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  • Author: Denny Roy
  • Publication Date: 04-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: As many analysts have pointed out, US policy towards North Korea is “failing.” It is true that Pyongyang has declined the US/South Korean offer to give up its nuclear weapons in exchange for economic opportuni es and upgraded poli cal rela ons. Instead, the North Korean government remains intensely hos le towards Washington, Seoul, and Tokyo, and con nues making progress towards deploying a nuclear‐ pped intercon nental ballis c missile — a frightening prospect.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Security, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: North Korea
  • Author: John R. Haines
  • Publication Date: 05-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: Several weeks after winning a plurality in Bulgaria’s late March parliamentary election, Prime Minister Boyko Borissov did something unprecedented: he brought the nationalist United Patriots (Obedineni Patrioti) into his coalition government. The United Patriots is an electoral alliance of three parties, the IMRO[2]-Bulgarian National Movement (VMRO-Bulgarsko Natsionalno Dvizhenie), the National Front for the Salvation of Bulgaria (Natzionalen Front za Spasenie na Bulgaria), and Attack (Attaka). Their inclusion in the coalition government has given rise to concern among Bulgaria’s NATO allies (and many Bulgarian themselves) about what the Bulgarian Socialist Party’s Korneliya Ninova called Mr. Borissov’s “floating majority, his unprincipled alliance”[3] (plavashti mnozinstva, bezprintsipni sŭyuzi). That concern is well placed for several reasons. Only a few years ago, even the nationalist IMRO-BND and NFSB excluded the radical Ataka[4] from their electoral alliance dubbed the “Patriotic Front” (Patriotichen front) because of Ataka’s positions on Russia and NATO. Even then, however, the Patriotic Front’s “nationalist profile” (natsionalisticheskiyat profil) was so far to Bulgaria’s political right to cause Mr. Borissov to exclude the Patriotic Front from his coalition government. He did so with the active encouragement of his center-right European People’s Party allies across the European Union. “Nothing against the PF, but unfortunately the things Valeri Simeonov [a PF leader, more about whom anon] proposes do not correspond to our Euro-Atlantic orientation,” said Mr. Borissov at the time.[5]
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Nationalism
  • Political Geography: Russia, Bulgaria
  • Author: David Danelo
  • Publication Date: 05-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: On January 29, 2016, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto signed a law changing the official name of Mexico’s capital region from Distrito Federal, or D.F., to Ciudad de Mexico. Beyond altering nearly two centuries of dialectical urban description—the region had been called D.F. since 1824 when Mexico’s first constitution was written—the adjustment grants Ciudad de Mexico a level of autonomous governance similar to the country’s other 31 states. The name change devolved power from Mexico’s federal government “to the citizens of Mexico City” and was presented with great public fanfare. Much of Ciudad de Mexico’s new constitution, which was signed in February 2017 and will become law in September 2018, was crowd-sourced from online petitions and community advocates. With articles enshrining green space and LGBT protections, the document has been hailed by liberal advocates as the most progressive in the Western Hemisphere.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Mexico
  • Author: June Teufel Dreyer
  • Publication Date: 05-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: The first 100 days of a president’s term—the “honeymoon period,” during which his power and influence are believed to be their greatest—are, whether rightly or wrongly, regarded as a predictor of a president’s success during the remainder of his term. Given the often bombastic tone of Candidate Trump’s campaign rhetoric, it was to be expected that the foreign powers against whom much of his vitriol was directed would seek to challenge the determination of President Trump to live up to his promises. And so it has been.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: June Teufel Dreyer
  • Publication Date: 04-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: Palm Beach heaved a collective sigh of relief as Chinese President Xi Jinping’s plane lifted off from the county airport. Gone were the noisy cheers of his supporters and the anti-Xi banners and jeers of Falongong practitioners, human rights advocates, and admirers of Tibet and Taiwan. The Palm Beach Post reverted from moment-to-moment briefings from the chief of police on street blockages and security precautions to issues of more immediate concern like rip tides and coverage of the Master’s golf tournament competition. Members of Trump’s exclusive Mar-a-Lago private club, whose initiation fee had doubled to $200,000 after his election, could now return to accessing the privileges for which they had paid so handsomely.
