In addition, according to Zahid Oruj, a member of the Milli Mejlis (Azerbaijani National Assembly), more than 25 Iranian banks and 400 companies used the Armenian-occupied territories to evade international sanctions. Cutler
Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute. Only then will the financial costs of the destruction be able to be determined. The presence of Russian forces on the Armenia-Iran border would likewise threaten a total cut-off of this major route through Armenia, by which the IRGC has smuggled drugs to Europe for 30 years. Red Cross jeeps pass through roads separating Azxeri and Armenian forces in Nagorno-Karabakh. Iran also pretends that its displeasure concerns Azeri cooperation with Israel; however, that is an excuse, because it is really about Turkey. PACE has issued a report (rapporteur, Paul Gavan) focusing on the humanitarian consequences of the conflict. For example, Azerbaijan states that Armenia violates CERD by “refus[ing] to provide comprehensive and accurate maps of the hundreds of thousands of landmines it planted in Azerbaijan’s territory.” Armenia is reduced to arguing that it has no obligation to hand over maps of minefields that it laid in the Azeri territories that it occupied for 30 years. By contrast, the developments at PACE are likely to have significant effects sooner, yet they have been comparatively overlooked. The last new developments that need to be noticed are parallel at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) and the International Court of Justice (ICJ). The present article reviews developments since the beginning of October, in order to make sense of this situation that is unfolding, and which is new again almost every day. Facebook

Twitter

Linkedin

WhatsApp

Viber

Email

Print

Developments in the South Caucasus continue to race ahead of Europe’s understanding of them. One may expect that these financial questions will also eventually reach international courts. Georgia is making constructive attempts to complement existing multilateral initiatives with an approach to conflict-resolution that remains, however, to be further specified in public statements. By the time an event has been noticed, recognized, digested, and interpreted (whether correctly or incorrectly), other events have followed in a wave that necessitates the revision of any understanding already reached. And warfare in the South Caucasus is being converted to lawfare. It is necessary that UNESCO should be allowed to document those and other violations of the law of occupation by Armenian armed forces, as well as any by the Azeri side. The filings at the ICJ, by Armenia against Azerbaijan and by Azerbaijan against Armenia, with reference to the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD), and some of the charges that they contain, have received a fair amount of publicity. According to the ninth point of the November 10, 2020, ceasefire accord agreed between Azerbaijan and Armenia through Russian mediation, “The Border Guard Service of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) shall be responsible for overseeing [such] transport connections.” Absent Russian connivance, such a presence would definitely close that major IRGC drug-smuggling route. There is photographic evidence of other mosques elsewhere having been transformed into pigsties. Why now? According to Garibashvili, the PNI would be designed to take into account “regional issues of common interest with our US and EU partners” in the “implementation of practical solutions” through “dialogue and confidence-building.” This characterization implies that it is intended not only, or even mainly, as an intergovernmental or transgovernmental forum (as the concept of the six-way platform appears to be). Iran had never held such exercises when they were occupied by Armenian armed forces. To summarize the most recent developments: Iran is a loser and is being nasty about it. To paraphrase the famous misquotation of Winston Churchill, at least “law, law is better than war, war.” (The correct original quotation is, “Meeting jaw to jaw is better than war.”) Its prime minister, Irakli Garibashvili, has met with Armenia’s prime minister Nikol Pashinyan and Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev several times. One reason is that the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) is unhappy with the results of the Second Karabakh War. At the beginning of October, the head of Armenia’s Security Council declared his country’s readiness “to move forward and begin the process of demarcation and delimitation” of the border with Azerbaijan, “mediated by Russia.” In early October, the two countries agreed to open each other’s airspace for civilian flights operationally. The Lebanese Shi’ite scholar Sheikh Subhi Tufayli has said, in a broadcast interview, that the new Iranian foreign minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian told him that Iran wants “to sever Turkey’s ties with the rest of Turkish states” and therefore supports the Armenians “so that there is a barrier in front of Turkey.” Tehran cynically manipulates the Israel issue in the South Caucasus as it does everywhere else. In a related development, Georgia is becoming a leading mediator between Armenia and Azerbaijan. The most unmistakable, indeed perhaps the most widely commented, development at the beginning of this month was Iran’s demonstrative military exercises on the border with Azerbaijan where the newly de-occupied territories are located. Indeed, the first flight from Azerbaijan proper to Nakhchivan took place, by coincidence, on the very day after Iran announced the closure of its own airspace to Azeri aircraft. Hezbollah, for example, has already shifted its drug smuggling to a route using the important Lebanese diaspora in West Africa. Yet Armenia’s refusal to do so is preventing 700,000 Azeris, ethnically cleansed by the armed forces of the Republic of Armenia (as established in 2015 by the European Court of Human Rights), from returning to where their homes used to stand. This drug trade could also be the reason why Iran opposes the creation of the Zangezur corridor between Nakhchivan and the body of Azerbaijan proper. Azeri soldiers gather on the heights outside the village of Talysh, the site of heavy fighting during the most recent Karabakh War. This appears as an non-exclusive alternative to the “Six-way Platform” (with Iran, Russia, and Turkey instead of the US and EU; also called “3+3”), which has not yet got very far. One result of the war, for example, is the closure of Iran’s drug-trafficking route through the formerly occupied territories and Armenia to Europe. The profits from this drug trade have gone, among other places, to the financing of terrorist organizations and groups in other countries that the IRGC controls. Yet the unfreezing of relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan continues. Garibashvili proposed his “Peaceful Neighborhood Initiative” (PNI) with a “3+2” format (the three South Caucasus countries plus the EU and US). What is necessary is the ability to recognize new patterns, rather than to project old patterns upon new events. At the opening of the UN General Assembly sessions in New York at the end of September. The ICJ cases will take years to hear and decide; nevertheless, they will be of fundamental significance. Rather, the PNI would complement other forums, including the important trilateral consultations among Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Russia, insofar as these may continue in the face of repeated Armenian hesitations. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>New political patterns in the South Caucasus

