Friday, 14 October 2011

Global Monitor - no.1, 14 Oct 2011

Welcome to the first edition of DiploSoc's Global Monitor! 
This service, released twice a week, tracks foreign policy and other international developments of (sometimes long-term) relevance to global diplomacy.
The Monitor also offers a selection of analysis articles and updates on international affairs-related publications.

Please note that this service is still under development in terms of formatting, material selection and layout--i.e. it will improve significantly over the next few weeks. 
Of course, we would welcome any feedback and suggestions

Thank you for your interest and understanding!

UN diplomat delivers sobering report on Libya
A report by the UN special envoy to Libya has fueled concerns among UN diplomats over the effectiveness of the UN efforts to stabilize the situation in the country.

South Korean president Lee's Visit To The Pentagon
South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak on Wednesday Oct 12, 2011 received a briefing from top US commanders on the threat posed by North Korea in a visit to the Pentagon, officials said.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and the US military's top officer, General Martin Dempsey, along with chiefs of all the armed services hosted Lee in the famed secure conference room known as "The Tank," in what officials said was a rare invitation to a foreign head of state.

South Korea puts military on heightened state due to North's unusual activity
South Korea has put its military on a heightened state of alert after detecting unusual activity similar to that reported shortly before North Korea shelled Yeonpyeong island last November.

The U.S.-South Korea Alliance
Backgrounder from CFR
The longstanding U.S.-South Korea alliance, originally established during the Cold War as a bulwark against the communist expansion in Asia, has undergone a series of transformations in recent years.

Philippines, US Marines to hold joint outreach, war games near Spratly Islands
Following the launch on Monday, the training exercises will be held simultaneously in different venues, including Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija; Basa Air Base in Clark, Pampanga; Marine Barracks Gregorio Lim in Ternate, Cavite; Crow Valley in Tarlac; Naval Station San Miguel in San Antonio, Zambales; and in Palawan.
The joint exercises are going to Palawan for the first time, but Tindog said this had nothing to do with tensions with China over the disputed Spratly archipelago, which is located west of the province.

Enhancing U.S. Diplomatic Engagement with Nonstate Armed Groups
In this Center for Preventive Action Working Paper, Payton L. Knopf argues that the State Department must develop a framework for engaging with nonstate armed groups. He also calls on the department to make bureaucratic and operational reforms to execute this increasingly important mission.

Russia, US still at odds over missile shield
In a statement on Thursday, the Russian Foreign Ministry said that Moscow and Washington are still at odds over the European missile shield.

Obama wants all countries to reject visits by Iranian officials
The Obama administration has been in intensive discussions with foreign leaders about the alleged Iran-sponsored assassination plot and, among other steps, is asking countries around the world to stop letting Iranian leaders stop by for official visits.
 "We are taking robust diplomatic action to hold Iran accountable for this plot, isolate them internationally and increase pressure on the regime," Undersecretary of State for Political Affair Wendy Sherman said at a Thursday hearing before the Senate Banking Committee. "And we will be asking all countries to consider appropriate actions, including denying Quds Force officers any platform to operate within their countries."

Egypt: Planes Patrol Sinai Without Israel's Consent
Egypt's Air force chief dispatches warplanes to patrol border with Israel, despite peace treaty terms, MENA news agency reports; 'We do not need permission to increase our forces on our land,' General Reda Hafiz says.

Report: Israel, Egypt working on prisoner swap set to release suspected Israeli spy
Egyptian newspaper Al Masry Al Youm says deal is separate from a recent agreement between Israel and Hamas geared at securing Gilad Shalit's release.

Israeli-Palestinian Diplomacy is Alive
The deal between Israel and Hamas to exchange captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit for about 1,000 imprisoned Palestinians is one of the oh-so-rare bright spots in anything having to do with negotiations between Israel and Palestinians.

More Trick Than Treat: House GOP Threatens UNICEF
Later today, the House Foreign Affairs Committee will consider a bill that basically guts American contributions to the UN.  The bill is championed by Chairwoman Ileana Ros Lehtinen and would shift the way the United States and all member states pay the UN from a dues payment system to a system of voluntary funding in which countries cherry pick the programs they’ll pay.

Foreign Office summon Syrian Ambassador
Syrian Ambassador to London Dr Sami Khiami was summoned to the Foreign Office over reports that Syrian Embassy staff are harassing and intimidating Syrians living in Britain.

Chavez Opponent Launches Presidential Campaign
A prominent opponent of President Hugo Chavez launched his campaign for Venezuela's presidency on Wednesday. Capriles, an athletic 39-year-old with a charismatic personality, is among the top contenders heading into the Feb. 12 primary. He is a soft-spoken politician who tries to avoid confrontation and describes his politics as middle of the road — approaches that sharply contrast with Chavez's combative style and socialist vision.

Ukraine files new charges against jailed ex-PM Tymoshenko, gives mixed signals on her fate
KIEV, Ukraine — Ukraine issued mixed signals Thursday on the fate of imprisoned ex-premier Yulia Tymoshenko, with the president hinting she could be released after a legal reform but the country’s security agency filing new corruption charges against her.
The United States and the European Union have condemned this week’s sentencing of Tymoshenko to seven years in prison for abuse of office.

