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  • Author: Christopher S. Bond, Lewis M. Simons
  • Publication Date: 11-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Foreign Affairs
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: Barack Obama's planned visit to Indonesia this November is not only a sentimental journey to his childhood home. It also represents a long-overdue recognition that to recapture the admiration and respect of the world's Muslims, Washington should focus neither on the stalemated chessboard of the Middle East nor on the chaotic Afghan-Pakistani frontier. Rather, it should concentrate its efforts in Southeast Asia, an increasingly democratic and peaceful region that is also beginning to face the threat of Islamic fundamentalism. The last time Americans took a sober look at Southeast Asia, military helicopters were snatching the last U.S. officials off Saigon rooftops as Vietcong soldiers marched on the panicked capital. Soon after the fall of Saigon, in 1975, Cambodia and Laos were toppled by their own domestic communist movements. Thailand trembled with the fear of North Vietnamese tanks churning across the Mekong River, and the other so-called dominoes shook, too. But the dreaded threat failed to materialize. More than three decades later, Americans no longer concern themselves with this corner of the world. One day, the United States' future seemed inextricably bound to Southeast Asia's; the next, Southeast Asia was forgotten. This is an all-too-familiar pattern: Washington ignores a country or region until it blows up; then, it belatedly discovers such nations and obsesses clumsily over them; and finally, it relapses into a self-imposed torpor, allowing new threats to emerge. This was the case in Afghanistan during the 1990s after it ceased to be useful as a bulwark against Soviet expansion, and it may also prove true of Southeast Asia today if Washington does not awaken to the region's growing importance. Southeast Asia is home to 250 million Muslims, concentrated in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand -- the supposed dominoes of the Vietnam era. Indonesia has the world's single largest Muslim population: 220 million -- three times as large as that of Egypt, the most populous Arab nation. Yet Indonesia remains truly unknown to most Americans.
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Afghanistan, America, Middle East, Southeast Asia
  • Author: Dmitri V. Trenin
  • Publication Date: 11-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Foreign Affairs
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: Two decades after the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan and the fall of the Berlin Wall, and nearly 20 years after the breakup of the Soviet Union, Russia has shed communism and lost its historical empire. But it has not yet found a new role. Instead, it sits uncomfortably on the periphery of both Europe and Asia while apprehensively rubbing shoulders with the Muslim world. Throughout the 1990s, Moscow attempted to integrate into, and then with, the West. These efforts failed, both because the West lacked the will to adopt Russia as one of its own and because Russian elites chose to embrace a corporatist and conservative policy agenda at home and abroad. As a result, in the second presidential term of Vladimir Putin, Russia abandoned its goal of joining the West and returned to its default option of behaving as an independent great power. It redefined its objectives: soft dominance in its immediate neighborhood; equality with the world's principal power centers, China, the European Union, and the United States; and membership in a global multipolar order. Half a decade later, this policy course has revealed its failures and flaws. Most are rooted in the Russian government's inability and unwillingness to reform the country's energy-dependent economy, the noncompetitive nature of Russian politics, and a trend toward nationalism and isolationism. In terms of foreign policy, Russia's leaders have failed to close the book on the lost Soviet empire. It is as if they exited the twentieth century through two doors at the same time: one leading to the globalized market of the twenty-first century and the other opening onto the Great Game of the nineteenth century. As the current global economic crisis has demonstrated, the model that Russia's contemporary leaders have chosen -- growth without development, capitalism without democracy, and great-power policies without international appeal -- cannot hold forever. Not only will Russia fail to achieve its principal foreign policy objectives, it will fall further behind in a world increasingly defined by instant communication and open borders, leading to dangers not merely to its status but also to its existence. Russia's foreign policy needs more than a reset: it requires a new strategy and new policy instruments and mechanisms to implement it.