By Robert M. Notably, it “recommends that Armenia and Azerbaijan allow UNESCO unlimited access to all cultural heritage sites in both countries to assess the damage and assess the steps necessary to safeguard what remains.”
Such an even-handed approach will overcome the inordinate publicity given to the alleged shelling of a cathedral in Shusha by Azeri forces during the war, and balance it by an inventory of Armenian destruction of Azeri cultural heritage, beginning with the destruction of 16 out of 17 mosques in Shusha and the “re-branding” of the seventeenth as “Persian” (with Iranian architectural participation).

As Britain gradually rediscovers its global muscle memory, it should look to apply its China containment strategy gradually and impose its advantages selectively. As a point of reference, the designs of the UK Integrated Review are noble in nature where the UK should be commended for taking such a clear-eyed approach to China. The recent testing a nuclear-capable hypersonic missile, portrayed as a spacecraft by government authorities, is a frightening reminder of its rapidly developing capabilities and potential willingness to introduce these weapons to a theatre setting. Outside of their immediate neighborhood, their proliferation of debt traps in the developing world and their trojan horse-like application of Huawei on 5G networks is further proof of their miscreant intentions. Too much of it can be deadly, while too little of it can be crushing. The Chinese containment strategy, and Britain’s role within it, will further profit under the QUAD umbrella which will provide London with the leading strategic platform to consult allied capitals on China. All of these alliances and partnerships will be key for London as they buy time to both scale up military staffing in key countries and ramp up defence capabilities. Protecting vital national interests and instigating a superpower will not be business as usual. With “Global Britain” back in action and reoriented towards Asia to contain the pacing threat of China, Downing Street would do well to manage expectations when juxtaposed against such a formidable rival. With a dash of hubris and good fortune “Global Britain” can do its part for itself and the world. Despite the delay, the resources currently at their disposal still hold great utility in the short and medium-term. To be clear, pursuing this ambitious strategy doesn’t come without the risk of blowback. Down the road, upgrades on the current class of destroyers and frigates will significantly enhance Britain’s capability and capacity to take on more responsibility. Consequently, as Britain embarks on another chapter of its storied statecraft, applying the right strategy and assets to meet its objectives in Asia has never been more critical for itself and the global community. Not everyone possesses the appetite to take on China, where many would bristle at the thought of receiving Xi Jinping’s vitriol or loss of investment. This feature will also positively feed into America’s strategy of distribution maritime forces in the Pacific that will contribute to more equal burden-sharing. London and its allies should expect an assortment of retaliatory action from China in both the military and economic domains. Despite the seduction of partnering with Beijing, the UK recognized the compromising position that comes with working China and made a bold statement by banning Huawei from its 5G rollout in November 2020. History is littered with nations that failed in their quest for increased international relevancy due to overextension or mission creep. This pushback theme has extended to the military domain where the British government’s approval for the largest rise in its defence budget, $21.9 billion over a four-year period, since the Cold War is a welcome announcement that will help it develop the necessary capabilities to match policy. Facebook

