Second in a two-part series. Click here to read Part I on the scope of the terrorist threat. LONDON — Simmering concern over the abuse of Britain’s post-9/11 anti-terrorist legislation turned to public outrage last month, when nine anti-terrorist officers used their expanded powers to raid the home, parliamentary office and constituency headquarters of senior opposition Conservative legislator, Damian Green. Green was arrested and questioned for nine hours on suspicion of “aiding and abetting, counseling or procuring misconduct in a public office.” It is an offense that carries a life sentence and that, if rigorously applied, would consign many journalists […]

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The other story of note over the weekend was the announcement by the Georgian Foreign Ministry that the U.S. and Georgia would be signing a Strategic Partnership Agreement on Jan. 4. The declaration sent the State Dept. scrambling to issue its own statement, and illustrates yet again the way in which, regardless of the merits of a U.S.-Georgia strategic partnership, a U.S.-Saakashvili partnership leaves us exposed to the whims of a man who has demonstrated his willingness to force our hand in very problematic ways. That said, the agreement itself, if it is in fact modeled on the recently inked […]

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With all the “he says, she says” over just how the Russia-Georgia War started, it seemed only a matter of time before a charge of American involvement was raised. For my part, I’d found it either particularly reckless or particularly suspicious that Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili would start a war with Russia immediately following joint military exercises with American forces, and while some of the latter were still present in the country on Georgian military bases. Something tells me that the more we learn about the conflict, the more we’ll come to appreciate the voices of reason in its aftermath. […]

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Yesterday, in his WPR Global Insights column, Richard Weitz mentioned Russian negotiators’ insistence on limiting delivery systems and not just nuclear warheads in future strategic arms agreements with the U.S. Yesterday’s failed test launch of Russia’s Bulava sub-launched nuclear-capable missile (via DefenseNews) might explain why. It’s the fifth test launch out of ten to have failed. The Russian navy was planning on introducing the missile in 2009 had the test been successful, which at a 60 percent success rate illustrates both the urgency Russia feels to upgrade its aging nuclear arsenal and the difficulty it is having to do so. […]

First in a two-part series. Part two will appear next Wednesday. LONDON — In the aftermath of the Mumbai slaughter, Britain has increased pressure on Pakistan to deal decisively with the radicalization of young Muslims in its Saudi-funded madrassas and in the al-Qaida training camps that flourish in the lawless tribal areas along its porous border with Afghanistan. Britain has cause for concern. On a visit to Islamabad this month, Prime Minister Gordon Brown revealed that more than 20 serious terrorist plots against Britain — about three-quarters of the active plots currently monitored by Britain’s MI5 intelligence service — are […]

On Dec. 20, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov complained that the Bush administration’s insistence on limiting the number of operational nuclear warheads, instead of the number of strategic bombers and missiles capable of delivering them, was the “main problem” preventing a new Russian-American strategic arms control agreement. The question of how to treat long-range strategic delivery systems equipped with conventional warheads, and the extent to which they should be limited by any new arms control agreement, continues to separate the American and Russian negotiating positions. U.S. officials have been seeking an accord that provides both Washington and Moscow with […]

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Nikolas Gvosdev flags Russia’s efforts at making inroads into the South American energy infrastructure market. I’m as struck by France’s inroads into the Brazilian weapons procurement market (via Jean-Dominique Merchet at Secret Défense): According to Brazil’s official news agency Agencia Brasil, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva are scheduled to sign a strategic cooperation agreement Monday during the Brazil-European Union summit in Rio de Janeiro. . . . The agreement would include the transfer of technology that would allow Brazil to assemble 50 EC-725 Cougar helicopters, four conventional submarines and one submarine with nuclear […]

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One of the major criticisms leveled by skeptics in the COIN vs. Conventional debate has been that the focus on COIN training needed for deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan has already degraded the Army’s readiness for conventional combat operations. So this item from the Army Times caught my eye: After seven years of war in a counterinsurgency environment, theArmy will resume training next summer on major combat operations byusing simulators in scenarios against a hypothetical uniformed force. But the brigade-level exercise won’t look anything like exercises did before Sept. 11, 2001. For the first time, commanders will incorporate stability operations […]

