Russia held local elections Sunday but most observers are crying Foul!

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's party has swept local elections that other parties and independent observers said were awash with voting irregularities.

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In a new essay at The National Interest, Richard Betts makes a point I've been making since before this blog started: 

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization is one of the most successful alliances of all time, but after the cold war and the successful completion of its mission, NATO suffered an identity crisis. It now has three main functions and self-images that compete with each other.

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The European Union yesterday rejected calls from Hungary for a massive bailout plan for struggling economies in Eastern Europe, despite dire warnings of a new "iron curtain" dividing the Continent.

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Euros

One has to love headline writers. YahooNews titles an AFP story "Euro drops against dollar after EU rejects bailout." That got my attention, obviously, so I read further.

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Iran now possesses enough fissile material to produce at least one nuclear bomb, Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Admiral Mullen said over the weekend.  Mullen's statement follows a February 19 report released by the IAEA that concluded it had underestimated the amount of Iran's enriched uranium by about one third.

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A series of discordant columns over the weekend makes it clear that a new American president has not been a magic fix for the transatlantic relationship.  Indeed, the global financial crisis has exacerbated differences, not just between America and Europe but within Europe as well.

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Caspian leaders want offers for their gas but instead the EU is holding a series of energy conferences that compete with each other. Europe's project to create a southern gas corridor bringing Caspian gas to European households is on the verge of collapse. In part that is because Turkey has become a big obstacle to the construction of the Nabucco pipeline and in part it is because of Europe's flawed response. 

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Warsaw seems resigned to the Obama administration reneging on an agreement signed by its predecessor to put a missile defense system in Poland.

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The international community has once again struck out in its attempts to find a senior Serbian leader criminally liable for attrocities in the Balkan wars of the 1990s.

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U.S. Predator strikes against high-level al Qaeda targets in the tribal areas of Pakistan are disrupting the group’s operations, but the terrorist organization has responded by stepping up its efforts to further destabilize an already fragile Pakistani government.

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