Twitter

Linkedin

WhatsApp

Viber

Email

Print

Hubris is a fickle emotion. Its expanded assignment of military assets to the region will be part of a larger containment strategy that will allow it to make maximum impact. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>A dash of UK Hubris: Containing China

By Roger Hilton
Defense and Security Fellow, GLOBSEC

Members of the Royal Navy during an inspection in front of Buckingham Palace. Consequently, attempting to diminish China’s uninhibited action in the region and check their ambitions is a worthwhile policy objective given the litany of transgressions they are responsible for. A country with a long tradition of hubris on the international stage is the UK. The recent AUKUS pact was a major coup against China, confirming their collective seriousness in tackling the military threat it poses. At the moment the sum total of British military hardware does not match its regional objectives, where a fully ready British presence and strong “China-facing capabilities” won’t arrive until sometime in 2040. Thankfully the Cold War has taught the UK how to both withstand pressure and act with swagger to compete in the global arena of titans. Spearheaded by the United States, a community of like-minded nations are coalescing around checking China where diplomatic efforts to build a groundswell of support and commitment to this theme is as important as the military efforts. The sights of UK naval assets on longer and more regular deployments in the region will only grow as the UK stations two patrol vessels in the Indo-Pacific region and modernizes existing facilities to check China’s naval expansion. From their conquest of North America to Asia, British foreign policy is well acclimatized to both the risks and rewards that come with global ambition. From the construction of a second nuclear silo in Hami to the hoarding of anti-satellite weapons as well as the relentless military intimidation of Taiwan, Australia and others, China has acted with impunity for too long. For anyone who has read the UK Integrated Review, the hubris oozing from its pages are hard to overlook. The eventual delivery of the next generation subsea systems, in the 2040s, to replace the current fleet of Astute-class submarines will be transformational for Britain’s ability to project power vis-à-vis China or other rivals. To compliment the QUAD, the UK Integrated review has also pledged to increase contributions to the Five Power Defence Arrangements (FPDA) as well as pursue closer defence cooperation with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member states.  
Just like its past engagements with a superpower, the UK is not looking to take China head-on. The UK will use its current Carrier Strike Group deployment in 2021 and beyond to boost its regional engagement and lay down a marker to China that its presence in the region is permanent.

The Navoiyazot facility is one of Uzbekistan’s largest chemical plants, producing mineral fertilizers by processing natural gas feedstock. The governments of the three countries plan to attract some $1 billion over five years. Turning to privatization, he said this is partly in response to continuing domestic energy shortages and partly a part of the privatization commitment. Utilities
Weafer said there are plans to deregulate gas and electricity markets.   Late last year the President said, “We need a lot of investments in this sector. According to a draft presidential decree published on January 18th, the state monopoly on the supply of electricity and liquefied gas to local enterprises will be abolished as early as this year,” he said. Fifteen projects are to be implemented in the field of inorganic chemistry, 23 in organic chemistry and 12 in the production of polymers. More than $55 million was invested into various private sector projects. The bank extended loans valued at $521 million to various projects in the country in 2020. One project aims to establish an innovation center that will be engaged in the research and development of new types of polymers made with gas feedstock and the training of specialists. The funds are to be allocated for the implementation of projects that support the electricity sector and for the construction of a water pipeline network to improve water supply in the Muzrabod district of Surkhandarya region, the ministry said. The draft also proposes the cancellation of customs duties and permits for the import of liquefied gas. Uzbekistan and the EBRD have signed loan agreements worth $150 million to finance infrastructure projects, the Ministry of Investment and Trade said on December 10. Loans worth $150 million were provided to support vital upgrades of electricity and water supply infrastructure in Surkhandarya region. By supporting this project, the EBRD contributed to Uzbekistan’s objective to generate 8 MW of solar and wind power by 2030. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Uzbekistan to expand energy sector, renewables

