At a NATO-Russia Council meeting last week, Rose Gottemoeller, the U.S. acting undersecretary for arms control and international security, complained about Moscow’s failure to provide advance notice of its recent large-scale military exercises. Gottemoeller stated that Russia had notified the U.S. about an exercise of “unprecedented size” in the Eastern Military District only as the activity commenced, while Washington “received word of the large aviation exercise in the Western Military District only through press reports.” According to the Russians, the “snap” exercises were designed to test the Russian military’s day-to-day readiness without advance warning of any drill. In addition, they […]

With FARC peace talks offering hope of a final settlement, Colombia is looking to cement the gains of the past decade. To do so will require filling in significant gaps in governance and building on the economic momentum provided by the U.S. free trade agreement and the Pacific Alliance. This World Politics Review special report looks at Colombia’s steps toward a new era of stability. Governance and Security Colombia’s Santos Gambles on FARC TalksBy Frida GhitisSeptember 6, 2012 After It Makes Peace, Colombia Must GovernBy Adam IsacsonApril 12, 2013 Chávez’s Absence Casts Shadow Over Colombia Peace TalksBy Andrew RosatiMarch 5, […]

When the European Union voted to add Hezbollah’s name to its list of terrorist organizations, it simultaneously added one more item to the growing list of costs the Lebanese group is incurring for its brazen intervention in Syria’s civil war. Jumping into the Syrian fray is taking a significant toll on Hezbollah, and it could ultimately take an even greater one on Lebanon. Still, Hezbollah calculates the risk would be even greater if it sat out the uprising against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Whether that decision will pay off is yet to be seen. Europe was careful to name Hezbollah’s […]

This month, the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a Ugandan rebel group now based in the Democratic Republic of Congo, staged attacks that prompted more than 60,000 Congolese refugees to flee to neighboring Uganda. In an email interview, Kristof Titeca, senior research fellow at the University of Antwerp’s Institute of Development Policy and Management and the University of Ghent’s Conflict Research Group, described the ADF’s background and its recent resurgence. WPR: What is the background on the Allied Democratic Forces in terms of their numbers and goals? Kristof Titeca: The movement was started in 1995 in eastern Congo by Ugandan members […]

On June 26, Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambayev formally signed a law “annulling” the country’s agreement with the U.S. to host an air base in his country. The true significance of the law is unclear, and it could be a bargaining ploy to gain more favorable terms for a new agreement on the base, which has been the United States’ most conspicuous presence in Central Asia since being established shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks. Regardless, the passage of the law has highlighted how U.S. interest in Central Asia is destined to diminish as the U.S. extracts itself from Afghanistan. In […]

The community of national security experts is consumed with debate on the appropriate size and configuration of the American military. Seldom does a week pass without some new report, commission or conference offering solemn advice on this complex issue. Policy journals and op-ed pages are awash with articles on it. Such vigorous discussion is a good thing, but it may be focused on the wrong issue—ultimately the size of the armed forces matters less than what they are asked to do. There are analysts, though, who are grappling with the type of conflicts the U.S. military may be ordered to […]

In addition to their growing energy and renewed arms trade, another sign of the strengthening Russia-China relationship was their recently concluded bilateral naval exercise. The drills were larger and more sophisticated than those held last year. But they are still far from establishing a Russia-China capacity for joint maritime combat operations, which does not appear a goal of either government in any case. The active phase of the maneuvers took place July 8-10 in the waters off of Vladivostok. Twelve Russian vessels from the Pacific Fleet participated in this year’s drill, compared to seven warships and support craft in 2012. […]

In July 2012, amid the euphoria of historic elections, Libya’s future seemed brighter than ever. The polls were Libya’s first democratic elections in more than 52 years, and the promise of Libya’s Arab Spring seemed closer at hand. Many obstacles had been surmounted to demonstrate to the world that the nation could prevail against strong odds. But those obstacles have not for the most part been overcome. One year after the elections and two years after the fall of Tripoli and the toppling of Moammar Gadhafi, Libya’s transition continues to confound and dismay most observers. This is due in part […]

