July 2011

U.S. and Pakistan: Afghan Strategies

By George Friedman

U.S. President Barack Obama will give a speech on Afghanistan on June 22. Whatever he says, it is becoming apparent that the United States is exploring ways to accelerate the drawdown of its forces in the country. It is also clear that U.S. relations with Pakistan are deteriorating to a point where cooperation — whatever level there was — is breaking down. These are two intimately related issues. Any withdrawal from Afghanistan, particularly an accelerated one, will leave a power vacuum in Afghanistan that the Kabul government will not be able to fill. Afghanistan is Pakistan’s back door, and its evolution is a matter of fundamental interest to Pakistan. A U.S. withdrawal means an Afghanistan intertwined with and influenced by Pakistan. Therefore, the current dynamic with Pakistan challenges any withdrawal plan.

The Divided States of Europe

By Marko Papic

Europe continues to be engulfed by economic crisis.   The global focus returns to Athens on June 28 as Greek parliamentarians debate austerity measures imposed on them by eurozone partners. If the Greeks vote down these measures, Athens will not receive its second bailout, which could create an even worse crisis in Europe and the world.

Due West: Ukraine Turns Gaze Back to Brussels

By Konstantin von Eggert

Last Monday, the Russian daily newspaper Kommersant published a document described as a Ukrainian government plan for developing relations with NATO. Ukraine has enjoyed a privileged “partnership” status with the alliance since the late 1990s.  Despite this, the general public attitude among Ukrainians toward NATO is ambiguous at best, with only around 30 percent of the population supporting the prospect of Ukraine's membership in the alliance. The document published by Kommersant describes plans by the government in Kiev that go a long way towards rapprochement with NATO. Indeed, the plans might even be interpreted as a road map towards starting to acquire the NATO Membership Action Plan – a step in relations considered as a tacit admission that a country aspiring to join the alliance is on track to eventually doing so.