Archive for the ‘Foreign Policy’ Category

16
Oct

Palestinians mark Nakba Day in Jerusalem

The British vote in parliament recognising a Palestinian state alongside Israel is seen by many as a landmark moment in British policy on the Palestinian question. The vote comes shortly after Sweden’s newly elected prime minister, Stefan Löfven, expressed his readiness to recognise the state of Palestine. But Sweden’s gesture is the more significant one, since Britain’s Conservative-led government has made it abundantly clear that the parliamentary vote will not change its positionon the Israel-Palestine issue.

Read more…

6
Oct

WWI Analogies: Missing the Role of Culture

Written on October 6, 2014 by Waya Quiviger in Culture & Society, Foreign Policy

One hundred years ago began the war to end all wars. World War I, or the Great War, was a war based on unilateral actions, miscalculations and misunderstandings. This inauspicious centenary has been an opportunity for the foreign affairs commentariat to indulge in one of the things it is best at: drawing historical analogies.

It is true that aspects of the global landscape look eerily similar to a century ago. States push the boundaries of international law and act unilaterally, causing regional alarm and global unease. Events in Ukraine and East Asia suggest a return to old-school territoriality. The “Great Game” after all originally referred to Russia’s 19th century contest with Britain over central Asia, including Crimea.

Once again, there is a major redistribution of strategic and economic weight. New superpowers emerge and agitate for a place at the high table of international affairs. This time the shift is seismic, moving across entire continents. Today it is China, India, and other Asian states, as well as Brazil and South Africa. Alongside the growing multipolarity, many have pointed to the increasing great-power rivalry and divergence over major strategic issues like Ukraine and the South and East China Seas, economic cleavages with the BRICS’ New Development Bank and Contingent Reserve Arrangement, and India’s stance at the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

Countering these voices of doom is the argument that the interconnectedness of today’s world prevents a global catastrophe. It was in response to WWI that great minds like Leonard Woolf suggested the option of collective security, an idea that gained policy momentum, eventually culminating in the League of Nations. The League failed, in part due to disengagement by then rising powers like the U.S. Following World War II, nations tried again, leading to the institutional faces of today’s interconnected world order: the United Nations and economic institutions like WTO, World Bank, and International Monetary Fund.

Opponents of the WWI analogy argue that the integration of the global economy ensures that any state’s cost-benefit analysis regarding war is skewed towards the negative – it’s just not worth it. It could also be argued that modern technology, advances in intelligence gathering, and the ease with which global leaders can speak directly to each other, has made WWI-style “misunderstandings” near impossible. Media coverage of war has, since America’s involvement in Vietnam, meant the public are intimately aware of the realities of the battlefield, shifting the burden of justification further onto advocates for military action. In response to WWI, international pacifist Lord Bryce stated the “impossibility of war…would be increased in proportion as the issues of foreign policy should be known to and controlled by public opinion.”

Something that seems to have evaded the attention of both the voices of doom and the optimists, however, is that today’s power shifts have far more complex implications than last century’s. While Samuel Huntington’s famous “Clash of Civilizations” analysis may discount key factors, it draws our attention to an important and long-ignored aspect of international relations – culture. Unlike the United States and Germany in the 19th century, today’s emerging powers encompass entire civilizations – some with thousands of years of cultural continuity. While Japan’s modernization beginning with the Meiji restoration in 1868 included an adoption of existing foreign policy institutions, the same may not be true for China and India.

Culture is making a comeback as a factor in international relations. And it is not merely via chauvinism manifesting itself in the form of nationalist politics that we have seen since the end of the Cold War; not just states saying “my culture is better than yours.” Culture’s influence in the future will be more deeply felt. Its interaction with foreign affairs will be in a way that has long been shunned as too mystifying to serve as a basis for policymaking. Culture will make an impact through values.

