The Egyptian military’s deposition of former President Mohamed Morsi has observers around the globe reflecting on how events have changed since the Arab Spring in 2011. This Post compares domestic viewpoints expressed then – from China, India, Russia, and Japan – to opinions in these countries now on the unfolding story in Egypt.
Read our 2011 Policy Alert for additional comparative views.
While China’s Foreign Ministry said it would ultimately respect the decision of the Egyptian people, media commentary echoed doubts expressed in 2011 that these kinds of “revolutions” could ever lead to democratic change in Egypt:
- “Color revolutions will not bring about real democracy,” ran the headline of an editorial in theGlobal Times. “Whether the [democratic] system is applicable in other countries is in question, as more and more unsuccessful examples arise,” said the Communist Party-sponsored English daily.
- The Global Times remained cynical about the “prospects of revolutions” bringing about real democracy, especially when it leads to the copying of “a Western-style democratic system.”The editorial predicted the Egyptian people will “soon get sick of the army” and how events play out will be a test of “whether a country can escape from post-revolution chaos.”
Additional sources shared these pessimistic concerns:
- A China Daily editorial felt the coup d’état “ignited deep worries that the most populous Arab country may plunge deeper into political crisis and social unrest.” The paper worried “divides and even hatred between different forces and factions will still exist after Morsi’s ousting” and will make reconciliation “difficult in the short term.”
- The South China Morning Post wondered why the Egyptian public was so quick to praise the army for deposing Morsi after decrying the military as “thugs” when it aided the collapse of former President Mubarak’s regime. Unless “all sides keep their bargain and are tolerant and understanding,” the paper declared “Egypt’s future will be bleak.”
- Xinhua reported that overthrowing Morsi may further complicate Turkey’s efforts to improve relations with Egypt and coordinate economic and foreign policy, especially on the crisis in Syria.
Editorials in leading newspapers did not express the same optimistic outlook they espoused after the end of Mubarak 30-year rule:
- The Hindu said “the Egyptian state has lost all legitimacy” and that “we are almost certainly witnessing a transformative moment in the modern history of West Asia.”
- The Hindu called the recent coup an “ominous development” after the Arab Spring seemed to “herald a genuinely democratic future for Egypt.” The editorial hoped that the military – despite its “long record of corruption and other abuses of power” – will “quit politics” or “else gains of the Tahrir Square revolution will be tragically lost.” This concern was shared in a Business Standardop-ed by Una Galani.
- The Indian Express characterized the Egyptian uprising as “a re-emergence of the Arab tradition of liberalism.”
- The Indian Express was surprised “how feeble in the end appeared to be the fidelity among protesters to the yearning for democracy that electrified Tahrir two years ago, and the so-called Arab Spring.” This view was shared by The Hindustan Times¸ which argued that recent events “dashed any hopes that what was sowed by the Arab Spring would lead to a speedy democratic harvest.”
Other media sources were more optimistic that the military coup was just a bump along Egypt’s path toward democracy:Continue Reading →
Earlier this month, The Guardian UK reported on classified U.S. intelligence gathering operations that collected information on phone records and other internet user data around the globe. Edward Snowden, a former contractor working for CIA, revealed himself as the source of these reports, provoking a diverse set of reactions within the U.S. and international press. In this Policy Alert, we examine commentary from China, India, and Russia on these disclosures.
While China’s foreign ministry declined to comment directly on Snowden’s case due to diplomatic sensitivities, Chinese media outlets expressed a range of views on the story.
Some praised Snowden as a whistleblower exposing the ‘hypocrisy’ in U.S. criticism of China’s cyberspace activities:
- “Snowden’s revelations have almost overturned the image of the U.S. as the defender of a free Internet,” wrote the Global Times. The China Daily also shared this view.
- Xinhua columnist Xu Peixi called PRISM – one of the NSA internet surveillance tools – “thebleakest moment yet in the history of the Internet.” Xu added that Snowden “offers us a rare chance to reexamine the integrity of American politicians and the management of American-dominant Internet companies” such as Google, which provided the NSA with data on its users.
- The Chinese military’s official newspaper, the People’s Liberation Army Daily, termed PRISM“frightening” since it refuses to accept the privacy of non-U.S. citizens. The editorial added that”U.S. intelligence agencies are habitual offenders with regards to network monitoring andespionage.” Global Times also pushed its leaders to “explicitly demand a reasonable explanation from the U.S. government” on its monitoring operations against China. The editorial declared that “China is a rising power, and it deserves corresponding respect from the U.S.”
Several stressed that these reports may hamper efforts to improve Sino-U.S. relations:
- In Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post, Wang Xiangwei wrote that a top foreign policy adviser to the Chinese leadership hinted “Beijing would handle the Snowden case discreetly and had no interest in turning the event into a political case.”
- Global Times argued that “diplomatically, Snowden has cast a shadow over the new Sino-US relationship right after the Xi-Obama meeting. The sooner the incident is wrapped up, the better the ties between the two countries will be.”
