have its voice heard in an international sphere."
Spokes and hub approach isn't going to work.
A Chinese Response on Kosovo/Taiwan
The Real Lesson for China
BEIJING -- Despite the reiterated warnings from Russia, grave concerns from China, and outright opposition from Serbia, Kosovo finally declared independence unilaterally and was recognized by all the major Western powers. The world has one more new independent sovereign state. Until today Serbia still vowed to fight tooth and nail to have it overturned, though the chances are very, very slim.
Europe and the US declared on different occasions that the independence of Kosovo was a sui generis case and set no precedent for any other country in the world, trying to discourage other secessionists to follow suit and downplay its implications, although the actual effect is waiting to been seen. What can be easily determined now, however, is that the pro-independence community in Taiwan at least is greatly excited and encouraged by the newly independent Kosovo.
Dr. Trong R. Chai, a legislator of the pro-independence Democratic Progress Party in the Taiwanese parliament, claimed that Kosovo’s independence is an exemplary model for Taiwan and adds more legitimacy for Taiwan’s referendum on UN membership. Mr. Shieh Jhy-wei, the spokesman for Taiwan’s cabinet, while expressing his blessings for Kosovo, also called for “the nations of the world to support the wish of 23 million people of Taiwan to have its own state.” One Editorial in the Liberty Times hoped that the people of Taiwan can gain more wisdom, encouragement and determination from Kosovo.
If Taiwan learns from the successful declaration of independence by Kosovo, what are the lessons of Serbia’s failed policy for China?
Contrary to the lesson advocated by Drew Thompson and Nikolas Gvosdev in their Op-ed piece published in the International Herald Tribune on the 18th of this month, which called for China to follow Serbia’s example by renouncing the use of force, the real lesson for China is that China must maintain its determination to keep all options available, particularly the military one, at its disposal as the last resort to prevent Taiwan from declaring independence unilaterally.
The final outcome of Serbia’s willing or unwilling renunciation of the use of force to keep Kosovo part of its territory is now apparent. It is hard to predict with certainty whether Kosovo would have unilaterally declared independence if Serbia had pledged to use all means necessary to prevent it. It may or may not have served to postpone Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence. But what can be concluded with certainty from the Kosovo case is all other measures short of the military one that Serbia vowed to use to prevent Kosovo from becoming independent did not work. If there is one single lesson that China can learn from the Kosovo case, it is this.
In retrospect, it is probably true to assert that given "the usual combinations of factors found in the Kosovo situation,” as US Secretary of State Rice put it, whatever Serbia chooses to do may make no difference to Kosovo’s final status as an independent sovereign state in the end.
But that is not the scenario that China has faced over time with Taiwan. As the history of the past 20 years has shown, the threat to use force is the only deterrent ruling out the possibility of Taiwan acquiring de jure independence. If China were to renounce the use of force in its Taiwan policy today, what is certain is that there would be another independent sovereign state in the world tomorrow. The sad truth is there is no hope of any chance for successful resolution for Taiwan for what has failed in Kosovo. If the threat to use force has failed to serve to prevent Taiwan’s steady press for independence, as Drew Thompson and Nikolas Gvosdev rightly points out, it will be impossible for China to do so with weaker options.
For China, by keeping the option of using everything at China’s disposal to crush any of Taiwan’s unilateral moves to change the current status quo, China has left Taiwan with only two choices: maintaining the status quo or becoming independent and causing a war. It is not hard for Taiwan to figure out which scenario better suits its interests.
In the end the independence of Kosovo illustrates once again what fails for anti-secessionists and what works for secessionists. It is those failures which China needs to pay particular to attention and from which China needs to learn.
Wu Yun is an editor for international news at the People’s Daily in Beijing.
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
The Missing Debate
"What's missing here is a substantial debate on the alliance level to what extent the threats we are talking about are real, and to what extent a global, layered, missile defense system is the answer to the threats that we are facing."
What a concept! A debate! (Perhaps Saturday Night Live should do a skit on the travails of the NATO alliance).
The NATO defense ministers' summit didn't resolve the problems facing the mission in Afghanistan--and Canada's threat to pull out of ISAF remains on the table. Deputy prime minister Medvedev, soon to become Russia's president-elect, signed deals in Hungary that effectively pull the plug on the alternate NABUCCO pipeline. Then there's Kosovo, and Macedonia (FYROM) ... But no worries, things are copacetic.
