Two events dominated 2008-09: the election of Barack Obama as President of the United States, and the financial and economic crisis. The global recession overshadowed the ambitious efforts of the new US administration to set a fresh tone in international affairs. Strategic Survey 2009: The Annual Review of World Affairs examines in detail the effects of the two biggest developments, as well as other important events such as the deepening confrontations over the Iranian and North Korean nuclear programmes, and worsening violence in Afghanistan and Pakistan. In a year that saw a major terrorist attack in India, a strategic policy essay covers modern counter-terrorism trends. Other essays examine Europe’s energy position, and security arrangements in Asia. The book reports on the moderation of Latin America’s leftward shift, Russia’s fractious international relationships following the August 2008 war in Georgia, and political upheavals in Africa. Maps in the Strategic Geography section include illustrations of America’s decaying infrastructure, and drug violence in Mexico. The key developments in an eventful year are summarised in a chronology, and the book is fully indexed.

Two events dominated 2008-09: the election of Barack Obama as President of the United States, and the financial and economic crisis. The global recession overshadowed the ambitious efforts of the new US administration to set a fresh tone in international affairs. Strategic Survey 2009: The Annual Review of World Affairs examines in detail the effects of the two biggest developments, as well as other important events such as the deepening confrontations over the Iranian and North Korean nuclear programmes, and worsening violence in Afghanistan and Pakistan. In a year that saw a major terrorist attack in India, a strategic policy essay covers modern counter-terrorism trends. Other essays examine Europe’s energy position, and security arrangements in Asia. The book reports on the moderation of Latin America’s leftward shift, Russia’s fractious international relationships following the August 2008 war in Georgia, and political upheavals in Africa. Maps in the Strategic Geography section include illustrations of America’s decaying infrastructure, and drug violence in Mexico. The key developments in an eventful year are summarised in a chronology, and the book is fully indexed.

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  • Events at a Glance

    July 2008–June 2009 July 2008 2 Colombia: Ingrid Betancourt, former presidential candidate held captive for six years, and 14 others are freed in a military operation in which Colombian soldiers trick FARC rebel captors into releasing hostages without a shot being fired. 4 China: First regular flights begin between China and Taiwan 7 Afghanistan: Car bomb kills 41 people, including two Indian diplomats, outside Indian Embassy in Kabul. 8 Czech Republic: US and...
  • Chapter 1: Perspectives

    Never has the world been so caught up in a single country’s democratic process as it was in the election of Barack Obama as president of the United States in November 2008. It was not only the American public that was affected by the words and phrases that defined his campaign, such as ‘hope’, ‘change’, and ‘yes we can’. Many people across the world, it seemed, were impressed by his...
  • Chapter 2: Strategic Policy Issues

    Countering Modern Terrorist Threats Over the past decade terrorism has, through the emergence of al-Qaeda and related groups, attained a transnational dimension which has elevated it in some eyes to the status of a global strategic threat. Whether it merits this status is a subject of continuing debate. But there can be no question that the response of the United States to the perceived threat from al-Qaeda has exercised a...
  • Chapter 3: North America

    The United States: The Primacy of Politics If meant to be a joke, it was pretty serious. In the Roosevelt Room of the White House, US Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson fell to one knee in front of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, and begged her not to let an emergency bailout package for failing banks ‘blow up‘ in Congress. ‘I didn’t know you were Catholic’, Pelosi is reported to...
  • Chapter 4: Latin America

    In recent years Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez’s radical populism, accented with fiery anti-US rhetoric, has dominated the discourse of Latin America’s leftward shift. Over the past year, however, while the region continued down a leftist path, many of its rising leaders sought to emulate Brazilian President Luiz Inácio ‘Lula’ da Silva’s ‘third way’, characterised by more conciliatory centre-left policies and economic stability, rather than Chávez’s more petulant and ideological approach. Two...
  • Chapter 5: Europe

    The economic downturn dominated the year to mid 2009 in Europe. Even though 27 European countries are members of the European Union, and 16 of them have a single currency, the financial crisis produced a far from unified response. Each took different, sometimes competitive measures to deal with the market dislocations of autumn 2008. While Britain and the United States took basically the same fire-fighting approach, French and German leaders...
  • Chapter 6: Russia

    Russia faced many challenges in the year to mid-2009. After a decade of uninterrupted economic growth, it was severely affected by the world financial crisis and the decline in global energy prices. The first half of 2009 saw an extraordinary double-digit contraction in GDP and the return of a large budget deficit. Meanwhile, the August 2008 war in Georgia delivered a major blow to relations between Russia and the West...
  • Chapter 7: Middle East / Gulf

    The election of Barack Obama as American president signalled the application of new energy to the many challenges of the Middle East region. Obama sought to set a new tone in relations between the United States and the Muslim world. However, his arrival coincided with the advent of a right-wing Israeli government that did not favour compromise with the Palestinians, who themselves remained badly divided. Israel’s effort to divert Washington’s...
  • Chapter 8: Africa

    Even before taking the impact of global recession into account, the year from mid 2008 was a turbulent period in Africa. Coups and putsches, which had gone out of style, made a comeback, with army takeovers in Mauritania and Guinea, a presidential assassination in Guinea-Bissau and a military-backed overthrow of the government in Madagascar. NATO, the European Union and a cluster of other countries rushed to send warships to counter...
  • Chapter 9: South Asia and Afghanistan

    The year to mid-2009 saw a number of important developments in South Asia, and was especially marked by political turmoil and escalating violence in Pakistan. A 26-year-long civil war ended in Sri Lanka and democracy resumed in Bangladesh, but threats to the region were underlined by a terrorist attack on the Indian city of Mumbai, and by the bitter conflict in Afghanistan, which was no nearer to resolution. For several years...
  • Chapter 10: Asia-Pacific

    China’s continuing emergence as a global power was underlined by the financial and economic crisis, which highlighted its importance to the American economy and to the stability of the world’s markets. The crisis badly affected other Asian exporters, and some countries, such as Japan and Thailand, were also caught up in domestic political wrangles. Recent diplomatic progress in negotiations with North Korea was reversed as Pyongyang ordered a nuclear test...
  • Chapter 11: Prospectives

    Following President Barack Obama’s historic election and the onset of the world’s gravest economic crisis for generations, the questions on many people’s minds were of a dramatic character. Will the world move to a more egalitarian political order where the United States is less apparently supreme? Would there be lasting geopolitical change as a result of shifts in the financial balance of power? Might the economic crisis further weaken fragile...
  • Strategic Geography

    Global Issues Africa Middle East/Gulf Asia-Pacific The Americas
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