By New Europe Online/KG

Facebook

Twitter

Linkedin

WhatsApp

Viber

Email

Print

The Uzbekistan government’s key priority remains the expansion of energy and, especially, in the renewables sectors, Chris Weafer, co-founder of Macro-Advisory in Moscow, said, adding that at least $15 billion will be spent in this sector this decade. According to rough estimates, $15-20 billion would be needed in the next 10 years. Gas Sector
According to Weafer, Uzbekistan plans to implement 52 projects worth $9 billion as it moves into the deep processing of natural gas and production of value-added products, the press service of the presidential office said on November 25, 2020. The product is to be exported to neighbouring countries in the region, as well as to Turkey, Ukraine, and Georgia. The complex has the capacity to produce 660,000 tons of ammonia and 577,500 tons of urea. Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and the US are to cooperate on the launch of the Central Asian Investment Partnership initiative, according to a joint statement signed on January 7. We are planning to attract $7.6 billion in FDI in 2021. This included a $40 million equity investment in the country’s leading food chain Korzinka, marking the development bank’s first equity investment in the country in a decade, a loan of $12.5 million to fertilizer producer Indorama Kokand and a loan of $2.8 million in local currency-equivalent to a leading domestic producer and trader of disposable medical goods, Healthline. Representatives of the three countries also said that they welcome other countries joining the initiative to promote regional economic partnership and prosperity. The project was financed with loans from Japanese banks worth $577 million and included a loan from the Fund for the Reconstruction and Development of Uzbekistan at $320 million. A Finance Ministry study calculated the total cost to build that capacity at “in excess of $15 billion”. The energy ministry will be tasked with overseeing the implementation of the roadmap for change and will allow enterprises to import electricity and gas from August 1st , the draft document said. The projects would allow the production of $4.1 billion worth goods, the replacement of imported products worth $1.1 billion, the export of value-added goods worth $1.45 billion and the creation of 6,500 new jobs, according to officials. The government expects demand for electricity to grow by 70% over the next decade. “The government has published a draft document that proposes abolishing Uzbekistan’s gas and electricity supply monopoly and opening it up to investors. Cooperation is scheduled with several European and Asian countries,” said Abidov. The EBRD published a report on its activities in Uzbekistan in 2020. During video-conferenced talks, the EBRD expressed its readiness to provide comprehensive support to accelerate reforms in the financial and banking sectors of Uzbekistan. “Last year, Uzbekistan saw $7 billion worth of FDI. These investments were channeled towards promising industries such as electrical engineering, IT, and so forth. The specific amount of new generating capacity is 30 GW, and the government strategy is to target new facilities in these categories: Thermal power plant (including steam and gas plants) – 19 GW (60%); Nuclear power plant – 2.4 GW (8%); Solar power plants – 5 GW (15%); Wind power plants – 1.7 GW (5%); Hydroelectric power stations – 4 GW (12%). Chemicals plant
Uzbek state-owned enterprise Uzkimyosanoat announced the commissioning of its $982 million ammonia and urea production complex in Navoiyazot. Foreign Direct Investment
Uzbekistan intends to raise $7.6 billion in foreign direct investment (FDI) by the end of this year, according to Badriddin Abidov, deputy minister of investment and foreign trade. The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) provided $521 million in 2020. The funds are expected to go into projects that advance private sector-led growth and increase economic connectivity within Central Asia and the broader region. To support Uzbekistan’s green transition, the bank financed its first privately owned and competitively tendered renewable energy project in the country by extending an equity bridge loan for the construction of a 100 MW solar photovoltaic plant in the Navoi region of Uzbekistan, Weafer said. In June 2019, Uzbekistan’s President Shavkat Mirziyoyev, who is running for re-election on October 24, signed a law ratifying the charter of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) — a decree from the same month set goals to allocate US$5.3 billion to 810 investment projects to develop renewable energy up until 2022. It is intended to allow local companies to buy electricity and liquefied petroleum gas on the open market, rather than from state monopolies. The funds were pledged to 18 projects to support the country’s banking sector, small and medium sized enterprises’ (SMEs’) access to finance, the upgrading of key infrastructure and the promoting of renewable energy development. In October, Canadian oil and gas company Condor Petroleum said it plans to invest over $1 billion in the operation of gas fields in Uzbekistan’s Bukhara province in 2021-24.

