May 2012

France's Strategy

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By George Friedman

New political leaders do not invent new national strategies. Rather, they adapt enduring national strategies to the moment. On Tuesday, Francois Hollande will be inaugurated as France's president, and soon after taking the oath of office, he will visit German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin. At this moment, the talks are expected to be about austerity and the European Union, but the underlying issue remains constant: France's struggle for a dominant role in European affairs at a time of German ascendance.

Kazakhstan Views Its Inter-Faith Dialogue Initiative As Key To Global Security

By Roman Muzalevsky

On May 30-31, Kazakhstan will host the 4th Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions – for the fourth time since it initiated the practice in 2003 – to discuss the role of religion and inter-faith dialogue in promoting global security and human development. The forum is not expected to save the world, but it will elevate Astana’s emerging role in global affairs and emphasize the need for inter-faith dialogue in addressing pressing international issues.

Whither Russia: Looking East and Ready to Embrace It

By Jacob W. Kipp

The Arab Spring, especially the civil war in Libya and NATO’s “humanitarian intervention” in that conflict, has brought about much closer diplomatic cooperation between China and Russia. Their cooperation has consequently increased in response to efforts by the United States, its allies, and the Arab League under the banner of the “Friends of Syria” to bring about the collapse of the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria. In the latest sign of this cooperation, Russian and Chinese ambassadors to the UN Security Council held firm in their opposition to any resolution that calls for UN observers to the cease fire in Syria and unilaterally condemned the Assad government. When the resolution was changed to fit Chinese and Russian demands, it passed the Security Council by a vote of 15 to none.

Games along the shores of Issyk Kul

By Alexey Koval

Within the reaches of Central Asia a new big game deploys, which shall define the outlines of confrontation of the greatest powers in the near future. By this the field where geopolitical players shall start moving the figures can be small Kyrgyzstan – the country located in the very heart of Eurasia. The reason is close neighborhood with Afghanistan and China. Beijing has capacities and desire to join the competition which has existed for a long time between Moscow and Washington in the region. Hardly in this situation Kyrgyzstan shall be able to balance between the interests of great powers: Bishkek shall face the need to make a geopolitical choice...

Can Islamists Be Liberals?

By Mustafa Akyol

FOR years, foreign policy discussions have focused on the question of whether Islam is compatible with democracy. But this is becoming passé. In Tunisia and Egypt, Islamists, who were long perceived as opponents of the democratic system, are now promoting and joyfully participating in it. Even the ultra-Orthodox Salafis now have deputies sitting in the Egyptian Parliament, thanks to the ballots that they, until very recently, denounced as heresy.

The Russian Empire Is Gone For Good

By Dmitri Trenin

In the 20 years between the Soviet Union's collapse and the beginning of Vladimir Putin's third presidential term, there has been no serious attempt by Russia's leaders to reconstitute the Soviet empire. Instead, writes Dmitri Trenin in "Post-Imperium," where the Soviet Union used to look for opportunities to draw countries into its ideological orbit, today's Russia is on the lookout for opportunities to make money.

NATO and Afghanistan

In advance of the NATO summit meeting on Afghanistan, American officials are claiming real progress in the fight against the Taliban. “Every day we’re gaining traction,” Gen. John Allen, the top commander in Afghanistan, told reporters last week. There is improvement, but we are skeptical that the situation is that encouraging.