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Security Foreign policy

Time for an Alliance Caucus

Handshake
Image by Flickr/buddawiggi

The post‑World War II “hub-and-spoke” alliance structure has served the United States and its allies well for the past six decades. Yet the transnational nature of current Asia-Pacific security challenges highlights the limitations of bilateral US‑ally relationships to handle regional security threats, traditional or not. Success demands that the US and its allies work with each other in a networked manner. This is not to suggest “NATO for Asia,” but it is time for an informal Alliance Caucus.

A Caucus of the US and its regional allies (Australia, Japan, the Philippines, the ROK, and Thailand) could provide – initially as informal knowledge-sharing gatherings alongside international forums – an opportunity to creatively address concerns relevant not just to the US and its allies, but to the region as a whole.

This proposal is not without precedent. The UN has a multitude of caucuses, informal and formal, where likeminded countries coalesce around shared visions of specific interests. East Asian governments for years have sought a caucus in APEC; they now seek a similar group in the G-20.

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Government

Government Vs Protester: The Year Ahead

Image: Tony Fischer Photography/Flickr

The 6-month anniversary of the Occupy movement in the United States brought much rhetoric along with promises of the blossoming of an American Spring. From elections to high-profile summits, 2012 will be a busy year for protesters. Meanwhile, the U.S. government and local governments will no longer be caught flat-footed in response, and are gearing up for a year of civil unrest.

Nowhere will local restrictions on protest be more publicly displayed than in Chicago next month. As the city prepares to host the NATO Summit, Occupiers are making plans for hundreds of thousands of protesters to descend on the city in order to speak out against international displays of violence by NATO forces and the “effects of the economic crisis caused by the leaders” who will be gathering in the city.

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International Relations Security Foreign policy

US-India Relations: Pivot Problems

US Secretary of State Clinton delivering her remarks on “India and the United States: A Vision for the 21st Century.” Photo: US Consulate Chennai/flickr

There is a conundrum at the heart of the Obama administration’s “pivot” toward Asia, at least as it relates to India.  The US is eager to extricate itself from military conflicts in the Greater Middle East (Iraq and Afghanistan) so it can focus on a region where, as President Obama put it, “the action’s going to be.”  Shoring up the US strategic posture in East Asia amid China’s ascendance will entail a deepening of geopolitical cooperation between Washington and New Delhi.  But the quickening withdrawal from Afghanistan will increase bilateral frictions, pushing relations in the opposite direction.

The Pentagon’s just-released strategic guidance paper calls for “investing in a long-term strategic partnership with India to support its ability to serve as a regional economic anchor and provider of security in the broader Indian Ocean region.”  Both Obama during his visit to India in November 2010 and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during her trip last summer have called on New Delhi to play a more active strategic role in East Asia.

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Government Security

Offshore Balancing in an Age of Austerity

US Defense Secretary Panetta and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Dempsey outlining the Defense Department’s new 10-year strategy. Photo: Erin A Kirk-Cuomo

Practitioners and academics have long contemplated United States defense policy in an age of austerity. The era of expansion under President George W. Bush spiraled into long-term unsustainability, presenting leadership with hard decisions regarding the future of American national security strategy. The Middle East, Asia, and Europe all stand to gain or lose influential elements of American power – key dynamics that will shape the conduct of international relations in a twenty-first century environment rife with unforeseen challenges. President Obama’s recent address reveals how the administration is pursuing military transformation in accord with new strategic thinking.

Conventional wisdom suggests a recalibrated focus on Asia-Pacific in the vein of great power politics. China and a potentially resurgent Russia represent a level of competition that does not exist elsewhere, and the region is all the more wary considering potential mission requirements for a collapsing North Korea. The European Union might be regarded as an economic rival in volume, though it would be hard to imagine any confrontation between longtime defense partners. There are interests in the Middle East that will continue to be the focus of the American military via less strenuous application of force and troop deployment. An unrivaled blue-water naval force, paired with air superiority under every mission parameter, meet vital American interests including defense of the homeland and maintaining a stable energy market within an open economic order. Capable power projection and global strike capability underline core force requirements for a streamlined American military prepared for a host of crisis scenarios around the world. Yet as much as the United States cannot afford to be everywhere at all times, there is a discernible expectation that partner states should increasingly help combat transnational threats and maintain regional stability.

Categories
Government

Welcome to Karzai’s Peaceful and Prosperous Afghanistan

Naveed Ahmad is a journalist and academic with a special focus on governance, security and diplomacy. He reports for various international online and electronic news sources. The views expressed in this blog do not reflect those of the ISN, the CSS, ETH Zurich or any affiliated agencies.

Photo: World Economic Forum

Afghan President Hamid Karzai is quite resourceful when it comes to creating ripples in the media. And that is the only thing he is good at. With American generals and NATO troops protecting Kabul, the Afghan president tirelessly designs colorful robes, worn in a funny way amid high profile dignitaries. The happy-go-lucky Afghan was enjoying the limelight in Bonn when his peaceful country fell prey to terrorism.

While everyone condemned the gory killing of 58 Shiite pilgrims, Mr Karzai sacrificed his shopping trip to London, where mercury and prices nosedive ahead of Christmas. No wonder, only a dedicated, full-time statesman would do so. For once, he thought of a quick stop-over in the United Kingdom. But in the interest of visually-starved media back home, the Afghan president descended on the Kabul airport. Soon, a bunch of loyal American commandoes enveloped their beloved friend and shipped him to the president‘s palace where Afghan and western journalists dashed to record his fireworks.