When the Netherlands and other European members of NATO invoked Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, they almost certainly did not anticipate that, in doing so, they would find their armed forces engaged in a decade-long conflict in Afghanistan. The Article 5 declaration — holding that Sept. 11 was an attack on NATO’s collective security — was intended as a low-cost gesture of trans-Atlantic solidarity with the United States and the traumatized American people, rather than as an operational commitment to wage a protracted and frustrating conflict. But through NATO, European militaries […]

Last June, German President Horst Koehler, after visiting Afghanistan, called Germany’s participation in the war there vital to protecting long-term German interests. Koehler, whose role is primarily ceremonial, with little real political responsibility, told a German radio station that Germany’s export-driven economy and dependency on foreign trade meant that, “. . . in an emergency, military intervention is necessary to defend . . . trade routes, or prevent . . . regional instabilities that would certainly have negative effects on [Germany’s] trade, jobs and income.” He then urged Germans to “look at the reality” of Germany’s presence in Afghanistan and […]

The attacks of Sept. 11 were a significant event: for the attacks in and of themselves; for what they brutally revealed in terms of international terrorism’s new ambitions; for their chain reactions, around the world and, in particular, in the countries that, whether due to solidarity or interest, entered the global war on terrorism alongside the United States. Among those nations, France immediately rallied to America’s side and, as a result, found itself, along with others, quickly dragged into a conflict that it had not sought: the Afghanistan War. Nine years since they arrived in Afghanistan, French troops are still […]

Top Palestinian Officials Refute Leaked Documents

Senior Arab officials are refuting the veracity of leaked documents showing that Palestinian negotiators agreed to make a string of once unthinkable concessions with Israel. A cache of thousands of pages of confidential Palestinian records, leaked to al-Jazeera TV and shared with the Guardian, began emerging over the weekend.

Editor’s note: This is the second of a two-part series on the Philippines peace process. Part I examined talks between the Philippine government and Maoist insurgents. Part II examines negotiations between Manila and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. While the reopening of peace talks between the government of Philippine President Benigno Aquino and the country’s leading Muslim rebel group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), is a welcome development, doubts remain on whether the Philippines is ready to seal the deal. At a preliminary meeting held in January, the two parties agreed to hold formal exploratory talks on Feb. 9-10 […]

Tony Blair on George Bush’s Want for War

Appearing this week before The Iraq Inquiry, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair expressed his belief that former U.S. president George W. Bush was set on regime change in Iraq straight after the 9/11 attacks. The Iraq Inquiry, also referred to as the Chilcot Inquiry after its chairman, Sir John Chilcot, is the ongoing British public inquiry into the United Kingdom’s role in the Iraq war.

Two Bombs Blast East Ukraine, Threats of More

Two blasts hit the eastern Ukrainian town of Makiyivka on Jan. 20 and authorities were bracing for possible further attacks after unidentified attackers left a note at one of the explosion sites demanding millions of euros from the government. Ukraine’s security service is not ruling out terrorism. No one was hurt in the blasts.

Editor’s note: This is the first of a two-part series on the Philippines peace process. Part I examines talks between the Philippine government and Maoist insurgents. Part II will examine negotiations between Manila and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. Upholding an electoral promise, Philippine President Benigno Aquino has pushed for the reopening of peace talks with the Maoist rebels of the New People’s Army (NPA) and the Islamic rebels of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). The prospects for the two peace tracks are beset with difficulties, although for different reasons, with the NPA talks in particular presenting daunting challenges. […]

Test-Fire: Iran Launches Upgraded ‘Hawk’ Missile Close to Nuclear Facility

Iran has successfully test-fired an upgraded surface-to-air missile authorities say is aimed at protecting the counry’s most sensitive areas. The test was carried out near a nuclear facility in the central part of Iran. This video, from Russia’s government-owned English-language television station, features an interview with Victor Mizin, a political analyst at the Moscow State Institute for International Relations.

Analysts Cite Benchmarks for Afghan Strategy

The Obama administration still says it will begin withdrawing U.S. forces from Afghanistan in six months. But a recent visit to Afghanistan by U.S. Vice President Joe Biden raised questions about how long the U.S. military will actually stay there and some analysts say there are benchmarks that Washington and NATO should consider in determining the length of their mission.

2010 Is Mexico’s Bloodiest Year

Last year is on record as the bloodiest year yet in Mexico’s war against organised crime, with drug-related deaths jumps to a record high. More than 15,000 people lost their lives in Mexico’s drug war last year. And it has already been a violent start to 2011, with the cartels blamed for more murders.

The Obama administration has been transmitting a relatively clear set of signals regarding its policy toward Afghanistan ever since the strategic review was completed in December 2010: Progress has been made, but it is “fragile” and “reversible.” According to this argument, since U.S. and allied efforts are showing the first green shoots in terms of being able to train and deploy Afghan security forces that could end up holding territory on their own, it would be irresponsible to change course now. The current strategy must be given sufficient time to play out, even if that does not neatly dovetail with […]

At the heart of the U.S. war in Afghanistan lies a striking and unresolved contradiction. While the U.S. has sent approximately 100,000 troops to this impoverished, landlocked country to combat a fearsome local insurgency, the actual focal point of U.S. policy in the region largely revolves around protecting and stabilizing a country just across Afghanistan’s eastern border: Pakistan. It’s an ironic but not altogether surprising strategy. After all, Pakistan remains home to Osama bin Laden, his key lieutenants and other terrorist organizations intent on striking American targets. The country maintains a significant nuclear capability, and its ongoing conflict with India […]

Accepting the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo in December 2009, President Barack Obama expressed his concern that the existing global “architecture is buckling under the weight of new threats.” Part of the problem is that there is no true global-security forum. In the aftermath of the attacks of Sept. 11, Amitai Etzioni suggested that the resulting ad hoc anti-terrorism coalition might evolve into what he termed a “Global Safety Authority,” but this has not occurred. The U.N. Security Council, which according to the United Nations Charter is supposed to take up this function, has several problems. First, its membership is […]

Gates on Pentagon Cuts, Implementing DADT, China’s Military Build-up

As federal deficits rise, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates is looking to cut spending by close to $100 billion in the next five years, a sign that even the Pentagon’s massive budget is subject to government-wide belt tightening. Gates discusses the new budgetary measures, his China trip and “don’t ask, don’t tell” with Jim Lehrer. A transcript of the interview can be found here.

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates unveiled his much-anticipated budget cuts last Thursday, signaling the beginning of the end of the decade-long splurge in military spending triggered by Sept. 11. Gates presented the package of cuts as being the biggest possible given the current international security landscape, warning that any deeper reductions could prove “potentially calamitous.” Frankly, I find that statement hard to swallow. How can America basically match the rest of the world’s defense spending combined, and then describe anything less as “potentially calamitous”? Clearly, given the “nation’s grim financial outlook,” as Gates himself put it, we’re going to have […]

U.S. Diplomacy As Sudanese Referendum Looms

As the crucial independence referendum in Sudan draws closer, U.S. senator John Kerry met with an aide to the Sudanese President. Washington has offered Khartoum a number of incentives for allowing the referendum to be held peacefully.

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