US Trade Deficit With China Hits Record $29 Billion

Russia’s Putin leaves China with no gas deal
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has left China after a visit that yielded $7 billion in trade pacts but no breakthrough on a long-delayed gas deal with the world’s top energy consumer.

Russia-China: New Level Of Economic Ties
Trade turnover between Russia and China is expected to reach some $70 billion by the end of the year, according to figures revealed by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin during his visit to Beijing.

No news is good news in Poland
Poland used to be known for its dramatic events, and fury of news. This is no longer the case. While most of Europe is boiling, Poland is now an oasis of stability, almost boredom. Its economy keeps growing, but not spectacularly. Its handling of the EU presidency is smooth, but deals with marginal matters. And in this week’s parliamentary elections, after a very dull electoral campaign, Poles again voted in the same two-party coalition.

Nicaragua’s Presidential Elections: How Daniel Ortega Could Shame Democracy
If Daniel Ortega engages in wholesale fraud in Nicaragua’s upcoming election, the U.S. should react strongly.
A report by the Heritage Foundation

The 'Shale Gas Revolution': Hype and Reality
The 'shale gas revolution' - responsible for a huge increase in unconventional gas production in the US over the last couple of years - is creating huge investor uncertainties for international gas markets and renewables and could result in serious gas shortages in 10 years time. This report casts serious doubt over industry confidence in the 'revolution', questioning whether it can spread beyond the US, or indeed be maintained within it, as environmental concerns, high depletion rates and the fear that US circumstances may be impossible to replicate elsewhere, come to the fore

The U.S.-ROK Free Trade Agreement
On October 12, the U.S. Congress approved free trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia, and Panama.

also here:
Congress Approves Biggest U.S. Trade Agreement Since 1994

U.S. War with China Not Likely but Steps Needed to Keep the Peace
To avoid direct military conflict with China, the United States should adopt a parallel strategy that strengthens the defense capabilities of China's neighbors while inviting China into cooperative security endeavors that benefit the interests of both nations, according to a new RAND Corporation study.

International Organization, Volume 65 Issue 04 (Fall 2011) is out

Occupy Wall Street Protests Spread To Brussels
Disenchanted citizens promise to fill the streets of financial districts en masse this weekend as they grow weary of bailing out banks. EurActiv Greece contributed to this article.

Fukushima Disaster Financial Loss Estimated At $74 billion
Financial loss from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant disaster has been estimated at $74 billion, the Japanese Nuclear Safety Commission said on Thursday.

European Commission Says Turkey Needs Further Reforms
The European Commission (EC) presented its annual Progress Report on Turkey on Wednesday (October 12th), arriving at positive and negative conclusions regarding Turkey’s stalled EU accession process.

China’s New Development Strategy
In another demonstration of their firm grip, Chinese President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao recently launched an entirely new development path.

Is Pakistan Preparing for War?
If Pakistani news channels can be taken at face value these days, the country is preparing for war.

Is China's Influence Waxing or Waning?
In the past two weeks, China's influence barometer has been fluctuating wildly. In Zambia, Presidential candidate Michael Sata campaigned largely on an anti-China platform, proclaiming "Zambia has become a province of China...the Chinese are the most unpopular people in the country because no one trusts them," and won. Closer to home, Burma threw a wrench in China's plans to populate the Irrawaddy with seven more dams, including the 6,000 megawatt Myitsone dam, when Burmese President Thein Sein announced the suspension of the dam until his term ends in April 2016.

A Lesson in Diplomacy
Sir Horace Rumbold, Britain's high commissioner in Istanbul, in 1923.

Will China Have a Military-Run Government?
On Sunday, Jiang Zemin made his first public appearance after rumors of his death circulated in early July.
This time, it appears that the generals and admirals are again acting as kingmakers as Jiang and Hu renew their political struggles in the run up to the next congress, where Hu is expected to step down in favor of Xi Jinping.

The pull of Brussels
Every year the European Commission assesses progress by would-be members of the European Union. It is the day when they “see themselves in the mirror”, comments one diplomat in Brussels, “and the picture is pretty accurate.”

Some Good Graphics
The good folks at Masters in Environmental Science have collated some very good infographics on climate change that are worth your seeing.

Steve Walt: Something just doesn't add up...
There's no question that Iran has relied upon assassination as a foreign policy tool in the past, but it boggles the mind to imagine that they would use someone as unreliable and possibly unhinged as Ababsiar.

NATO: Lessons Learned in Libya
While NATO has succeeded in preventing Muammar Qadhafi from further targeting civilians, the mission has exposed a significant alliance weakness: the unfair sharing of the burden for common defense among NATO members.

Diplomacy in the digital age
While the means of diplomacy have changed, the ends have not.

One Ocean, Two Shades: Perceptions about the Indian Ocean
From the US Naval War College
The Indian Ocean and India itself and how the United States views this area of the world is discussed in light of history, India’s recent growth and influence in the region as well as globally, and the opportunities presented through an adjustment to the U.S. lens.

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