Editor’s Note: Robert E. Kelly, Senior Analyst at Wikistrat, is a professor of political science at Pusan National University, South Korea. A longer version of this essay may be found at his website, Asian Security Blog.
By Robert E. Kelly – Special to CNN
A U.S. ‘pivot’ to Asia is the foreign policy talk of the moment, but I think Americans are unlikely to embrace it.
True, Asia outweighs other global regions as a U.S. interest. Europe and Latin America are mostly democratic, fairly prosperous and at peace. Africa, sadly, remains a U.S. backwater. The Middle East is overrated. Israel and oil are important but hardly justify the vast U.S. presence. The terrorist threat is ‘overblown.’
By contrast, Asia’s economies are growing fast. Asian savers and banks fund the U.S. deficit. Asia’s addition of two billion people to the global labor pool kept world inflation down for a generation. Asian markets are now major export destinations for American industries. Five hundred million people live in the Middle East but three times that just in India. Half the world’s population lives in South, Southeast, and Northeast Asia. FULL POST
Editor’s Note: Teresita Cruz-del Rosario is Visiting Associate Professor at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy in Singapore and a Senior Analyst at the geopolitical consultancy Wikistrat.
By Teresita Cruz-del Rosario - Special to CNN
Boothie is a photojournalist for The Myanmar Times, the only English newspaper in Burma. Boothie used to be cautious when taking pictures to avoid being hauled in for questioning or arrest for projecting images of Myanmar’s “dark side” - a broad enough charge to cover anything.
These days however, Boothie travels openly with his camera. No longer hidden beneath the folds of his longyi as he surreptitiously shoots photos of a country that until very recently preferred to remain invisible. He brandishes his Canon camera much like Clint Eastwood flaunted his Magnum 44.
His favorite images are of people gathering without fear, talking openly of the forthcoming elections, energized by the reality of political choice long denied them. They have quickly shed the habit of looking over their shoulder, or speaking in hushed tones. All over Yangon, people’s voices are a decibel higher, muted only by the sound of the late afternoon cackling of birds on Inya Lake. Boothie’s sharp eye for composition captures them all. FULL POST
Editor’s Note: The following piece, exclusive to GPS, comes from Wikistrat, the world's first massively multiplayer online consultancy. It leverages a global network of subject-matter experts via a crowd-sourcing methodology to provide unique insights.
The U.S. invasion of Iraq began 9 years ago this week, triggering a conflict that cost the U.S. approximately 4,500 lives and a trillion dollars of taxpayers’ money. In honor of that anniversary, Wikistrat’s analytic “crowd” debated: a) what America ultimately accomplished in Iraq, and b) where Iraq is likely headed in the years ahead. These are our six primary judgments.
The Kony2012 Youtube sensation has triggered a secondary op-ed explosion, as “real experts” sound off - mostly negatively - about having their sacred analytic turf encroached upon by celebrity endorsers and ADHD-addled “slackivists” who’ve merely clicked a couple of buttons (Like! Donate!) before moving on to the next viral sensation.
There’s nothing more disturbing to the national security intelligentsia than having American foreign policy crowd-sourced, especially when those allegedly apathetic Millennials are preemptively arguing for aU.S.military intervention.
Doesn’tAmerica’s biggest-ever generational cohort realize that the country is tired of performing global police work?
This week’s Wikistrat crowd-sourced drill looks at the Kony2012 video phenomenon, offering several reasons why it signals something new and important in U.S. foreign policy debates – and not. FULL POST
Is the Arab Spring over? Or are there other countries that might rise up in the year ahead? Wikistrat asked its global community of analysts to consider this question. Here’s what they came up with:
Up to now the regimes that have fallen - Libya, Tunisia, Egypt - have been led by strongman dictators who kept a lid on religious extremism. With Syria in flames and Yemen undergoing gradual reforms, that leaves only Algeria’s strongman Abdelaziz Bouteflika. FULL POST
In last year’s parliamentary (Duma) elections, current Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party had to stuff ballot boxes just to avoid falling too far below the 50 percent mark. Now, as Putin presents himself to voters this Sunday as the once-and-future president, there’s clearly a bottom-up backlash brewing among the urban young and middle-class. Will it prevent a Putin win? Hardly. The only uncertainty here is how far Putin’s United Russia party will have to go to ensure a respectable victory margin. Whether anyone - at home or abroad - will actually respect the process is another thing.