Despite unfolding disasters in Egypt and Syria and the damage to American security from the bizarre Edward Snowden episode, Afghanistan, which had begun to seem like last year’s news, is grabbing headlines again. The Obama administration is undertaking yet another review of its options following the planned drawdown of U.S. military forces in 2014. Reports are that the administration, frustrated with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, is considering a “zero option” that would leave no American troops in Afghanistan. But before wholesale disengagement is even officially on the table, opposition to it is flaring. Angry at the idea, House Armed Services […]

A rather small country by its size and population—65 million, less than 1 percent of total global population—France is nevertheless one of five to 10 countries that can claim to be major powers in today’s world. The French economy is, however, plagued with sluggish growth, an unemployment level now hovering around 10 percent of the active population, a budget that has been in deficit for more than three decades and a public debt that represents more than 90 percent of its GDP—with more than 60 percent of that debt held by nonresidents, as opposed to about 30 percent for the […]

Should the West attempt to make the Syrian civil war drag on for as long as possible? The question may sound morally offensive and politically wrong-headed. The U.S. and its allies have consistently called for a rapid cessation of hostilities and a negotiated settlement. Yet they are currently pursuing military, diplomatic and humanitarian strategies that could contribute to prolonging the conflict. This could result in either a stalemate inside Syria or even more violence in the country and across the Middle East. As the Syrian war escalated from steady but limited violence to large-scale bloodletting in 2012, many Western observers […]

U.S. Central Africa Policy Sees a New Surge of Energy

Last month’s appointment of former Sen. Russ Feingold as the new United States special envoy for the African Great Lakes region and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) signals an important surge of energy into American diplomacy in this troubled region. His appointment should be seen in the context of other recent positive steps, including the “Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Region,” a February 2013 agreement among 11 African states known as the PSC Framework. The framework aims at ending the decades-long instability, violence, multiple humanitarian crises and grave human […]

Prior to 1992, Philippine-U.S. security relations were framed by several bilateral defense arrangements. The two countries became formal allies in 1951 upon signing the Philippines-U.S. Mutual Defense Treaty. Both countries also became members of the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization in 1956. However, the most important of these bilateral defense arrangements predated the collective defense treaties binding the two countries: the 1947 Philippines-U.S. Military Bases Agreement, which facilitated the hosting of major American naval and air facilities in Philippine territory. The U.S. military bases in the Philippines, including the Subic Bay Naval Base and Clark Air Base, extended vital logistical support […]

During the Cold War, the U.S.-Japan alliance was variously described as the cornerstone and the linchpin of U.S. Asia strategy, but over the past decade the role of this strategic alliance has come under increasing scrutiny. New dynamics in the Asia-Pacific region have prompted a rethinking of U.S. priorities in Asia. China’s rise has called for a more complex assessment in both Tokyo and Washington of the circumstances under which the alliance might be tested. Japan’s struggle with slow economic growth and a rather unpredictable effort at political reform has made strategic adjustment difficult. Similar concerns in the United States […]

The U.S. missile defense program suffered perhaps its most serious test failure in recent history last week. The July 5 setback should serve as a warning to the Pentagon for the need to hedge against further deficiencies in the Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system, a core element of the U.S. Ballistic Missile Defense System (BMDS). On Friday afternoon, the Defense Department launched a missile from the Army’s Reagan Test Site on Kwajalein Atoll, Republic of the Marshall Islands. Several minutes later, the Pentagon launched an unarmed Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle (EKV) aboard a rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California […]

The alliance between the United States and South Korea arose from the postwar liberation of southern Korea by U.S. forces and then the subsequent attack on the newly independent country by North Korea, backed by the Soviet Union and Communist China, in June 1950. U.S. forces have remained in South Korea ever since, though their numbers have fluctuated over time. During its first decades as an independent country, South Korea’s policy with regard to Pyongyang focused on being able to repel another North Korean invasion in partnership with the United States. The longer-term aspiration was to exploit the anticipated eventual […]

If a Western policymaker had sketched out a dream scenario for the Arab world in 2013, it would have looked something like this: In Egypt, President Mohammed Morsi would gradually mature into a semi-competent leader. In Syria, his counterpart Bashar al-Assad would fall quickly and the fragmented opposition would cobble together a half-decent government. Other countries in the region making the transition from dictatorship, such and Libya and Yemen, would make halting progress to lasting stability. Some Western officials had even greater ambitions. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has made restarting the Israeli-Palestinian peace process an early priority since […]

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