At the G20 summit one prospect frightened most of the delegates more than their inability to stem the economic downturn: that China would emerge as the de facto “indispensible power”, to use Madeline Albright’s erstwhile phrase about the US.
China’s call for the Renmimbi to replace the dollar as the world’s reserve currency, and its limited fiscal stimulus were triumphs for Chinese diplomacy. And while delegates mingled in the Excel Centre, the Chinese navy was busy spelling out long-range ambitions, including plans to build large combat warships, next-generation aircraft and sophisticated torpedoes, the offensive intent of which should be clear to all.
So what should our China policy be? That is the question my ECFR colleagues John Fox and Francois Godement attempt to answer in a new report. I asked John, a former British diplomat and China expert a few questions.
DK: Does China have us – the West, the EU – over barrel?
JF: China’s foreign and domestic policy has evolved in a way that has paid little heed to European values, and today Beijing regularly contravenes or even undermines them. The EU’s heroic ambition to act as a catalyst for change in China completely ignores the country’s economic and political strength and disregards its determination to resist foreign influence. The result is an EU policy towards China that can be described as “unconditional engagement”: a policy that gives China access to all the economic and other benefits of cooperation with Europe while asking for little in return.
The EU allows China to throw many more obstacles in the way of European companies that want to enter the Chinese market than Chinese companies face in the EU – one reason why the EU’s trade deficit with China has swollen to a staggering €169 billion, even as the EU has replaced the US as China’s largest trading partner. Efforts to get Beijing to live up to its responsibility as a key stakeholder in the global economy by agreeing to more international coordination have been largely unsuccessful. The G20 summit in London in early April 2009 demonstrated Beijing’s ability to avoid shouldering any real responsibility; its relatively modest contribution of $40 billion to the IMF was effectively payment of a “tax” to avoid being perceived as a global deal-breaker.
So whilst there is interdependency between China and the EU (and the US) and China doesn’t exactly have the EU over a barrel, the EU is certainly the doormat in the relationship and China pulls no punches in walking all over it.
DK: You write in your report that the EU needs to move to a China policy of “reciprocal engagement”, but is there any evidence that China would respond to such an approach?
JF: The EU – often in tandem with the US – has achieved small but real changes in Chinese policy that shows that China can shift its position when faced with a united EU approach on targeted issues. The EU, acting through the E3 troika of Britain, France and Germany, has managed to get China to back its efforts to halt Iran’s uranium enrichment programme – but at the cost of having China shield Iran from tougher measures.
The backing of China, a veto-wielding state, for the European position in the UN security council has been essential, and EU efforts to bring China on board were a diplomatic success. Issues such as Darfur and Iran show that China will shift its position when faced with united and focused demands. EU member states will find themselves in a far stronger negotiating position when it comes to tackling illegal dumping practices and encouraging further economic opening by China through adopting a “reciprocal engagement” approach.
Similarly, the push for China to pay more attention to human rights will stand a much better chance of success if it is backed by the large group of European countries who prefer to accommodate China on political issues for supposed trade benefits.
DK: “Reciprocal engagement” or tit-for-tat competition? Is there really a difference?
JF: “Reciprocal engagement” is not code for tit-for-tat competition or an aggressive strategy to contain China. The EU has no choice but to engage China as a global partner and to accept its historic rise. Rather, the EU must make it in China’s best interests to deliver what Europeans are asking for. Reciprocal engagement means firming up the EU approach and driving a harder bargain in negotiations with China, with the aim of coming to mutually beneficial deals that result in greater openness on both sides.
Reciprocal engagement espouses two principles and two criteria. The principles: European offers to China should be focused on a reduced number of policy areas, and the EU should use incentives and leverage to ensure that China will reciprocate. The criteria: relevance to the EU, and a realistic expectation that a collective European effort will shift Chinese policy.
DK: Your report is about the EU’s China policy. You barely mention the US except when you argue that EU leaders need to make a case “to their American interlocutors that the best results with China. .. .can only be achieved through partnership with Europe.” But is the reality not an emerging “Pax Chimerica”, where the EU’s role will be largely irrelevant?
