Thursday, May 28, 2009
When It Affects Me ...
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
The Kremlin Reaching to the Past to Inspire the Future
In the Spring 2009 issue of Orbis, in a review essay entitled "Russia's Future", I talked about the growing interest in the political philosophy of the White emigres among members of the Kremlin elite, starting with Vladislav Surkov, who in his own essays quotes from Il'in and others.
These White thinkers were not monarchist reactionaries looking to turn back the clock. They accepted that the Bolshevik revolution had happened because of conditions in Russia. What they were interested in was how a post-Soviet Russia of the future might guide itself away from the Soviet past toward a better future.
From the review:
Il’in, for his part, felt that Russia could emerge from the Soviet period by rallying around a “national idea” which, in the words of that leading historian of Russian political thought, S.V. Utechin, could mobilize “chivalrous cadres with will and character, dedicated to the service of the idea of the perfect Russia of the future.” Moreover, this new elite should not waste its time in ideological and philosophical speculation but instead be motivated by a “free and calm patriotic realism” to find a path forward for Russia out of its crises.Sound familiar?
Thursday, May 21, 2009
Can President Obama delivers what he promises?
It also raises new questions about what progress the administration hopes to make in renewed diplomatic efforts with Iran and Russia, in reviving the Middle East peace process, and in starting a new treaty process to deal with climate change if Obama cannot bring around a Congress controlled by his own party to support his initiatives. The “cap and trade” debate on Capitol Hill is being closely watched in other countries to see how legislators are dealing with what will be the thorniest issue in any new climate change negotiation—how to balance the need to reduce emissions with the desire of developing countries, especially India and China—to “catch up” to the economic living standards that a century and a half of unregulated pollution bequeathed to the developed north and west.
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Why Priorities Matter
Monday, May 18, 2009
There's Still a World Without the West ...
An interesting reminder ...
Brazil's oil industry is turning to China for cash in the latest sign of how Beijing's clout is growing amid the global economic downturn.
Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva was set to arrive in Beijing Monday to meet with Chinese President Hu Jintao, who is expected to unleash billions of dollars of credit to help Brazil exploit its massive oil reserves. Brazil will return the favor by guaranteeing oil shipments to Chinese companies.
The nations are being thrust together by the global financial crisis. Brazil's state-controlled oil giant, Petroleo Brasileiro SA, wants to spend $174 billion over the next five years to elevate Brazil into the major leagues of oil-producing nations. With international capital markets on life support, China is among the few remaining sources of cash.
Petrobras, as the company is known, is turning to China at a time when China's appetite for raw materials has lifted economies across commodity-rich Latin America, blunting the impact of the global downturn. In March, China passed the U.S. as Brazil's biggest trade partner.
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
I Don't See It
Any modus vivendi, particularly on the issue of nuclear arms, will require patience, but what if Obama ends up next year in Tehran, feted by adoring crowds, much as Richard M. Nixon headed to China?Problem from my end is I don't see it happening. Not unless there is some major catastrophe in Pakistan that creates a World War II style alliance of convenience (perhaps bringing together Moscow, New Delhi and Tehran together with Washington).
Monday, May 11, 2009
Everyone Loves Multilateralism
But why should the U.S. take the lead? This seems a perfect task for one of our key allies--perhaps the U.K. along with Japan--to provide both the naval assets as well as the finanical leverage--and then to work with the key maritime powers to put this PSI-2 into effect-perhaps leveraging our ties with Cyprus, which helped to take the lead on the original PSI.
Wednesday, May 06, 2009
The Listening Phase is Over
Some of my points:
The problem that the president faces is that he cannot restore trust in America's judgment in the span of a few months. Eight years ago, Charles Krauthammer had noted that U.S. leadership within the international system was sustained because the American-led order provided for "open seas, open trade and open societies lightly defended." In 2009, many countries feel far less secure because of U.S. policies. ... the executive branch of the U.S. government is not the one with the power to act. So President Obama can talk about change, but much of his leverage vis-à-vis the rest of the world is constrained by Congress. And given his ambitious domestic agenda, it's valid to wonder how much political capital his chief of staff will recommend he deploy on foreign affairs.
I conclude: "Obama has succeeded in clearing the decks of the baggage of the past. What remains to be seen is whether he has now positioned his administration to move forward on his foreign policy agenda. On this question, the jury is still out."
Tuesday, May 05, 2009
If Wishes were Fishes ...
The State Department will be disciplined in evaluating foreign policy choices; weighing the costs and consequences of our action or inaction; gauging the probability of success; and insisting on measurable results.Rhetorically, it sounds great; but let's see if it actually happens.
Wish fulfillment gone bad is the subject of a short essay I did for The Atlantic Council; we have gotten diversity of routes for energy out of Eurasia--but just not diversity to the West.
Monday, May 04, 2009
The Musharraf Debate
Was General Musharraf the "dam" which contained the various forces now unleashed in Pakistan (meaning that allowing his government to rupture has released the floodwaters) ...
Or was he the "termite" whose government undermined all the various civil society forces that would otherwise have proven to serve as a firm foundation for a democratic or democratic-leaning government?
The Obama team, when in the Senate, argued the second. It is now interesting to see whether, in cultivating General Kiyani, they may move to the first answer.