This month, the U.K. published its international defense strategy amid cuts in the U.K. defense budget and debate over the role of the U.K.’s nuclear deterrent, known as the Trident system. In an email interview, Malcolm Chalmers, research director and director of U.K. defense policy studies at Royal United Services Institute, explained U.K. defense priorities in the context of shrinking budgets. WPR: What is at stake in the Trident decision, both economically and strategically? Malcolm Chalmers: The decision to replace the existing U.K. Trident system, starting with a new generation of missile submarines, was taken by the government in 2006 […]

On Sunday, Cyprus will hold runoff presidential elections between conservative candidate Nicos Anastasiades and the left-leaning Stavros Malas. The election will likely determine whether Cyprus, one of the eurozone’s economic trouble spots, will accept a bailout from the European Union in exchange for economic reforms or risk a bankruptcy that will aggravate the eurozone crisis. Anastasiades, the conservative, pro-bailout candidate, is favored to win. Demetris Christofias, the current president, has resisted meeting the tough terms of the bailout. The European Union, meanwhile, has not hidden its hopes for an Anastasiades victory. James Ker-Lindsay, a senior research fellow who studies the […]

BOLOGNA, Italy — Since the beginning of the financial crisis in Europe, anti-Brussels sentiment has been on the rise from Britain to Hungary. These days, however, the European Union is losing ground not only among citizens of traditionally recalcitrant member countries but also, and more troublingly, among those that have historically been ardent supporters. The EU’s relations with Italy, for example, a founding member and the bloc’s fourth-largest economy — the eurozone’s third-largest — are on the rocks. Italians have historically been in favor of a strong Europe. But now, crushed by record-high taxes and sharp cuts in government spending, […]

Last October, the largely unknown French group Generation Identity occupied a mosque in the town of Poitiers. Founded only a month before, the group had already attracted interest after releasing a “declaration of war” through YouTube outlining goals focused heavily on opposing multiculturalism and Islam. The young activists presented themselves as a generation of “ethnic fracture,” who had suffered from record levels of unemployment, debt, multicultural decline and the “forced mixing of the races.” From the mosque’s rooftop, the group demanded a referendum on Muslim immigration. While it is tempting to view such groups as isolated and largely insignificant, their […]

The list of of nations with nuclear weapons continues to grow. First it was the United States and the Soviet Union. They were soon followed by the United Kingdom, France then China. Later, India, Israel, Pakistan and North Korea joined. South Africa was a member of the club for a while, before abandoning its program. Iran will become a nuclear power some day, even if the United States or Israel postpones it a bit with an attack. A growing number of other states could build nuclear weapons in short order if they wanted to, including South Korea, Taiwan, Japan, Brazil […]

With only days to go before Armenia’s Feb. 18 presidential election, all signs point to a victory for incumbent President Serzh Sargsyan. Should he be re-elected as expected, Armenia will most likely maintain its status quo, which saw Yerevan open modestly to the West and Euro-Atlantic initiatives but ultimately remain bound to its longstanding alliance with Moscow. Sargsyan is likely not only to win the election handily but also to easily clear the 50 percent threshold required to prevent a second-round runoff. With Armenia’s opposition badly fractured and handicapped by the noncandidacies of two of the most credible opposition figures […]

A recent report on patterns in drug trafficking and consumption in the European Union uncovered novel trends, including the consumption of new substances and the emergence of new distribution networks. In an email interview, Caroline Chatwin, a criminology lecturer at the University of Kent who researches European-level drug policy, explained the changing EU drug market and the challenges that remain for a coordinated EU-level drug policy. WPR: How have patterns of drug smuggling and consumption in the European Union changed recently, and what accounts for the rise of synthetic drug use in particular? Caroline Chatwin: Latest figures show a stabilization […]

A recent report (.pdf) by the Open Society Justice Initiative provides new insights into the “extraordinary rendition” program the United States operated after 9/11, revealing just how widely the program spanned: More than 130 people were subjected to extraordinary rendition, and more than 50 countries cooperated. The report thus raises important questions about both accountability for past human rights abuses and the future of U.S. counterterrorism policy. Renditions, or the international transfers of individuals without legal process, occurred before 9/11. But they were previously used to transfer suspects for criminal trial. After 9/11, rendition expanded in size and focus; instead […]

In his second annual report on the state of the NATO alliance, released at the end of January, and in his Feb. 2 speech to the 2013 Munich Security Conference, NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen laid out a very ambitious current and future security agenda for the alliance, while stressing the need for NATO governments to sustain adequate defense spending to develop the capabilities needed to achieve the alliance’s goals. In this regard, Rasmussen identified four gaps where spending levels are producing capabilities deficits. The first is the traditional trans-Atlantic gap between the United States and its European allies, which […]

European soldiers, often mocked by American analysts in recent years, are back in fashion. France’s intervention in Mali has inspired commentators on both sides of the Atlantic to wonder whether, in the words of Anne Applebaum of the Washington Post, “the European Union could become the world’s policeman.” French President François Hollande’s willingness to go to war excites those who believe the Obama administration is too cautious in its use of military strength. Philip Stephens of the Financial Times observes that “Europeans have caught the interventionist bug just as the U.S. has shaken it off.” There are some obvious problems […]

For roughly a decade now, I’ve been advocating that America needs to be unsentimental in choosing its military allies for the 21st century. Europe and Japan are aging and seem increasingly less willing to protect their interests abroad, while India and China are becoming budding superpowers with global interests that, to a stunning degree, overlap with America’s. Most pointedly, we live in an age of “frontier integration” triggered by globalization’s rapid advance, a process in which China and India, and not the “old” West, are the two rising pillars. So it makes sense for America to focus future alliance-building efforts […]

It was months in the making, persistently delayed and then twice rescheduled. But when British Prime Minister David Cameron’s speech on the future of the U.K.’s relationship with the European Union finally arrived late last month, at least it did not lack ambition. Cameron hopes to renegotiate Britain’s relationship with the EU and push forward a process of reform for the whole union. His aim is to secure a looser relationship with a streamlined Europe, one that all but the more strident europhobes in his party and the public would prefer to full departure from the bloc. Should the Conservatives […]

French President Francois Hollande’s Jan. 15 visit to the United Arab Emirates garnered relatively little attention, coming just four days after the start of the French military intervention in Mali. Though Hollande traveled to the UAE ostensibly to give the keynote address at the World Future Energy Summit, the trip was actually the latest move in Paris’ efforts to strengthen the two countries’ economic and strategic relationship. Over the past five years, France has made a concerted push to boost ties with the United Arab Emirates. Former President Nicolas Sarkozy visited twice, in 2008 and 2009, and established France’s first […]

Serbia and Kosovo agreed last month to exchange envoys for the first time in response to a broader European Union push for the two to improve relations. In an email interview, Stefan Lehne, a Balkans and European Union expert at Carnegie Europe, explained the overall progress of Kosovo-Serbia relations and the challenges that remain. WPR: What were the factors that drove Serbia and Kosovo to exchange envoys for the first time? Stefan Lehne: Whatever their differences on the status issue, Serbia and Kosovo will always be neighbors. Every day there will be problems to sort out between them and gains […]

Governments and independent experts have found countless metrics to evaluate the successes and failures of military interventions such as those in Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq, judging them on everything from casualty rates to the provision of public services. The number of girls attending school in Afghanistan, for example, has been a standard point of reference for supporters of the NATO mission there. But what metrics can be used to evaluate a deliberate nonintervention? This question is grimly relevant to assessments of the West’s decision not to take military action in Syria to date. Advocates of an intervention have a lot […]