JF: The election of Barack Obama has opened a new chapter in US foreign policy, but one marked by unprecedented economic challenges and the rise of China and other powers. The American debtor and its Chinese lender have locked each other into a symbiotic embrace. Whilst talk of a G2 or pax Chimerica is premature, it is clear that if Europe wants to avoid being left on the sidelines it needs to completely change the way it engages China, and the US. To be heard on these issues, the EU needs to move fast to demonstrate its importance to China – and it must make a similar effort in Washington.
Europeans need to make the case to their American interlocutors that the best results with China, whether on climate change, rebalancing the world economy or fighting the spread of nuclear weapons, can only be achieved through partnership with Europe. And they will need to persuade China that listening to the EU on major strategic issues pays, while ignoring it carries a cost.
DK: You say that China policy has been based on the false presumtion that Beijing will change if the EU engages. Does this mean we have to give up all hopes of China ever changing her ways?
JF: China is not by any means static. The point in our report is that China is not a malleable entity to be shaped by European engagement – China is developing politically and economically in a way it is itself defining. There is increasing public debate within the country on a range of topics not directly linked to the regime’s legitimacy and ideology. But no positive steps can be directly linked to European or even western pressure. Treatment of Chinese human rights advocates – a topic regularly raised by EU leaders – has actually worsened in recent years.
EU hopes that China would continue opening up its economy following its accession to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in 2001 have been disappointed– the Chinese government has treated WTO membership as the end of the reform process rather than a beginning. Beijing has tightened central control of Chinese firms and reinforced informal barriers to foreign entry into the Chinese market.
Political liberalisation seems to have stalled, or even reversed: China has tightened restrictions against NGOs, stepped up pressure on dissidents, and stopped or rolled back local electoral reforms. At the UN, Beijing has built an increasingly solid coalition of general assembly votes, often mobilised in opposition to EU values such as the defence of human rights. However to renounce human rights goals in the name of “realism” would weaken the essential principle of the EU and European society – the rule of law. Instead, the EU must bolster the credibility of its human rights stance – including, when necessary, listening to criticism by China and Chinese citizens of its own criminal law and human rights practices.
May 1, 2009 at 3:38 pm | More on East Asia and Pacific, Europe and Central Asia, Global system | Comments Off
Russia is now demanding that NATO halt its planned military exercises in Georgia. On a visit to Armenia, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned that the planned NATO exercises risk further undermining stability in the troubled Caucasus region. That is a bit rich, given that Moscow has effectively dismembered Georgia and is perpetuating the conflict by continuing to deploy forces in the region.
But what should NATO do? There is obviously no point in undermining the emerging détente between the US and Russia, promoted by the Obama administration. Yet at the same time, the thaw in relations should not allow Russia to play its bullyboy games. I told a journalist today:
The new relations could oblige NATO to reconsider the exercises in Georgia, as long as this is done not just to please Russia but because we are rethinking how to engage Russia and Geogia.
It is worth elaborating a little on this. The strategic context has clearly changed and NATO probably needs to appreciate this. The alliance cannot afford to be out of synch with its largest stakeholder. NATO’s Russia policy cannot be about Georgia alone, just as the West’s China policy cannot only be about Tibet. But any review of policy must not be seen as bowing to Russian pressure or stepping away from NATO’s “open door” policy – which welcomes new, peaceful democratic members if they wish to join.
April 16, 2009 at 10:06 pm | More on Europe and Central Asia | 1 Comment
From today until May 13 the world’s largest democracy will be heading to the polls. India’s voters will be electing 543 members of parliament in the country’s fifteenth election. The figures alone are awesome: 800,000 polling booths run by six million election staff will cater to the 714 million eligible voters. Some of the booths will be perched on mountain tops in Kashmir, others placed near the beaches of Goa. The results, to be announced on May 16, will shape the Indian subcontinent for the next few years.
