On Sunday, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff won her second term in a hotly contested runoff election against the center-right Social Democratic Party’s candidate Aecio Neves. In this Policy Alert, we examine commentary from Brazil, China, Russia, India, and Japan on one of the tightest races in Brazil’s politics in recent years.
Brazilian media focused on the unusually heated and polarizing campaign, the apparent regional divide between the poorer north and richer south, and the negative reaction of international markets to Dilma Rousseff’s victory over Aécio Neves in Sunday’s second round. (more…)Continue Reading →
Astute readers will recall Betteridge’s law of headlines—an answer to any question in a headline is always no. India’s foreign policy—seen through its history, grand strategy, elites, and institutions—operates in an enduring and narrowly defined band of elite consensus, and therefore will likely not change under the new leadership.
Narendra Modi’s successful campaign focused on economic growth through reform, good governance, and courting of investment—he sold himself as a man who would make Indians forget about the disappointing growth and corruption of the second United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government of Manmohan Singh. Modi has a track record as a proud Hindu nationalist, albeit a pragmatic one who recognized the foundation of India as inclusive and secular. During his campaign, he downplayed the earlier divisive communal rhetoric of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) and its spiritual well-spring, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) (a right-wing Hindu nationalist group Modi is a member of).
With the new Modi administration, will there be a dramatic reorientation of foreign policy and relations with China and the United States? As part of a sequel, this first blog post tackles this question by examining India’s history, grand strategy, and foreign policymaking institutions and inputs. Relations with China will continue to be marked by bilateral engagement (economically and diplomatically) and hedging (multilateral engagement and self-strengthening), both driven by India’s relative weakness. Modi’s energy and focus have brought new optimism in America, but the relationship will still be shaped within the contours of strategic autonomy, special sensitivity, and capacity constraints. This is a challenging relationship for both the United States and India—as proud and occasionally dissenting equals—to manage. The second blog post will further analyze these bilateral relationships under the Modi administration. (more…)Continue Reading →
Rajesh Rajagopalan, a participant in RPI’s Nuclear Debates in Asia and Worldviews of Aspiring Powers projects and professor in International Politics at Jawaharlal Nehru University, delved into the state of U.S.-Indian relations after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent visit to the United States. In his article for the East-West Center’s Asia Pacific Bulletin, Rajagopalan lamented what he saw as strained ties after years of both sides “busily dug their relationship into a hole.” Despite the U.S.-India nuclear energy cooperation agreement signed almost a decade ago, Rajagopalan felt India’s “foolish” nuclear liability law “negated the key benefits” of the deal and will unlikely be resolved anytime soon. Furthermore, the scholar sensed that India and U.S. allies in Asia were increasingly doubting “Washington’s dependability” as the Obama administration’s rebalance to Asia strategy falls short of its intended goals.
Rajagopalan offers some guarded optimism for the future after Modi’s visit: strong personal rapport between Modi and Obama as well as several high-level diplomatic efforts to jumpstart the relationship. He concluded “what all this suggests is a decidedly mixed picture, with some scope for optimism but also a healthy respect for the still unchanged rhythm of the U.S.‐India relationship.”
The Rising Power Initiative’s Nuclear Debates in Asia project will continue to explore the role of nuclear issues in the U.S.-India relationship. Follow the project on Twitter at@Westmyer or visit the project website at http://www.risingpowersinitiative.org/projects/nuclear-debates/.Continue Reading →
On November 13-14, Myanmar’s President Thein Sein will host the East Asia Summit, the apex of his country’s debut as chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Myanmar has inherited a daunting agenda, notably the need to move ASEAN toward completion of an economic community and to maintain dialogue with China on a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea, however slowly. At the beginning of the year, Myanmar had set as one goal for its chairmanship persuading the five permanent members (P-5) of the U.N. Security Council to sign the protocol to the Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapon Free Zone (SEANWFZ) Treaty, in which they would promise to uphold the treaty’s principles. This has been a continuing but elusive goal for ASEAN since SEANWFZ went into force in 1997.
In this Policy Brief, Catharin Dalpino, Contract Course Chair in Southeast Asian Studies at the Foreign Service Institute and Adjunct Professor at Seton Hall University’s Washington program, discusses whether the ASEAN countries will be able to sell the SEANWFZ to the P-5 nations. She argues that “there is scant evidence that Myanmar will be able to meet its self-imposed goal this year – none of the P-5 has signed the protocol – but the prospects in the future are by no means dim.”Continue Reading →
Tens of thousands of pro-democracy protesters marched on the streets in Hong Kong last week in response to the Chinese leadership’s decision to essentially screen candidates for the city’s 2017 election of its chief executive. While the demonstrations have subdued after protesters agreed with the local government to start formal talks later this week, the future of Hong Kong remains uncertain. In this Policy Alert, we examine commentary from China, India, Japan, and South Korea on the ongoing protests in Hong Kong.
The Chinese government clamped down on images and information of the pro-democracy protests reaching mainland China, with only a few select commentaries in state-run media blasting the gatherings as illegal, disruptive of social order, and harmful to the economy. (more…)Continue Reading →
With the Modi government’s “Act East” foreign policy to strengthen its relations with China, Japan, Australia, Deepa Ollapally, Research Professor of International Affairs and the Associate Director of the Sigur Center for Asian Studies at the Elliott School of International Affairs, George Washington University, recently wrote an article in India Abroad where she argued “for India, the US is now becoming just first among equals.” Ollapally claims that while the Modi government will likely maintain steady progress on foreign policy in Asia, it is “not clear where additional breakthroughs are going to be made in Indo-US relations.”
Since coming to power in May, one thing is clear: Narendra Modi has only strengthened his hold even more over the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party by coopting or sidelining his peer competitors and detractors, and elevating his close associates. (more…)Continue Reading →