Archive for the ‘Topics’ Category

5
Nov

It is unclear whether a system that is geared to growth can also provide clean air and water

By Gideon Rachman

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Foreign commentators and local bloggers regularly predict that China is heading for an economic and political crisis. But the country’s leaders are in strikingly confident mood. They believe that China can keep growing at more than 7 per cent a year for at least another decade. That would mean the country’s economy – already the second-largest in the world – would double in size. And, depending on the assumptions you make about US growth and exchange rates, it would probably mean that China becomes the world’s largest economy by 2020.

Nobody embodies the leadership’s confidence better than the burly, imposing figure of Xi Jinping, China’s president. Last week, I was part of a group of foreign visitors – brought together by the 21st century Council, a think-tank – who met the Chinese leader in Beijing. Mr Xi’s manner is warmer and less formal than that of Hu Jintao, his slightly robotic predecessor. Yet the staging of the meeting had faint echoes of Chinese history, in which foreign barbarians paid tribute to the leader of the Middle Kingdom.

The president sat in an armchair in a cavernous meeting room in the Great Hall of the People, with a vast mural of the Great Wall of China behind him. Arranged in a semi-circle in front of him was a group of former presidents and prime ministers from other nations, including Gordon Brown of Britain and Mario Monti from Italy. In the semi-circle behind them were some western business leaders, and a smattering of “thinkers”. President Xi started his remarks by pronouncing himself “deeply moved by the sincerity you have shown”. He then proceeded to give a confident presentation of his vision for the “great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation”.

In remarks that were widely picked up by the Chinese media, Mr Xi dismissed the idea that China risks falling into a “middle-income trap” that stalls its development and said he was confident that rapid growth could continue, without the need for further stimulus measures.

Exactly how China will sustain its growth and strengthen its global position is, however, the subject of intense discussion among the country’s leadership – as became clear in a series of other meetings arranged for our group with top military, diplomatic and economic policy makers. Read more…

As published in www.ft.com on November 4, 2013.

4
Nov

By Ryan C. Crocker

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There were high expectations after President Obama and Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani, talked on the phone in late September. Those hoping for a diplomatic resolution to the nuclear standoff were excited that a breakthrough was imminent; meanwhile, some American allies, like Israel and Saudi Arabia, expressed deep skepticism over a potential American rapprochement with Iran.

No breakthrough was achieved when American and Iranian officials met for negotiations last month, but few observers expected one. Later this week, another round of talks is scheduled to begin in Geneva.

The window for achieving a diplomatic solution to the nuclear crisis is not open-ended. Both Mr. Obama and Mr. Rouhani face domestic pressures — from skeptical members of Congress in Washington and anti-American hard-liners in Tehran.

Nevertheless, despite three decades of frosty relations and although most Americans may be unaware of it, talks with Iran have succeeded in the past — and they can succeed again.

Immediately after 9/11, while serving in the State Department, I sat down with Iranian diplomats to discuss next steps in Afghanistan. Back then, we had a common enemy, the Taliban and its Al Qaeda associates, and both governments thought it was worth exploring whether we could cooperate.

The Iranians were constructive, pragmatic and focused, at one point they even produced an extremely valuable map showing the Taliban’s order of battle just before American military action began.

They were also strong proponents of taking action in Afghanistan. We met through the remaining months of 2001 in different locations, and Iranian-American agreement at the Bonn Conference on Afghanistan was central to establishing the Afghan Interim Authority, headed by Hamid Karzai, now the president of Afghanistan.

I continued to hold talks with the Iranians in Kabul when I was sent to reopen the United States Embassy there. We forged agreements on various security issues and coordinated approaches to reconstruction. And then, suddenly, it all came to an end when President George W. Bush gave his famous “Axis of Evil” speech in early 2002. The Iranian leadership concluded that in spite of their cooperation with the American war effort, the United States remained implacably hostile to the Islamic Republic.

Real cooperation effectively ceased after the speech and the costs were immediate. At the time, we were in the process of negotiating the transfer of the notorious Afghan warlord, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, from Iranian house arrest to Afghan custody and ultimately to American control. Instead, the Iranians facilitated his covert entry into Afghanistan where he remains at large, launching attacks on coalition and Afghan targets. Read more…

Ryan C. Crocker, a former United States ambassador to Afghanistan and Iraq, is dean of the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A & M.

