The Fruits of Diplomacy

An unexpected source of sweetness has been injected into U.S.-Pakistani relations. Late last month the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that the first shipment of mangoes imported from Pakistan had arrived in the United States. Previously, Pakistani mangoes had been banned in the U.S. because of concerns they might bring pests into the country.

In celebration of this first shipment, the Pakistani consulate in Chicago hosted a "mango party" at which a large assortment of mango-based delicacies and desserts were served. Pakistani Ambassador to the U.S. Husain Haqqani attended the event and has also sent boxes of renowned "Chaunsa" mangoes to U.S. leaders including the president and various senators. Ambassador Haqqani heralded the event as the culmination of "two years of strategic dialogue with the Americans," in an effort that reached to officials at the highest levels of the U.S. foreign policy establishment including Secretary of State Clinton and the late Af-Pak envoy Richard Holbrooke. Ambassador Haqqani declared, "this is something we are very happy a time when U.S. Pakistan relations are being reported as tense, this is finally some sweet news."

With nearly $250 million in mangoes coming in each year, the United States is currently the world's largest mango importer. Pakistan is the world's sixth largest mango producer. Many hope that these mangoes will promote more trade between the U.S. and Pakistan, and mark a transition for Pakistan from aid recipient to equal economic partner.

Across the Pacific, China too has begun to use fruit to further its political and diplomatic aims. The Chinese government has been purchasing large quantities of Taiwanese fruit in an effort to influence the votes of southern Taiwanese farmers. Taiwan has a major fruit overproduction problem. Chinese officials hope that by buying the excess fruit and helping the farmers economically, they may be able to sway them politically and take votes away from the nationalist Democratic People's Party in the 2012 presidential election.

In May 2005, China announced a "zero-tariff" policy on 15 Taiwanese fruits, a move the Taiwanese government considered "an all-out united front campaign to manipulate Taiwan's farmers" and one that is aimed "to temper Taiwan's negative reaction to the passage of the ‘anti-separation law'" (which outlines China's willingness to violently respond to a Taiwanese declaration of independence). Then in 2008, when Taiwan was overproducing oranges, a Chinese company purchased 1,200 tons of oranges. Between 2009 and 2010, fruit exports from Taiwan to China grew nearly 130 percent. This summer, as Taiwanese banana growers have struggled with overproduction, the Chinese government has once again expressed a willingness to help out. The governor of Shandong province alone has pledged to purchase 5,000 tons of bananas.

Of course, when fruit goes bad it can complicate diplomacy. Last month, nearly 100 Americans contracted salmonella from imported Mexican papayas. Currently, officials on both sides of the border are working hard to make sure that relations between the two countries do not sour as a result of the diseased fruit.



Sept/Oct issue: FP goes back to the future

By Susan Glasser

Editor in Chief

Are you ready for designer biohazards, an end to Middle Eastern dominance of the oil business, and a United Nations with a lot more countries sitting at the grown-ups' table? What about a robot chauffeur, Iranian smart bombs, or a United States desperate to encourage immigrants from south of the border, not keep them out? Welcome to Foreign Policy's first-ever predictions issue. We asked some of the world's most bleeding-edge thinkers to look at the planet in the year 2025-and those are just a few of their remarkable, and at times startling, projections. Most of all, what they told us is that The Future Is Now; the big trends and inescapable developments dictating our next few decades have already been set in motion, and though of course we can't begin to predict the unknowable, we actually already know an awful lot about how the world will look in the coming years.

To open the special section, Ayesha and Parag Khanna take inspiration from another husband-and-wife team who pretty much invented futurism back in the 1970s; as the Khannas remind us, the astonishingly prescient books by Alvin and Heidi Toffler, Future Shock and The Third Wave, though decades old, are filled with predictions that seem ripped from today's headlines, whether the "do-it-yourself revolution" or the rise of designer babies. The rest of the package features a blue-chip cast of predictors, from Google chief economist Hal Varian, investment guru Mohamed El-Erian, and hedge-fund founder John Seo to energy expert Amy Myers Jaffe, military futurist Andrew Krepinevich, globe-trotting foreign correspondent Robert D. Kaplan, and former State Department policy-planning chief Anne-Marie Slaughter.

This is no mere crystal-ball exercise; in each case, our experts identify global trends that are already well under way-and sure to be amplified in the coming decades, from the rise of what Varian calls "the micromultinational" as a new force in global business to the advent of a dangerous new security era characterized by what Krepinevich chillingly terms the "democratization of destruction." The smart money is betting on them being right, though nothing, of course, is certain when it comes to the future, which is why the section ends with the cautionary tale of five megatrends that weren't.

Challenging the conventional wisdom of the present day is showcased elsewhere in the issue, which comes out just as the United States marks a decade since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001-and the bloody wars that followed. Foreign Policy's coverage ranges from an interview with Bob Woodward to a gripping feature by Charles Kurzman, whose new book, The Missing Martyrs, chronicles the mystery of why al ?Qaeda has been so unsuccessful at recruiting the world's Muslims for its campaign of terror. Along the way, Kurzman introduces us to the memorable figure of Mohammed Taheri-Azar, a terrorist wannabe who botched an attack right outside Kurzman's university digs and couldn't even tell the difference between the two branches of a religion he proclaimed himself willing to die for.

In the accompanying Think Again: War, scholar Joshua S. Goldstein convincingly debunks the notion that the world since 2001 has become a bloodier, more dangerous place; it may seem that way, but in fact, he writes, "the last decade has seen fewer war deaths than any decade in the past 100 years." While the "global war on terror" the United States launched after 9/11 has certainly caused U.S. military budgets to balloon, the post-Cold War era for the planet as a whole, Goldstein concludes, has "been an era of rapid progress toward peace."