Opinion polls have the left-leaning Congress party of incumbent Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the main opposition Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) neck and neck, with neither party likely to govern alone. So the stage is set the scene for horse-trading with a “Third Front” alliance and an array of regional and other smaller parties. One potential kingmaker is Kumari Mayawati, who is bidding to become the nation’s first Dalit – or bottom-rung caste – prime minister
Though issues such as poverty and how best to develop the countryside have been debated, in the wake of the last year’s Islamic militant attacks on Mumbai this year has seen national security become a major theme.
Security analysts fear the electoral consequences of another Mumbai-style terrorist attack. If that were to happen – and links back to Pakistani established — the current government would be hard-pressed to act against Pakistan in some. BJP would certainly be braying for tough action.
Even if the elections take place relatively quietly (with 714 million people voting, allow for some violence) India’s relationship with Pakistan is likely to remain fraught. Relations between the two countries have never been warm, but the five-year peace dialogue has now most definitely ended. Barring another terrorist atrocity, a direct confrontation between the two powers may be unlikely, but both governments will continue their proxy conflicts. This is bad news for Afghanistan, which plays host to the conflict. Neither the Congress Party nor the BJP seems to be willing to think through how to revert the Indian-Pakistani cycle of conflict.
The other national security issue both parties have been ducking is how to deal with Obama’s goals of reviving the nonproliferation system. Indian policy-makers of all stripes want to implement the US-India nuclear accord, and worry that the new US nonproliferation agenda will undercut this. But the Indian establishment does not appear to have thought through how New Delhi might participate in an inclusive nonproliferation regime.
Whoever ultimately wins this week’s election — BJP or Congress — will have to tackle India-Pakistan relations and the US nonproliferation agenda — the Obama administration is unlikely to give them much choice.
April 16, 2009 at 8:03 am | More on South Asia | Comments Off
In the Moldovan capital, Chisinau protesters have stormed the parliament and the presidential palace denouncing Sunday’s Communist election victory and claiming the elections were fraudulent. Over on EUobserver, Nicu Popescu is blogging what has become known as the “Twitter Revolution”.
Text messaging played a key role in Ukraine’s Orange Revolution, but in Moldova they have gone one step further and are using Twitter to organise the days’ events. As this blogpost explains, the most popular discussions on Twitter in the last 48 hours have been posts marked with thetag “#pman“, which is short for “Piata Marii Adunari Nationale”, the main square in Chisinau, where the protesters began their marches.
April 7, 2009 at 3:53 pm | More on Influence and networks | 3 Comments
Afghan President Hamid Karzai provoked international outrage with draconian restrictions on women and laws that explicitly sanction marital rape. A leaked copy of the laws obtained by The Times details new strictures for Afghanistan’s Shia minority. Women are banned from leaving the home without permission. A wife has the absolute duty to provide sexual services to her husband, and child marriage is legalised.
Terrible? Without a doubt. But it may also be good electoral politics. In a post in late January I mused on what US-style election consultants would tell Karzai to do:
In the run-up to the election, our consultant might say, having a another go at the international community might not be a bad idea. Kicking out a few human-rights NGOs would be a start and then he could ban driving by women, including by foreign women. In fact, why not ban all alcohol, including for foreigners. A raid on a restaurant frequented by diplomats might make good copy. And, like in Saudi Arabia, why not try to legislate that all women — again including foreigners — must wear headscarves at all times?
It looks like Karzai has done something very similar….
April 3, 2009 at 8:37 am | More on Cooperation and coherence | Comments Off
Now that President Obama has laid down his AfPak strategy, it is time for European governments to follow suit. As I show in this new ECFR brief, they have not yet done enough to become full partners in NATO’s Afghan mission. In an excellent brief issued at the same time as mine, Shada Islam and Eva Gross, two European foreign policy wonks, make a similar case.
European governments have in particular failed to provide staff to civilian bodies like EUPOL, the office of the EU special representative to Afghanistan, or the NATO civilian representative’s office. And while many European governments have pushed for the UN to take on a stronger role in policy development and coordination, few have given the UN mission in Afghanistan and Kai Eide, The UN’s special representative, the necessary support, staff or resources, either in New York or Kabul.
