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Defense News has the grim rundown: ten percent cuts in Italy on top of already planned reductions, $1.2 billion slashed annually in Germany, and reports (undenied by the Defense Ministry) of up to $6 billion over the next three years in France. According to the German defense minister, the cuts there will not be cosmetic, but will result in real reductions in capabilities and operations. Clearly this is bad news for an Atlantic Alliance that is already struggling to meet its current obligations. And it adds yet another challenge to those already identified by Nikolas Gvosdev in his WPR column […]

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It looks like Turkey and Brazil might be making the same mistake that France made in 2003, which still serves as the textbook example of an old friend of mine’s admonition regarding marital disputes: Being right is overrated. Clearly subsequent events vindicated France’s position on the Iraq invasion. But anyone who thinks that France did not pay a price for actively lobbying to shoot down the U.N. resolution authorizing it — including then-Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin’s ill-advised tour of African capitals — is mistaken. The move demonstrated France’s ability to build consensus among a strategically weightless constituency, but led […]

Last week, at West Point, President Barack Obama sounded a familiar theme that all recent U.S. presidents have lamented, when he said, “The burdens of this century cannot fall on our soldiers alone. It also cannot fall on American shoulders alone.” Obama also reiterated time-honored propositions in his promise to “be steadfast in strengthening those old alliances that have served us so well,” and his desire “to build new partnerships, and shape stronger international standards and institutions.” The just-released 2010 National Security Strategy of the United States continues this approach, declaring, “Alliances are force multipliers: through multinational cooperation and coordination, […]

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The Spanish government recently published guidelines for coast guard patrol limits around Gibraltar that closely resemble the borders claimed by Britain in an ongoing territorial dispute between the two countries over the peninsula, drawing criticism from the Spanish conservative opposition. In an e-mail interview, Peter Gold, Emeritus Professor of Hispanic Studies at the University of the West of England and author of “Gibraltar: British or Spanish?” explains the current territorial claims to Gibraltar. WPR: What is the status quo, including the Spanish and U.K. positions, regarding Gibraltar? Peter Gold: The British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar has officially been in British […]

It is by now the consensus view that the primary strategic beneficiary of the Iraq War has been Iran. By this view, the removal of a hostile regime in Baghdad has not only moved Iraq into the Iranian sphere of influence, but has also opened the floodgates for Tehran to extend its influence westward throughout the Middle East. This analysis, while compelling, begs the question: If Iran has “won” the Iraq War, just what has it really won? In a best-case scenario of a stable Iraq, it still amounts to a potentially volatile and dangerous relationship, and definitely a high-maintenance […]

MITROVICA, Kosovo — Back in 2003, when U.S. officials optimistically predicted that American forces would be “greeted as liberators” by the Iraqi people, their minds probably conjured images of the mass euphoria that welcomed NATO troops to Kosovo in 1999. During that war, cheering Kosovar Albanians chanted “NATO, NATO!!” as the U.S.-led military force entered the territory after pushing out Serbian forces with a 78-day bombardment. A NATO-led peacekeeping force known as KFOR has remained here ever since, helping the fledgling country get on its feet. But NATO, facing demanding commitments in Afghanistan and potentially elsewhere, is itching to pull […]

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According to Le Figaro, the language of the Iran sanctions draft resolution (.pdf) floated last week by the Obama administration would not prohibit delivery of the long-contracted but repeatedly delayed Iranian purchase of Russian S-300 air defense systems. The draft prohibits the sale or transfer to Iran of “missiles or missile systems as defined for the purpose of the United Nations Register on Conventional Arms.” As Le Fig points out, that register explicitly does not include ground-to-air missiles such as the S-300. Pretty clever, as far as stealth concessions to Russia go.

