The current state of U.S.-China relations

Written on December 27, 2013 by Waya Quiviger in News


As 2013 draws to a close, where does the complex and consequential relationship between the United States and China stand? Relations between the two nations are enormously broad now, with hundreds of policy issues from agriculture to zoology joining American and Chinese interests. Even when we look to some of the key issues, no convincing pattern emerges.

On the security front, 2013 was decidedly mixed. Washington and Beijing worked side by side when it came to the negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program, and China supported the breakthrough six-month interim deal with Tehran. On North Korea, there was less daylight between the U.S. and China than in years past, and in September, China announced a prohibition on exporting to its neighbor a long list of equipment and chemicals that could be used in weapons.

Workaday Sino-American cooperation on piracy and counternarcotics continued apace, and for the first time, China agreed to join next year’s U.S.-hosted RIMPAC, the largest annual international marine exercise, signaling a new willingness to engage with other militaries on terms it does not fully control.

But China’s unexpected declaration in November of an air defense identification zone did not go over well in Washington. To be sure, such zones are not inherently destabilizing. But the fact that China’s overlaps with Japan’s and includes the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu islands, and that China did not consult with its neighbors or the United States before its announcement, meant that the new policy exacerbated tensions in the East China Sea. “No surprises” is a central tenet of the “new model” for major power relations the Obama and Xi administrations pledged to build at the Sunnylands summit this summer, and China did not score well on this early test. Read more…

Nina Hachigian is a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress and the editor of “Debating China: The U.S.-China Relationship in Ten Conversations.”

As published in the LA Times on Dec. 27, 2013  http://www.latimes.com

Ten Elections to Watch in 2014

Written on December 26, 2013 by Waya Quiviger in Democracy & Human Rights

Voters line up in queue outside polling booth to cast vote during state assembly election in New Delhi

Two thousand and thirteen won’t go down in the history books as a banner year for globally significant elections. True, the election of Hassan Rouhani changed the tone in Tehran and possibly opened the door to a lasting diplomatic solution to the confrontation over Iran’s nuclear program. But the outcome of most of the elections held in 2013—and there were a lot of them—mattered primarily to the people who cast the ballots. In contrast, 2014 is shaping up as a year in which the choices voters make could reverberate well beyond their country’s borders. So for those of you eager to peer ahead, here are ten elections to watch for in 2014.


1. Afghanistan’s presidential election on Saturday, April 5. There is no shortage of reasons to be concerned about Afghanistan’s presidential election. Despite attempts to reform the electoral system after the 2009 election, the 2014 elections are likely to be plagued by corruption, lack of security, and voter fraud. President Hamid Karzai is constitutionally prevented from running for a third term. Who is likely to succeed him is unclear. The Independent Election Commission has disqualified sixteen of twenty-seven nominated candidates, leaving eleven on the approved candidate list. Potential frontrunners include 2009 candidates Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai as well as Hamid Karzai’s older brother Qayum. However, the field remains wide open and includes several influential warlords. With international forces scheduled to withdraw from Afghanistan by the end of next year and Taliban forces still powerful in many parts of the country, the new president faces a difficult future.


2. Iraq’s parliamentary election on Wednesday, April 30. Iraq’s democracy may not be exemplary, but it continues to plug along in the face deep political and sectarian divisions. Incumbent prime minister Nouri al-Maliki has his eyes set on a third term. That is a possibility now that the Iraqi Supreme Court has overturned a law that limited him to two. The bad news for Maliki is that the 2013 provincial elections didn’t go well for his coalition, State of Law. It now controls fewer than half of the provinces with Shiite majorities. Maliki has one thing going for him, however. Rival parties may decide that seeing him continue as prime minister is preferable to opting for a political transition that could increase instability. Sectarian violence is surging in Iraq to levels not seen since 2006-2007 before the U.S. “surge.” The future of Iraqi democracy will likely depend on whether Iraq’s leaders can check the actions of extremists on both sides of the country’s sectarian divide. Read more…

by James M. Lindsay

Published on December 10, 2013 in http://blogs.cfr.org


Why the whole world is overspending on the holidays

Written on December 24, 2013 by Waya Quiviger in News

by Doug Saunders

Let’s try to add it all up: There’s $110 for the tree, $70 for the wreath, $50 for lights. Plus $150 (on sale) for party-grade shoes, because the old ones were ruined by salt.

