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  • Author: George Perkovich, Pranay Vaddi
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Ever since the election of Bill Clinton in 1992, every U.S. presidential administration has published a Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) that explains the rationales behind its nuclear strategy, doctrine, and requested forces. These reviews have helped inform U.S. government personnel, citizens, allies, and adversaries of the country’s intentions and planned capabilities for conducting nuclear deterrence and, if necessary, war. The administration that takes office in January 2021 may or may not conduct a new NPR, but it will assess and update nuclear policies as part of its overall recalibration of national security strategy and policies. Nongovernmental analysts can contribute to sound policymaking by being less constrained than officials often are in exploring the difficulties of achieving nuclear deterrence with prudently tolerable risks. Accordingly, the review envisioned and summarized here explicitly elucidates the dilemmas, uncertainties, and tradeoffs that come with current and possible alternative nuclear policies and forces. In the body of this review, we analyze extant declaratory policy, unclassified employment policy, and plans for offensive and defensive force postures, and then propose changes to several of them. We also will emphasize the need for innovative approaches to arms control.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Nuclear Weapons, Hybrid Threats
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Ryan C. Berg, Jorge González-Gallarza
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: The EU’s current policy approach toward Venezuela is insufficient to contribute meaningfully to a political transition in the country and protect human rights. Oftentimes, the EU’s policy has been at odds with the US, having permitted unrelated disagreements to cloud its recognition of its strategic interest in a free, prosperous, and democratic Venezuela. The Nicolas Maduro regime’s illicit investment schemes have found fertile ground in the EU at large, with a particular hotspot in Spain. A torrent of investments and acquisitions has allowed corrupt cronies in Maduro’s entourage to engage in unfathomable kleptocracy and stash their ill-gotten gains in the eurozone, vitiating the rule of law in the process. The EU consistently underappreciates the Maduro regime’s multi-faceted security threat, which intersects with and compounds many of the EU’s greatest geostrategic challenges in the post-COVID-19 landscape. China, Cuba, Iran, and Russia are all at once strategic rivals of the EU and enablers of the Maduro regime’s threat to its security. The Joe Biden administration’s commitment to multilateral engagement in Venezuela offers the EU a chance to reclaim transatlantic cooperation and present a common vision for political transition in the country. Beefing up sanctions and developing a coordination mechanism, as well as drumming up humanitarian aid, would constitute serious progress and potentially thrust the EU into the role of indispensable actor in Venezuela’s democratic restoration.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Development, Sanctions, European Union, Democracy, Multilateralism, Hugo Chavez
  • Political Geography: Europe, Latin America, Spain, Venezuela
  • Author: Paul Nadeau
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: Japan will welcome the Biden administration with relief in the wake of what was perceived as Trump’s bombast, threats, and unpredictability – but it will be mixed with apprehension (fair or not) that Biden’s presidency will follow the Obama administration’s perceived weakness, or even accommodation, toward China. It’s a crude simplification, but Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s relationship with U.S. political parties is roughly that they share preferences but not perceptions with Democrats, and share perceptions but not preferences with Republicans. In practical terms, this means that Japanese decision makers favor alliances and multilateral approaches over unilateralism and brinksmanship, but are more suspicious of China’s intentions and behavior than they believe Democrats to be. Put more indelicately, the LDP prefers working with Republicans rather than Democrats. This is combined with a traditional perception that Democrats undervalue Japan as a partner. Taken as a whole, this means that the incoming administration may have to do more to convince Japan that its priorities are being taken seriously – but will find in Japan an essential partner for advancing U.S. goals in the Indo-Pacific.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Politics, Bilateral Relations, Domestic politics
  • Political Geography: Japan, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Tom Le
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: The Biden administration’s focus on allies and partners and the inability of democratic U.S. allies Japan and South Korea to move beyond historical pitfalls of apologies and treaties provides President Biden’s team the perfect opportunity to show leadership by taking on a mediator role. By taking an active role, the United States can demonstrate that it is not a passive observer to would-be revisionists in the region, shore up its alliances, and signal to the world that the United States is still the leader in the promotion of human rights. Japan’s colonization of Korea from 1910 to 1945 was brutal. The Japanese military coerced between 10,000 and 200,000 women into sexual slavery and many more Koreans were forced to work in the Japanese war machine, the very one that annexed Korea in 1910. Following the abrupt end of Japanese colonization after World War II, brought about by the only direct use of nuclear bombs on a human population in history, Japan quickly signed treaties and paid reparations to former colonies, recovered its economy, and successfully rehabilitated its image with much of the world. However, it was not until 1965 that Japan-South Korea relations were “normalized.” The new Japan-South Korea relationship included abandoning reconciliation with North Korea altogether, and Tokyo providing grants to an authoritarian South Korean leader who was later assassinated and remains a divisive figure in contemporary Korean domestic politics.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Human Rights, History, Alliance, Joe Biden
  • Political Geography: Japan, Asia, South Korea, United States of America
  • Author: Kensuke Yanagida
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: Both the United States and Japan consider India as an important strategic partner in their respective Indo-Pacific concepts. However, India still faces many domestic challenges as a developing country. India also has traditionally been reluctant when it comes to trade liberalization. U.S. bilateral trade negotiations with India, and Japan`s effort in promoting an East Asia regional trade agreement that includes India share objectives and interests and hence can be coordinated. On November 15, 2020, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) was signed by 15 countries with the glaring exception of India. RCEP is a regional free trade agreement (FTA) whose negotiations were initiated by ASEAN and six partner countries, namely Japan, China, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand and India in 2012. The signing of RCEP finally came after eight years of negotiations, but India decided to pull out from the pact at the final stage of negotiations. The Japanese and U.S. Indo-Pacific concepts aim to achieve regional peace, stability, and prosperity through ensuring a rules-based international order, and to enhance cooperation among like-minded countries in both economic and security spheres. RCEP can be positioned as an important economic partnership initiative that embodies the Indo-Pacific concepts of rules-based, free and fair trade and investment governance, and contributing to the economic prosperity of the region.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Treaties and Agreements, Bilateral Relations, Trade
