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In a huge win for the French defense industrial base, Dassault Aviation has emerged as the lowest bidder for a $10 billion contract to supply India with 126 of its Rafale fighter jets. If finalized, the deal for medium multi-role combat aircraft would be the first overseas order for the Rafale.* It would also represent a major loss for the rival bidder, the Eurofighter Typhoon, backed by the four-nation consortium of Britain, Germany, Spain and Italy. “Fighter jets are among the most expensive investment any country can make at the moment, and hence, because selling these is an expensive issue, […]

The American political discourse is rife with fear-threat reactions regarding rising China, embodied most saliently in the Obama administration’s strategic pivot to East Asia and GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s repeated promise to hold “currency manipulator” China responsible for its economic sabotage of the U.S. economy. Eagerly cashing in on the hype, last week’s Economist greeted us with the most lurid of covers heralding — yet again! — “the rise of state capitalism.” We are immediately informed by the subtitle that this is “the emerging world’s new model.” Sad to say, this is the state of strategic thinking in the […]

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Last week, a group of rebel soldiers stormed the Papua New Guinea Defense Force barracks, placing the military commander under house arrest and calling for Prime Minister Peter O’Neill to step down. The mutiny, led by a retired colonel who was subsequently arrested over the weekend, was a failed attempt to put an end to the political impasse that has gripped the Pacific Island country for the past six months, ever since the parliament replaced former Prime Minister Michael Somare while he was out of the country for medical treatment. In December, the Supreme Court ruled that the parliament had […]

Indian External Affairs Minister S. M. Krishna’s visit to Israel earlier this month produced a number of significant outcomes, notably proposals for the opening of a new Israeli consulate in Bangalore and a bilateral free trade agreement, as well as Israeli support for a permanent Indian seat on the U.N. Security Council. More importantly, the trip highlighted the degree to which solidifying relations with Israel, and in particular maintaining robust defense ties, has become a bipartisan foreign policy consensus in India. India recognized the Jewish state in 1950 but eschewed the establishment of full diplomatic relations during the Cold War, […]

On Jan. 15, in polling that the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) characterized as not meeting the “fundamental principles of democratic elections,” the ruling Nur Otan party of Kazakhstani President Nursultan Nazarbaev won just more than 80 percent of votes cast and 83 out of 108 seats in Kazakhstan’s lower house of parliament, the Majilis. The OSCE, which had the largest and longest election observation mission in the country, cited the exclusion of opposition parties as well as numerous problems with counting and other violations at some of the polling places they monitored in concluding that the […]

For the past several years, the widely accepted view among defense analysts had been that counterinsurgency, or COIN, represented the future of U.S. defense planning and operations. This consensus was initially driven by the belief that “effective COIN” had “won” the Iraq War, and later by the need, as former Defense Secretary Robert Gates put it, to fight “the wars we’re in.” Now things have become far less clear. Awareness has set in that the effects of the 2007-2008 “surge” in Iraq were only partial and, even at the time, only partly achieved by the shift toward conducting what we […]

Defense policy analysts and pundits are wasting ink arguing back and forth about whether or not counterinsurgency is dead or alive. The real debate — the one that risks getting lost in the noise about counterinsurgency’s vital signs — concerns the future of the U.S. Army. As the U.S. military ends its role in Iraq and winds down in Afghanistan, the U.S. Army, alone among the armed services, has no compelling narrative for how it fits into the nation’s defense. The questions today surrounding the future of counterinsurgency are no less intense than the debates over whether or not counterinsurgency […]

Photo: U.S. Army soldiers rest during a mission in the Hindu Kush mountain range in the Parwan province of Afghanistan, January 2009 (U.S. Army photo by Scott Davis).