European governments all talk about the “comprehensive approach” -– the need to mix civilian and military instruments — but in the north and central parts of the country, where I just visited (see my travel blog here), there is little evidence of such a policy. Despite the decision last year to bulk up the EUPOL mission to 400 people, actual staffing levels remain at less than half this figure, with many European countries having no personnel in the mission at all.
European governments must do better. In bullet form, they should help:
1. Safeguard the elections
2. Relaunch reconciliation
3. Improve security by training the army and police
4. Change the counter-narcotics policy
5. Target development
6. Support regional diplomacy
I develop each point in the brief with concrete ideas for European leaders to pick up.
The EU has underinvested in the Afghan mission for years. With the coming US surge, the Afghan elections looming, and failure in the region a real danger, it needs to change course. Not only is it in Afghanistan’s interest; it is also in Europe’s.
March 30, 2009 at 1:47 pm | More on Conflict and security, Cooperation and coherence | Comments Off
The Sunday newspapers have lots of stories about how the man behind anti-war protest targeting British soldiers in Luton — Anjem Choudary –- has encouraged his extremist followers to stop spending their money on their families and divert it instead to Muslim soldiers waging jihad, or holy war. As the organization Mr. Choudary is affiliated with, Ahle Sunnah al-Jamah, is thought to have no more than a core of 30 to 40 people, the call is unlikely to change the bulk of remittances sent by, for example, British citizens of Pakistani origin to Pakistan.
But the call makes me come back to the issue of diaspora groups and the role they play in their “home” countries. For though Mr. Choudary’s appeal is unlikely to make much of a difference, I understand from speaking to British friends of Pakistani extraction that remittances are often sent not only to families but also for reconstruction projects in “home” villages and to political parties and movements.
In a study of party political funding, the Pakistani Institute of Legislative Development and Transparence suggested that most Pakistani political parties receive funding from abroad while many extremist groups, like Lashkar-e-Toiba, receive cash from abroad.
To varying degrees, this money — $673.50 million in December 2008 –- cannot help but encourage the centrifugal tendencies in Pakistani politics at a time when the government is facing a raging insurgency in its northern provinces and the secular Pakistan People’s Party and the big-landlord Muslim League are locked in an rancorous conflict, which may tear the country apart.
Development aid cannot make up the support from remittances to the political parties, as only a tiny proportion goes to democracy-promotion as opposed to poverty-alleviation. Out of the $278.60 million spent (pdf) by USAID in Pakistan in 2005, only $15 million were spent on governance and democracy-promotion (I’d show how much DfiD spends, if this information was not impossible to find on the department’s website). Even if more money was provided to this line item with liberal and civic-minded groups as the beneficiaries, their role in Pakistani society is limited or, in a sense, “co-opted” by the political parties.
The proactive way forward therefore seems to be to encourage a Pakistani diaspora network, which can fund liberal groups and centripetal projects in Pakistan, and rival the overseas money-collecting operation of the established political parties. Though some British government start-up cash ought to be offered, for such a network to any credibility among the diaspora and in Pakistan, it would have to be run by people of independent standing and funded in the main by non-governmental resources. But it would seem like an obvious project for many of the philanthropic organizations to back while I can think of numerous Britons (and other Europeans) of Pakistan extraction who could become powerful leaders of such a liberal project. Let us hope someone will step up to the plate and do for liberal causes what Anjem Choudary tries to do for the dark side.
March 15, 2009 at 2:08 pm | More on Conflict and security, Cooperation and coherence | Comments Off
During the Cold War, when Western and Warsaw Pact tanks were facing each other, the idea of a “selling” NATO’s role to allied publics would have been ludicrous because everyone knew why it was important. Now, in the run-up to the Alliance’s 60th anniversary, NATO has realised how important it is to communicate its role and worth to publics in European and North America.
