Archive for the ‘Topics’ Category

26
Dec

The Geopolitics of U.S.-Cuba Relations

Written on December 26, 2014 by Waya Quiviger in Americas, Foreign Policy, Political Economy

Last week, U.S. President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro agreed to an exchange of prisoners being held on espionage charges. In addition, Washington and Havana agreed to hold discussions with the goal of establishing diplomatic relations between the two countries. No agreement was reached on ending the U.S. embargo on Cuba, a step that requires congressional approval.

It was a modest agreement, striking only because there was any agreement at all. U.S.-Cuba relations had been frozen for decades, with neither side prepared to make significant concessions or even first moves. The cause was partly the domestic politics of each country that made it easier to leave the relationship frozen. On the American side, a coalition of Cuban-Americans, conservatives and human rights advocates decrying Cuba’s record of human rights violations blocked the effort. On the Cuban side, enmity with the United States plays a pivotal role in legitimizing the communist regime. Not only was the government born out of opposition to American imperialism, but Havana also uses the ongoing U.S. embargo to explain Cuban economic failures. There was no external pressure compelling either side to accommodate the other, and there were substantial internal reasons to let the situation stay as it is.

The Cubans are now under some pressure to shift their policies. They have managed to survive the fall of the Soviet Union with some difficulty. They now face a more immediate problem: uncertainty in Venezuela. Caracas supplies oil to Cuba at deeply discounted prices. It is hard to tell just how close Cuba’s economy is to the edge, but there is no question that Venezuelan oil makes a significant difference. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s government is facing mounting unrest over economic failures. If the Venezuelan government falls, Cuba would lose one of its structural supports. Venezuela’s fate is far from certain, but Cuba must face the possibility of a worst-case scenario and shape openings. Opening to the United States makes sense in terms of regime preservation.

The U.S. reason for the shift is less clear. It makes political sense from Obama’s standpoint. First, ideologically, ending the embargo appeals to him. Second, he has few foreign policy successes to his credit. Normalizing relations with Cuba is something he might be able to achieve, since groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce favor normalization and will provide political cover in the Republican Party. But finally, and perhaps most important, the geopolitical foundations behind the American obsession with Cuba have for the most part evaporated, if not permanently than at least for the foreseeable future. Normalization of relations with Cuba no longer poses a strategic threat. To understand the U.S. response to Cuba in the past half century, understanding Cuba’s geopolitical challenge to the United States is important. Read more…

Written by George Friedman on Dec. 23rd: Mr. Friedman is chairman of Stratfor.

Published in http://www.realclearworld.com/articles/2014/12/23/the_geopolitics_of_us-cuba_relations_110875-3.html

11
Dec
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Waya Quiviger, Executive Director of the Master in International Relations, interviews Josep Borrell, former President of the European Parliament, on the role of the European Parliament throughout the crisis, the agenda of the new European Commission, and Europe’s energy challenges. 

10
Dec

On December 4th, the IE School of International Relations welcomed Marcos Troyjo, co-founder and co-director of BRICLab at Columbia University, who discussed with MIR students the coming of Reglobalization and its impact on reemerging markets.

According to Mr. Troyjo, if we were sent 25 years back in time and had to identify four main trends that defined International Relations, he would highlight the following:

Marcos Troyjo 2

  1. The idea that a combination of free markets and representative democracy represents a superior model in History, a sort of natural law to bring about prosperity.
  2. The dramatic shift of the world economic center from the West to the East illustrated by the influential role of Japan and the rise of the so-called Asian Tigers.
  3. The notion that innovation is about the capacity of big corporations to reinvent themselves.
  4. A deep conviction that political, economic and legal integration is the way forward for regional integration and ultimately for establishing a global government.

Read more…

2
Dec

Josep Borrell_26122014 (2)On November 26th, the IE School of International Relations welcomed Josep Borrell, former President of the European Parliament, for an enlightening lecture on the euro crisis and the future of the EU. Mr. Borrell began his talk by recalling the evolution of the European Union:  from its origins to the current crisis it faces, the worst one since its inception.

Historically, there have been four main forces that have driven the European integration process: the “never again” commitment based on the  scarring memory of war; the Soviet threat; the need for German rehabilitation, and the Fall of the Berlin Wall. Today there is only one  seemingly clear-cut driver for European integration, and this is embracing globalization. In the 21st Century, size will matter because Europe’s  economy will no longer be the world’s largest economy and because today Europeans are twice as old as their neighbours. Only by acting  united, Europe will be able to compete in a world of great powers.

 

Read more…

28
Nov

Is the state making a comeback? It can certainly look like it. Old-fashioned interstate conflicts are roiling the China Sea and Russia’s western borders. Inter-governmental meetings such as the last Apec conference and the Group of 20 leading economies in Sydney took on an unwonted urgency. More positively, it is old-fashioned diplomacy that is making the running on issues from Iran’s nuclear programme to global warming.

Yet the dominant view since the early 1990s has been that globalisation meant the transformation of the world through non-state actors. The end of the cold war ushered in an almost Marxist expectation that the state would wither away – overshadowed by free flows of money and goods, undermined by non-state actors of which terrorist groups were only the most obvious. It was an expectation shared right across the political spectrum.

On the left, critics of market globalisation anticipated the rise of people power. Non-governmental organisations would supersede the supposedly worn out institutions of the nation state and create new, more vibrant forms of political activity. Technology would bring better solutions to old problems, bypassing stagnant state institutions.

The neoliberal right hailed the rise of global finance, the dismantling of capital controls and the deregulation of banking, not least because all of these weakened national governments’ capacity to control markets. In manufacturing and services, enormous new powers accrued to corporations able to take advantage of differing tax regimes and wage levels across the world.

Yet these hopes underestimated the sheer staying power – indeed the legitimacy – of the state and its institutions, and the extreme difficulty of creating new ones from scratch. NGOs remain on the sidelines: international organisations are vehicles for clusters and coalitions of national states to act in concert where they can. To that extent they are essentially derivative, reflecting the wishes of their most powerful members. The idea that they could be freed from the clutches of national governments was a pipe dream. Read more…

 

Published in the Financial Times on 26 November by Mark Mazower.

The writer is professor of history at Columbia and author of ‘Governing the World: The History of an Idea’

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