During the visit, Obrador shared his decision to begin a structured transition toward the greening of Mexico’s energy sector and the strengthening of its energy independence. Mexico will step up its efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, mainly methane, as this gas has a global warming potential up to 34 times that of other gases. Mexican President Lopez Obrador and cabinet ministers warmly welcomed Kerry for a day-long visit to Palenque in the state of Chiapas, Mexico, including a formal exchange of views and an informal introduction to the region, including its people and history. The two countries will explore other opportunities to enhance ambition, including increasing energy efficiency, tackling methane emissions, and greening transportation. Mexico to cooperate with the US to accelerate deployment of renewable energy

Facebook

Twitter

Linkedin

WhatsApp

Viber

Email

Print

During his visit to Mexico, US Special Presidential Envoy John Kerry and Mexican Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard announced on October 19 an important step forward in the bilateral relations between the United States and Mexico on measures to address the climate crisis. Mexico and the US will work together to combat climate change ahead of the upcoming climate conference (COP26) to be held in Glasgow. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>US, Mexico to address climate crisis

By New Europe Online/KG

US Special Presidential Envoy John Kerry visits Sembrando Vida, a multi-state initiative Mexico has undertaken to plant trees, support the goal to eliminate deforestation, create sustainable jobs in the agricultural sector, and create opportunities for would-be migrants in their communities of origin, Mexico, October 19, 2021. Mexico previously announced its support for the Global Methane Pledge, and both countries recognize the critical importance of rapidly reducing methane emissions, the joint statement read.   The US and Mexico said the countries are committed to working together to enhance the climate benefits of this initiative and to promote nature-based solutions to climate, conservation, and development. Ebrard said that our country was one of the first to support the initiative promoted by Kerry. He also commented that Mexico and the US will be able to jointly develop new initiatives and seek financing for a green economy, given that it creates new sustainable sectors in the economy. Kerry indicated that the United States would support efforts to catalyze finance and technology, and both countries underscored the importance of strengthening North American relations, with an accelerated clean energy transition this decade to address the climate crisis including with Canada, the statement read. The two countries recognize the importance of global efforts to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius and share the view that the 2020s are a decisive decade for climate action, the Mexican – US Engagement on Climate Change said in a joint statement. Obrador shared Mexico’s plans, including to cooperate closely with the US to accelerate Mexico’s deployment of renewable energy, including wind, solar, geothermal, and hydroelectric power, as a major step in Mexico’s commitment to strengthen the ambition of its Nationally Determined Contribution under the Paris Agreement next year. In Palenque, Kerry, accompanied by Obrador, witnessed the progress and results of the “Sowing Life” program, one of the green projects that has attracted the most attention from the world. Mexico has invested $1.3 billion of its own resources in the project, making it the most important global project for reforestation and for entire ecosystems, said the Foreign Secretary. Obrador introduced Kerry to Sembrando Vida, a multi-state initiative Mexico has undertaken to plant trees, support the goal to eliminate deforestation, create sustainable jobs in the agricultural sector, and create opportunities for would-be migrants in their communities of origin. At a press conference led by Obrador on October 19, Ebrard said that the US and Mexico share environmental goals thanks to their close relationship, which also respects and takes into account the possibilities of each, and Mexico’s decisions.

Jeff Merkley—seemed receptive to such a policy, with hardly anyone else showing any enthusiasm for it. On Capitol Hill, meanwhile, out of the entire Democratic caucus, only three—Bay Area Reps. We will need to champion our own progressive version of these positions rather than simply reject them outright. Of course, he has already appointed some dangerous extremists to important foreign-policy positions, and Trump himself is erratic at best… But some of his statements—his calls to work with Russia, end America’s destructive wars, and create more equitable trade agreements—are not so far removed from ones that we ourselves have embraced. Schwenninger could only shake his head at the spectacle of the otherwise intractable Trump opponents transforming themselves, in the blink of an eye, into his loudest cheerleaders when he decided to bomb Syria. The direction New America took in recent years was something of a sore spot for the otherwise equanimous Schwenninger, who was appalled by the turn it took in the years since it was taken over by Anne-Marie Slaughter, who served as foreign policy adviser under Hillary Clinton’s State Department. Carden
Former adviser to the State Department and a frequent contributor to The American Conservative and The Quincy Institute’s Responsible Statecraft. In the years following, long-established think tanks such as the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the Atlantic Council have established in-house programs that promote a more realistic and restrained American foreign policy. He was also one of the first thinkers to promote an alternative to the stale liberal internationalism and neoconservatism that have dominated the foreign policy discussion in Washington. In an unsigned introductory note, Schwenninger wrote that “progressives would be wise to avoid two tendencies” in the coming years. foreign policy is concerned. I believe the honest answer is ‘no.’ That’s because we had no vital national interest in Afghanistan other than to prevent an attack on America’s homeland and our friends … The fundamental obligation of a President, in my opinion, is to defend and protect America … I simply do not believe that the safety and security of America is enhanced by continuing to deploy thousands of American troops and spending billions of dollars a year in Afghanistan.”
In doing so, Biden seems to have adopted a number of themes that scholars like Schwenninger have long advocated. By the time he and I became friends, the major organs of opinion in Washington and New York had become incredibly hostile toward the few of us who publicly objected to the idea that the US must wage not only nine illegal and unconstitutional wars but a two-front cold war with Russia and China as well. One of Schwenninger’s many gifts was his ability to anticipate far in advance trends that would shape US foreign policy and the global political economy. Though he sadly did not live to see it, perhaps history is finally moving in Schwenninger’s direction as far as U.S. Facebook

