Defense and Security Articles

Syrian Chemical Weapons Destruction Proceeding Slowly

By Eric Auner
, on , Trend Lines

One of the Obama administration’s biggest foreign policy gambles, the agreement to rid Syria of its chemical weapons in the midst of that country’s civil war, is behind schedule but still making progress. Despite tensions over Ukraine and the outcome of the Syrian civil war itself, the United States, Russia and others appear to be maintaining cooperation on the issue. more

Strategic Horizons: In Ukraine, Russia Reveals Its Mastery of Unrestricted Warfare

By Steven Metz
, on , Column

Russia is on the hunt again, determined to engulf another part of Ukraine. Moscow’s complex, multidimensional offensive uses intimidation, misinformation and any organization or group that can serve its interests. For a beleaguered Ukraine, pressure is coming in many ways and from many directions. And that is exactly what Vladimir Putin intends. Moscow has adopted, even mastered, a form of unrestricted warfare. more

Expanded Military Ties With China May Be of Limited Utility for U.S.

By Eric Auner
, on , Trend Lines

On a 10-day trip through Asia, U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel sought to build military ties with allies and partners involved in the U.S. rebalance to the region. He also reached out to China, the presumptive main U.S. competitor in the region, and announced the need for a “new model” of military-to-military relations between the two nations. more

Australia’s Abbott Seeks to Balance Japan, South Korea and China on Asian Trip

By Roxane Horton
, on , Briefing

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott came to power in 2013 declaring that Australia was “open for business” and promising to fast-track stalled free trade agreements with Japan, South Korea and China. Abbott pulled off an impressive feat in Asia last week as he embarked on a three-nation tour of those countries, forging free trade agreements and announcing closer security relations on each stop along the way. more

Global Insights: Modernization Leaves Russia’s Military Improved but Limited

By Richard Weitz
, on , Column

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

Full-Spectrum Diplomacy: Restoring Trust in CIA Key After Senate Torture Report

By Heather Hurlburt
, on , Column

Of all the choices America made and all the things that went wrong in the years after 9/11, Americans have been more united in wanting to close the book on torture than on anything else—both in wanting it stopped, but also in wanting it forgotten. The Obama administration has done its best to oblige on both counts. It turns out, however, that torture has a hold on the imagination that doesn’t go away so easily. more

Global Insider: Iran-Pakistan Border a Major Concern in Bilateral Relationship

By The Editors
, on , Trend Lines

This month, four Iranian border guards were freed two months after being kidnapped and allegedly taken into Pakistan by an Iran-based Sunni militant group. In an email interview, Isaac Kfir, a senior researcher at Syracuse University’s Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism and a visiting assistant professor of law and international relations, explained the state of Iran-Pakistan relations. more

U.S. Failure to Clarify Interests in Cyberspace Weakens Deterrence

By Eric Sterner
, on , Briefing

Testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee last month, Gen. Keith Alexander expressed misgivings about America’s deterrent posture in cyberspace, raising concerns about the lack of a threshold that, when crossed by cyberattackers, would prompt a U.S. response. Though the U.S. possesses deterrent capabilities and has used them in other domains, deterrence in cyberspace is more challenging. more

Appearance of Partisan Tensions Masks Broad Agreement on Missile Defense

By Eric Auner
, on , Trend Lines

Russian actions in Ukraine have injected new urgency, and partisan vitriol, into the debate over U.S. plans to deploy ballistic missile defense systems in Europe. But beneath the surface, many of the most fundamental issues relating to U.S. missile defense plans seem to be politically uncontroversial, even as technical experts continue to question whether U.S. systems will actually perform as designed. more

World Citizen: For Israel-Palestine, a Weak Peace Process is Better Than None

By Frida Ghitis
, on , Column

From the start of John Kerry’s push for a peace deal between Israelis and Palestinians, hopes for success were dim. Kerry declared confidently he expected a comprehensive deal within nine months. Everyone else responded to his optimism with little more than a benign smile. Eight months later, what the parties have reached instead of an agreement is a deep impasse. The inevitable question arises: What’s next? more