But doing so at a time when the only kind of security ordinary people think about is their job security is a real challenge. As my colleague Nick Witney has said: “Defense is no longer a business of manning the ramparts or preparing to resist invasion. It has to be about an attempt to project stability. It is a hard doctrine to get people to believe in.”
To help NATO communicate better, it has hired an executive from Coca-Cola to manage the way the alliance is seen around the world and launched a an internet-based service called NATO TV as well as a Media Operations Centre (called the “MOC”) with the sole task of improving communications about NATO’s Afghan mission.
Next week, I will attend an internal NATO meeting to discuss ways to overcome NATO’s communications challenges. And this is where you come in. I’d like to solicit the help of you, the rarified group of people who make up the Global Dashboard readership.
For I’d like to tell the assembled defence communicators what security-tracking, information-seeking, well-informed people like yourselves think are the biggest communications challenges for NATO — and perhaps how to overcome these.
So here are a couple of questions I’d love to get your in-put on, which I will duly pass on at the NATO meeting.
- What are NATO’s greatest challenges now and over the next five years?
- What are the most serious threats to your country’s national security and what role do you think NATO should play in addressing this?
- What aspect of NATO’s communications do you think works well?
- What do you think of NATO TV? How can it be improved?
- If you were in charge of NATO communications, what would you do?
I look forward to hearing what you think.
March 13, 2009 at 11:32 am | More on Conflict and security, Cooperation and coherence | 4 Comments
The EU’s attempts at finding a replacement for the bloc’s envoy in Bosnia has moved from drama to tragedy, with Emyr Jones Perry rejected alongside the latest candidate, Valentin Inzko (the Austrian ambassador to Slovenia, since you ask). Meanwhile, as James Lyon notes in the IHT,
The oft-repeated EU catechism is that Bosnia must tackle reform processes on its own, and that after the transition Bosnia’s feuding politicians will magically resolve their quarrels. Brussels assumes that the lure of EU membership will somehow induce nationalist politicians to bury ethnic agendas and pass reform legislation guaranteed to weaken their own patronage systems. They fail to note that the current trajectory will remove the last remaining international obstacles to renewed conflict.
To move out of the current funk, a serious EU envoy has to be picked who, with a US Presidential Envoy to the Balkans, can begin to charting a new transatlantic course. So here’s my initial list of nominees for the job:
Horst Teltschik, GE
Wolfgang Ischinger, GE
Jan Pronk, NL
Jean-Marie Guenno, FR
Michael Steiner, GE
Salomon Passy, BU
Des Browne, UK
Michael von der Schulenburg, GE
Soren Jessen-Petersen, DK
It is easy to find more senior candidates, but they are unlikely to take the job . So the key is to find someone strong, but willing to live in Bosnia.
February 26, 2009 at 12:28 pm | More on Cooperation and coherence, Europe and Central Asia | 1 Comment
In the Times today there is a story about one of the greatest British counter-insurgents, Emma Sky. Military commanders describe the Arabic-speaking, British Council official as a modern-day Gertrude Stein.
Now working for General Ray Odierno, the diminutive, Left-wing Sky initially got to know the 6 foot 5 inches warrior when they both worked in Tikrit immediately after the 2003 invasion. In between her stins in Iraq, she served as British General David Richard’s adviser in Kabul. Since about 2007 –- when Sky took her current post as a key aide to the MNF-I commander — no British official, including successive British ambassadors in Baghdad, has been as influential on US counter-insurgency policy or, indeed, on US Iraq policy.
Last year, Sky published an article for RUSI called Moving Beyond Counter-Insurgency Doctrine, a must-read for counter-insurgency devotees and anyone who wants to understand US Iraq policy medio-2007.
Whenever she finishes her assignment in Iraq, the British government would do well to immediately (create and) offer a post as the Defence Secretary’s Special Adviser for Counter-Insurgency, from where she will be able to bring many of the lessons from US operations in Iraq into the British military and bureaucracy — something that is sorely needed.
