U.S. President Barack Obama will certainly have the benefit of continuity in his second term, but he has a range of impending crises to address immediately - be it to avert the so-called fiscal cliff before the end of the year when automatic cuts kick in or plan for the military drawdown from Afghanistan.
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As the NATO troops prepare to pull out of Afghanistan in 2014, India is already positioned to take on a larger, pro-active role, which can radically alter the balance of power in South Asia. However, what will determine the future of security in the region, is how India and Afghanistan deal with Pakistan.
Is a focus on a nuclear Iran in international forums such as the UN General Assembly necessary and appropriate? At a time when other crises – including Syria and Palestine – require the world’s undivided attention, this inordinate focus raises major concerns.
With the Free Syrian Army being supplied aid by the West and the Gulf Cooperation Council countries, the endgame for the Syrian regime has begun. Does Assad's exit guarantee the replacement of autocracy with democracy? What implications will it have on regional politics?
The involvement of Islamists in democratic movements is usually dismissed as a mere ruse to attain political power. However, evidence suggests that people in Muslim-majority democracies support Islamist groups which challenge a dishonest government, rather than those who seek to establish Islamic autocracy.
Simultaneous efforts to resolve the problem in Syria remain stymied even as more and more high level meetings and consultations take place. The more countries treat the situation as a proxy for political differences, the more it creates the conditions for a wider conflagration with an unpredictable outcome.
Apart from bilateral ties, also at play at the India-U.S. Strategic dialogue is the difficult triangulation in India’s relations with the U.S. and Iran. It does not serve India to get enmeshed in the U.S-Iran confrontation. Instead, the relationship must develop on the basis of realpolitik and mutual interest.
Ahead of nuclear talks between Iran and the P5+1 in Moscow, the West seems confident that sanctions will induce Iran to settle on its uranium enrichment. But rather than arriving at a negotiated settlement by applying the principle of reciprocity, the West may look to anaesthetize oil markets.
The West is quick to claim that their sanctions against Myanmar have forced the government to implement political and economic reforms in the country. However, such bans do not usually achieve their stated purpose of forcing regimes to change their behavior.
With turmoil in the Middle East, a drawdown in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Iran-Israel-U.S. conflict, the international community has paid little attention to the democracy of a small group of people - the Bahrainis. More worrisome, however, is that politics now responds to the elite.