  • Political Geography: Japan, India, Asia, North America, United States of America, Indo-Pacific
  • Author: Sarah Sieloff, Sean Connell
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: In our increasingly networked world, the international activities of states, cities, and other subnational actors are expanding rapidly. Their rising importance has spurred Congress to consider legislation establishing an Office of Subnational Diplomacy within the U.S. State Department that would institutionalize and support these initiatives, while better aligning them with national diplomatic strategies. Moreover, they offer opportunities for envisioning new foreign policy approaches that directly benefit U.S. communities. The U.S.-Japan relationship — with its robust history of subnational interaction, strategic global interests and increasingly integrated economies — offers a fertile environment for developing and implementing new models for subnational diplomacy, with global applicability. While state and local governments cannot commit the federal government to action, they can conduct activities that advance both local and national interests. This is evidenced by an ever-expanding range of trade and business missions, and cultural and educational exchanges that bridge subnational actors with international partners. Increasingly, these activities are evolving into new areas, including technology-driven entrepreneurship, environmental quality and disaster resilience. At their best, subnational initiatives—which national leaders have cited as critical to U.S. foreign relations—create meaningful, long-term relationships amid often-changing national-level politics and officials. By stimulating information exchange, training and research opportunities, and business connections, they deliver concrete benefits to participants on both sides of the Pacific, especially in areas where national governments are not best positioned to engage.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Government, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: Japan, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Sunil KC
  • Publication Date: 05-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: Recently, the government of Nepal, led by Nepal Communist Party Chairman KP Sharma Oli who ascended to power in 2018, came up with an integrated foreign policy that reflects rapid changes in both the domestic and geopolitical spheres. The new foreign policy has shifted from a traditional course to a modern one with “Economic Diplomacy” as the main driver. With the slogan of “Happy Nepali, Prosperous Nepal”, Foreign Minister Pradeep Kumar Gyawali has prioritized engagement with regional groupings. It is in this context that the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation or (BIMSTEC), established in 1996, with a permanent secretariat in Dhaka, Bangladesh, could serve as an important platform in achieving Nepal’s foreign policy goals of development and prosperity. Nepal became a member of BIMSTEC in 2004.. BIMSTEC acts as a vital bridge for Nepal to connect with South and Southeast Asia to expand its trade, economy, business, investments, and cultural connections. However, due to an unstable domestic political environment, Nepal has not been utilizing regional forums in advancing the nation’s interest. Now, with a stable government in power, Nepal must look at regional forums as important gateways for conducting business and national development.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Development, Geopolitics, Economic Growth
  • Political Geography: South Asia, Nepal, Southeast Asia
  • Author: Dushni Weekaroon, Kithmina Hewage
  • Publication Date: 05-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: The Bay of Bengal – home to one of the world’s pre-eminent historic trading networks – is once again at the nexus of rising regional and global rivalries. A multiplicity of port developments along the Bay of Bengal littoral underscore the tussle for control of maritime connectivity and trade—as well as diplomatic and defense advantage. Against the backdrop of a weakened post COVID-19 global economy, and as countries seek every possible advantage, the probability of competing tensions spilling over into outright confrontations and tit-for-tat retaliatory measures is high. Unless carefully assessed and managed, small but strategically positioned countries like Sri Lanka can get swept up and carried away in power rivalries being played out on their shores. Indeed, a common narrative has been to assert that Sri Lanka was forced to cede an important port to China after being lured into a ‘debt trap’ by easy Chinese loans. There is no gainsaying that over the last decade, China got a head start in investing in Sri Lanka’s infrastructure push, drawing the country firmly into the orbit of its ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Aside from China’s famed involvement in Sri Lanka’s Hambantota port, its long-term footprint is also assured through investments in a large-scale land reclamation project – the Colombo Port City – that is a vital link in its BRI chain of connectivity.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Infrastructure, Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), Trade, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: South Asia, Sri Lanka, Bay of Bengal
  • Author: Marcin Andrzej Piotrowski
  • Publication Date: 06-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Polish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: In April 2021, the U.S. intelligence community published the extensive report “Global Trends 2040: A More Contested World”. It analyses the main demographic, political, and strategic trends that will likely shape the world for the next two decades. The report will be intensively used by the Biden administration in the preparation of the new U.S. National Security Strategy and National Defense Strategy, as well as in new military doctrines. The “Global Trends” document reflects the main tendencies in American strategic thinking, such as the growing “Sinocentrism” and traditional U.S. attachment to transatlantic relations.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Climate Change, Intelligence, Strategic Planning
  • Political Geography: China, United States of America
  • Author: Anna Maria Dyner, Arkadiusz Legieć
  • Publication Date: 05-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Polish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Taking advantage of the withdrawal of the U.S. and NATO forces from Afghanistan, Russia intends to strengthen its influence in that country by increasing contacts with the Afghan government and the Taliban. The aim is to become a key mediator in the peace process, which will enable it to influence the participants, increase control over the situation in Afghanistan, and use it in relations with the countries of the region. Russia’s policy may make the stabilisation of Afghanistan more difficult and undermine the effects of the efforts made by NATO countries during the stabilisation mission.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, NATO, Military Affairs
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Russia, South Asia, Eurasia