14
Mar

Though it would wish otherwise, Turkey cannot avoid being implicated in the Crimean crisis. The peninsula’s 260,000-strong Tatar population, roughly 15 percent of total Crimean population, creates a strong bond. Ethnically, linguistically and by way of religion (Sunni Islam) Tatars are very close to Turks. Several millions of Turkish citizens can claim Tatar roots thanks to the successive migratory waves since the Russian Empire took over the Crimean Khanate, an Ottoman vassal, in 1783. Yusuf Akçura, one of the founding father of Turkish nationalism, was a Tatar too, (though coming from the Volga region rather than Crimea). These days, the Turkish press abounds with articles and op-eds calling for the government to take a tough stance and protect the Tatar minority, largely favourable to the new government in Kyiv, from Russia‘s incursion. Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu heeded the call pledging to extend protection.

The second reason Ankara takes interest in the ongoing crisis is Turkey’s sense of belonging the Black Sea region, however blurry it might be. Although its foreign policy has been firmly tied with the Middle East for the past five years or so, Ukraine is seen as a neighbouring country. A change of the territorial status quo in the area is not to be taken light heartedly. It’s not solely the long-standing concern about its own territorial integrity which is at stake but potentially other tension points across the post-Soviet space such as Nagorno-Karabakh. As the independence referendum tabled by the Crimean Parliament for 16 March draws near, prospects for secession are becoming all too real. Turkey will no doubt have to respond and denounce the outcome of the referendum. The question is how far it is prepared to go in a concerted push-back action against Russia. Read more….

 

By Dimitar Bechev, Published on Mar. 13, 2014 in the European Council on Foreign Relations http://ecfr.eu/blog

12
Mar

Obama Needs a New National Security Strategy

Written on March 12, 2014 by Waya Quiviger in Americas, Foreign Policy, News

US President Barack Obama pauses while s

When you work on the president’s national security staff, you never feel like there are enough hours in the day. Whether you are managing Ukraine, Syria, South Sudan or the South China Sea, even a 15-hour day leaves you feeling like a slacker. But every few years, the White House staff piles one more task on its overflowing agenda: draft, debate and vet a National Security Strategy, a hefty document that explains the president’s foreign policy vision to a demanding Congress, not to mention America’s allies and adversaries around the world.

The task feels overwhelming for any administration. The drafters have to summarize all of the national security concerns of the United States, outline how the administration will address them and then secure buy-in from interagency colleagues — while simultaneously juggling real-time crises all over the globe.

This year’s drafters, as they prepare for this month’s release of the 2014 NSS, have a particularly steep hill to climb. Virtually all of the threats we face have evolved significantly since the administration’s last version in 2010. Polling suggests Americans on the right and the left, tired from over a decade of war and recognizing the limits to U.S. power and resources, increasingly want to focus inward.

How then should the administration craft a strategy to secure and advance U.S. global interests in an increasingly complex world — a world perhaps no more dangerous than in the past but whose dangers manifest in newer, trickier ways? How can the United States reshape its commitments to allow for renewal of the domestic roots of American power without succumbing to the counterproductive and dangerous siren song of “Come home, America”?

The need for a new strategy stems in part from the success of the previous one: The United States has left Iraq, the war in Afghanistan is ending and Osama bin Laden is dead. President Barack Obama and Russian then-President Dmitry Medvedev signed a new nuclear treaty, and the U.S. economy is on the mend. But nobody’s feeling like patting themselves on the back, as this year’s NSS drafters face a long list of intractable problems for which there are no easy answers. Here are six issues that will be especially tough to tackle.

1. Rebalancing

The administration made rebalancing to Asia one of its signature foreign policy initiatives in the first term. That wise and overdue shift has concrete policy attached to it, including bolstering the U.S. military posture in the region, a major trade initiative in the Trans-Pacific Partnership and broader diplomatic ties through programs like the expanded strategic and economic dialogues with China. Those initial moves herald a shift that will take a generation to fully mature — the rebalance should be evaluated over years, not weeks or months.