Then $80 for the turkey, $130 for the ham, $190 for the prime rib, $200 for wine and beer, $120 for champagne, that much again for the overpriced cheese plate, and don’t forget that $40 bottle of brandy because Aunt Mavis will be here.

Add all the trimmings, and we’re deep into the four figures before we’ve even thought of gifts. Six days later, we go and do it again for the New Year’s Eve party.

It doesn’t make sense, does it? This was a tough year and we’re in considerable debt, so maybe we could cut back. But we don’t. Spending more than you can afford isn’t just a side effect of the holidays – it’s the whole point. This, all else aside, is a time for largesse and self-sacrificing excess.

Economists have long been baffled by it: Spending weeks of pay on a holiday-feast blowout is not something that fits into the traditional rational-actor models of economic thought. Moralists denounce it as the wealthy West’s commercialization of a formerly austere and religious moment; back when the Christians occupied the ancient Dec. 25 holiday (and got the naming rights), we didn’t do this sort of thing, did we? Read more….

As published in the Globe and Mail on Dec. 21, 2013 www.theglobeandmail.com


We are pleased to re-introduce the  IE International Relations Club as spearheaded by students from the current intake of the Master in International Relations. This student club aims to promote open dialogue on relevant issues in international politics, economics and international relations. The club’s first event this year is a fundraising initiative to assist victims of the recent typhoon in the Philippines. All proceeds of the bake sale taking place at IE this afternoon will go toward humanitarian aid in the afflicted area. We encourage the IE community at large to stop by Maria de Molina 31 between 3h30 and 7.

Alumni Agenda

A cookie for the Philippines

Dec 19, 2013

Get 2 for 1: help the Philippines & try a delicious cookie!

Join us in the Launch pad (Maria Molina 31) from 3:30PM to 7PM for delicious cookies! 2.50 € per serving. All the funds raised with the sales will be sent to the Philippines to the Doctors Without Borders (MSF)! Looking forward to seeing you at the Launch Pad next Thursday!

Venue SPAIN, Madrid

Date & Time Dec 19, 2013 / 15:30 Horas



by Jeffrey Ball

Last month, in some strikingly straight talk, a Mideast oil minister publicly outed his region for a strategy it has long used to buy political peace: subsidizing people’s use of fossil fuels.

“What is really destroying us right now is subsidies,” Oman’s oil and gas minister, Mohammed bin Hamad al-Rumhy, told an energy conference in Abu Dhabi. With global energy prices rising, he warned, the Mideast no longer can afford to provide fossil fuel to its people at the bargain-basement rates it traditionally has ensured. “Our cars are getting bigger. Our consumption is getting bigger. And the price is almost free,” he said. “We simply need to raise the price of petrol and electricity.”

The Omani oilman was articulating what’s fast becoming an article of faith among countries that, when it comes to energy policy, can agree on little else: Fossil-fuel subsidies are economically and environmentally untenable and should be slashed. The cast of characters now championing this argument includes the Obama Administration, the International Monetary Fund, the International Energy Agency, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, and the governments of such developing countries as Brazil, China and Iran. According to IMF calculationsissued earlier this year, global fossil-fuel subsidies in 2011 cost $1.9 trillion — fully 2.5% of global gross domestic product — and the biggest single source of subsidies was the United States. Eliminating these subsidies globally, the IMF said, would cut energy-related carbon-dioxide emissions a whopping 13%. Read more…


As published in the New Republic on December 18, 2013 http://www.newrepublic.com

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