Tag: South Asia

The troubles we see

This year’s Council on Foreign Relations Preventive Priorities Survey was published this morning. It annually surveys the globe for a total of 30 Tier 1, 2 and 3 priorities for the United States. Tier 1s have a high or moderate impact on US interests or a high or moderate likelihood (above 50-50). Tier 2s can have low likelihood but high impact on US interests, moderate (50-50) likelihood and moderate impact on US interests, or high likelihood and low impact on US interests. Tier 3s are all the rest. Data is crowdsourced from a gaggle of experts, including me.

We aren’t going to be telling you anything you don’t know this year, but the exercise is still instructive. The two new Tier 1 contingencies are Russian intervention in Ukraine and heightened tensions in Israel/Palestine. A new Tier 2 priority is Kurdish violence within Turkey. I don’t believe I voted for that one. Ebola made it only to Tier 3, as did political unrest in China and possible succession problems in Thailand. I had Ebola higher than that.

Not surprisingly, the top slot (high likelihood and high impact) goes to ISIS. Military confrontation in the South China Sea moved up to Tier 1. Internal instability in Pakistan moved down, as did political instability in Jordan. Six issues fell off the list: conflict in Somalia, a China/India clash, Mali, Democratic Republic of the Congo Bangladesh and conflict between Sudan and South Sudan.

Remaining in Tier 1 are a mass casualty attack on the US homeland (hard to remove that one), a serious cyberattack (that’s likely to be perennial too), a North Korea crisis, and an Israeli attack on Iran. Syria and Afghanistan remain in Tier 2 (I think I had Syria higher than that).

The Greater Middle East looms large in this list. Tier 2 is all Greater Middle East, including Libya, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Pakistan, Turkey and Yemen (in addition to Tier 1 priorities Israel/Iran, Syria, Afghanistan and Palestine). That makes 11 out of 30, all in the top two tiers. Saudi monarchy succession is not even mentioned. Nor is Bahrain.

Sub-Saharan Africa makes it only into Tier 3. Latin America and much of Southeast Asia escape mention.

There is a question in my mind whether the exclusively country-by-country approach of this survey makes sense. It is true of course that problems in the Middle East vary from country to country, but there are also some common threads: Islamic extremism, weak and fragile states, exclusionary governance, demographic challenges and economic failure. From a policy response perspective, it may make more sense to focus on those than to try to define “contingencies” country by country. If you really wanted to prevent some of these things from happening, you would surely have to broaden the focus beyond national borders. Russian expansionism into Russian-speaking territories on its periphery might be another more thematic way of defining contingencies.

One of the key factors in foreign policy is entirely missing from this list: domestic American politics and the difficulties it creates for a concerted posture in international affairs. Just to offer a couple of examples: failure to continue to pay Afghanistan’s security sector bills, Congressional passage of new Iran sanctions before the P5+1 negotiations are completed, or a decision by President Obama to abandon entirely support for the Syrian opposition. The survey ignores American “agency” in determining whether contingencies happen, or not. That isn’t the world I live in.

For my Balkans readers: no, you are not on the list, and you haven’t been for a long time so far as I can tell. In fact, it is hard to picture how any contingency today in the Balkans could make it even to Tier 3. That’s the good news. But it also means you should not be looking to Washington for solutions to your problems. Brussels and your own capitals are the places to start.

Tags : , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Peace picks July 28-August 2

1. The Elusive Final Deal with Iran: Developments and Options Going Forward  Monday, July 28 | 12:00 pm – 1:30 pm JINSA; 1307 New York Ave NW, Washington, D.C. REGISTER TO ATTEND In the wake of the recent four-month extension of negotiations for a comprehensive deal on Iran’s nuclear program, JINSA’s Gemunder Center for Defense and Strategy will hold a lunch panel event to assess this outcome and discuss steps going forward for U.S. policy to prevent a nuclear Iran. SPEAKERS: Ambassador Dennis Ross, Ambassador Eric Edelman, Stephen Rademaker, and Ray Takeyh.

2. Nuclear Politics on the Korean Peninsula Monday, July 28 | 3:00 pm – 5:15 pm Korea Economic Institute; Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 1779 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Washington, D.C. REGISTER TO ATTEND The evolving security environment around the Korean Peninsula presents new challenges and opportunities for addressing the North Korean nuclear threat. What do South Koreans expect from Beijing after Chinese President Xi Jinping’s recent visit to Seoul? What do South Korean aspirations for full nuclear fuel cycle capabilities mean for dealing with North Korea and for the balance of power in the region? And what do these trends mean for the US-ROK alliance? SPEAKERS: Douglas H. Paal: VP for Studies, CEIP, Donald A. Manzullo, President & CEO, KEI, Park Jin, Executive President of the Asia Future Institute, Kang Choi, Vice President, Asan Institute for Policy Studies, and others.

3. Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova: How Corruption Threatens the Eastern Partnership Monday, July 28 | 4:00 pm – 5:30 pm National Endowment for Democracy; 1025 F Street NW, Suite 800, Washington, D.C. REGISTER TO ATTEND Last month, Georgia, Ukraine and Moldova signed EU association agreements, putting to paper a clear desire to turn westwards and break from an unhappy post-Soviet legacy. Yet difficult issues remain, principally that of corruption. Entrenched corruption in these three countries persists as a result of the networks of criminality that thrived in the lawlessness of the 1990s. As these countries look to strengthen the rule of law and democratic accountability within their borders, the panel will discuss current corruption challenges and how outside actors – from Russia to the US – are influencing the reform process in each country. SPEAKERS: Oliver Bullough, Peter Pomerantsev, Vladimir Soloviev, Olga Khvostunova, Anne Applebaum, and Christopher Walker.

4. Contemporary Media Use in Turkey Tuesday, July 29 | 9:00 am – 10:00 am Gallup Organization; 901 F St NW # 400, Washington, D.C. REGISTER TO ATTEND The Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) and Gallup invite you to attend a research briefing on news consumption habits and attitudes in Turkey, along with, for the first time, an in-depth look at the distinctive media consumption habits among Turkey’s Kurdish population. This briefing will share data on media usage, a methodological overview and a review of attitudinal data on government and foreign policy. SPEAKERS: Chris Stewart, Bruce Sherman, William Bell, and Rajesh Srinivasan.

5. Doing Colombia Peace Forum: Peace Proposals from Victims of Colombia’s Armed Conflict Tuesday, July 29 | 10:00 am – 12:00 pm US Institute of Peace; 2301 Constitution Avenue NW, Washington, D.C. REGISTER TO ATTEND In June, the government of Colombia and the FARC parties issued a ground-breaking declaration of principles on victims. They announced that they were inviting a delegation of victims to participate in the talks, and that other opportunities will be created for victims to be heard within the peace process. They requested that the United Nations and the National University convene a series of three regional and one national forum for victims to present their proposals. Two forums have already taken place and the others are scheduled for late July and early August. This event will discuss victims’ rights and proposals from four victims of different groups, including guerrillas, paramilitaries, and the State. A half a century of internal armed conflict has resulted in more than 6.5 million victims officially registered with the Colombian government’s Victims’ Unit. This is an opportunity to hear diverse perspectives of leaders who are survivors of violence to discuss their proposals for a just and lasting peace. SPEAKERS: Clara Rojas González, Colombian National Congress Representative, Aida Quilcué, Director of Human Rights, Regional Indigenous Council of Cauca, Deyis Margarita Carmona Tejada, Spokeswoman, Peasants’ Assembly of Cesar for Land Restitution, José Antequera Guzmán Co-Founder, Sons and Daughters of Memory and Against Impunity, and Gimena Sánchez, Senior Associate for the Andes, WOLA.

6. Book Launch—Made in Bangladesh, Cambodia, and Sri Lanka: The Labor Behind the Global Garments and Textiles Industries Tuesday, July 29 | 10:00 am – 12:45 pm Woodrow Wilson Center; 1300 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Washington, D.C. REGISTER TO ATTEND The garments and textiles sector is one of the world’s oldest export industries. It has often served as the “starter” industry for many countries, especially in Asia. Dr. Saxena’s book, based on original, in-depth research in three different Asian countries, casts light on some of the significant policy and attitudinal shifts that have occurred in this industry. The book also puts the entire garments and textiles sector into the larger context of international trade policy. SPEAKER: Sanchita Saxena, Executive Director, Institute for South Asia Studies and Director, Chowdhury Center for Bangladesh Studies, UC-Berkeley.

7. Great Expectations? Assessing US-India Strategic Relations Tuesday, July 29 | 12:30 pm – 2:00 pm East-West Center; 1819 L St NW, Suite 600, Washington, D.C
  REGISTER TO ATTEND American enthusiasm for a strategic partnership with India has risen and fallen over the years. Optimism about US-India relations in the 2000s has been tempered by pessimism about these ties in the 2010s. Was the initial enthusiasm about US-India relations inflated? How valid are more recent skeptical perspectives? In his presentation, Dr. Dinshaw Mistry will discuss these questions, drawing upon ten contemporary cases where New Delhi’s policies converged with or diverged from Washington’s expectations. The answers offer important lessons for future US strategic engagement with India. Also with Dr. Stephen P. Cohen, Associate Professor, University of Cincinnati.