February 21, 2009 at 1:04 pm | More on Conflict and security | 6 Comments
Irrational exuberance is alive and well. Spawned by Obama’s candidature and sustained despite his recent setbacks, many people still seem to believe that all manner of foreign policy challenges can be overcome.
One of the most interesting parts of Barack Obama’s rise to power was the frenzied enthusiasm he garnered along the way. Even the mob-fearing Germans turned out in their thousands to hear him deliver unwelcome policy missives (“The Afghan people need our troops and your troops; our support and your support to defeat the Taliban and al Qaeda”). At times, Obama’s presidential candidacy verged on a cult of personality.
There were a few skeptics, to be sure. But most were curmudgeonly analysts or political adversaries. Few of the change-deniers seemed, well, seemed to be quite with it. In the main, people sang “Yes We Can”, swayed to Obama’s rhetoric and believed with all their hearts.
Little more than a month after his election, the sheen has not quite come off Obama, but his administration has taken a few direct hits. Tom Daschle, a former senator, was nominated as health secretary. As with two other Obama nominees, it subsequently emerged that he had failed to pay all his taxes, and he was forced to withdraw his name from consideration. The new treasury secretary, Timothy Geithner, has proved les adept at handling the economy that hoped. His first press conference saw markets tumble.
Despite these set-backs, there is no shortage of exuberance. Even hard-bitten analysts believe that in 2009-2010, world leaders can agree on a new NPT regime, establish a follow-on to the Bretton Woods systems, re-start the Doha round of multilateral trade talks and hammer our a climate deal in Copenhagen. Some even think that the entire multilateral system can be re-ordered while the US deals with NATO’s Afghan mission, Iran’s nuclear programme, Pakistan’s potential collapse, Russia’s rise, and the threat posed by a festering Middle East.
However, the truth is this agenda is probably too broad for one president, even two terms and certainly for the many stakeholders that now have to be brought into any of the global deals. The multilateral system will not be revamped, but remain a mosaic. If we are lucky, the economic crisis will be contained, but do not expect a new kind of managed globalization. George Soros has called for a eurozone government bond market, but it is hard to see European governments accepting such an overtly federalist move (which, incidentally, they rejected when the ECB was originally set up).
As to the many structural issues –- the NPT regime, climate change, the trade talks –- one or two may be solved, but certainly not all and certainly not in the next two years. Politically, trade-offs will have to be made between Iranian help in Afghanistan or an Iranian nuclear bomb. Between European unity or European energy security. Perhaps even between our economic well-being and poverty-alleviation elsewhere.
Like in the NICE decade — non-inflationary constant expansion — in which people forgot economic gravity, so people now seem to have taken leave of their foreign policy senses.
But a new world awaits. It may not look much different than the 19th century: power politics, “concert of Europe”-style diplomacy, inequality of states, spheres of influence, and interests, not values, as the driving forces behind international politics.
February 20, 2009 at 4:49 pm | More on Cooperation and coherence | Comments Off
The new African Union (AU) chairman Muammar Gaddafi — Tony Blair’s friend, Nicolas Sarkozy’s partner, freer of hostages, and friend to the enslaved –- has said he believes piracy is a way for poor Africans to defend themselves against the greedy Western nations.
On his first official visit to the African Union headquarter in Addis Ababa, Colonel Gaddafi told the union’s staff: Piracy is “a response to greedy Western nations, who invade and exploit Somalia’s water resources illegally”. The Brotherly Leader and Guide of the Revolution went on: “It is not a piracy, it is self defense. It is defending the Somalia children’s food.” So much for getting the AU to help in developing a comprehensive solution.
If the West do not like the Colonel’s views? Simple: “It is our planet and they can go to other planet”, says the Guide of the First of September Great Revolution of the Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya. Yeah, you tell them Colonel. They can go live in another solar system.
February 20, 2009 at 12:03 pm | More on Africa, Conflict and security | 1 Comment
Richard Holbrooke (the new US envoy to Pakistan and Afghanistan) and Sherard Cowper-Coles (his British counterpart) did not have South Asia to themselves for long. German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier today appointed Ambassador Bernd Mützelburg as his Special Representative for – you guessed it – Afghanistan and Pakistan.
