This summer’s dispute over undersea Caspian energy resources between Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan, as well as Ashgabat’s recently stated intention to bolster its maritime military capabilities, have seemingly thrown Trans-Caspian relations into a tailspin, jeopardizing plans for energy cooperation to supply the strategic Nabucco natural gas pipeline.
Try this as a thought experiment: imagine a dynamic modern Russia with a robust knowledge economy, diversified industry, and reasonably functioning legal system where starting a business –or adjudicating disputes -- is no more difficult than in say, Turkey or Malaysia. Not easy, is it? In fact, in a remarkable article published on Gazeta.ru, a Russian webzine, President Medvedev starkly outlines his country’s challenges and poses the question whether Russia can change enough to “own tomorrow.”
José Manuel Barrosso today easily won re-election as European Commission president, surprising observers who as recently as yesterday thought he might fall short of a majority and dealing yet another setback to the center-left.
New NATO secretary general Anders Fogh Rasmussen has called for "open-minded and unprecedented dialogue" with Russia to create a "true strategic partnership" on issues ranging from Afghanistan to terrorism to nuclear proliferation. While "Russia should realize that NATO is here and that NATO is a framework for our transatlantic relationship," he argued, "we should also take into account that Russia has legitimate security concerns."
What issue should concern citizens most? That answer is hidden in plain sight. But even important "think tanks" miss it. Exhibit A is the annual Global Security Review convened by London's International Institute for Strategic Studies. Aimed at examining specific challenges and threats facing the international community, the conference chose the Middle East, Afghanistan and Pakistan, nuclear disarmament and proliferation, Iran and the economic crisis to head the list of this year's major issues. Each is important. None however is the most pressing.
The last posting opened with the question of what was between the United States and attaining its goals in Afghanistan. To pose and frame the question, a “formula” of sorts was put forward to describe the process and barriers to reaching the desired end (Goal Attainment=Successful COIN+Successful State-Building). In the first posting, questions were raised about whether the goals the United States (or any other outsider) and the indigenous population (the Afghans) might be incompatible, and why. It concluded that incompatibilities might exist and need to be reconciled. It left off with two dimensions of the goal question: whose goals are more important to them? and whose goals should prevail? This posting attempts to clarify those concerns.