Now officials must figure out how to devote increasing attention to Asia while simultaneously focusing on the administration’s top three priorities in the Middle East: Iran, Syria and Middle East peace. Adding to the challenge, the recent crisis in Ukraine has forced the administration to review some of its core assumptions about stability in Europe, a region most believed was moving inexorably toward stability and prosperity. Will Russian aggression force the administration to spend more time and money reassuring skittish allies in Central and Eastern Europe going forward? Officials are already hinting, as did the Quadrennial Defense Review, that the rebalancing concept actually applies to more than how the administration balances its resources and attention across various regions. It also applies to a rebalancing of the tools of national power and how the United States will approach problems globally.

2. Counterterrorism

Though the administration has wound down the wars and decimated core Al Qaeda, the terrorist threat has morphed to pose new challenges. Splinter groups have proliferated across the Middle East and North Africa. Syria has become a vast training ground for extremists much like Afghanistan in the 1980s, with more than 5,000 foreign fighters.

None of this is what the administration wanted or expected to be facing in its sixth year in office. The aim has always been to move America off of a permanent war footing and clarify the legal structures that will guide counterterror efforts going forward, from the use of drones to the status of detainees. Both of those goals have proved elusive. The challenge for the administration now will be noting its progress in combating core Al Qaeda but then quickly acknowledging the quantity, potency and geographic dispersion of new affiliates. The NSS will have to reassure the American public and the world that the United States possesses a strategy and the tools to combat today’s threats as well as a renewed commitment to craft a more sustainable counterterror framework. Right now, that’s not so clear.

Read more: http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2014/03/white-house-national-security-strategy-104491.html#ixzz2vlUbyhWt

Julianne Smith is senior fellow and director of the strategy and statecraft program at the Center for a New American Security. Previously, she served as deputy national security advisor to the vice president.

 Jacob Stokes is a research associate at CNAS.

As published on March 10th, 2014 in http://www.politico.com

11
Mar

International Relations

 

IE School of International Relations tiene el honor de invitarle a la presentación del libro “Sin medias tintas” de D. Diego Sánchez de la Cruz, el miércoles 19 de Marzo a las 19h.

“Sin Medias Tintas” (Unión Editorial) es un libro de ámbito económico. Su autor se reunió con veinte destacados economistas y politólogos para hablar de la Gran Recesión y de la esperada recuperación. Entre los entrevistados se encuentran personalidades como Luis Garicano, Carlos Rodríguez Braun, Daniel Lacalle, Ignacio de la Torre, Pedro Schwartz, Juan Ramón Rallo, Peter Schiff o Juergen Donges.

Participarán en la presentación: D. Diego Sánchez de la Cruz, autor de la obra, periodista y antiguo alumno del Master en Relaciones Internacionales del IE, D. Carlos Rodríguez Braun, Catedrático de Historia del Pensamiento Económico en la Universidad Complutense, D. Manuel Llamas, Director de Libre Mercado y Dña. Arantza de Areilza, Decana de IE School of International Relations.

La presentación tendrá lugar en el Aula F-001 de IE Business School situada en c/ María de Molina 2.

En caso de ser de su interés, ruego confirme su asistencia en International.Relations@ie.edu

 

10
Mar

venezuela

As Venezuela passed the one-year anniversary of the death of strongman Hugo Chavez today, his successor Nicolás Maduro continued his crackdown against protestors demanding an end to corruption, rampant crime, and economic mismanagement. Since nationwide demonstrations began a month ago, clashes between Venezuelan security forces and protestors have resulted so far in at least 18 deaths and over 250 injuries.

Chavez’s socialist experiment has left Venezuela’s economy and society in shambles. A Gallup poll recently reported that the dire economic situation “pushed Venezuelan pessimism about the nation’s economy in 2013 to an all-time high-62% of Venezuelan adults said the economy is getting worse, while a record-low 12% said it was getting better.” Even official Venezuelan government figures show that one in four basic household goods, such as milk or toilet paper, is in short supply. What’s more, growth in violent crime has accompanied the oil-rich country’s economic slide. The Venezuelan Violence Observatory, a non-governmental group that tracks trends in crime, estimated that the country’s homicide rate had quadrupled since 1998.

As many thousands of Venezuelans across the country have taken to the streets to demonstrate against their deteriorating economic and social conditions, Maduro has used increasingly heavy-handed tactics to silence critics, control the flow of information, and violently suppress political dissent. Regime security forces have banned street protests, fired tear gas and pellets into crowds, and raided offices of opposition members, while also temporarily blocking users from sending or receiving Twitter images, taking a Colombian television station off the air, and threatening CNN and other international media stations covering the protests. News reports indicate the Maduro government has also utilized pro-regime gangs known as colectivos to crack down violently on protestors. As opposition deputy leader María Corina Machado-a member of Venezuela’s National Assembly whom pro-regime lawmakers physically attacked on the legislature’s floor last year-recently warned: “We live under ruthless repression not only by State security bodies, but also by colectivos, and armed paramilitary groups protected by the Government.”