Others defended the surveillance operations as appropriate intelligence gathering tools:
- In a letter to the South China Morning Post, Oren Tatcher and Sheung Wan contended that PRISM is a “perfectly legitimate program of self-defense” and that critics “don’t seem to understand” the “nature of electronic intelligence gathering.”
- China Daily opined that President Obama should work to “convince the American people as well as global Internet users that the spying is a must and helps in a direct way to safeguard public safety from clear and present dangers.”
Finally, several debated the appropriate course of action for dealing with Snowden:
- “The optimal solution” would be for China to “provide necessary assistance for Snowden to go to a third country,” wrote Wang Xiangwei.
- Xu Peixi argued that “China, despite the fact that it does not have a good reputation as far as Internet governance is concerned, should move boldly and grant Snowden asylum.” Global Times conceded that “China’s growing power is attracting people to seek asylum in China. This is unavoidable and should be used to accumulate moral standing.” (more…)
The RPI recently published its 50th Policy Alert. We’re celebrating by bringing back the top 5 most widely read Policy Alerts. Thank you for your continued readership and support!
- Policy Alert #45: Asian Powers Comment on French Intervention in Mali (February 2013)
- Policy Alert #48: Lessons from Cyprus: Rising Powers Comment on the Bank Bailout and Financial Globalization (March 2013)
- Policy Alert #50: Boston Marathon Bombings Elicit Mixed Reactions from Asian Powers (May 2013)
- Policy Alert #33: Sentiments from Asia’s Rising Powers on Winning & losing at the Olympics (July 2012)
- Policy Alert #44: Heightened Tensions in the East China Sea: Reactions from China and Japan (January 2013)
Reviewed by Meredith Oyen (University of Maryland Baltimore County)
Published on H-Diplo (April, 2013)
Commissioned by Seth Offenbach
The impact of domestic politics on foreign policy is a subject of long-standing interest for both historians of American foreign relations and political scientists concerned with international relations. A new volume edited by Henry R. Nau and Deepa M. Ollapally, Worldviews of Aspiring Powers: Domestic Foreign Policy Debates in China, India, Iran, Japan, and Russia, brings together prominent scholars from across the world to explore the domestic dimension of foreign policy in five important countries. The core argument of this book is that domestic debates powerfully affect foreign policy, sometimes exerting as much influence as external factors. The authors consider the implications of the contesting worldviews not only for each country’s foreign policy, but also for U.S. foreign policy responses. Worldviews of Aspiring Powers therefore offers both a model for future studies of domestic debates in other rising or aspiring powers as well as some thoughtful advice for policymakers.
In order to develop a common vocabulary for discussing and analyzing these debates across the countries under study, Nau’s introductory chapter discusses three aspects of foreign policy under debate everywhere: the scope, means, and goals of policy. By analyzing these three aspects across three broad categories of worldviews–national, regional, and global–he sets up a broad framework of twenty-seven possible worldviews, which the authors of the individual chapter then use as a guide to explore the unique variations of the country under their consideration. Nau makes clear from the outset that reality does not fit the generalized model perfectly, and each country under consideration possesses attributes that make it unique. (more…)Continue Reading →
The leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa met in Durban last week for the 5th BRICS Summit, where the group appeared to make some progress on the idea of a BRICS development bank. In today’s Policy Alert, we examine and contrast Russian and Chinese optimism in BRICS, with the much more cautious and cynical views from India and South Korea.
Commentary in Russia uniformly praised the BRICS countries for establishing a “polycentric system of international relations,” and noted the importance of Russia-China relations within the BRICS framework.
- “BRICS has transformed itself from a political idea into a tangible symbol of a multipolar world,” said Vadim Lukov, the Russian foreign ministry’s special envoy to BRICS. Lukov also highlighted the importance of Russia-China relations within the BRICS. “China’s approach to BRICS is characterized by a deep understanding of the significance of creating a new multi-polar international system. Russia-China cooperation within BRICS is one of the important engines of its development.”
- The absence of consensus on a BRICS development bank, initiated during the previous summit in India, elicited mixed views from Russian experts:
- Leonid Gusev, expert at Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO), predicted that making progress on the bank is unlikely, noting that the BRICS economies, particularly China and India, are too closely integrated with the American market for significant changes to take place.
- Sergei Katyrin, chairman of Russia’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry, was more optimistic, stating that “while no ultimate decisions have been made on the bank’s quantitative parameters, its authorized capital, its contributors and the volume of contributions…I think this project will eventually take shape.”
Most Indian views on the BRICS were either skeptical that the bloc can have any real impact, or were wary of China dominating a BRICS bank in the future. (more…)Continue Reading →
Vladislave Inozemtsev, a participant in our recent “Russia as a Global Power” conference recently wrote in The Moscow Times:
Although the “reset” in U.S.-Russian relations has been sapped dry, Moscow and Washington can still find ways to cooperate on combating global terrorism, arms control and the resolution of regional conflicts. The time has come to set the agenda for such talks. Considering, however, how deeply President Vladimir Putin has taken offense with Washington over the U.S. Magnitsky Act, it would be unrealistic to expect constructive proposals from Russia anytime soon. That means the initiative should come from the U.S. side. The U.S. should take the first step because Russia is not an enemy or even a threat.