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
Obama, Brzezinski and The Definition of "Advisor"
Senator Obama had this to say about former national security advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski, who in the press has been identified as an "advisor" to the candidate, to a gathering in Cleveland over the weekend:
"He's not one of my key advisers. I've had lunch with him once. I've exchanged e-mails with him maybe three times. He came to Iowa to introduce ... for a speech on Iraq."
(Coverage of that Iraq speech from last September from an outlet that might be deemed less than sympathetic to either Obama or Brzezinski).
This doesn't sound like ongoing contact. But is the definition of an advisor predicated upon frequency of contact?
The official record--which can be accessed via TNI's Foreign Policy Advisors Index, is that the former NSA has endorsed Senator Obama; there is no mention of any official campaign role. Intermediaries have sometimes suggested that Brzezinski has been consulted by Obama only on questions related to Iraq and not larger foreign policy questions.
What we are seeing again is the shadowy usage of terms meant to enhance or conceal relationships as they prove advantageous or disadvantageous. A campaign has official spokesmen who represent the candidate and speak for the candidate, that is clear. "Advisor" is more nebulous. Does it imply, as HRC supporter Congressman Eliot Engel told the Sun, "People are going to say if you are advising Obama, you are representing Obama"? Can a candidate consult with people without having to take responsibility for everything that person says or stands for?
On the flip side, however, is the use of "lists" and "endorsements" as a way to enhance a candidate's own standing. It certainly helped a junior senator to have two former national security advisors endorsing him and certifying that he was qualified. It also raises questions about who exactly is a foreign policy expert and how expertise is determined and its relevance to a campaign, a subject Dan Drezner has been discussing in depth.
Monday, February 25, 2008
U.S.-Russia Relations After Kosovo
I really do want to emphasize that I don't expect immediate reactions. But I do think that what is continuing to happen is the erosion of trust in the relationship--and a shift to where Moscow wants cash on the barrel head arrangements. This trend will accelerate, I believe, under Medvedev--because this has been the Gazprom strategy. No promises, no vague assurances--cash or deliverables on hand.
We will then have to evaluate whether Russian help in any given situation is worth the price.
On a separate note, the World Public Opinion/PIPA poll on Putin is out. What is most striking is the differences in assessments of Putin between citizens of G7 countries and other countries around the world. Putin seems to get much higher marks in countries aspiring to be part of the "World Without the West" (e.g. China, South Korea, Egypt). This mirrors a similar split in attitudes over Kosovo.
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
Taiwan Scenario Begins
Step one has happened--and certainly should not have been unexpected. Taiwan has recognized Kosovo as an independent state.
Taiwan's Minister of Foreign Affairs James Huang said, "As a sovereign nation, Taiwan has the right to do whatever it believes is correct and just." He also made it clear that Taiwan looks "forward to further contact with Kosovo in the future" and this could include provision of aid.
Whether Taipei will try to establish diplomatic relations with Kosovo--and whether Pristina would reciprocate--remains to be seen.
Taiwan also implicitly rejected the U.S. assertion that Kosovo is a "special case". Huang repiled, when asked, that "every country is a special case."
Peskov Speaking Today
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
French and Chinese Reactions to Kosovo
The French view is that Sunday's declaration is a temporary reshuffling of borders and administrative responsibilities prior to the complete absorption of the Balkans into the European Union, after which, as Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner maintained, Serbia and Kosovo will be reunited within the framework of the EU. The idea that the EU allows states to safely "break down" because their component parts remain in the EU, as well as the notion that the EU permits "greater" versions of nations to exist--and I have in mind here the fact that the EU has returned to the Hungarian nation--not the Hungarian state!--most of the territories lost by Trianon--in that Hungarian citizens of Romania and Slovakia are freely connected to their ethnic kin in Hungary as well as having certain minority rights guaranteed by Brussels. So in the French view there is no contradiction between recognizing Kosovo and maintaining Paris' historic friendship with Serbia--because by 2015 one might expect that the Serbs of Serbia, Montenegro, Kosovo and Bosnia will all be part of one Europe.
China took a tentative step toward the position maintained by the United States when its UN ambassador, Wang Guangya, proclaimed today that "The issue of Kosovo status does have its special nature." But China continues to see the world as comprised of territorial-intact states. Therefore, Wang continued: "Nevertheless, to terminate negotiations, give up pursuit of a solution acceptable to both parties and replace such efforts with unilateral action will certainly constitute a serious challenge to the fundamental principles of international law." So this seems to suggest that China's position will be--Kosovo's declaration of independence does not end the process at all.
