In the past few years, concerns over the growing risk of cyber warfare have been supplemented by evidence of actual cyber attacks, many likely launched with the aid of nation-states. When the United States sounds the alarm on cyber malfeasance, disruption or espionage, China or Russia are typically “the usual suspects.” It’s interesting, then, that a delegation of Russian officials, led by Gen. Vladislav Sherstyuk, visited Washington in November for meetings with officials of the National Security Council and the Departments of Defense, State and Homeland Security. Currently a deputy secretary of the Russian Security Council, Sherstyuk was identified by […]

Russia Throws Support Behind European Human Rights Court

Russian legislators voted on Jan. 15 in support of a reform package aimed at streamlining cases before the European Court of Human Rights. Human rights advocates welcomed the move, which comes after years of Russian opposition had stymied the process. “This is a long-awaited and positive move. Now more people in Russia and all of Europe will have better access to justice through the European Court,” Human Rights Watch’s Europe and Central Asia Director Holly Cartner said in a press release. The “Protocol 14” reform measure will streamline and expedite the process for hearing cases before the Strasbourg-based court, in […]

Toward the end of World War II, the godfather of geopolitics, Nicholas Spykman, offered his famous analysis that was to become a rule of thumb for many strategists ever since: Who controls the Rimland rules Eurasia, and who rules Eurasia controls the destinies of the world. Spykman had a point. The two world wars of the 20th century came about largely due to attempts by European rivals to tilt the Eurasian balance of power in their own favor. Russia was always a critical component in this balance, but now, due to the country’s aging population and infrastructure, the 21st century […]

Going Global as Alliance Management

In his WPR column a few weeks back, David Axe called attention to South Korea’s promised troop deployment to Afghanistan, and it bears repeating, because I think it’s actually one of the more significant “quiet moves” to emerge recently. For more background on Seoul’s decision in the context of the U.S.-ROK alliance, see this March 2009 WPR briefing by Nirav Patel (itself based on this CNAS report). For a more ROK-centric analysis, there’s also this Asia Foundation article by Michael Finnegan — who notes that the operational capabilities the deployment will provide could have potential applications on the Korean Peninsula […]

Turkey and Russia Talk Energy

Russian Prime Minister Vladamir Putin joined Turkish Prime MinisterRecep Tayip Erdogan in talks on energy issues as well as otheropportunities to expand the Russia-Turkey economic partnership. Turkey,scrambling to be relevant in an EU landscape, is hoping thatpositioning itself as an energy broker between the union and Russiawill work to its diplomatic advantage.

MADRID — Spain’s six-month rotating presidency of the European Union, which began on Jan. 1, 2010, is off to a bumpy start. With the Lisbon Treaty now in effect, the traditional role of the EU rotating presidency has been downgraded. Responsibility for many issues which were once the domain of the rotating presidency now falls to the newly named permanent EU president, Herman Van Rompuy, and EU foreign minister, Catherine Ashton — who together are supposed to comprise the new “public face” of the EU. Nevertheless, Spanish Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero has announced a series of ambitious initiatives […]

Abdulmutallab and Airport Security

True story: On Dec. 23, while passing through airport security at Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport en route to LA, my 8-year-old son was called over by a French security agent, who asked to see his backpack. I’d let the Lil’ Feller pack his own carry-on that morning, and sure enough, as the X-ray machine had revealed, in there with his markers and pencils, he’d included his brand-new, pointy tipped compass. As the guard examined it, I explained to my son that we’d have to throw it away, while assuring the guard that it was no big deal since we’d […]

The U.S.-India civilian nuclear agreement, signed in October 2008 after intense bilateral negotiations, is a crucial trade deal for both nations, offering India’s fledgling civilian nuclear industry the opportunity to access sophisticated U.S. technology, while providing American companies with the possibility of significant commercial benefits from the engagement. However, despite the deal’s obvious benefits and the urgency displayed by both countries to get it signed over a year ago, obstacles still remain to making it operational. To finalize the agreement, the Bush administration overruled longstanding U.S. non-proliferation policy by implicitly recognizing India as a nuclear power. The deal was also […]

ZAGREB, Croatia — Croatian voters face a stark choice this Sunday when they go to the polls to elect a new president, between the Social Democrat, Ivo Josipovic, and the former Social Democrat and Zagreb’s mayor, Milan Bandic. The outcome of the election will serve as a litmus test of the country’s European aspirations, and could have an impact on regional stability. Although the president’s constitutional powers were much curtailed under incumbent, Stipe Mesic, the office still carries considerable weight, according to Josip Kregar, an independent member of the Zagreb city council. “Croatia is a young democracy and the personality […]