So, stipulating that Putin 2.0 is a given, here’s Wikistrat's weekly crowd-sourced examination of what all this may mean for Russia and the world at large. FULL POST
The great Troika of the European Union, European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund has engineered a second bailout of Greece, once again saving Western Civilization as we know it. But as anyone following this long-running melo-drachma may attest, it ain’t over ‘til Chancellor Merkel says so. This week’s Wikistrat drill looks at possible future pathways for the eurozone. FULL POST
Either Israel and the United States are engaged in a brilliant psychological operations campaign against Iran or the two long-time allies really are talking past each other on the subject of Tehran’s reach for a nuclear bomb. Either way, all this Bibi Netanyahu said, Leon Panetta said chatter is producing some truly jangled nerves over in Iran on the subject of Israel’s allegedly imminent attack on that country’s nuclear program facilities.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu keeps publicly implying that his nation can’t wait on Iranian events for as long as the Obama administration – with its looming embargo of Iranian oil sales to the West – would like. Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta keeps tripping over his own tongue, saying one day that America is doing its best to keep Israel’s attack jets grounded and the next offhandedly remarking to reporters that Tel Aviv is inevitably going to pull that trigger sometime this spring. FULL POST
This Sunday, the historically disorganized Venezuelan opposition movement is holding its first-ever presidential primary to decide upon a single candidate to challenge long-time strongman Hugo Chavez. With regional governor Henrique Capriles expected to prevail, the aging Chavez faces a younger version of himself: namely, a dynamic rising star promising to transform the political landscape. This time, however, the figure is moving it away from the heavy-handed populism initiated by Chavez after he swept into office in 1998.
Over the course of his tenure, Chavez’s pursuit of “21st century socialism” in Venezuela has propelled him to self-declared “president for life” status. Among his accomplishments are the systematic and brutal persecution of political opponents and critical journalists, the stacking of parliament with his supporters, various cash-payment programs to the voting poor to ensure his popularity, and - in a related dynamic - the general undermining (aka, looting) of the country’s primary economic engine, the national oil company known as PDVSA. Chavez has also turned Venezuela into one of the most crime-ridden nations in the world with the annual inflation averaging close to 30 percent. FULL POST
It’s hard to gauge just how strong the Free Syrian Army really is. It’s clearly growing in size and in its ability to control ever-widening swaths of territory. But at the same time, Russian and Iranian guns pour into Bashar al-Assad’s government. And Bashar al-Assad has a steely will to power.
Given the mounting tension, it’s worth thinking through exactly how regime change may unfold and what it’s consequences would mean for the region.
Wikistrat, the world’s first massively multiplayer online consultancy ran an online simulation on what could go down in Syria. Here are the results:
1) A military coup ousts al-Assad but retains control
The military regime could hold on to power while dumping al-Assad. Iran would like this scenario. A militarized dictatorship in Syria would keep its supply lines open to Hezbollah and Hamas.
The renewed regime would have to enter into some pro forma negotiations with the Free Syrian Army and two competing opposition groups (the Syrian National Council and National Coordination Committee for Democratic Change).
The West would hope for a not-too-bloody handover to civilian rule, mimicking Egypt post-Mubarak. As for al-Assad, he’d probably take a bullet to the brain on this one. FULL POST
Upsetting both conventional wisdom and the party establishment’s preferred narrative, New Gingrich’s big win in South Carolina’s Republican primary last weekend has dramatically energized the GOP race. While it suddenly feels like a two-man fight between Gingrich and the previously presumptive nominee Mitt Romney, in truth, the party’s three main wings (country-club moderates, Reaganites, and the farthest-right social conservatives and libertarians) remain deeply divided, suggesting a lengthy and drawn-out battle across the remaining GOP primaries. Taking that as our starting-point assumption, Wikistrat polled its global network of strategists for scenarios as to how this might unfold and what it could mean for the November general election.
1) True bell-weather Florida delivers a quick knockout next Tuesday
All the primaries so far have been predictably weird: sanctimonious Iowa narrowly going for Rick Santorum, independent New Hampshire favoring favorite son Romney, and the forever insurgent South Carolina jump-starting Gingrich. None of these states carry the representative cross-section of electoral pillar Florida, where the crucial Hispanic vote will be felt most clearly for the first time. Since all sides know it’s a real race now, the four remaining candidates (Gingrich, Romney, Santorum, Ron Paul) are all placing maximum bets on the Sunshine State and its notoriously volatile electorate. If Newt wins, the party establishment will be sorely tempted to dump Romney and talk of a late entrant will once again spike. But if Romney can pull it off, he’ll snuff out the last serious threat to his preferred storyline. FULL POST
The Obama Administration recently released a military strategic guidance document, which calls for a strategic “pivot” from the Middle East to East Asia. This bold move replaces President George W. Bush’s “long war” against violent Islamic extremism with a new, ongoing effort to shape China’s military rise.
What are the strategic, military trade-offs of this historic shift? Wikistrat, the world’s first massively multiplayer online consultancy, recently tapped its global network of several hundred analysts to ponder this question. This online network offers a uniquely powerful and unprecedented strategic consulting service: the Internet's only central intelligence exchange for strategic analysis and forecasting, delivered - for the first time - in a real-time, interactive platform. Exclusive to GPS, here are Wikistrat’s top ten strategic, military issues to bear in mind as this “pivot” unfolds:
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Obama as a foreign policy president?
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