Turkish Centrality

To follow up a bit on last week’s mega-post on Turkey, three articles demonstrate how pro-active and dynamic, but also pragmatic, the Turkish foreign policy approach is. Whether reaching out to Russia for more integrated trade, Iran for gas pipeline deals, or the African Union for increased access and influence, Turkey is taking advantage of its regional centrality, a feature underlined by Ahmet Davutoglu in his assessment of Turkey’s strategic identity. The article on the AU summit also mentions that Turkey is angling for votes to make it onto the UN Security Council for 2009-2010. Given their flexible and pragmatic […]

French Military Exercise Goes Bad

The errors that resulted in the accidental shooting of 17 civilians at a French military demonstration in Carcassone began well before live rounds instead of blanks were mistakenly loaded into an assault rifle by a seasoned veteran sergeant. According to an eye-witness cited by Jean-Dominique Merchet on his Secret Défense blog, the shooting took place during a mock liberation of a hostage, while the squad of four was demonstrating an armed retreat under fire with the use of a smokescreen: During the entire firing sequence, two soldiers fired to cover the other two who retreated, then they changed roles, marking […]

The Contested Commons

In a Democracy Arsenal post on what’s missing from the discussion about American strategy, Shawn Brimley ties together a variety of disparate events into a coherent whole that he calls the “era of the contested commons,” combining threats to the integrity of both new commons (e.g. cyberspace and satellites) and more traditional ones (e.g. maritime routesand unclaimed territories like the Arctic). Brimley argues that in focusing too narrowly on the conduct of two wars, we’ve ignored the role that was the centerpiece of our global leadership position: American power and influence are derived principally by providing the key global public […]

Is it Really Too Early to Call the Surge a Success?

Judah writes that “We still don’t know how the final chapter on the Surge will turnout, because we still don’t know how the final chapter on Iraq willturn out.” I agree with the second part of the sentence, but not the first. Declaring the Surge a success need not wait until the final chapter of the story of the entire war is written. That, it seems to me, is akin to arguing, for example, that the validity of the original decision to go to war should only be judged against the ultimate failure or success of the war. (If the […]

Blogging in the Free World

The following post by Sam Roggeveen first appeared on The Interpreter: NY Times political reporter Matt Bai is in Sydney, and this morning he spoke at the US Consulate about how the internet has changed US politics. Some interesting observations: -The internet is now part of the US political mainstream, which should be no surprise, given how important it has been for some time to others facets of American life. Politics is a late adopter.-This is the last election cycle in which TV advertising will dominate campaign budgeting.-The online revolution will be more important for politics than was the switch […]

Crossposting with the Interpreter

One of my favorite blog discoveries of the past few months is The Interpreter, whose editor Sam Roggeveen has on several occasions forced me to clarify or defend my arguments here in a way that has invariably rendered them more rigorous. As part of the Lowy Institute for International Policy, The Interpreter features a wide array of contributors, all of whom offer smart and insightful analysis of the world and Asia from a distinctly Australian perspective. We’ve already added The Interpreter to our blogroll, but now we’ll be doing a trial run over the next few weeks with some crossposting […]

The Asymmetric Temptation

I’m always glad to find prestigious support for one of my personal bête noires, and that goes double when the prestigious person in question, the National War College’s Michael Mazarr, takes care of two of them at once (.pdf). In this case, it’s the militarization of American diplomacy and the temptation of COIN, both of which he tackles in the current issue of The Washington Quarterly under the title of ‘The Folly of Asymmetric War.’ Mazarr makes a lot of the arguments I’ve been trying to develop on the subject, but more articulately and with a broader base of knowledge […]

Stronger Carrots, Stronger Sticks

At the Center for New American Security’s conference in Washington last week, Dennis Ross suggested a “strong carrot, strong stick” approach to Iran, contrasting that with what he characterized as the Bush administration’s “weak carrot, weak stick” approach. Judah subsequently commented on the appeal of the Ross approach, which, as Judah wrote, would include “a serious European commitment to (mutually) painful economic sanctions,” as well as greater efforts to involve Russia and China on both the carrot and stick end. In the last few days, the Bush administration together with Europe and even Russia and China, has arguably made progress […]