Global Insider: With Air Force Arrests, Venezuela’s Maduro Puts Focus on Civil-Military Relations

By The Editors
, on , Trend Lines

Late last month, Venezuela’s government arrested three generals of the country’s air force, accusing them of plotting a coup. In an email interview, Harold Trinkunas, senior fellow and director of the Latin America Initiative in the Brookings Institution’s Foreign Policy program, explained the state of Venezuela’s civil-military relations. more

Global Insider: Cooperation with Pacific Island Countries Fundamental to Australian Maritime Security Strategy

By The Editors
, on , Trend Lines

Australia has provided ships to the international search effort for missing Malaysia Airlines flight 370, which is taking place in part in Australia’s vast maritime domain. In an email interview, Sam Bateman, professorial research fellow at the Australian National Center for Ocean Resources at the University of Wollongong in Australia and senior fellow in the Maritime Security Programme at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS) at the Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, explained how Australia secures these waters. more

Strategic Horizons: Amid Debate, U.S. Shares Drone Approach With Partners

By Steven Metz
, on , Briefing

While Americans debate when and where the U.S. should use drones to strike at insurgents and terrorists who cannot be reached by other means, they may be overlooking an important trend: the move to supply a targeted killing capability to allied nations. The decision to provide technology and advice to Colombia and Yemen is only the beginning, as more states will field drones with or without American help. more

Renewed Push, Public Weariness Puts Closing Gitmo Within Obama’s Reach

By Ken Gude
, on , Briefing

Advocates working to end a sad chapter in American history were given new hope last year when President Barack Obama renewed his push to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay. The diminished risks of closing the prison, combined with public war-weariness, mean that what seemed a hopeless and nearly forgotten project for Obama a year ago—closing Guantanamo by the end of his administration—now seems achievable. more

Global Insights: With Election, Afghanistan Strengthens Democratic Credentials

By Richard Weitz
, on , Column

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

Central African Republic a Crisis Too Far for Chad’s Regional Security Ambitions

By Celeste Hicks
, on , Briefing

With Chad’s April 3 announcement that it would pull its peacekeepers out of the CAR, the country finally seemed to be bending to widespread criticism of the actions of its soldiers. Things had deteriorated for Chad’s armed forces since last year, when their role in support of France’s Operation Serval in Mali was widely praised. The CAR may have forced Chad to recognize the limits of its regional ambitions. more

As Afghanistan Selects New President, Its Insurgency May Change Too

By Kathy Gilsinan
, on , Briefing

On Saturday, Afghans will vote in the first round of an election that, if all goes well, will result in the first democratic transfer of presidential power in Afghanistan’s history. The elections will also be the first of the post-Taliban era to be secured entirely by Afghan forces. But for all its historic gravity, in some respects the poll will not represent much of a break with Afghanistan’s past. more

The Realist Prism: U.S. Unwilling to Give or Take on Ukraine

By Nikolas Gvosdev
, on , Column

It was no surprise when last Sunday’s emergency meeting in Paris between U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov ended inconclusively. The U.S. is not prepared to cut a 19th-century-style deal with Moscow, but neither has it articulated a 21st-century response that would change Russia’s calculus. The U.S. seems unwilling to make a grand bargain or to reverse Russian gains. more

Global Insider: Ukraine Crisis Forces Sweden to Re-Evaluate Defense

By The Editors
, on , Trend Lines

Russia’s annexation of Crimea has rekindled discussion in Sweden about raising military spending and, potentially, pushing for NATO membership. In an email interview, Jan Joel Andersson, senior research fellow and head of the North America Program at the Swedish Institute of International Affairs, explained Sweden’s defense posture and how it may change after the Ukraine crisis. more

South Korea Buy a Bright Spot for Troubled F-35 Program

By Eric Auner
, on , Trend Lines

South Korea recently announced that it will purchase the F-35 fighter jet as part of an ambitious plan to modernize its air defenses. Japan also plans to purchase the F-35, meaning that the two countries most central to the Obama administration’s Asia rebalance will be using the same platform. This is good news for a fighter that has become the most expensive defense acquisition program in history. more