2008 Themes

1. The United States: what does the world expect from the “indispensable nation” ?

The “unipolar moment” of post-Cold War came to a close but, for the predicable future, the United States still remains the power of reference. On the eve of a presidential elections and after a strong erosion of the soft power of the United States, what should the world expect from the “indispensable nation”? Is the United States ready to reassess its role positively, taking into account the other powers and multilateral organizations in a world becoming multipolar?

2. Russia : domestic developments and external policies

Russia is “back”, in particular because the rising price of hydrocarbons stimulates its economic growth and increases its international leverage. How to stabilize this growth which is excessively reliant on raw materials? Will Russia’s new “cards” determine a new capacity of proposal, and a new approach over spaces involving its strategic interests? What should the world expect from Russia – and through which policies? Conversely, what should Moscow expect from its partners?

3. China: domestic developments and assertion of power

What effects will the economic emergence of China, whether it continues or stops, have on the economies of the area and those of the world at large? More broadly, should the redefinition of equilibrium, on a regional and world scale, be based on China’s assertion of its global power? How can Chinese strategy be made compatible with those of other regional or global actors?

4. Japan: what power, what strategies?

Because of its economy and its military and technological force – and especially because it stands as “a nuclear threshold” country – Japan is a major power, insufficiently considered as such. Tokyo is now readjusting its international surface to the evolution of its society, and the ongoing mutation of regional power struggles, crucially affected mainly by the emergence of China. How must we assess the place of Japan within Asia, whose internal structure and world weight are undergoing a rapid change? Beyond Asia, what does Japan want, and what does the world hope for Japan?

5. India: regional power and/or world actor?

The shape of tomorrow’s multipolarity in great part depends on the structure and modalities of the growth of India. Will India want and manage to play both the cards of economic emergence and those of political power? India will have to redefine its regional relations (China, Pakistan…), and at a more global level, to say what role it intends to play in world affairs and in the elaboration of common rules.

6. Sub-Saharan Africa: implosion or takeoff?

Africa may be viewed both as the continent of hope (economic takeoff in some countries, regional organization, progress of democracy) and as threatened of implosion (crisis of the States, strong inequalities of development, increasing number of domestic conflicts, etc.). What methods could best contribute to develop the cards of the African countries? And what is, what could be the role of outside actors?

7. Is Europe with 27 and more members sustainable?

A European Union with nearly thirty members is inevitably more heterogeneous. The EU will remain, and further expand, but around what projects? Will it have to relinquish the goal of achieving political power? Should the EU become an actor in the new multipolar world? In what sense? Over what geographical areas and foreign policies will this Union be able to be influential?

8. Israel/Palestine, a crucial international issue: what commitments for external actors?

Most international actors agree that the coexistence of both states could bring a solution to the conflict. The urgency of the situation demands putting out of the way opponents to this idea. Is the perpetuation of the status quo not carrying the most dangerous risks? What part, – in ways yet to be defined – can important global or regional actors (first and foremost the United States, but also the Arab states, Russia, EU, UN, NATO…) concretely take to solve this issue?

9. An arc of crisis from Iraq to Pakistan

The Iraqi disaster could lead to the activation of a “Shia arc” and/or to the break-up of the country, the further deterioration of the relations between Western powers and Teheran, internal instability in Pakistan, no clear way out of the war in Afghanistan. All these elements turn the region into a particularly alarming arc of crisis. What internal stabilisation means at political societies level, what regional means of equilibrium can be used? Which actors could help negotiating ways out of the crisis?

10. Which governance for which stability?

The “multilateralism” developed during and after the cold war showed both its merits (arms control and disarmament, NPT, role of UN and the regional security institutions, International Penal Tribunal…) and its limits (crisis management, proliferation…). After a period of systematic “dismantling” of multilateralism, and while new powers emerge, how to conciliate “multipolarity” and “multilateralism”? Which institutions, which procedures are necessary to get towards an organized multipolar world?

11. The economy of knowledge, or education, still deserves an effort

The “economy of knowledge” constitutes a major challenge for the economies on the whole, whether emergent or developed. Few countries have been successful in that matter. Governments encounter many difficulties to achieve their ambition. In Europe, the Lisbon strategy is a failure. How to organize more effectively the efforts in favour of education? Where to focus the effort? Which initiatives to take so that innovation can create new growth opportunities? How to facilitate the adhesion of the social strata to these changes?

12. Credit crisis, financial crisis, economic crisis: what to do?

The current crisis appears to be more serious than those of the last 20 years. Why? Which lesson to draw from the errors done? Did we show an excessive zeal in deregulating? Which initiatives to take to avoid the repetition of this, presumably in new fashion, in the future? What new rules for the financial planet?

13. Regulation of migrations, a world issue

The human migrations South to North, South to South, or within developed countries constitute an important aspect of globalization, badly apprehended and badly controlled. The question is too complex (development issues, internal stability of “exporting” societies, “importing” societies or transit issue…) to be dealt with only at national, or only at international level. A management mode combining domestic and foreign policies, and taking cues from all states, North and South, remains to be invented.

14. Energy and climate: what diplomatic challenges?

Energy has always been an international key stake. This is a question which has reached new dimensions primarily because of the explosion of demand. If the scarcity of resources comes from lack of investments, how to stimulate them? It is necessary to put nuclear power back on the agenda? How to make national interests compatible? In addition, climatic change has become everywhere in the world a declared priority of foreign policy. Which proposals to make in order to create after Bali the “carbon governance” that the planet needs? Will Europe be able, and at what price, to exercise the leadership which it believes it obtained from the agreement of Kyoto?

15. Is the Gulf becoming an arc of hope?

Caught between a spectacular economic development partly based on the rising price of hydrocarbons and the growth of geopolitical and geo-economic risks mainly resulting from its geographic position, the Arabian Gulf Peninsula is at a crossroad. Will it move towards the geography of hope of Asia, with the dream of its many city States of becoming “new Singapore” or will it drift into the geography of tension of the Greater Middle-East?

16. Global food crisis