Archive for the ‘Foreign Policy’ Category

24
Feb

ukraine

 

The bloody conflict in Ukraine could trigger yet another confrontation between the West and Russia. Dominance in Europe is at stake on the geopolitical chess board. While Ukraine itself could descend into civil war.

The quote printed in SPIEGEL 33 years ago was a noteworthy one, and still sounds remarkably topical: “We have to ensure that this Soviet empire, when it breaks apart due to its internal contradictions, does so with a whimper rather than a bang.” The sentence was spoken by US Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger during an interview conducted in September of 1981.

This week in Ukraine, one of the core regions of that former empire, it is looking very much like a “bang.” Thursday in Kiev has seen bloody violence that has cost the lives of dozens amid gunfire and brutal clashes on Independence Square. Hundreds have been wounded, many seriously. The violence comes on the heels of similar battles on Tuesday — and mark the beginning of what could become an extended and dramatic conflict over the country’s future. Some of those who have traveled to Kiev to view the situation first hand in recent weeks are fully aware of what a “bang” looks like — US Senator John McCain, 77, for example, a veteran of Vietnam who was shot down in 1967 and spent over two years as a prisoner of war. In December, he stood on the Independence Square stage in Kiev and called out: “People of Ukraine, this is your moment! The free world is with you! America is with you!”

In other words, the Cold War has returned and Moscow is once again the adversary. The only difference is that the weapons have changed.

It is no longer just the association agreement with the European Union that is at stake. Nor is the future of President Viktor Yanukovych, a man surrounded by rumors of corruption, the focus anymore. Rather, geopolitics has taken center stage and the question as to which power centers in Europe and the Eurasia region will be dominant in the future has become paramount. Former US National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski once compared the region to a chess board. The players, as always, include the US, Russia, the EU and NATO. Read more…

By Uwe Klussmann

Published in Der Spiegel on Feb. 20, 2014 http://www.spiegel.de

 

21
Feb

Decoding two sets of surprising Asia peace talks

Written on February 21, 2014 by Waya Quiviger in Asia, Foreign Policy

Is there something in the water?

Suddenly peace, or at least peace talks, are breaking out in the most unlikely places. In Asia, entrenched enemies – China and Taiwan, North and South Korea – have agreed to sit down at the table.

In an effort to decode the surprising developments, CNN’s Christiane Amanpour spoke on Tuesday with Kurt Campbell, former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, who is widely credited with being the key architect of America’s “Pivot to Asia.”China and Taiwan are holding their first-ever official face-to-face talks since Mao Zedong’s communists won their civil war in 1949 – a “quite significant” turn of events, Campbell said.“Over the course of the last 30 years, people thought that the most tense situation in Asia was between China and Taiwan, but in recent years the relationship has improved substantially – commercially, economically, and now politically.”What both sides are getting out of the talks, he told Amanpour, is “a greater sense of predictability.”

China does not recognize the independence of Taiwan, and Taiwan is not a U.N. member state, but the island is self governing and generally conducts itself in terms of bilateral relations as an independent country.Over the years, Taiwan and China have built a thriving commercial relationship, with hundreds of billions of dollars in trade.Some sectors, he told Amanpour, think of Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou as “pro-Beijing,” but that view is “probably simplistic.”

“I think he is actually a Taiwan nationalist. I do believe he thinks that closer economic and commercial ties are just the wave of the future, and that Taiwan has few other options, and that to stand against the giant just across the Taiwan straits in a sort of militaristic pose makes no sense.”

Another surprise set of Asian talks, between North and South Korea, has grabbed attention in diplomatic circles.North Korea offered talks with South Korea, and “high-level” officials are set to meet on the two countries’ border on Wednesday.“I do not believe that it holds the same hope that we’ve seen between China and Taiwan. If anything, North and South Korea are more estranged than ever,” Campbell said.The talks come ahead of planned reunions between Korean families estranged by the Korean war more than half a century ago.

“These family reunifications and meetings have taken place over a period of decades, and they almost always get abruptly cancelled at the last minute or abbreviated,” Campbell said.Indeed, Pyongyang said last week it may back out of the reunions of the families if South Korean forces participate in annual joint military exercises with the United States later this month – Campbell said such exercises “will not” be cancelled.

“It’s really North Korea playing on the heartstrings of the South Koreans.”“South Korea has had almost no contact with this new government, and now suddenly North Korea dangles what really matters a lot to South Korea, which is the family reunifications.”The talks, Campbell said, will not lead to a significant “warming.”“On every issue – whether it’s the territorial issue, the islands, the manufacturing that’s on-going inside North Korea – tensions abound.”

Published on Feb. 11, 2014

By Mick Krever, CNN http://amanpour.blogs.cnn.com/2014/02/11/kurt-campbell-north-korea-south-korea-taiwan-china-talks/

12
Feb

india-japan-game-changer-china.siThree major concrete deliverables emerged during Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s state visit to India, and in all three China is revealed to be a Shakespearean Banquo’s Ghost in the India-Japan discourse.

First and foremost, the India-Japan Global and Strategic Partnership, which hitherto was largely confined to Japanese assistance in infrastructure projects in India, is now set for a push in the political aspects of the bilateral relationship with security and strategic overtones. This is clear by the decision of the two prime ministers – Abe and his Indian counterpart, Manmohan Singh – to have an institutionalized mechanism of regular consultations between the two sides’ national security advisors. Unlike India, Japan does not have a post of National Security Advisor; therefore, the Secretary-General of National Security Secretariat of Japan (the equivalent of India’s NSA) will be the point person for holding talks with the Indian NSA.