Published on Oct. 5th in http://thediplomat.com/2014/10/wwi-analogies-missing-the-role-of-culture/

Dr. Kadira Pethiyagoda is a former diplomat whose PhD and upcoming book investigated Indian foreign policy. He was a visiting scholar at the University of Oxford. A shorter version of this article first appeared on East Asia Forum.

26
Sep

When foreign dignitaries arrive in New York City for the annual gathering of the UN General Assembly, it’s often difficult to determine which world leaders are rolling past in which dark limousines. But one country’s representatives typically stand out. It’s the country whose embassy and consulate on Second Avenue are enclosed within a double row of metal barriers. A solid line of NYPD squad cars occupies every inch of surrounding curb; a white police booth stands guard at the entrance to the building. That country is Israel, and on a recent September morning I made my way through all of these obstacles to meet the man behind the fencing: Ambassador Ron Prosor.

The latest General Assembly session, which opens this week, may be more preoccupied than usual with the Jewish state, given the Gaza war over the summer. Perhaps even more importantly, this summer’s other crises—in Syria, in Iraq, in Ukraine, in the South China Sea—provide much that many nations are anxious not to talk about. The Arab League, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, the Group of 77, even the European Union: All can project unity if, and only if, the topic is Israel. In this respect, the Jewish state performs for the world community the same service that the weather or the dogs perform for a troubled family: a safe diversion from awkward disagreements.

Scan UN General Assembly and Security Council resolutions on the subject of Israel over the decades, and you’ll see that some, like one declaring the “permanent sovereignty of the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem” are adopted and re-adopted so often as to constitute an annual ritual on the UN calendar. No other problem or conflict on earth has generated so much UN activity. Here’s one stark way to visualize the disparity: Since the Syrian conflict erupted in 2011, the UN General Assembly has adopted four resolutions on one of the deadliest explosions of violence since 1945. In that same period, the General Assembly has adopted eight resolutions calling on Israel to return the Golan Heights to Syrian rule.

In much of the developed world, the UN has lost considerable importance since the romantic days of the 1940s and 1950s. It’s inconceivable now that a former U.S. presidential nominee would accept the UN ambassadorship as an appropriate position, as Adlai Stevenson did under President Kennedy. The role is instead seen as a stepping stone to a higher rank; President Obama’s first UN ambassador, Susan Rice, now serves as his national security advisor. In some less-developed countries, the UN job offers a profitable capstone to a political career—a chance for a former foreign minister or even head of government to live in New York with a staff, a car, and a driver.

 For Israeli diplomats, meanwhile, the mission to the UN is a role second only to the mission to the United States. Because Israel is so central to the UN, the UN is inescapably central to Israel. The Washington job, however, is carried out among mostly friendly people. The UN ambassador must work under adverse and even hostile conditions to achieve even a small measure of the recognition that every other country enjoys as a matter of right. Read more…
Published by David Frum on Sept. 24, 2014 in http://www.theatlantic.com/
18
Sep

India’s Soft Power Advantage

Written on September 18, 2014 by Waya Quiviger in Asia, Foreign Policy, Globalization & International Trade

India’s Soft Power Advantage

During Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s recent visit to India, he was asked to justify Australia’s signing of a deal to sell uranium to the country. In response, the prime minister said, “India threatens no one” and “is the friend to many.” This was no mere diplomatic nicety, but a carefully chosen answer based on India’s international image. It is an image that is rare amongst great powers of India’s size and strength, and will give Delhi a unique soft power advantage in the future multipolar world.

Much of the globe sees India as a relatively non-violent, tolerant and pluralistic democracy with a benign international influence. Its values are seen as largely positive.