Looking East on Kosovo
Thursday, February 14, 2008
O'Hanlon, Boot and Their Critics: And an Overlooked Point
In all the back and forth (does "fear" matter; did Nixon meet with Brezhnev and Mao with or without preconditions; etc.) another point is left out: how much is the U.S. president a factor?
With oil at $90 a barrel and $20 billion in new investments since 2003 (or at least pledges of such investments)--does Ahmadinejad of Iran or his successor really have a strong need to meet with the U.S. president? Wouldn't an Iranian leader be wary of an invitation from President Obama if he thought he wasn't going to get any real concessions and might end up looking weak or ineffective?
President McCain has a lot of bluster about Putin and Putin's Russia. But John Evans, a London based columnist for Eurasian Home, questions whether McCain--or any U.S. president in 2009 facing major economic challenges--is really going to be in much of a position to DO much (beyond rhetoric)? He concludes, "The Kremlin might well be saying, ‘the next US president? Who cares?’"
I think that is an overstatement. The U.S. still matters simply because it remains the world's largest military and economic power. But if the Weber/Barma/Ratner/Leverett thesis about growing interconnections that bypass the U.S. and shift more of the world's financial power away from North America and Europe continues to hold true, then it may mean that other world leaders will fear the U.S. a bit less and perhaps not be so eager to have a photo-op with the next president.
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
Obama's Foreign Policy Approach: Who Calls the Shots?
Since Senator Obama himself does not have a well-known foreign policy profile, what would be his position on key issues? And which advisors would have the most influence?
Noah Pollack from Commentary suggests that "There has been an awakening in recent days to the presence of a disturbing number of foreign policy advisers to the Obama campaign who harbor hostile views of Israel." Pollack goes on to suggest that if advisors like Samantha Powers and others have the ear of a president Obama,will they advise him to "repudiate America’s greatest ally in the Middle East in favor of appeasing its greatest enemy? And here’s an even better question: Does Barack Obama have a single adviser who would tell him to do anything else?"
Then I received a summary and analysis from James W. Riley, who served as an Annenberg apprentice editor at the magazine last year, who recently attended a seminar at the USC Hillel Foundation that featured Eric Lynn, who is Obama's Middle East policy advisor. This is what he took away from that meeting:
"Without equivocation, Lynn made clear the United States must always remain a friend of Israel—an old ally and lone democracy in the region. But even more importantly, the United States must ensure Israel maintains its military superiority in order to preserve its right to self-defense. Accordingly, Obama has “advocated for increased foreign aid budgets to ensure that these…priorities are met,” at least that’s what a press release paid for by Obama for America said. Additionally, Obama has called for continued cooperation between the United States and Israel on research and development of their missile defense systems.
During the July 2006 Lebanon war, and in the face of criticism, Obama backed Israel’s use of force against Lebanon in reaction to missile attacks by Hezballah. “If U.S. soldiers were kidnapped” Obama reportedly said, “we’d be doing much worse,” according to Lynn. Apparently, Obama isn’t uncomfortable with the idea of using force to make peace. ...
"Furthermore, Obama has no desire to drag Israel to the negotiating table. “If Israel wants peace, they will do it their own way,” said Lynn. Obama has called for the Palestinians to renounce violence and recognize Israel’s right to exist."
Riley then went on to Lynn's discussion of Iran. "Lynn also touched on Iran’s nuclear ambitions. In Obama’s view, Iran poses a direct threat to Israel. He cited Iranian support of Hamas and Hezbollah as a clear sign of this threat. As opposed to the Bush Administration’s approach, Obama values “talking to the enemy.” By engaging in low to mid-level diplomatic relations with Tehran, Washington could influence hard-liners with carrots and sticks. But much like the current administration, Obama would not take the military option off the table. In addition, Obama believes it necessary for U.S. pension funds to divest of stocks in foreign companies doing business in Iran."
After listening to Lynn, Riley concluded: "Lynn felt inclined to remind us that electing Obama would put a new face on America, while reinforcing to the world that the United States is a big “salad bowl” and “melting pot.” Ultimately, Obama’s approach isn’t even a face-lift, but considering the dangers emanating from the region, his is at least the approach of a realist."
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
Ivanov and Palmerston
"The process of Russia's revival objectively combines our ambition to occupy an appropriate place in the world politics and commitment to maintain our national interests. Right away I would like to make a point: we do not intend to meet this challenge by establishing military blocs or engaging in open confrontation with our partners. Russia’s way is different: we are consistently developing multivector cooperation with various nations both on a bilateral level and in the framework of key international and regional organizations."