Two, India has taken an unambiguous position for the first time on the recent Chinese policy of declaring an Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ), which has been stiffly opposed and defied by powers including Japan, South Korea and the Philippines. A joint statement released at the end of delegation-level talks between Singh and Abe in New Delhi on January 25, clearly stated: “The two Prime Ministers underscored the importance of freedom of overflight and civil aviation safety in accordance with the recognized principles of international law and the relevant standards and recommended practices of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).”

This is a bold foreign policy move by the Indians, especially when China had clarified shortly after its introduction of the ADIZ dispensation that India was out of its ambit. It shows that New Delhi has finally mustered enough gall and courage to side with Japan at the expense of China on the ADIZ controversy. In a sense, this is India’s way of squaring up with the Chinese for the discriminatory Chinese policy of issuing stapled visas for Indians domiciled in the Indian states of Jammu and Kashmir and Arunachal Pradesh. By the stapled visas policy, the Chinese had taken sides with Pakistan at the expense of India.

Three, India and Japan decided to put a deeper emphasis on military-to-military exchanges and joint exercises and prepared an ambitious roadmap in this regard. Singh and Abe underscored the importance of such exercises and decided to hold these with increased frequency. Indian Navy (IN) and the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) held the second bilateral exercise in December 2013 off the coast of Chennai and will now have its next edition in the Pacific Ocean in 2014. The focus on the Indo-Pacific is unmistakable. Abe has been a vocal supporter of India’s increased presence in the Pacific – another red rag for China. Read more…

Published in http://rt.com on Jan. 29, 2014

10
Feb

Karzai’s Not-So-Crazy End Game

Written on February 10, 2014 by Waya Quiviger in Asia, Foreign Policy, Op Ed

Hassan Rouhani, Hamid KarzaiBy Fareed Zakaria

Is Hamid Karzai crazy? on the face of it, the Afghan President has said lots of odd, inflammatory and contradictory things. Over the past year, he has criticized the U.S., wondered whether its presence in Afghanistan has done any good at all, refused to sign an Afghanistan-U.S. security pact and called members of the Taliban his brothers. This week the New York Times revealed that he has been conducting secret negotiations with the Taliban. What can he be thinking?

Maybe Karzai is looking at what happened to one of his predecessors. In 1989 the Soviet Union withdrew from Afghanistan. The President it had backed, Mohammad Najibullah, stayed in power, but within months a civil war broke out, forcing him to seek refuge in a U.N. compound. In 1996 the Taliban rode into Kabul, captured Najibullah, denounced him as a foreign puppet, castrated him, dragged his body through the streets and then hung him from a traffic barricade. For good measure, they did the same to his brother.

That year was a gruesome replay of an earlier piece of Afghan history that Karzai also knows well. During their 19th century invasion of Afghanistan, the British put in place a local puppet, Shah Shuja, who was assassinated after their withdrawal. In fact, as the historian William Dalrymple has pointed out, Karzai comes from the same tribe as Shah Shuja–and the Taliban come from the tribe that brought down Shah Shuja in 1842.

Read more: Karzai’s Not-So-Crazy End Game – TIME http://content.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,2164821,00.html#ixzz2sdOKjjBH

Published in Time Magazine on Monday 3 February, 2014 http://content.time.com/time/magazine/article

28
Jan

A New Franco-German Foreign Policy?

Written on January 28, 2014 by Waya Quiviger in Europe, Foreign Policy, Op Ed

Catherine Ashton, the EU’s foreign policy chief, may have had some diplomatic successes recently. But the implementation of the EU’s new foreign policy structure can hardly be called a triumph. The main culprits are the big member states, which are too hesitant to use the new service and breathe life into it. When it comes to major issues, France, Germany, and the UK still prefer to act on their own instead of working with their peers and the EU institutions to develop a joint approach.

That’s why a recent initiative by the German foreign minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, to work more closely with France on foreign policy is most welcome. It has the potential to raiseEurope’s foreign policy game.

In a joint declaration on January 21, Steinmeier and his French counterpart, Laurent Fabius, agreed to consult each other before EU summits, to travel together to “regions of particular interest to both countries and the EU,” and to cooperate on early crisis identification and prevention.

For their first joint trip, Steinmeier and Fabius intend to visit Moldova and Georgia, the two countries of the EU’s Eastern Partnership that are most interested in strengthening ties with the EU. A trip to West Africa is planned as well.

Good intentions are welcome but not enough; the Steinmeier-Fabius initiative needs to be backed up by substantial political will. There are incentives for closer Franco-German cooperation on foreign policy.

France feels overburdened with its military engagements in Africa, and Paris is eager to play a bigger role in the Arab world. That is becoming more urgent in an era in which the United States is trying to retreat from its regional leadership role. To sustain its engagement in sub-Saharan Africa and fill some of the vacuum that a disengaging United States leaves in North Africa and the Middle East, France needs the support of its European partners. Berlin is central for that support, because of Germany’s own resources and because it holds the key to turning French foreign policy ambition into a common European policy.

However, the challenge for France is to overcome its traditional unilateralism in foreign policy making and to Europeanize its approach. That means including European partners and the EU institutions at an early stage of policy planning and developing joint policies instead of going it alone first and pushing for support later. Read more…

Posted by: ULRICH SPECK FRIDAY, JANUARY 24, 2014 in http://www.carnegieeurope.eu