Russia wants to build a global financial center in Moscow, but it turns out that even tiny Cyprus is more of a financial center for Russian businesses and depositors than Moscow. Russia believes that it will supply Europe with oil and gas forever, but the first wave of European Union states will largely switch to buying shale oil and gas from the U.S. or switch to renewable and alternative sources of energy by 2025.
The main problem that the West currently faces with regard to Russia is not its strength, but its instability. Russia’s position today is closer to that of the Soviet Union of 1988 than 1962. Given this situation, the new U.S. strategy toward Russia could be based on three fundamental policies…
The passage of a resolution by the U.N. Security Council on Jan. 22 condemning North Korea’s missile launch of Dec. 12, 2012, and expanding sanctions against the country, has brought about a defiant and ferocious response from Pyongyang.
North Korea issued a series of pronouncements declaring the nullification of the Sept. 19, 2005, agreement on denuclearization, the end of further talks on denuclearization including the six-party talks, and vowing to strengthen its nuclear and missile capabilities by continuing rocket launching and nuclear testing, which North Korea declared explicitly as targeted against the United States.
That North Korea would respond with fury to a U.N. resolution was anticipated, but the barrage of intensified anti-American rhetoric and the blunt declaration to continue the quest for nuclear weapons with ICBM capabilities, especially at this juncture in time, probably came as a surprise to many analysts.
Given North Korea’s explicit renunciation of the agreement on denuclearization, it would be impossible for the United States to entertain any thought of altering the existing policy variously labeled “manage and contain” or “sanctions with limited dialogue” toward a policy of dialogue and engagement. For South Korea, despite President-elect Park Geun-hye’s professed willingness to resume talks with the North without preconditions and to improve the relations with North Korea through a confidence-building process, she will be constrained from pursuing a conciliatory policy of engagement.
It will be so especially since she has insisted she will not tolerate the North’s nuclear program and will deal sternly with North Korean provocations. Similarly for Japan, it is inconceivable for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to consider moderating his hard-line stance toward North Korea.
The impact of North Korea’s policy pronouncements on the policies of China and Russia will be no less significant.Continue Reading →
China, Russia and India abstained on UN Security Council Resolution No. 1973, which authorized a no-fly zone over Libya and the use of force to protect civilians. As military intervention in Libya enters its sixth day, what are the Chinese, Russian and Indian views and reactions?
Officially-sanctioned views, as reflected in the People’s Daily, lambast the military intervention in Libya and cast it as a Western initiative.
- “How humanitarian is Western intervention in Libya?” asks one op-ed. “This so-called ‘humanitarianism’ is actually just the first step toward overthrowing of another country’s political power.”
- They point to Libya’s oil resources as the underlying motive. “The military involvement of Western coalitions in the Middle East is closely associated with oil reserves and strategic interests. Iraq was invaded for oil. Now it is Libya.”
- It is noteworthy that the criticism is generally directed at the “West,” and not specifically at the United States, since “the U.S. withdrew to the second line this time.” The U.S. position is understood to be “a compromise between the realism of the secretary of defense and the idealism of the secretary of state.” (more…)
As part of an ongoing outreach to the policy and media communities, the Rising Powers Initiative held a briefing on March 2 to present expert analysis of domestic debates and recent policy developments in Russia, India and China. The event took place at the Elliot School of International Affairs, and was sponsored by the Carnegie Corporation.
To understand the foreign policy behaviors of major countries in Asia and Eurasia, the main approach of the Rising Powers Initiative has been to focus on the domestic debates taking place within these countries. These debates reflect a certain intellectual orientation in a country, or its “intellectual DNA,” which is then reflected in that country’s foreign policy, explained Henry R. Nau, who moderated the panel as co-director of the Rising Powers Initiative and Professor of Political Science and International Affairs at The George Washington University.
Moreover, domestic debates matter most when the external geopolitical environment is relatively stable, said Nau. For the past twenty years, international relations have been characterized by the unipolarity of the United States, and any shift in the international order is gradual. This brings into focus the domestic interpretations of such shifts, and how those interpretations shape the overall direction of a country’s foreign policy.
In Russia, the predominant intellectual orientation has seen a “a lot of volatility” in the past twenty years, said Andrew Kuchins, Director and Senior Fellow of the Russia and Eurasia Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Beginning with the short-lived “Liberal Westernizers” of 1991-92, Russia’s political landscape then shifted to “Great Power Balancers / Realists” in the 1990s and early 2000s, who were disappointed in the West and believed in a more balanced, multi-vector foreign policy. (more…)Continue Reading →