The CSS Blog Network

The U.S. Energy Pivot: A New Era for Energy Security in Asia?

A fracking site near Los Angeles.Image:Erik Gustafson/Flickr

This article was originally published by New Security Beatthe blog of the Environmental Change and Security Program (ECSP) at the Wilson Center, on 26 March, 2015.

The past decade has brought ground-shaking changes to global energy markets. The unconventional fuel boom has unexpectedly reduced U.S. dependence on oil imports, while in the Asia-Pacific region, energy-constrained nations are increasingly reliant on foreign sources to meet their soaring demand. With the U.S. slated to export liquid natural gas (LNG) to Asia as early as 2017, a new energy era has come.

The shifting landscape is forcing countries such as Japan, South Korea, and China to rethink regional cooperation on energy issues such as strategic oil stocks, and technological and institutional coordination, said Mikkal E. Herberg, senior lecturer at the University of California, San Diego, and research director of the Energy Security Program at the National Bureau of Asian Research, at a Capitol Hill event on February 24. » More

Africa Unsure of its Place on World Stage

Jacob Zuma welcoming Xi Jinping in Pretoria. Image: GovernmentZA/Flickr

This article was originally published by the World Policy Blog on 15 October 2014.

Last August, over 40 African heads of states and governments traveled to Washington, D.C. to meet with President Obama and other U.S. government and business officials. While the media touted the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit as a sign of Africa’s “rising” and its soon-to-be key role on the world stage, the truth is quite the opposite. African leaders’ love for summitry isn’t a sign of a rising continent, but rather, a sign of confusion, weakness, and lack of direction. » More

Turkey at the Crossroads (Literally)

By Stewart M. Patrick for the Council on Foreign Relations.


U.S. President Barack Obama (R) shakes hands with Turkey’s Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan after a bilateral meeting in Seoul March 25, 2012. (Larry Downing/Courtesy Reuters)

When it comes to “rising powers,” the BRIC countries—Brazil, Russia, India, and especially China—tend to get the most press. But there’s another emerging player that promises to shape world politics in the twenty-first century with its robust growth, political evolution, and strategic choices. It is Turkey, a country that straddles some of today’s most critical divides: between Europe and the Middle East, between the West and the developing world, between secular democracy and religious piety. Turkey’s evolving might, its geographic position, and model of moderate political Islam make it a natural candidate for “strategic partnership” with the United States. This is the conclusion of U.S. Turkey Relations, a just-released CFR task force report co-chaired by former secretary of state Madeleine K. Albright and former national security adviser Stephen J. Hadley—and directed by my able colleague, Steven A. Cook. » More

Emerging Markets’ Higher-Education Challenge

A word wall in the Western Academy of Beijing. Image by torres21 / Flickr.

LONDON – As many high-income economies continue to flounder, many regard Brazil, China, India, Russia, and smaller emerging-market countries as the best hope for short-term global recovery. Cautious optimism seems justified if emerging markets can weather the impact of shrinking demand for their exports, and sustain their recent records of prudent macro-economic management. But, unless constraints to longer-term growth are addressed soon, the emerging markets’ rise to prosperity and global influence will be short-lived.

The main constraints include environmental degradation, economic deprivation, social inequality, ineffective public-sector management, and weak corporate governance. None of these challenges can be overcome without a massive increase in the number of competent and motivated leaders and professionals. But that requires reforming and expanding access to post-secondary education. » More

On the Relevance of BRIC…

BRIC Leaders in 2008, courtesy of Kremlin Press and Information Office

On 16 April, the BRIC nations (Brazil, Russia, India and China) will meet in Brasilia. The group has managed to develop  a presence on the geopolitical stage in the past years and is increasingly able and willing to counter the influence of western power on various fronts. They share many characteristics and interest- primarily in the economic realm- and account for more than 40 percent of the world’s population and 25 percent of its land area.

The four are also pushing for a more multilateral world and use BRIC as a vehicle to pursue this end. The international community and media have enthusiastically embraced this concept and often view or treat the group as a coherent political actor, granting it clout and weight on the international stage.

But has the BRIC concept graduated from mere theory (and labeling) to real, actionable practice? Beyond the push for a more “multilateral world”, do the BRIC countries have much in common? Do they share anything beyond their inclusion in the 22  “emerging markets” index and perhaps most importantly, does the bloc have political relevance? » More