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Russia, United States, Soviet Union
  • Author: Bronwyn Bruton
  • Publication Date: 11-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Foreign Affairs
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: Washington's repeated attempts to bring peace to Somalia with state-building initiatives have failed, even backfired. It should renounce political intervention and encourage local development without trying to improve governance.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: United States, Washington, Middle East, Somalia
  • Author: Andrei Lankov
  • Publication Date: 11-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Foreign Affairs
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: North Korea, a small country with no economic potential to speak of, has for two decades been a major irritant to the international community. Its nuclear weapons program puts the international nonproliferation regime at risk and threatens to provide assorted rogue states and terrorist groups with the nuclear technology they have long sought. In April, Pyongyang conducted a missile test, and a nuclear test followed in May. In July, however, Kim Jong Il signaled a readiness to talk by inviting former U.S. President Bill Clinton to visit Pyongyang and retrieve two American journalists detained in North Korea since March. Still, this dramatic event was no indication that North Korea is planning to give up its nuclear program. In considering the North Korean nuclear question, U.S. policymakers and experts typically fall into two camps. The optimists believe that negotiating with Pyongyang will set North Korea on the path of Chinese-style political and economic reforms, help it become a "normal state," and convince it to abandon its nuclear ambitions. The pessimists insist that only relentless pressure will cause Pyongyang to denuclearize. The optimists (such as Christopher Hill, who once led U.S. negotiations with North Korea and is now ambassador to Iraq) favor talks and compromise. The pessimists (such as John Bolton, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations) prefer coercive sanctions. Pyongyang's recent provocations seem to confirm the pessimists' view for now, but at other times the optimists have seemed vindicated, and the pendulum has swung back and forth frequently over the years. In any event, neither camp's approach is likely to work.
  • Political Geography: United States, North Korea, Pyongyang
  • Author: Yoichi Funabashi
  • Publication Date: 11-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Foreign Affairs
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: The rise to power of the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) after half a century of almost uninterrupted rule by the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) could bring profound changes to Japan. One change will surely be generational: the new leaders, including Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, will be the first with little memory of World War II. Another could be substantive: the DPJ's stated objectives suggest significant shifts in both Japan's domestic policies and its external relations, especially with the United States and the rest of Asia. Since 2007, the DPJ had already been maintaining a majority coalition in the Diet's upper house, the House of Councilors, alongside the People's New Party and the Social Democratic Party; its August victory in the lower house, the House of Representatives, gave it full control over the government. Another win in the next House of Councilors election, which is scheduled for 2010, would further consolidate its power. Japan now stands a better chance of becoming a two-party system, with real political competition, than at any time since 1890, when it held its first election -- the first free contest anywhere in Asia. The economic crisis that has plagued Japan for two decades has allowed the DPJ to grow into a viable alternative to LDP rule; Barack Obama's campaign mantra "Yes, we can!" echoed across the Pacific. The DPJ has real potential to be different. And with its landslide victory, it enjoys the backing of a vast range of constituencies, including traditional supporters of the LDP.
  • Political Geography: Japan, Tokyo
  • Author: Morton I. Abramowitz, Henri J. Barkey
  • Publication Date: 11-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Foreign Affairs
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: Turkey hopes to be a global power, but it has not yet become even the regional player that the ruling AKP declares it to be. Can the AKP do better, or will it be held back by its Islamist past and the conservative inclinations of its core constituents?
  • Topic: Economics
  • Political Geography: Europe, Turkey
  • Author: Philip D. Zelikow
  • Publication Date: 11-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Foreign Affairs
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: No abstract is available.
  • Topic: War
  • Political Geography: Europe, Soviet Union
  • Author: Jon B. Alterman
  • Publication Date: 11-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Foreign Affairs
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: No abstract is available.
  • Topic: Markets
  • Political Geography: Dubai
  • Author: Thomas Donnelly, Philip Dur, Andrew F. Krepinevich Jr.
  • Publication Date: 11-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Foreign Affairs
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: No abstract is available.
  • Political Geography: United States, China