Richard Weitz

Richard Weitz is a senior fellow and director of the Center for Political-Military Affairs at Hudson Institute. He analyzes mid- and long-term national and international political-military issues, including by employing scenario-based planning. His current areas of research include defense reform, counterterrorism, homeland security, and U.S. policies towards Europe, the former Soviet Union, Asia, and the Middle East.

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Articles written by Richard Weitz

Global Insights

China Advances on Missile Defense, With Eye on Dissuading Rivals

By Richard Weitz
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On July 23, China conducted its third declared ballistic missile defense test in the past four years, with the Ministry of Defense announcing afterward that the test “achieved the desired objectives.” But it would be premature to conclude that Beijing now embraces BMD. Instead, the recent tests are designed primarily to overcome adversary missile defenses as well as to develop China’s anti-satellite systems. more

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Putin’s South American Trip Hides Russia’s Strategic Weaknesses

By Richard Weitz
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Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to South America this month garnered considerable attention. In the U.S., some saw the trip as a tit-for-tat display of influence in Washington’s strategic backyard. However, it is best to keep Moscow’s machinations in perspective. Russia is presenting a number of challenges to important U.S. global interests, but its activities in South America are not among them. more

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For Afghanistan Election, After Kerry Deal Comes the Hard Part

By Richard Weitz
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John Kerry’s shuttle diplomacy paved the way to resolving Afghanistan’s current election crisis, while helping to establish a potential framework to address its more-enduring problems. In so doing, Kerry’s effort fortified Afghanistan’s ability to overcome future political challenges with less U.S. intervention. Despite the successful deal-making, however, Afghanistan continues to face major challenges. more

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Xi’s Visit Brings No Breakthrough in China-South Korea Ties

By Richard Weitz
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Last week’s China-South Korea summit confirmed the good relations between Beijing and Seoul under Presidents Xi Jinping and Park Geun-hye. The two leaders announced ambitious economic goals and reconfirmed their opposition to North Korea’s nuclear weapons program. Nonetheless, no breakthrough occurred; until Beijing distances itself from Pyongyang, it cannot fundamentally elevate its relations with Seoul. more

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Park’s Central Asia Tour Reaffirms South Korea’s Eurasian Vision

By Richard Weitz
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South Korean President Park Geun-hye’s high-profile six-day visit to Central Asia last week imparted further momentum to her “Eurasia initiative," intended to deepen South Korean ties with that energy-rich but geopolitically volatile region. The trip also highlighted South Korea’s value to Washington at a time when U.S. influence in the region is declining due to the ebbing U.S. military presence in Afghanistan. more

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Despite Softer Rhetoric, Iran Foreign Policy Shows Little Change

By Richard Weitz
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One of the major issues affecting U.S. deliberations over whether to accept a nuclear deal with Iran or to cooperate with Tehran in Iraq is the question of how much Iranian foreign policy has changed under President Hassan Rouhani. In fact, a survey of Iranian foreign policy during the past year shows major improvements in only a few areas, with a harder line on other issues and broad continuity in most cases. more

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Learning From Iraq to Prepare for Afghanistan’s Post-2016 Future

By Richard Weitz
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In a revealing quirk of history, the crisis in Iraq caused by the sudden onslaught of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) can help us better understand possible scenarios for Afghanistan moving forward. Despite their many differences, both countries are exposing the consequences of America’s decreased leverage combined with the rising but often mutually competing influence of other powers. more

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Pentagon Report Details China’s Unrelenting Military Buildup

By Richard Weitz
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One can read the Pentagon’s latest report on Chinese military power in many ways, but two interpretations come to mind most easily. First, one sees clear continuities with previous versions of this congressionally mandated annual assessment. Second, the document depicts a comprehensive military buildup whose sheer size and persistence could if continued propel China to superpower status in a few decades. more

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EU Seeks Energy Security Solutions to Russian Gas Challenge

By Richard Weitz
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On May 28, the European Commission released its comprehensive energy security strategy. Although the immediate goal is to avert another winter energy crisis, the long-term objective is to reduce EU reliance on vulnerable foreign energy supplies, especially from Russia. Europe’s core challenge is that its energy demand will rise by an estimated 27 percent by 2030, while EU domestic energy production is falling. more

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After Ukraine, Limited Prospects for U.S.-Russian Security Cooperation

By Richard Weitz
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I spent part of last week in Russia, giving a talk at the Moscow Carnegie Center on U.S.-Russia security cooperation after Ukraine, and attending a security conference organized by the Russian Defense Ministry. The difference between the two audiences was striking, and in the end, only a few opportunities for near-term cooperation were identified, most notably regarding Afghanistan and Iran’s nuclear program. more