I realize that the English usage is a bit clunky (multivector cooperation)--but the sentiments are quite clear. Russia is staking its claim to be seen as one of the major powers, not based on its Soviet past but on its economic future.
But Russia also seems to be moving closer to constructing its foreign policy for the 21st century along the lines Richard Haass has described, one where formal blocs give way to informal associations among states for the purposes of achieving discrete objectives, what he terms, "The Palmerstonian Moment":
"Americans will have to become comfortable with the notion of “selective cooperation.” Not too long ago I told an audience at the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars that “we are entering an era of American foreign policy and indeed international relations that is almost Palmerstonian in certain ways, where countries are not clear adversaries or allies with the automaticity or predictability of either. . . .They may be active partners on one issue and largely inactive observers on another.” Or they may carry out alternative or even opposing policies.
"The post–Cold War world, in many respects, is far more dynamic and fluid than the relatively stable and predictable bipolar arrangements of the Cold War. It thus demands a much greater degree of flexibility from policymakers."
On a separate note, Mary Dejevsky of the Independent stressed a point made by Ivanov, a departure from his prepared text, where he promised that Russia would not switch off anyone’s energy supplies for political reasons: "Partners can rest assured that Russia has been strictly fulfilling and will continue to fulfil all its commitments regarding energy supplies."
Monday, February 11, 2008
Clear Talk from Secretary Gates
This follows on to what was a less than satisfactory outcome in Vilnius, something I discussed on Thursday at National Interest online and which has been the subject of debate over at the Atlantic Community.
The Secretary tried to make the case for why the NATO mission in Afghanistan is a vital interest for all alliance members.
But we have also seen the continued interest in buck-passing, and perhaps for those U.S. advocates of the Global NATO/League of Democracies approach--European critics who say NATO can't do the job alone in Afghanistan and that a more robust UN presence is needed. Seems this deflates the the GN/LoD model, which is supposed to show how ad hoc groupings of democracies are more effective than the UN.
I don't know if this ongoing problem is going to be resolved by the Bucharest summit.
"The president and the Secretary of State should consider a more practical option. America and its allies, acting through the Security Council, can provide a permanent international guarantee of Kosovo's political autonomy within the formal territory of Serbia. Combined with the Ahtisaari conditions, even Belgrade and Moscow are likely to accept such a guarantee.
"This will give Kosovo as much, or more, than it would achieve through nominal independence. Autonomy can include the right to enter into certain types of international agreements. It can include the right to have international observer missions. Autonomy can entail more real power than is available to a neutered state ..."
Moreover, this model could be the way forward on other frozen conflicts, and dare I say it, even provide a possible way forward between the PRC mainland and Taiwan (under a one state, two authorities model?) Certainly this approach might be the one to break the impasse on Nagorno-Karabakh, the frozen conflict conveniently ignored because no one in the U.S. wants to get in the middle of a fired-up Armenian-American community and Azeri oil interests.
And this column again demonstrates why we should always reject claims that there is "no need" for debate and discussion on any issue.
Friday, February 08, 2008
More than just rhetoric needed ...
But changing America's world image will take more than campaign rhetoric, experts say, especially in the post-9/11 era. Although they note that much of the blame for a deteriorated image is placed at the feet of President Bush, they say it won't work for the next president to seek a return to where the US was in 2000. Rather, they say, the next US leader should try to discern the kind of leadership the world is craving for the 21st century.
But--as Flynt Leverett argued today, if the world doesn't get the type of U.S. leadership they feel is needed--will they just complain?
Wednesday, February 06, 2008
John Bolton Calls It as He Sees It (and some of my thoughts too)
As always, a man prepared to speak his mind and to pull no punches. Some of his critiques:
--the missed opportunity earlier this decade to pull Russia closer to Western security institutions in light of common threats (although noting that in more recent years Vladimir Putin himself has made this harder);
--a State Department "on autopilot" when it comes to Kosovo--moving ahead as if Slobodan Milosevic was still in power and not recognizing not only changed conditions in Serbia itself but also why this is such a priority when the U.S. has other pressing concerns
--a focus on "saving the deal" with North Korea when the regime has no intention of carrying out its obligations.
Here, Ambassador Bolton focused on North Korea's efforts to disperse its programs away from the Korean peninsula. Was the facility destroyed by an Israeli raid into Syria last September connected to North Korea (and Iran)--why wouldn't they disperse and conceal their activities and move things beyond the reach of potential inspectors?
