Tomorrow, leaders of the top industrialized countries and the key emerging economies that make up the G20 will meet in Washington for a Global Economic Summit. This meeting is a critical first step towards international coordination in addressing the current financial crisis. The agenda will include topics ranging from the rewriting of specific financial regulations to the restructuring of global institutions such as the G8 and the IMF. Although expectations are low for any major agreement at this meeting, it must at least set the agenda for further high-level economic conferences expected once the new U.S. administration is in place.
One truism that I've noted over the years is that any event that I experience in person will invariably be reported in the press quite differently. That proved true again last night as I began absorbing media accounts of CIA Director Michael Hayden's "State of al Qaeda Today" address to the Atlantic Council.
CIA Director Michael Hayden told the Atlantic Council this afternoon that al Qaeda's safe haven in Pakistan's ungoverned tribal areas have provided a "sanctuary" that has "allowed it to recover some capacity lost when expelled from Afghanistan" nearly seven years ago.
These remarks were delivered recently at the Atlantic Council's conference on Reforming NATO for the 21st Century.
Excellencies, distinguished colleagues, ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon. Let me immediately address the question that General Scowcroft posed last night – what is NATO for? Well, in the security domain it is the same as the EU. To aggregate political, diplomatic and military effect in pursuit of the credible presence germane to guaranteeing defence and promoting security. Two questions are relevant here. One, does the NATO-EU relationship aggregate the aggregators of credibility? I would say in the current context not really. Two, the contract at the heart of both Alliance is simple; the smaller powers get security in return for the sharing of responsibilities. Is that working in the current context. I would say not really. Why? Mindset.
The Kremlin's latest move to deploy missiles in Kaliningrad is the first time since the Cold War that Russia has "declared its intention to create a military threat to the West." Yet the nature of the threat does not represent a fundamental challenge to U.S. or European security and has been largely overblown on both sides.
Facing a worsening economic situation and a war in Iraq that will be difficult to end—in short, grave overstretch—the next U.S. administration will seek to return to a more multilateral foreign policy and attempt to work closely with Europe. But Europe may not be willing or able to meet American expectations to play a larger role in international security.
Oil prices have plummeted in recent weeks, hitting a 20-month low of $59 per barrel, a 60 percent drop-off from its summer high of $147. One might reasonably think that this would be crippling to a country like Russia, which relies so heavily on energy exports to stake its claim to major power status.
The Troika Dialog team, though, argues that it's much more complicated than that.
During the campaign, Barack Obama repeatedly criticized the Bush administration's handling of the war in Afghanistan. Most notably, he argued that we had been distracted by the war in Iraq and had diverted resources to that conflict, which he opposed, that could better have been devoted to fighting al Qaeda and finding Osama bin Laden. Now that he's been elected, he's about to become responsible for producing results.
"You were given the choice between war and dishonour. You chose dishonour and you will have war." (Winston Churchill to Neville Chamberlain on the occasion of the Munich Agreement, 1938)
The European Union stepped closer last week to resuming the partnership talks with Moscow that it suspended in the wake of Russia’s August invasion of Georgia. Never mind that Russia remains in flagrant violation of the EU-brokered ceasefire agreements of August 12 and September 8. “Indignation is not a policy,” EU High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana told a Paris conference. Business as usual, however, is a policy—the policy Solana wants. Europe’s High Representative may not care that Georgia’s security is at stake, but he should mind that Europe’s credibility is in jeopardy too.
All week, we've been featuring thoughts from expert commentors on what they believe should be the Foreign Policy Priorities for the Next President.