  • Topic: International Relations, Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: China, America
  • Author: Artyom Lukin
  • Publication Date: 04-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: Russia is now the only major country that is on more or less friendly terms with Pyongyang. Its current economic leverage with the North comes mostly from the importation of North Korean labor, which provides Pyongyang with a vital source of cash. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) trusts no person or country, but it probably distrusts Russia much less than China and the United States. This dynamic gives Russia a potential diplomatic role in the North Korean problem. The Kremlin does not support using high pressure tactics against Pyongyang, especially military options, as it might have unpredictable and disastrous consequences for the entire Northeast Asian region. Moscow is committed to the denuclearization of North Korea, but sees it as a long-term goal, while the most realistic objective at present should be a North Korean nuclear and missile moratorium, or “freeze.”
  • Topic: International Relations, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: North Korea
  • Author: Jacopo Maria Pepe
  • Publication Date: 03-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP)
  • Abstract: China’s increased engagement in Central, Eastern, and South Eastern Europe has aroused concerns in Europe that China is pursuing a divisive strategy. Its primary goal, however, is to use the region as a gateway to Western Europe’s markets while including the EU in its own Eurasian integration project; in Beijing’s view, a robust regulatory EU is doubtless preferable to a fragmented Europe. China’s deepening involvement in the region could nevertheless increase economic divisions within the EU as whole. As a trade triangle emerges involving China, Germany, and the Visegrad states, the “German-Central European manufacturing core” potentially stands to gain at the expense of the EU’s Atlantic and southern European member states. Germany must address this risk with a triple strategy that balances national interest, EU cohesion, and engagement with China. This involves, first, working with the Visegrad Four, with other European countries, and with EU institutions to forge a deeper and more effective cooperation with China to enhance transport connectivity and economic modernization, particularly in the Western and Eastern Balkans. Second, Germany should increase pressure on China to open up the Chinese domestic market to ensure mutual access. And third, it should promote forward-looking European industrial policy centered on the digitalization of value and supply chains for Central, Eastern, and South Eastern Europe. This would allow Germany to prevent intra-European divisions from deepening, while taking advantage of its triangular relations with China and the countries of Central Europe and fostering mutually advantageous integration across Eurasia.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: China
  • Author: Raz Zimmt
  • Publication Date: 08-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Institute for National Security Studies (INSS)
  • Abstract: The new government proposed by President Hassan Rouhani is the first significant evidence of his intentions, priorities, and limits of power. While forming his government, the President was forced to balance the opposing forces in the Iranian political system. The composition of the government reflects his wish to avoid open conflict with the religious establishment, led by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, and his intention to place the economic crisis at the top of his government's priorities, even at the expense of civic reforms. His decision to ignore calls for reforms and the failure to include women and minorities in the government have already sowed disappointment and drawn criticism from broad sections of the public that supported him in the last elections. However, public support depends to a large extent on actual policies and success in realizing promises, mainly in the area of the economy. Putting economic matters at the top of the agenda for his new government requires cooperation with other centers of power in Iran, above all, the Supreme Leader and the Revolutionary Guards. This means that with regard to foreign affairs and security issues no significant changes in Iranian policy are expected.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Security
  • Political Geography: Iran
  • Author: Emily Landau
  • Publication Date: 08-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Institute for National Security Studies (INSS)
  • Abstract: While North Korea’s recent nuclear tests significantly raised the level of fear in the United States, they were not a surprise. North Korea, long a nuclear state, is a dangerous nuclear proliferator that has shirked international commitments. Pyongyang issues highly aggressive rhetoric toward the United States and its regional neighbors on a regular basis; it flaunts its nuclear capability and threatens to use it, and tends to share nonconventional know-how and technologies. And herein lies a link to Tehran: as Iran also remains motivated in the nuclear realm despite the JCPOA, the direct implications of North Korea's activities for Iran's nuclear program must be under constant scrutiny. The indirect implications for dealing with Iran's nuclear motivation invoke the ability to rely on negotiations to stop a determined proliferator. The North Korean case of failed negotiations must be heeded when thinking about Iran.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Security
  • Political Geography: North Korea
  • Author: Amos Yadlin
  • Publication Date: 08-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Institute for National Security Studies (INSS)
  • Abstract: The crisis concerning the Temple Mount that erupted in July 2017 appears to have ebbed. Despite predictions to the contrary, the Middle East is not ablaze; peoples and leaders of the region remain preoccupied with other crises; and there is no third intifada at Israel’s doorstep. At the same time, the attack on the Temple Mount that left two Israeli policemen dead brought on serious additional consequences, including the murders in Halamish, the tension with Jordan, worsened relations between Israel’s Jewish population and its Arab sector, and further erosion of Israel’s vague sovereignty on the Temple Mount.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Security
  • Political Geography: Israel