March 2012

The State of the World: Explaining U.S. Strategy

By George Friedman

The fall of the Soviet Union ended the European epoch, the period in which European power dominated the world. It left the United States as the only global power, something for which it was culturally and institutionally unprepared. Since the end of World War II, the United States had defined its foreign policy in terms of its confrontation with the Soviet Union. Virtually everything it did around the world in some fashion related to this confrontation. The fall of the Soviet Union simultaneously freed the United States from a dangerous confrontation and eliminated the focus of its foreign policy.

The State of the World: Germany's Strategy

By George Friedman

The idea of Germany having an independent national strategy runs counter to everything that Germany has wanted to be since World War II and everything the world has wanted from Germany. In a way, the entire structure of modern Europe was created to take advantage of Germany's economic dynamism while avoiding the threat of German domination. In writing about German strategy, I am raising the possibility that the basic structure of Western Europe since World War II and of Europe as a whole since 1991 is coming to a close.

How Italy May Yet Save Europe… Really

By Maria Elena Gutierrez

The European sovereign debt crisis reached its apex when global financial markets began considering the possibility that a large euro zone economy — Italy, Spain, or both — could become another Greece, resulting in the dissolution of the single currency. By November 2011, the spread between the yields of 10-year Italian and German bonds was so great that Italy had to pay interest rates well above 7 percent on its long-term debt, a clearly unsustainable level. This marked a political turning point. But while Italy was once seen as a primary cause of the euro crisis, it could now be poised to be part of the solution.

Hungary’s Prime Minister Bites the Hand that Feeds Him

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By James Kirchick

On March 15, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán stood before nearly 100,000 of his fellow countrymen in Budapest and declared, “Hungarians will not live as foreigners dictate.” Drawing an explicit connection between the European Union, which Hungary enthusiastically joined in 2004, and the Soviet Union, which brutally crushed a Hungarian revolt in 1956, Orbán said, “We are more than familiar with the character of unsolicited comradely assistance, even if it comes wearing a finely tailored suit and not a uniform with shoulder patches.”

“Pro-Romanian” President of Moldova

By Vitali Kulik

This March 23rd after almost three years pause Moldova obtained its President, thus getting out of evidently prolonged constitutional dead-end. Having just taken the office, the elected President, 63 years old Head of the Supreme Magistrate Council of the Republic of Moldova Nicolae Timofti, have already gained the reputation of the upholder of unification with Romania and “anti-Russian” project in the yellow press.

US Envoy Sees Closer Moscow Ties After Putin's Election

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By James Brooke

U.S. Ambassador Michael McFaul, long an advocate of democracy in Russia, arrived in Moscow two months ago, and he walked straight into a groundswell of anti-Americanism. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin was running for president and his supporters accused the new ambassador of supporting anti-Putin street protests. Putin won the election easily three weeks ago, and now McFaul talks about where he thinks U.S.-Russia relations go from here.

Recalibrating the U.S. Strategy in Afghanistan

By Dhruva Jaishankar

The protests in Afghanistan over the burning of copies of the Quran confiscated from detainees at Bagram Airfield have led to more than two dozen deaths, and have severely — perhaps even permanently — undermined the United States’ determined efforts to win hearts and minds in the country. The killing of NATO troops by members of Afghanistan’s security forces, or militants in their uniforms, is a dangerous new trend, and one that severely complicates relations between international security forces and their local hosts. It may now be time to consider new strategies by which to achieve U.S. and Western goals in Afghanistan.

Rising Gas Consumption Reveals Structural Problems in Turkey’s Energy Policies

By Saban Kardas

Heavy winter conditions have strained natural gas supplies in Turkey, shedding critical light on the country’s over reliance on hydrocarbons. Due to the record increases in household consumption and electricity demand, which coincided with interruptions in gas imports from Iran and Azerbaijan, concerns were raised as to whether Ankara’s current contracts meet its actual demand, and how this will affect its future energy policies.