On top of that, there’s also EU Special Representative to Afghanistan, Italian diplomat Etorre Sequi, and the UN Special Representative Kai Eide.
Hopefully this will lead to more international cooperation – or perhaps just a great spread in Envoy Magazine (possibly with Holbrooke behind the wheels of a GMC Envoy XL…)
February 16, 2009 at 10:24 pm | More on Cooperation and coherence, Europe and Central Asia | Comments Off
So Sri Lanka has now rejected Gordon Brown’s appointment of Des Browne as a special envoy to the island. President Mahinda Rajapaksa said the appointment was “unhelpful” and was made without consulting his government. A foreign ministry statement said the appointment was tantamount to an “intrusion of Sri Lanka’s internal affairs”.
No 10 have played this down, saying that they were still speaking to the Sri Lankan government about Browne’s exact role. But from Colombo Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama warned of “major repercussions” for relations with Britain over the nomination and said “there is no further discussion with London on the matter.”
Before this incident, the appointment of a Sri Lanka envoy only seemed poorly through-out. Now it looks downright humiliating for the Prime Minister who clearly wanted to make up for sacking his Scottish colleague.
What could have happened? There are a number of options. Perhaps No 10 did not check the appointment with the Sri Lankan government. But if true, this seems negligible beyond belief. Perhaps the Foreign Office did check, but the Sri Lankans changed their minds, or did not communicate as forcefully as they should have that they did not want the appointment. That is what happened over Paddy Ashdown’s UN appointment in Kabul. The final option is that Des Browne, who was quite poorly treated by the PM, was about to blow, spilling the beans on Brown’s weaknesses. To stop this, the PM may have panicked, and offered Browne something that was not really his to offer.
Either way, the non-appointment does not put Brown in the best of lights.
February 13, 2009 at 5:32 pm | More on Cooperation and coherence, East Asia and Pacific | Comments Off
Diaspora and exile groups may play an important, but sometimes also controversial, role in conflicts and political unrest in their countries of origin. Often their engagement is benign and comes in the form of remittances. But many diaspora communities also lobby decision-makers and parliamentarians in the new country of residence or collect money among co-nationals in order to support ‘the struggle’ at home.
Think of the Irish in the US, sending money to the IRA for decades. Or the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka and the influence of the Sri Lankan Tamil Diaspora. Or even the role of the Pakistani community in Europe.
This is by no means a new phenomenon. Yet, the growing number of intra-state conflicts, the enhanced possibilities for transnational communication, mobilization and action as well as the upsurge in domestic and international security concerns after 9/11, have focused attention on diasporas. Or at least should have.
For despite their role, most peace-building interventions — whether UN, NATO or EU led – spend little time engaging with diaspora communities. There is more and more writing, but it is hard to see governments taking this issue seriously, except as a domestic political issue (i.e MPs placating diaspora constituents by tabling EDMs).
In a time of dwindling resources, and assuming that unilateral or coalition interventions are less likely in the future, it may become important to engage these diaspora communities in a systematic way.
How can the British government engage the Pakistani community to ensure support for democratic forces in Pakistan? Should the Foreign Office consider, as a rule, having a Diaspora Desk Officer in its Afghan Group, or Iraq Unit? Should funds be set aside by DfiD for funding diaspora-led programmes?
Such programme may not be the most effective in, say, building schools but they may have an important function in challenging the role of organizations like Jamaat-ud-Dawa, the political and civic wing of the outlawed terrorist group Laskhar-e-Taiba, which is benefitting from the Pakistani government’s inaction in many of the IDP camps in Pakistan’s North-West Frontier Province (NWFP).
With decreasing resources, but constant if not increasing security demands, finding new ways of addressing conflict (prevention, management and resolution) will be key. Re-thinking how to engage with diasporas may be part of this.
February 13, 2009 at 12:28 pm | More on Conflict and security, Cooperation and coherence | 1 Comment