The last few weeks have been disappointing ones for European diplomacy and energy politics, to say the least. At the beginning of April, Russia began construction of the Nord Stream pipeline, which will bring up to 55 billion cubic meters a year of additional Russian gas to Germany, bypassing non-EU transit countries as well as the Baltic republics and Poland. Moscow also began floating proposals for a joint-venture between Gazprom and Ukraine’s Naftogaz, raising the real possibility of Russian participation in the troublesome Ukrainian pipeline network. Although the EU initially opposed the two Russian initiatives, Brussels ultimately expressed acceptance. Its […]

Last week, the group of experts assisting with the drafting of NATO’s new Strategic Concept released their final report, entitled “NATO 2020: Assured Security, Dynamic Engagement.” In anticipation of the planned Strategic Concept, which is scheduled for approval at this November’s NATO heads-of-state summit in Lisbon, the experts’ report recommends how the alliance should define its purpose, nature, and fundamental security tasks in the contemporary and future security environment. Since last fall, the 12-member group, led by former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, has convened a series of public and private meetings in various countries to discuss international security […]

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If you’re looking for insight into the lessons learned from the global financial crisis, you could do a lot worse than this Walter Russell Mead essay. Mead nails down a bunch of thoughts that have been swirling in my head recently, that I haven’t had the time or the talent to express as articulately. In particular, the idea that the Battle of Financial Markets, as he calls the initial stage of the crisis, has now given way to the Battle of State Finance. By that he means that the global economy’s theoretic backstop — i.e., the state’s capacity to rescue […]

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To no one’s surprise, least of all the European Union, Britain’s new foreign secretary, William Hague, opted to visit Washington before setting foot in Brussels. There were several reasons why the Washington trip had priority. One was to reassure the Obama administration on the coalition’s continued commitment to the Afghan conflict. The Liberal Democrat Party, with its left-of-center roots, is viewed somewhat warily in Washington. The party opposed the Iraq war, but views the Afghan war with qualified acceptance. But as strong Europeanists, the Liberal Democrats are less enthusiastic about being tied too closely to the United States. Prior to […]

The curtain rose on yet another act in the Iran drama this week. It began with the “diplomatic breakthrough” achieved by Brazil and Turkey: an Iranian agreement in principle to the fuel swap proposal, by which uranium is sent out of the country, turned into fuel rods, and returned for peaceful, civilian use. The plot thickened with the announcement by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that the other permanent members of the U.N. Security Council — and in particular Russia and China — had agreed to bring to the table for discussion a draft resolution imposing a fourth set […]

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Secretary Clinton testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on The New START Treaty. Clinton says that this treaty, as with the ones that came before it, is better than not having any assurances at all. She says that a drawdown in nuclear stockpiles is a sign of the times and that the current heightened level of nuclear arms possessed by both Russia and U.S. dates back to Cold War levels and is largely unnecessary.

PRISTINA, Kosovo — As you travel through the new Balkan countries, the national yearning to join the West assaults your senses. From private conversations in the region to signs scrawled on walls and European flags flapping in the wind, the sentiment is clear. In fledgling countries, such as Kosovo and Macedonia, the fervent wish translates into a near-compulsion to do whatever it takes to join the European Union. That deep desire persists in the face of the recent drama of Greece’s — and Europe’s — economic crisis and the shrinking value of the common European currency, the euro. Nearby, however, […]

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My first reaction on reading the draft resolution of the U.N. sanctions against Iran (.pdf) now being circulated was that the economic component seemed pretty ho-hum, certainly far from the crippling measures we’ve been hearing about for the past few months. On the other hand, the military component caught my eye, because it seemed to put the kabosh on any hope Iran might still have of taking delivery of the Russian-made S-300 air defense missile systems it had contracted for. Today the AFP is reporting that if the draft stands as written, that is in fact the case. That represents […]

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Just a few quick thoughts on the Iran fuel swap deal brokered by Trukey and Brazil. First, it shows that the threat of U.N. sanctions was tactically effective, even if the actual sanctions themselves prove to be strategically ineffective. The threatened fourth round, and the diplomatic isolation among the permanent UNSC members that it implied, was probably a motivating factor in getting Iran to sign on, and definitely the motivating factor in generating Turkish and Brazilian involvement. Second, it’s premature to say that the deal is proof of Turkey reaching the “big leagues” in terms of its diplomatic stature. Sometimes […]

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