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Increased Military Transparency Lifts Veil on U.S.-China Tensions

By Richard Weitz
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Last week’s visit of Gen. Fang Fenghui to the U.S. was the latest in a series of high-level exchanges between the U.S. and Chinese militaries. One consequence of this increased transparency is to make more evident the differences between the two countries’ defense establishments. Whereas in the past the Chinese would tend to downplay diverging views, now they don’t hesitate to frankly address differences. more

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West Joins China, Russia to Promote Nuke-Free Central Asia

By Richard Weitz
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At a ceremony on the margins of last week’s Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty meeting, France, the U.K. and the U.S. reversed their long-standing opposition and joined China and Russia in signing the protocol to the Central Asian Nuclear Weapon Free Zone Agreement. The signing demonstrates that even in moments of great power tensions, nuclear nonproliferation remains an issue of consensus and cooperation. more

Strategic Posture Review: Russia

By Richard Weitz
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The past few years have seen a remarkable recovery of Russia’s international influence and ambitions. Rejecting an implicit offer of partnership with the West, the Russian government under President Vladimir Putin continues to pursue a separate agenda aimed at making Russia an important and independent pillar of the global order. Moscow may not yet aspire to become a global superpower and peer rival of the U.S. again, but Russian policymakers consistently challenge efforts to relegate Moscow to secondary status in Europe and East Asia. Nonetheless, a number of domestic and foreign factors will impact Russia’s strategic posture. more

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Russia-India Afghan Arms Deal Comes With Regional Implications

By Richard Weitz
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One of the effects of the Western military drawdown from Afghanistan has been to strengthen Russian-Indian security ties. Until now, their mutual engagement regarding Afghanistan was mostly diplomatic. But media reports have now emerged of a new arrangement in which India will buy weapons from Russia for delivery to the Afghan military and join with Russia to help restore Afghanistan’s own arms industry. more

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NATO’s Missile Defense Counteroffensive to Ukraine

By Richard Weitz
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As part of their response to perceived Russian meddling in eastern Ukraine, the U.S. and its NATO allies are considering increasing U.S. missile defenses based in NATO’s European member states. While Moscow clearly hates these U.S. systems, and placing them near Russia is sure to capture Moscow’s attention, the U.S. missile defense response needs to be nuanced to yield net benefits to Western security. more

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With Eye on Moldova, NATO Must Shore Up Southeastern Front

By Richard Weitz
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The standoff in eastern Ukraine is far from resolved, but whatever its outcome, NATO needs to take urgent measures to deter Russian military intervention in Moldova and reinforce its security guarantees to NATO members Bulgaria and Romania. These two countries are vulnerable to Russian pressure, and their strong support is needed to advance Western goals in the Balkans, the Caspian region and Central Asia. more

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Modernization Leaves Russia’s Military Improved but Limited

By Richard Weitz, Vera Zimmerman
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With Russian forces massed on the Ukrainian border, a key question is how effective Russia’s military has become after a half-decade of modernization efforts. The takeover of Crimea proceeded with little bloodshed, but any attempt to occupy more territory in eastern Ukraine would likely be met with resistance. Russia would probably still win, but the true strength of the Russian military remains uncertain. more

Global Insights: With Election, Afghanistan Strengthens Democratic Credentials

By Richard Weitz
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The first round of Afghanistan's presidential election saw the country's political institutions perform much better than during the 2009 ballot, while the Afghan National Security Forces provided a relatively safe and secure electoral environment. The winners may not be clear until May, and a second round is likely. But already the results offer hope for Afghanistan's status as a functioning democracy. more

Global Insights: U.S.-South Korea Alliance Faces Growing Pains

By Richard Weitz
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The South Korean and U.S. militaries have begun their annual major field training exercise, which will include the largest amphibious drill in Korea in decades. South Korean officials said the exercise underscores Seoul’s strategic significance to the U.S. Asia pivot. Beneath the surface calm, however, many troubled currents will buffet both the exercise and the overall bilateral military relationship. more

Global Insights: Global Nuclear Security Agenda at Pivot Point

By Richard Weitz
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President Barack Obama’s whirlwind visit to Europe began yesterday against the looming shadow of the Ukraine crisis. While Obama will seek to rally Western resistance to Russia’s annexation of Crimea and affirm the administration’s strong commitment to European security, the trip was initially scheduled to coincide with the third Nuclear Security Summit, which focuses on preventing nuclear terrorism. more