8. The Protection Project Review of the U.S. State Department Trafficking in Persons Report 2014 Wednesday, July 30 | 12:00 pm – 2:00 pm Johns Hopkins SAIS – Nitze Building; 1740 Massachusetts Ave., N.W., Washington, D.C. REGISTER TO ATTEND Luis CdeBaca, ambassador at large in the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons at the U.S. Department of State, and Mohamed Mattar, senior research professor of international law and executive director of The Protection Project, will discuss this topic.

9. The Iraq Meltdown: What Next? Wednesday, July 30 | 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm Heritage Foundation; 214 Massachusetts Ave NE, Washington, D.C. REGISTER TO ATTEND The swift collapse of Iraqi security forces in northern Iraq in the face of an al-Qaeda-spearheaded Sunni insurgency is a disastrous setback for U.S. counterterrorism and Middle East policies that will have dangerous regional spillover effects. The Islamic State, formerly known the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, and before that as Al-Qaeda in Iraq, now poses a rising threat to the United States and U.S. allies. Congressman Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) will discuss Iraq and the broader implications for the American foreign policy. Following his remarks, a panel of experts will discuss the current trends in Iraq. SPEAKERS: Jessica Lewis, Research Director, Institute for the Study of War, Steven P. Bucci, Ph.D., Director, Douglas and Sarah Allison Center for Foreign and National Security Policy, The Heritage Foundation, and James Phillips, Senior Research Fellow for Middle Eastern Affairs, The Heritage Foundation.

10. Africa Development Forum Event: What should African Leaders know to accelerate the achievement and sustainability of health goals in the post 2015 agenda? Thursday, July 31 | 9:00 am – 12:00 pm Chemonics International; 1717 H St. NW, Washington, D.C. REGISTER TO ATTEND Panelists will discuss the lessons they have learned from their experiences and efforts working towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Setting policy, developing plans, and coordinating and managing programs that deliver services across hundreds of hospitals and health centers requires resources and technical skills. This capacity needs to be quickly and effectively developed in most health systems where governance structures are vaguely defined. The panelists will draw from the lessons learned from the MDGs to propose ways African leaders can meet and even go beyond the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) 4-Ensuring Healthy Lives targets in an efficient way that makes the best of all resources available and protects the poor. SPEAKERS: Darius Mans, Africare, Elvira Beracochea, Founder and CEO, MIDEGO, and Akudo Ikemba, CEO, Friends Africa.

11. The North Korean Economy: Challenges and Opportunities for Reform Thursday, July 31 | 9:00 am – 10:00 am Korea Economic Institute; 1800 K Street NW Suite 1010 Washington, D.C. REGISTER TO ATTENDIn an era of globalization, North Korea remains one of the most isolated economies in the world. While normally still functioning as a planned economy, Pyongyang has pledged in recent years that no North Korean will ‘have to tighten their belts again.’ However, to truly fulfill that pledge, North Korea will need to engage in the types of reform that China, South Korea, and others have been advocating. What steps has North Korea taken under Kim Jong-un to reform the economy and how successful have they been? What obstacles does North Korea face in developing a normal functioning economy? Please join the Korea Economic Institute of America and the Korea Institute for International Economic Policy for a discussion on these and other issues that face the North Korea economy today. SPEAKERS: Lee Il Houng, Bradley Babson, and William Newcomb.

12. NPC Luncheon with Denis Sassou-Nguesso, President of the Republic of the Congo Friday, August 1 | 12:30 pm – 2:00 pm National Press Club; 529 14th St. NW, 13th Floor, Washington, D.C. REGISTER TO ATTEND President of the Republic of Congo Denis Sassou-Nguesso will discuss peace, security and stability of the central Africa region and oil investments in his country at a National Press Club luncheon on Friday, August 1. Sassou-Nguesso, who met President Vladimir Putin in 2012, recently was quoted in a Nigerian newspaper as saying that Congo plans to attract Russian investment in oil industry, agriculture and education services.

13. Cultures of the Mekong Saturday, August 2 | 10:00 am – 3:15 pm S. Dillon Ripley Center; 1100 Jefferson Drive, SW, Washington, D.C. REGISTER TO ATTEND Civilizations have risen and fallen for centuries on the banks of the Mekong River. Long before there was Phnom Penh or Hanoi, there were the settlements at Ban Chiang, Angkor, and Champa in the areas now known as Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, and Thailand. Robert DeCaroli, associate professor in the department of history and art history at George Mason University, explores these cultures that grew up along this massive 2700-mile river. Other speakers include Michael H. McLendon, Joseph Antos, Richard V. Burkhauser, Peter Schuck, and Sally Satel,

Tags : , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Tweet