Twitter

Linkedin

WhatsApp

Viber

Email

Print

During the autumn of 2020, the United States lost one of its most brilliant, incisive, yet unheralded thinkers in Sherle R. Needless to say, for years there had been hardly any enthusiasm for progressive realist ideas at the leading think tanks and graduate schools of international relations in Washington. All of a sudden, it now seems that space has opened up for those seeking to promote a kind of “Schwenningerian” foreign policy. Indeed, building a viable progressive foreign policy alternative after 2017 was made virtually impossible by the childish hysteria that marked the liberal reaction toward Trump. Ro Khanna and Barbara Lee and Oregon Sen. … I respectfully suggest you ask yourself this question: If we had been attacked on September 11, 2001, from Yemen instead of Afghanistan, would we have ever gone to war in Afghanistan—even though the Taliban controlled Afghanistan in 2001? And attempts by Schwenninger and others on lobbying with stakeholders who should have been natural allies within the 2016 Bernie Sanders campaign to adopt such a policy were met with frustration. “The second tendency we should avoid is falling into nostalgia for the Obama era.”
The advice he offered American liberals and progressives, which now hardly needs pointing out, was resoundingly rejected. Schwenninger. The first mainstream group that appeared willing to do so was the Charles Koch and George Soros-funded Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, which was founded in 2019. It was Slaughter who turned the organization into a well-funded platform for the very types of intellectuals Schwenninger distrusted most: Liberals in search of the next war. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>In US foreign policy, realists are finally on the rise

By James W. That these attacks were coming from liberals and progressives who were consciously turning their backs on their own tradition of anti-McCarthyism made this spectacle all the more pathetic. For Biden, this was the end of “an era of major military operations to remake other countries.”
In the speech by Biden on August 31, he further said:
“To those asking for a third decade of war in Afghanistan, I ask: What is the vital national interest? At the same time, Schwenninger caught sight of another troubling trend: the emerging alliance between Silicon Valley, the Pentagon and Wall Street. According to Schwenninger, “The progressive realist critique is centered around international law; non-intervention; disarmament; and winding down the worst excesses of the post-9/11 period.”
The idea, progressive realism, was the focus of a special issue of the Nation on foreign policy that was edited by Schwenninger during the week Donald Trump took office in January 2017. Still more encouraging, in his speech announcing the end of the 20-year occupation of Afghanistan, President Joe Biden repeatedly invoked “national interest” in defense of his decision to withdraw from Afghanistan. This was particularly true with regard to the New America Foundation, the think tank Schwenninger founded in the 1990s with Michael Lind, Ted Halstead and Walter Russell Mead, which is now known as New America. Schwenninger frequently lamented what he said was the “progressive totalitarianism” of the left when it came to foreign policy; during the Trump years, anyone who dared suggest that détente with Russia might be a sensible policy, or that, perhaps, the war in Syria was a bit more complicated than the pro-Islamist narrative being propagated by corporate media (particularly CNN and the Washington Post), would, more often than not, be immediately labeled as a Putin and/or Assad apologist… or worse. “The first is defining a progressive foreign policy as simply a rejection of whatever Trump says or does. But something has changed over the past year or so, owing, I believe, to a change in the “atmospherics” in Washington brought about by Trump’s departure.