Is counterinsurgency dead, as some observers claim? Is it alive and well, as others have argued? Or is it, as still others maintain, merely evolving? One thing is certain. Once fashionable within the Washington beltway, counterinsurgency — or COIN, as it’s known — has come under withering criticism, as violence in Afghanistan escalates and the Pentagon tightens its belt. Many of counterinsurgency’s critics are convinced that the U.S. would do well to avoid such campaigns in the future. Who can blame them? The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have extracted an ever-mounting toll in time, blood and treasure from a […]

Americans often assume that insurgency is a modern phenomenon, invented by Mao Zedong and refined by his emulators. The notion permeates official thinking, including Department of Defense definitions and doctrines. In reality, insurgency has existed ever since states and empires began attempting to impose their will on people too weak to resist with conventional military means. Indeed, counterinsurgency is a common function for most states and an inevitable one for empires. That said, the strategic significance of insurgency has ebbed and flowed over time. When the chance of direct conflict between great powers was high, insurgency became background noise in […]

The first page of the U.S. Army and Marine Corps’ Field Manual 3-24 (.pdf), entitled “Counterinsurgency,” states, “Soldiers and Marines are expected to be nation-builders as well as warriors.” Authored in 2006 by Lt. Gen. David H. Petraeus, now the director of the CIA, and Lt. Gen. James F. Amos, currently the commandant of the Marine Corps, the manual essentially enshrined counterinsurgency as nation-building in U.S. military doctrine. This required U.S. soldiers and marines to undertake, in roughly proportionate measure, five tasks: safeguard the indigenous population, improve democratic governance, combat corruption, deliver economic projects and institute the rule of law […]

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Japanese Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba paid a two-day visit to Turkey earlier this month. In an email interview, Selçuk Esenbel, a Japan specialist at Bosphorus University, discussed Japan-Turkey relations. WPR: How deep are diplomatic and trade relations between Japan and Turkey, and what is their recent trajectory? Selçuk Esenbel: Since Japan and what was to ultimately become the modern state of Turkey first established relations in 1873, ties have been friendly with no serious conflicts of interest. Geographic distance has hampered the development of close trade ties, but generally speaking Turkey has always been very friendly toward Japan. Since the […]

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Earlier this month, India approved a $1.18 billion deal for the purchase of 500 Mica air-to-air missiles from the French defense firm MBDA. In an email interview, Jean-Luc Racine, a senior CNRS fellow at the Center for South Asia Studies at the School for Advanced Studies in Social Sciences and the vice president of the Asia Center in Paris, discussed France-India relations. WPR: What have been the Sarkozy administration’s main priorities in advancing France-India ties? Jean-Luc Racine: Since then-President Jacques Chirac’s visit to India in 1998, France-India ties have improved consistently, and current President Nicolas Sarkozy has clearly toed the […]

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Since taking office in March 2011, Myanmarese President U Thein Sein has taken steps to move the country away from the political repression and human rights abuses that have left it internationally isolated over the past five decades. His initial efforts led to a process of engagement with the U.S. that culminated in U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s visit late last year, the first by a U.S. secretary of state to the country in half a century. At the time, Clinton held out the hope of further engagement in exchange for continued progress on a variety of human rights […]

Globalization’s historical expansion from Europe to North America to Asia has featured a familiar dynamic: The last region “in” becomes the integrator of note for the next region “up.” Europe was the primary investor, customer and integrator for the U.S. economy in its rise during the 19th and 20th centuries, and America subsequently “paid it forward” with East Asia in the decades following World War II. Recently, it has been Asia’s turn, primarily through China, to pay it forward once again with Africa, arguably the hottest integration zone in the global economy today. Nonetheless, in Washington — and especially inside […]

The release of President Barack Obama’s strategic guidance to the Department of Defense on Jan. 5 has already unleashed a storm of commentary. The final document, “Sustaining U.S. Global Leadership: Priorities for 21st Century Defense,” was prepared after months of consultations with the national security team and senior military leaders, and is a first attempt to begin prioritizing both defense missions as well as geographic regions that are most vital to U.S. interests. The guidance puts a premium on what might be termed “expeditionary firepower” — naval and air assets capable of projecting power over a wide area — and […]

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