As published in www.nytimes.com on November 3, 2013 (a version of this op-ed appears in print on November 4, 2013, on page A25 of the New York edition with the headline: Talk to Iran, It Works).

30
Oct

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In his engaging and timely presentation last week, Prof. Ansari discussed how ideology, nationalism and Iranian mythology were intricately intertwined. The Persian civilization is several millennia old and Iranians are immensely proud of their heritage. Indeed Iranian nationalism today is just as much about Islam as it is about Iranian mythology and early civilization. Prof. Ansari mentioned the important historical figure of King Cyrus, founder of the Achaemenid Empire in around 600 BC. Having originated from Persis, roughly corresponding to the modern Iranian province of Fars, Cyrus has played a crucial role in defining the national identity of modern Iran. King Cyrus, was obviously, not Muslim.

Prof. Ansari also mentioned the mythical figure of Kaveh, a blacksmith who led a popular uprising against a ruthless foreign ruler, Zahhāk. Kaveh is still today very much part of the Iranian identity, even though, again, he has nothing to do with Islam.

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What is interesting is to see how Iranians today try to reconcile their mythical, historical and Islamic identities into one Iranian identity. It is not always easy to do so, and often some stretches of imagination are required. But all three elements are fundamental aspects of who an Iranian is today.

Prof. Ansari answered questions from the public with humor and candor. When asked about the window of opportunity that is currently being opened as a result of the rapprochement between President Rouhani and President Obama, he answered that this represented an opportunity but that one should be realistic. His recommendation to negotiators on both sides was that “one should not invent a person you want to talk to. Talk to the person you have in front of you.” He seemed a bit sceptical about the “tectonic shifts” some observers claim are taking place in Iran and US relations Regarding the desire for nuclear power in Iran, Prof. Ansari asserted that unlike popular belief, Iranians were much more preoccupied about Pakistan having the bomb than Israel.

28
Oct

Mrs.Benita Ferrero-Waldner at IE School of International Relations

Written on October 28, 2013 by Ángeles Figueroa-Alcorta in Europe, Foreign Policy, Video

Mrs.Benita Ferrero-Waldner, President of the Foundation EU-LAC and Former European Commissioner for External Relations, is interviewed by Dr.de Areilza, Dean of IE School of International Relations, on the European Union foreign policy and the EU-LAC relations

 

25
Oct

IR-CitPax

The Iran Dialogues – 3

“Iran: Ideology & Nation-Building”

Madrid, Friday 25 October 2013

12:00-13:30 at IE, C/ Maria de Molina 4, Room E107

Professor Ali Ansari,

St. Andrews University

You are cordially invted to attend “Iran: Ideology & Nation-Building”, the third in a set of discussions being held in Spain as part of the Iran Dialogues Series. This session will be co-hosted by the IE School of International Relations and the Toledo International Center for Peace (CITpax).

The Islamic Republic of Iran is frequently perceived externally as being a purely ideological state.  However, concepts of nationhood, regional aspirations, and competing internal spheres of influence also affect the way in which ideology is used to shape Iran’s domestic as well as foreign policy.  Iran’s main objectives are not to be found solely in some ideological universe detached from reality, but instead are situated, and should also be understood, in terms of real politik and various sets of interests.  While the religious-ideological element is highly relevant, it is not necessarily always determining, and is not sufficient alone to explain all of Tehran’s actions.

Understanding the complex interplay of ideology, nation-building and nationalism in relation to regional and global aspirations, is particularly important in a context in which Iran is implicated in the prevailing balance of power in the Levant; has clear aims – and rivalries – in the Persian Gulf; and competes for influence in the broader region.

“Iran: Ideology & Nation-Building” is the third in a set of discussions being held in Spain as part of the Iran Dialogues Series co-organized by IE School of International Relations and CITpax.

Dr Ali Ansari is Professor of Modern History with reference to the Middle East, at St. Andrews University in Scotland. He is the founding Director of the Institute for Iranian Studies, and an Associate Fellow of Chatham House. One of his areas of specialisation is Islam and the West. He is the author of a number of books including The Politics of Nationalism in Modern Iran; Iran Under Ahmadinejad; and Confronting Iran: The Failure of American Foreign Policy and the Roots of Mistrust.

Please kindly confirm attendance at International.Relations@ie.edu

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