As readers of NI's current issue are aware, I reviewed Amitai Etzioni's Security First and discussed the "Libya model". In Bolton's view, the regimes in Tehran and Pyongyang cannot follow the same model because unlike Tripoli they have not acted in the good faith way necessary to make such deals feasible. This leaves regime change as the only way to modify behavior since both regimes see possession of a nuclear capability, in his opinion, as an absolute necessity for their own survival. Especially in the case of North Korea, one then has to assess their willingness to sell or transfer dangerous technologies to others as well. In the case of Iran, use of force must not only be on the table but increasingly may be the only way to change the timeline--to at least delay acquisition of capabilities. Meaningful sanctions that could affect behavior are just not on the table anymore.
In his discussion about China and Korea, I found myself thinking about parallels and unintended consequences. Beijing doesn't want a nuclear north Korea because this makes it easier for Japan, South Korea and Taiwan to push for their own nuclear programs. In addition, instability in East Asia is bad for business which generates growth. But China does not want North Korea to collapse and sees it as a buffer zone. China scholars out there: is there any literature in China that deals with the unification of Germany and the expansion of NATO? I could see a scenario where if the North Korean regime comes down the U.S. could pledge to keep forces on the southern side of the 38th parallel--no U.S. deployments at the Yalu river!--but would Beijing accept such assurances? Just a thought.
Tuesday, February 05, 2008
Brown Zones in the Global System
The Telegraph in today's edition discusses one of these ongoing problems--British fugitives taking refuge in the unrecognized Turkish Republic of North Cyprus.
In the forthcoming issue of The National Interest, we will have an entire section on nation-breaking/nation-severing/twilight states--where the ramifications of these issues will be discussed and policy options debated.
Monday, February 04, 2008
Chad: Another Blow to a "European" Foreign Policy?
But then, in order to make the EUROFOR deployed on Chad's border with Sudan--and meant to help ease the humanitarian crisis created by the fighting in Darfur--credible in the eyes of other European states--who did not want to deploy forces but then end up serving France's specific interests in maintaining "its guys" in N'Djamena--Paris had to pledge neutrality. EUROFOR is the largest EU military force deployed anywhere and so, if the EU is serious about being credible as a security provider, EUROFOR needs to work. The question is whether Paris is prepared to sacrifice the Déby government in Chad.
Serb Vote A Victory for the West?
Actually, I think that, just as in 2005 when Western diplomats wanted to get Ukraine's NATO membership off the immediate agenda (and sighed deep sighs of relief when Viktor Yanukovych returned to power as prime minister), there was, at least here in the United States, a subcurrent of opinion that said a victory by Tomislav Nikolic would have been the best outcome for the United States. Then, with a "Radical" in place, forcing the separation of Kosovo might have been easier to bring about, and you would have avoided the whole "who lost Serbian democracy" question.
I do agree, that the re-election of Boris Tadic to the presidency was something the major EU states wanted, but particularly I would say the Greeks and the French. Tadic is pro-European and committed to regional integration. The problem that may arise for some here in Washington is this may strengthen a faction within Europe that argues against moving ahead with any sort of move on immediate independence. They may also want to see whether there could be other ways to "square the circle" of a largely independent Kosovo with some concessions to Serbia. For those who have been arguing for a "clean break" of Kosovo from Serbia, then, a Tadic victory complicates matters.
Friday, February 01, 2008
Taking China and India Seriously as Global Powers
First, we do seem still to think of India and China in terms of where they were rather than where they are now--and that further changes and developments even over the last five years have major impacts on the global balance of power. To the extent that Republicans and Democrats in 2008 want to turn the clock back to 2000--case in point Rahm Emanuel's op-ed a few days ago in the Washington Post--the India and China of 2008 (not to mention Russia) have surged far beyond where they were in 2000. There is no reset button.
Second, with the exception of discussions about energy, climate and currency, we still think of India and China as "regional" powers. We--and here I mean a Washington audience--seem still to be very unused to the idea that we need to pay as much attention to New Delhi and Beijing on "world affairs" matters as we do Moscow and the major European centers.
A caveat here: I do think that there is a prevalent line of thinking in both India and China that would say, what happens in Europe stays in Europe (e.g. we have no interest in European affairs)--as long as there is a reciprocal understanding that what happens in Asia stays in Asia. The problem is that I don't think either New Delhi or Beijing will accept the proposition that the U.S. and the EU have some sort of global mandate and they in contrast should restrict their zone of involvement.