The Maduro government’s resort to violence and intimidation reflects, in no small part, the regime’s growing fragility. Although Chavez used massive state oil revenues to buy public support, years of mismanagement at the state-owned Petroleos de Venezuela have brought the Maduro government’s foreign exchange reserves to a ten-year low. Moreover, Maduro’s failed currency reform has resulted in rampant, 56% inflation. For Maduro, the Wilson Center’s Eric Olson recently noted, “[p]ast strategies for navigating economic hardship with oil largesse are no longer viable given that oil production is falling, some unexploited oil has already been monetized, and the dual currency program is proving economically costly and increasingly untenable.” Read more…

Patrick Christy is a senior analyst at the Foreign Policy Initiative. Published on Mar. 6, 2014 in http://www.realclearworld.com

7
Mar

China's President Xi Jinping ( C) and his Ukrainian counterpart Viktor Yanukovich inspect honour guards during a welcome ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on December 5, 2013. (Jason Lee/Courtesy Reuters)

 

This post is one of a three-part Asia Unbound series on the implications for Asia of the crisis in Ukraine. See related posts from my colleagues Alyssa Ayres and Sheila Smith.

Russia’s de facto assertion of military control in Ukraine’s Crimean region has put China in a bind. Moscow’s actions fly in the face of one of China’s longest held tenets of foreign policy: “no interference in the internal affairs of others.” Yet China is loathe to criticize publicly one of the few countries that never criticizes it. So what is Beijing to do?

Reading media headlines in the United States, it would be easy to assume that China had simply cast its lot with Russia. Referring to commentary in state-run media such as theGlobal Times and Xinhua, many western outlets see Beijing as unequivocally supporting Moscow. And indeed, an editorial in the Global Times is particularly clear in its preference that China stand with Russia. It notes that Russia is China’s “most reliable strategic partner” and urges that China not “disappoint Russia when it finds itself in a time of need.” According to the Global Times, China should prove itself a reliable strategic partner: “This way, we will make friends.” It is tempting to ask what kind of friends China will be making by supporting Russia, but that seems beside the point. As for China’s long-standing commitment to non-interference, the Global Times offers this rather confused commentary: “Some think China’s policy of non-interference will be tested in this matter, and that if China supports Russia, it will become ensnared in a diplomatic trap. This is the mentality of the weak. The West has interfered in the internal affairs of many countries, but never admitted it.”

Yet before we assume that the Global Times is a government mouthpiece, I am mindful of a meeting I had a few years back with officials from China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA). They were emphatic in arguing that the Chinese media—whether state-funded or not—were not a reliable proxy for official Chinese policy. Indeed, there is nothing to date in statements by the PRC’s foreign ministry to suggest that Chinese president Xi Jinping is prepared to hold hands with Putin and jump off a diplomatic cliff. Here is what MOFA spokesman Qin Gang has said thus far: “It is China’s longstanding position not to interfere in others’ internal affairs. We respect the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.” And further, he noted, “We understand the historical background of the Ukraine issue, and the complexity of the current reality. As I have said yesterday, to get to this point today, things happened for a reason. We hope that all parties can, through dialogue and consultation, find a political situation, prevent further escalation and work together to safeguard peace and stability in the region.”

What is behind China’s failure to stand up for Moscow? As Voice of America has reported, China has strong business interests in Ukraine that would undoubtedly be threatened were China to come out in support of Russia. Ukraine is a major source of arms for China and a growing partner in China’s resource quest. For example, Ukraine has agreed to lease 5 percent of its land to China for agricultural purposes in exchange for Chinese infrastructure investment. Of course these deals were struck under ousted Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych. It is possible that the new government will not recognize or revoke them if they were struck under terms perceived as unequal by the new government. Certainly, however, Chinese-Ukrainian business relations will suffer more if Beijing overtly backs Moscow. Read more…

 

By Elizabeth Economy, Published on March 5, 2014 in http://blogs.cfr.org

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