PEACE MISSION — According to a soon-to-be published book on the history of U.S.-Vatican relations, President George Bush told an emissary of Pope John Paul II in early March 2003 that Jesus was guiding him in deciding whether to invade Iraq. Cardinal Pio Laghi, a senior Vatican diplomat, had come to Washington with a last-minute appeal from the pope to avert an American attack on Iraq. According to the cardinal’s own account, quoted in “Parallel Empires: The Vatican and the United States — Two Centuries of Alliance and Conflict,” his meeting with Bush in the Oval Office began with the […]

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One of the major priorities of the French EU presidency was to advanceEuropean defense in a number of particular areas. With regard to goalssuch as the 60,000-strong European expeditionary capacity, that hasamounted to renewed verbal commitments to already formulated positionswithout any strict deadlines or formal commitments. On others, such asthe creation of an EU operational headquarters, and the role of EUdefense in general, it has resulted in the stated removal of politicalroadblocks from Great Britain. Both of those are significant, if forthe time being symbolic, accomplishments. But this report from the EU Observerabout the first decisive steps towards a unified […]

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It’s become pretty common over the past five years to hear appeasement and the Munich Agreement rolled out as a historical parallel to contemporary events, in particular with regard to Iraq, Iran, and Russia. But I couldn’t help but think, in reading this Economist article describing just how bad the Russian economy is looking these days, how much the fixation on Munich ignores some of the structural determinants that made an aggressive, German military nationalism not only possible, but very likely in the period leading up to Munich. The parallel between post-WWI Germany and post-crisis Russia is far from exact. […]

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According to Jean-Dominique Merchet at the Secret Défense blog, France is likely to send several hundred additional troops to Afghanistan. While the actual increase is modest, the reasoning behind it has wider implications and aims to shore up one of the weak links in the NATO effort there: chain of command. If Merchet’s information is correct, and he’s pretty plugged in, the additional troops will allow the French forces in Afghanistan to regroup into a unified brigade in the east of the country where they are already deployed. French forces now stationed in Kabul would also be integrated into the […]

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Matthew Yglesias wonders why “this business of a bomb being planted in a French department store by ‘a previously unknown group demanding the withdrawal of French troops from Afghanistan’ isn’t getting more play.” To begin with, the story is definitely getting play here in France, but that’s to be expected. No one likes bombs, and Paris is sadly no stranger to them. But in answer to Yglesias’ question, the wording of the warning note left with AFP as well as the methods used have created a good deal of skepticism regarding the group’s origins and stated demands. Just from the […]

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One of the reasons I stopped covering French domestic politics following Nicolas Sarkozy’s presidential election victory in 2006 is that the Socialist Party was left in such disarray that it was like the old saw about the French intellectual’s complaint turned on its head: Sure it doesn’t work in practice, but does it not work in theory either? The other was because I realized that Art Goldhammer can do a better job of it from over in Cambridge than I can from here in Paris. So consider his TNR article on what the GOP can learn from the French Socialists […]

SOLEMN REMEMBRANCES, HOPE MARK DECLARATION ANNIVERSARY — The world community marked the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on Dec. 10, with calls for stronger international institutions and remembrances of those around the world currently deprived of their rights. The U.N. General Assembly awarded the 2008 U.N. Prizes in the Field of Human Rights to several individuals, including slain Pakistani leader Benazir Bhutto and former U.N. Human Rights Commissioner Louise Arbour, as well as to the group Human Rights Watch. Meanwhile, critics slammed the U.N. and the world community for their failures to address […]

While many observers of U.S. foreign policy have in recent years lamented the state of U.S. public diplomacy, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty is widely seen as a bright spot amid a dim post-Cold War record of communicating and promoting U.S. values and interests to the world outside the United States. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty serves as a “surrogate” free press in countries around the world where such doesn’t exist, charged with promoting “democratic values and institutions by disseminating factual information and ideas,” as its mission statement puts it. Through the Internet and over the radio, RFE/RL broadcasts in 28 languages […]

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Kommersant has a worthwhile discussion of the MAP-less path for NATO military-to-military cooperation between Georgia and Ukraine. Again, a lot of the interoperability and military standards development is already taking place on the ground. But the key here seems to be steering clear not only of describing this as a fast-track membership path, or even a way to scrap the MAPs altogether, but actually limiting it to the politically undefined gray area that doesn’t set off Russia’s alarms. In other words, the Gates “no red lines” approach. The Kommersant article suggests that the Bush administration has already walked the proposal […]

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