COIN in Berlin

In a WPR Briefing from earlier this week, Nicolas Nagle discussed some of the tensions Germany’s Afghanistan deployment is causing within Chancellor Angela Merkel’s new coalition government. This Der Spiegel article offers some further detail, and suggests that there’s essentially open warfare between Foreign Minister Guido Westerwalle, who is hostile to any troop increase, and Defense Minister Theodor zu Guttenberg, who is pushing to add up to 2,000 more troops. This goes a long way to explaining why Germany insisted on waiting until the Afghanistan Conference in London later this month before responding to President Barack Obama’s call for more […]

Last month, the West officially lost the new “Great Game.” The 20-year competition for natural resources and influence in Central Asia between the United States (supported by the European Union), Russia and China has, for now, come to an end, with the outcome in favor of the latter two. Western defeat was already becoming clear with the slow progress of the Nabucco pipeline and the strategic reorientation of some Central Asian republics toward Russia and China. Two recent events, however, confirmed it. On Dec. 14, Chinese President Hu Jintao and the heads of state of Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan personally […]

This Week’s WPR Video Highlights

Here are a few of this week’s highlights from WPR’s video section: – As Yemen’s stability comes into question, experts identify more than just Al Qaida as a threat to the crumbling nation. WorldFocus interviews military analyst Anthony Cordesman about the U.S. role in Yemen in this video. – Bosnia and Herzegovina continue to be plagued by ethnic tensions. WorldFocus talks about the issues with Ivana Howard of the National Endowment for Democracy in this video. – The Afghan parliament turned down a majority of President Hamid Karzai’s cabinet picks, but is this a step backward or forward for democracy […]

Ethnic Tensions Continue  in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Ivana Howard grew up in Bosnia, and covers the region for the National Endowment for Democracy. She talks to WorldFocus’ Daljit Dhaliwal about the increasing ethnic tensions in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Howard says that the Obama administration’s attempt to work on constitutional reforms was well-intentioned and that another attempt will be necessary in the effort to stabilize the area peacefully.

China’s Naval Ambitions and Conventional Hegemony

If you haven’t read them yet, take a look at Richard Weitz’s WPR column on China’s interest in overseas naval bases and Saurav Jha’s WPR briefing examining China’s “third island chain” strategy. When you’re done, take a second, too, to read Hugh White and Sam Roggeveen, both at the Interpreter, on China’s aircraft carrier ambitions. White argues that China is unlikely to follow the orthodox path to great naval power status, because, as he says, it would be dumb to do so. It’s a cost-intensive move at a time when the naval environment favors denial over control. And Jha’s article […]

The Rafale and A400M Hit a Rough Patch

Not a good week for European military aircraft. According to a Jean-Dominique Merchet scoop, Brazil’s air force has completed its review of the three fighter jets competing for a 36-plane, $2.5 billion tender. The report, which has not yet been made public, allegedly ranks the French-built Rafale third, behind the Swedish Gripen and the American F-18. That, after Brazilian President Inacio Lula da Silva all but sealed the deal for the Rafales during French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s visit to Brasilia last September. According to Merchet, the tug-of-war between the political and military decision-makers has turned nasty, with the military chiefs […]

Immediately after President Barack Obama announced on Dec. 1 that he would deploy 30,000 additional U.S. troops to Afghanistan, NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen declared that the alliance would also step up with a miniature surge of its own. While Rasmussen’s announcement may have been a deft political move, many of the 7,000 troops he cited were pledged well in advance of Obama’s West Point speech, with some of those forces already on the ground. Also, the figure does not take into account planned near-term withdrawals by frontline contributors like the Netherlands and Canada. Finally, although the specific country-by-country breakdown […]

Among the questions raised by Germany’s elections in September 2009 was the impact Chancellor Angela Merkel’s new coalition partners would have on Berlin’s foreign policy orientation. A number of developments since then have provided hints of areas of continuity, as well as others of potential change and even internal conflict. Among the areas of continuity is Germany’s approach to the internal politics of the European Union. In the recent race to secure the EU’s top post-Lisbon Treaty jobs, Berlin remained circumspect, preferring to leave the more powerful portfolios to other countries. The main struggle ended up being between London and […]

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