The U.S., with its Indo-U.S. nuclear deal, accorded India special treatment in nuclear cooperation. The deal provided benefits usually reserved for Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) signatories. Washington justified cooperation with India by highlighting Delhi’s impeccable non-proliferation record. This stance was replicated by other states, including the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) member states who allowed India’s participation in international nuclear commerce and supported the Indo-U.S. deal. The NSG decided to re-engage with India following an India-specific safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The IAEA’s Board of Governors endorsed a nuclear safeguards agreement with India by consensus that would permit Delhi to add more nuclear facilities to be placed under the IAEA safeguards framework. India did not have to have an Additional Protocol like the non-nuclear weapons states who are NPT signatories. India also received favorable treatment from Canada (which agreed to supply “dual-use items” that can be used for civilian and military applications), Japan and South Korea.

This cooperation was not merely driven by these states’ strategic relationships with the U.S. Russia has long cooperated with India on nuclear technology. Even China, as a member of the NSG, did not oppose the group’s decision on India. Today, India is the only known nuclear weapons state that is not part of the NPT but is still permitted to engage in nuclear commerce globally.  Read more…

Published in http://thediplomat.com/

12
Sep

Cambodia’s Foreign Policy Grand Strategy

Written on September 12, 2014 by Waya Quiviger in Asia, Foreign Policy, News

Cambodia’s Foreign Policy Grand Strategy

 

The glory days of the Khmer Empire, from the 9th to the 15th century, and Angkor Wat are the pride of Cambodia. The Khmer Empire was in its time a major power in Southeast Asia in terms of military might, diplomacy and trade. Unfortunately, it did not last. The collapse of the empire combined with internal conflict signaled the beginning of the Dark Ages of Cambodia, colonization, and conflict..

Today, Cambodia is perceived as a war-torn country, one plagued by civil war, landmines, and foreign intervention. Nevertheless, with civil war at an end, the country has the potential to start of a promising new chapter, one in which it pursues its core national interests, most notably stability, sovereignty, economic development, and image building. After successful national reconciliation and regional integration, Cambodia is now well on its way to becoming a lower middle-income country with annual GDP growth of around 7 percent.

However, as the international landscape changes, for instance with the rise of China and the U.S. “rebalancing” to Asia, new regional challenges are emerging. If it is to deal successfully with these challenges and become a relevant player within the region, Cambodia must have a grand strategy for its foreign policy. According to Hal Brands, a grand strategy can be an integrated set of principles and priorities that helps a country navigate a complex and dangerous international environment to achieve its national interests.

In looking at what the Cambodian government has done with its foreign policy to date, it appears that Cambodia’s grand strategy rests on three pillars.

Asian Century

The first of those pillars we might call the “Asian Century.” Certainly, the gravity of global power has shifted to the Asia-Pacific and the 21st century is shaping up to the Asian century, with most countries in the region, such as China, India, and the ASEAN countries, among them Cambodia, enjoying strong economic growth in recent years. China, the world’s second-largest economy after the United States, is also ASEAN’s largest trading partner.

Not surprisingly, Cambodia has focused most of its diplomatic efforts on ASEAN and other ASEAN-led regional forums, such as the East Asia Summit. It has strengthened its existing diplomatic ties with major powers in the region, such as China and Japan. Cambodia upgraded its diplomatic relations with China and Japan to the level of strategic partnership in 2010 and 2013, respectively.

Recently, Cambodia has also launched a diplomatic charm offensive* targeting countries such as Belarus andAzerbaijan, hoping to promote economic and trade relations. This signals another major shift in its foreign policy, from political diplomacy to economic diplomacy.

In a regional context, ASEAN and its Dialogue Partner countries are negotiating comprehensive free trade deals, such as the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). All of these efforts are designed to reap the benefit of regional integration, and represent a golden opportunity for Cambodia to focus on the Asia-Pacific to sustain its economic growth. In the context of the Asian century, ASEAN should remain the cornerstone of Cambodia’s foreign policy. But Cambodia also needs to balance its economic, military and political interests among its immediate neighbors, China, the U.S., and ASEAN. This will need to be done with skill if Cambodia wishes to remains prosperous over the long term. Read more…

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