The administration of President Barack H. Obama has started the highly intricate process of developing its own strategy with a bang in different regions of the world. Here are the ingredients of that strategy: multilateralism, looking for a fresh start–which promises to be substantially different from the preceding administration–search for common ground involving Russia, invitation of negotiations with America’s traditional adversaries like Iran and North Korea, and at least the initial hope that approaches toward Palestine, Pakistan, and Afghanistan are likely to be radically different than the one the Bush administration pursued unsuccessfully. This is a huge agenda. But Obama’s administration has the enormous characteristic of freshness, metaphorically as well as substantively, in the sense that it is not carrying any baggage that had so infamously bogged down George W. Bush in an ostensibly endless inertia.
Continue reading “The Making of a New Global Strategy”
ON YOUR MARK, GET SET, RESTART THE BARMY ARMS RACE!
The Cold War in its old form disappeared when the Soviet Union imploded. But the U.S.-Russian competition did not. The United States continued a strange policy of expanding the NATO membership and bringing that Alliance all the way to the Russian borders, despite strong and continued protestations from Mosow. It was highly irrational on the part of the United States to think that Russia should only listen to its rhetoric–which went along the lines that “we are no longer adversaries”–and totally ignore its near obsession with the NATO enlargement.
Continue reading “Tidibits and Morsels (3)”
The Bush administration has thus far failed to resolve the nuclear conflict with two so-called “rogue states”–Iran and North Korea. In the final three months of his tenure, George W. Bush is making last-ditch deals with Russia and China to put pressure on Tehran and Pyongyang, respectively. The focus of those deals is to persuade North Korea, through China, to unravel its nuclear weapons program and dismantle its nuclear weapons. Though the Six-Party Talks–involving the U.S., China, South and North Korea, Russia and Japan–have been helpful, they have not succeeded in extracting a political solution to the conflict. In the case of Iran, Washington is persuading Russia to cooperate in passing tough U.N. sanctions unless Iran agrees to abandon its nuclear program. Even though Iran has been insisting that it has no aspirations to develop nuclear weapons, the Bush administration continues to pooh-pooh that explanation and states that Iran’s real intentions are to do just that.
Continue reading “Last Call: Denuclearizing Iran and North Korea”
If the United States is the declining hegemon, then who will replace it? Are we entering an era when another global hegemon will replace the U.S., or will we witness the emergence of power blocs? There are two schools of thought in the West on this issue. The first school of thought suggests that the alternative is the emerging alliance of autocracies–China, Russia, and the oil states–that will challenge the hegemony of the lone superpower. American neocons, who represent the second school of thought, suggest an alliance of democracies is evolving as a countervailing force to the aforementioned bloc. These debates are interesting and thought provoking. But how relevant are they in reflecting the emerging global realignment of power?
Continue reading “Adieu Hegemon; Hello Power Blocs!”
The confluence of the waning months of the Bush presidency–when the lameduck factor is looming large– the continued insistence of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki that the U.S. set a timetable of withdrawing from Iraq, the Russian invasion of Georgia, and the forced resignation of General Pervez Musharraf–President Bush’s favorite strongman in Pakistan–are creating a new buzz globally. That buzz can be highlighted along the lines that “Washington is forced to watch other powers shape events,” that a superpower is reborn (in reference to Russian military action against on Georgia), that a new world order is emerging, and that America’s decline will not easily be reversed.
Continue reading “The Birth Pangs of A Multipolar World Order”
There is something imprudent about strategic thinkers when it comes to history. For some reason, for some of them, it has to come to an end when an idea experiences a temporary–but significant–success. But when that idea appears to fail, they make an equally rash extrapolation, and start talking about the “return” of history. Francis Fukuyama became ebullient regarding the “end” of history when the Soviet Union–the archetype of communist totalitarianism–collapsed. For him, the triumph of liberal democracy in a dialectical sense was an end of history, where no idea emerged as a superior one. Robert Kagan, in his new book, The Return of History and the End of Dreams, argues that history did not come to end when the Soviet Union imploded or when the Berlin Wall collapsed in 1989. The triumph of liberal democracy–which then appeared as a shining example of success–proved illusory. In this sense, he sees a “return” of history. The end of dreams might be another hasty conclusion regarding the sustained survival of autocratic regimes.
Continue reading “The “End” or The “Return” of History: When Will History Make Up Its Mind?”