Strategic Insignificance as Advantage? view on Caucasus

“This leads me to the paradoxical thought that a healthy dose of strategic insignificance would be very positive for the South Caucasus. Viewing the region in this light would allow outsiders and locals alike to concentrate on solving essential everyday problems.”

This is the excerpt from Thomas de Waal’s article published at Foreign Policy. He talks about the share responsibility towards Caucasus region. “We are at fault, I believe, because our faulty perceptions and interpretations have helped make bad local politics worse.” Thomas de Waal identifies three dangerous mirages — misguided approaches to this region that reverberate in decidedly unhelpful ways:

“the first mirage may be the oldest: the notion that the region is a “Great Chessboard”, The second mirage is that of the Russian bear looming over this region ready to maul the relatively defenseless Caucasian peoples, even today, and the third mirage is the perception of the South Caucasus as an area of great Western strategic interest — an approach, that paradoxically, actually does more harm than good.”

The proposal of strategic insignificance makes sense and I have had such thoughts before.  In a way its a simple truth as any faulty perception and interpretation misleads the true course of the matter. Different false perceptions within the state or a region has been one of the reasons for conflicts in many cases.

In the end Thomas gives few recommendations:

“As for Western policy-makers, I believe they should ask themselves two questions every time they contemplate an intervention in the South Caucasus: “Is my action helping to open borders and free up a blocked region?” and “Does it empower ordinary people and not just governments?”

Quite interesting view from outside. Check out the full article HERE.

Middle East Peace: So Why Have We Failed?

In a special preview from Foreign Policy’s May/June 2010 issue, FP speaks with leading Americans, Israelis, and Palestinians who’ve tried to bring this decades-long conflict to an end.

“What I learned: By now, we should realize what doesn’t work: summits, agreements in principle, special envoys, U.S.-proposed plans, and just about every other part of our approach has failed. So why do we keep repeating it?” – Gen. Anthony Zinni, Former head of U.S. Central Command and U.S. envoy to the Middle East peace process in 2001 and 2002.

Read More HERE.

Can the West trust Viktor Yanukovych?

Joining NATO is clearly not at the top of Yanukovych’s agenda, as it was for his predecessor, however good NATO-Ukraine relations do need to be on the agenda, argues Damon Wilson of Foreign Policy. He goes further and states that though the window has closed on rapid movement toward NATO, both sides should ensure there is substance to underpin NATO-Ukraine cooperation. So far, unfortunately, the signals from Kiev are not promising, as Yanukovych has disbanded the committee intended to coordinate work across all ministries to advance Euro-Atlantic integration and tasked the Foreign Ministry to formulate a new national security law that codifies Ukraine’s "non-bloc" status. There is no need to close doors today to tomorrow’s options, says the author.
"Ukraine should not have to choose between Europe and Russia. As neighbors with intertwined culture and common history, it is only natural to expect Russia and Ukraine to have close, good relations. Over time, a stable Ukraine, tethered firmly to the transatlantic community, can help ensure equal relations between Moscow and Kiev and ensure that history does not repeat itself," – an article reads.
So what can Washington expect from Yanukovych? Foreign Policy asks. As engagement between the United States and Ukraine restarts (relations have been on hold since Obama’s election and pending Ukraine’s election), there are a number of key issues on which the future of the relationship will hinge, argues Wilson. Read the full article that gives a very good analyses of what ectually west can expect from the newly elected Ukrainian President.
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The Shooting War

From the bloody civil wars in Africa to the rag-tag insurgiences in Southeast Asia, 33 conflicts are raging around the world today, and it’s often innocent civilians who suffer the most.
Foreign Policy (FP) publishes an exclusive collection of work by the world’s most acclaimed conflict photographers.
See full report at FP.

BASRA, IRAQ. Antonin Kratochvil
Ngety, Congo. Marcus Bleasdale
BAGHDAD. Stephanie Sinclair
Tyre, Lebanon.Jeroen Oerlemans