Turkey and Europe

Whether or not Turkey belongs in the European Union is one that has yet to be decided. Whether or not they belong in the European Cup semifinals was decided last night in one of the most stunning comebacks in the tournament’s history. After dominating the first half and weathering a resurgent Turkish offense throughout the second, the Czech squad fell apart in the last fifteen minutes, giving up three goals to lose 3-2. The Turkish side even played the final two minutes of added time with a ten-man squad and a midfielder in goal, as their keeper had been sent […]

Congressional Committee Roundup, June 9-13

WASHINGTON – The future of U.S. trade assistance and the effects of Chinese hemispheric expansion dominated Hill foreign policy hearings here last week. On Thursday, the Senate Committee on Finance debated the utility of U.S. trade preference programs, two of which are set to expire at the end of this year. Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., opened the hearing with an appeal to the committee to consider the United States’ trade goals at large: “For us and for our neighbors, we cannot let these programs expire. But for us and for our neighbors, we must make our preference programs the best […]

The COIN Temptation

I agree with Shawn Brimley that the risk of the Army’s new emphasis on COIN tactics is less that we’ll lose the capacity to fight conventional wars against major powers like Russia and China. (Our military capacity is light years ahead of theirs, and let’s face it, that’s still what nuclear deterrence is about.) The risk is that we’ll fight more COIN-type wars of choice. It’s tempting to think of our newly evolved COIN approach as a precision tool capable of laser-guided interventions. But while the military component is necessary to secure areas in which to apply the political solution, […]

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Intervention Fatigue

I’m not sure about Phil Carter’s take on the Madeleine Albright NYTimes op-ed that’s generating a good deal of discussion. Here’s the key passage from Albright’s piece: . . .And despite recent efforts to enshrine the doctrine of a “responsibility to protect” in international law, the concept of humanitarian intervention has lost momentum. The global conscience is not asleep, but after the turbulence of recent years, it is profoundly confused. Some governments will oppose any exceptions to the principle of sovereignty because they fear criticism of their own policies. Others will defend the sanctity of sovereignty unless and until they […]

The Misuses of Globalization

I might be wrong, but I have a hunch this is another case where Sam Roggeveen and I find ourselves in “furious agreement.” In the post Sam refers to, I wasn’t arguing that there’s a “a mismatch between underfunded defence forces and growing demand for military interventions in far flung places,” so much as that the threat of military interventions in far flung places is being used by governments to maintain defense budgets while cutting essential non-military functions. Also, I agree with Sam that military power isn’t the primary answer to any of the most pressing security threats we face. […]

The Globalization Paradox

I’ve been pretty deep in the weeds of WPR’s weeklong series on France’s strategic posture review (part one here, part two here), so I was looking forward today to seeing what’s going on in other parts of the world. As I joked to Hampton yesterday, I’m looking at international news and seeing French strategic posture. So what’s the first thing I thought of this morning when I saw this Indian Express article (via Indian Economy Blog) on the Indian government’s austerity plan? You got it. French strategic posture. How so? Well, as IEB underlines, Indian defense spending is among the […]

No Solutions, No Problem

The funny thing for me about Robert Kagan is that I very rarely ever disagree with his analysis of the problem. It’s his solutions that I usually have trouble with. So I really liked this Globalist interview, which is limited to one-sentence responses to analytical questions. I’m having trouble deciding which of these two I like the most. On whether a Barack Obama presidency would fundamentally change American foreign policy: So long as U.S. power in all its forms is sufficient to shape the behavior of others, the broad direction of U.S. foreign policy is unlikely to change. And on […]

Collateral Damage

On a related Turkey-Greek Cyprus note, this article in the Turkish Daily News discusses how the Cyprus conflict has basically frozen Turkey’s participation in EU defense, as well as interfered with EU-NATO defense cooperation. I’m not so sure about the latter, given the nature of the Berlin Plus agreement, and various European opponents to Turkey’s EU candidacy might be putting more barriers in place than the article allows for. Either way, from a political point of view, Turkey makes a great partner for EU defense, for the obvious reason that it’s a secular, democratic Muslim country. So if Cyprus really […]

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