Archive for October, 2013

Policy Brief: U.S.-Russia Relations Back from the Brink

In 2012, the Rising Powers Initiative published an edited volume entitled Worldviews of Aspiring Powers: Domestic Foreign Policy Debates in China, India, Iran, Japan, and Russia, edited by Henry R. Nau and Deepa M. Ollapally. The Worldviews volume identifies the most important domestic schools of thought within each country and connects them to the history and institutional development of each nation. In this Policy Brief, Russia chapter author Andrew Kuchins examines how Russia’s foreign policy has evolved over the past two years from the lens of President Vladimir Putin’s leadership, conflict in the Middle East, and U.S.-Russia relations.

 

Read the full Policy Brief here

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RPI Author Rajesh Rajagopalan: Indian Nuclear Policies & Strategic Focus Hamper Foreign Policy

Indian PM Manmohan Singh (Source: The Times of India)

Indian PM Manmohan Singh (Source: The Times of India)

Rajesh Rajagopalan, a participant in RPI’s Nuclear Debates in Asia and Worldviews of Aspiring Powersprojects and professor in International Politics at Jawaharlal Nehru University, recently wrote an op-ed for The Economic Times where he argued that India’s strategic nonalignment strategy and its strict liability law on nuclear energy plants built by foreign companies in India severely hamper New Delhi’s foreign policy options toward China, Russia, the United States, and others:

Over the next few days, PM Manmohan Singh will summit with the leaders of Russia and China. Along with his recent meeting with US President Barack Obama, it completes a trifecta of sorts. Unfortunately, in this great power trifecta, India appears to have neither skill nor luck. At the end of his term, the PM has the unenviable task of trying to climb out of the strategic hole into which we have dug ourselves. 

The Moscow summit should have been easy. India and Russia have long had close strategic ties, which though frayed sometimes by India’s recent closeness to Washington, still remains strong. Much of India’s military equipment still comes from Russia, and it has been a stalwart supporter of India in many international forums, including the NSG when it decided to change rules to allow India access to international nuclear commerce. Moscow hoped to benefit from that change by selling India nuclear power reactors.

But that hope was seriously dented by India’s nuclear liability bill, which threatened to slap equipment suppliers like Russia with liability for possible accidents. Though much of the nuclear liability debate in India was about the impact on US, the law is applicable to all suppliers, including Russia. Over the last two years, the Indian government has tried to make amends by proposing a variety of stratagems to reduce supplier liability, but it has yet to convince anyone, including Moscow, that these will work.

The latest effort revolves around Indian public sector insurers possibly providing insurance to suppliers, which defeats the purpose of the law because these will be underwritten by the Indian taxpayer. Of course, it is not clear that this is acceptable to Moscow, so the PM has a difficult task in convincing the Russians. But this was all unnecessary, a striking example of New Delhi’s propensity to shoot itself in the foot. (more…)

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Policy Alert: Asian Powers Re-Assess Roles in the Face of Declining U.S. Leadership

debtThe United States’ prolonged budget upheaval has cast doubts on America’s role as a leader in Asia. Would a decline in U.S. power create new opportunities for Chinese leadership in Asia? In this Policy Alert, we examine commentary from China, Russia, India, Japan, and South Korea on the prospects of a potential leadership reconfiguration in Asia in light of ongoing U.S. domestic struggles.

CHINA

In China, newspapers uniformly criticized the United States for failing to quickly resolve the government shutdown and called on China to reduce its dependence on the U.S. economy. (more…)

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Policy Alert: U.S. Government Shutdown Provokes Reactions in Asia

usshutdownOn October 1, the U.S. government shutdown for the first time in seventeen years, generating enormous anxieties over a potential default on U.S. debts and its consequences for the world economy and U.S. foreign policy. In this Policy Alert, we examine commentary from China, Russia, India, Japan, and South Korea on the U.S. government shutdown.

 

CHINA

Chinese newspapers focused on the October 17 debt ceiling deadline, calling on the United States to resolve the government gridlock and ensure the safety of China’s investments in the U.S. (more…)

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Spotlight on Nuclear Issues During “Strategic Asia” Book Launch

Christopher Clary speaks at Strategic Asia book launch on October 2, 2013.

Christopher Clary speaks at Strategic Asia book launch on October 2, 2013.

Over the past two decades, Asia has been a hotspot of nuclear weapons proliferation activity with several countries in the region improving on their established arsenals, some acquiring new ones, and others advancing latent capabilities. How nations have managed the impacts of these developments on regional and international stability is the focus of a recently published volume by the National Bureau of Asian Research (NBR). The book – Strategic Asia 2013-14: Asia in the Second Nuclear Age – was launched on October 2 at George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs and features chapters by leading experts examining the “historical, strategic, and political factors that drive a country’s calculations vis-à-vis nuclear weapons and draws implications for American interests.”

The book launch event was co-hosted by the Sigur Center for Asia Studies, which is conducting its own study – Nuclear Debates in Asia – that tracks domestic debates on nuclear power and nonproliferation in eight countries in Asia at varying stages of nuclear power planning and acquisition. Project authors Mike Mochizuki and Christopher Clary spoke in various capacities at the event. This blog post highlights some of the major themes related to the Nuclear Debates in Asia project raised at the event.

You can listen to the audio by clicking the following links: Event Audio Part I and Event Audio Part II.

All Eyes on Asia

The major theme underscoring the event was the importance of Asia in nuclear proliferation and strategic analysis. Panelists discussed China’s on-going nuclear modernization activities, Pakistan’s emerging battlefield strategy using tactical nuclear weapons, India’s pursuit of a true and effective triad-based deterrent, developments on the Korean peninsula, nuclear decision-making in Japan, and the challenges of U.S. extended deterrence in Asia.

Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) delivered a morning keynote that warned Washington “cannot be in the business of yielding U.S. primary” by neglecting to fund modernization efforts as several countries in Asia move forward with expanding their nuclear arsenals. To do so, Senator Sessions argued, would create uncertainty in the minds of our allies in Asia who depend upon the extended security guarantee of an effective and credible U.S. nuclear arsenal. While other panelists expressed less pessimistic views on the trajectory of the U.S. stockpile, they recognized that current budgetary pressures mean tough choices will need to be made on the size and composition of the nuclear force, decisions that will closely watched by U.S. allies in Asia. (more…)

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