Historic treaty ushers in long-anticipated era of U.S. southward expansion. AUSTIN, Texas — Meeting in the New Texas statehouse on the 195th anniversary of Texas’ declaration of independence from Mexico, official representatives from the Tejas Confederation, the Northern Alliance of Mexican States, and the United States government signed a comprehensive treaty that will immediately “re-admit” the Tejas states of El Norte and Gulfland to the American union, and submit to Congress formal pleas for new statehood on behalf of all five Northern Alliance members — Baja California, Sonora, Chihuahua, Coahuila and Nuevo Leon. If all Alliance members are ultimately accepted […]

The following op-ed has been adapted from the Project for National Security Reform’s recently released report (.pdf), “Turning Ideas Into Action.” It is the third of three that WPR has featured. The first can be found here. The second can be found here. The National Security Act of 1947 established the National Security Council (NSC) to draw upon the expertise of the diplomatic, military, and intelligence departments and agencies to advise the president and coordinate policy. Today’s NSC consists of the president as well as select department secretaries and agency heads. A national security adviser and a small National Security […]

The following op-ed has been adapted from the Project for National Security Reform’s recently released report(.pdf), “Turning Ideas Into Action.” It is the second of three that WPR will be featuring. The first can be found here. The third will appear tomorrow. U.S. national security missions are shifting, broadening, and becoming increasingly interdisciplinary. Yet, the structures and processes for addressing these missions have not evolved accordingly. An increasing number of missions now require interagency approaches. But because of the excessively rigid structures and processes of the current national security system, the White House is compelled to take charge of most […]

The following op-ed has been adapted from the Project for National Security Reform’s recently released report (.pdf), “Turning Ideas Into Action.” It is the first of three that WPR will be featuring. The second will appear tomorrow. The current Department of State was not designed to manage the increasingly diverse responsibilities of the U.S. government in a globalized world. While the department occupies center stage of the civilian foreign affairs community, it remains narrowly focused on, and resourced for, traditional diplomacy. It neither possesses nor exercises sufficient authority to manage the full range of international civilian programs effectively. While there […]

Counterterrorism, Real and Imagined

I’ve felt for a while that the “safe havens don’t matter” argument — the idea that somehow terrorist networks can’t substitute online connectivity for actual physical space — is the weakest argument against the strategic relevance of the Afghanistan war. For all sorts of reasons having to do with training, esprit de corps and loyalty bonds, actually having a physical place to solidify operational networks is probably essential and definitely advantageous. That said, one area where online connectivity really does outweigh the importance of physical space is in the financing networks that make farflung terrorist operations possible. So an EU […]

HAVANA — In Havana, the most conspicuous evidence that hostility toward the U.S. has softened can be found at the U.S. Interest Section along the Malecón promenade. When I was last here in early 2008, the gleaming white tower was camouflaged by more than a hundred billowing black flags that Fidel Castro had erected in 2006. The flags were meant to block a scrolling marquee displaying anti-Fidel, pro-America messages, installed by the Bush administration. Nowadays, the building gets a lot more direct sunlight. After the Obama administration pulled the plug on the marquee in June, Fidel removed almost all the […]

Ft. Hood, or Terrorism as Mental Illness

I can’t help but feel like all the efforts to draw general conclusions on national security from the Ft. Hood tragedy miss an obvious point — namely, the ways in which terrorism at the low end of the hierarchy overlaps with mental illness. That’s something that’s obscured by our tendency to focus our discussion on the political and strategic goals of the upper echelons of terrorist leadership, which are national security issues. But at the ground level, terrorists are essentially insane. That’s not to say they are not able to function “normally,” or that they should not be held accountable […]

France, Poland and EU Defense

I mentioned last week that Poland’s shift toward EU defense had become more pronounced since the U.S. shift on European-based missile defense. But Nicolas Gros-Verheyde’s (French-language) summary of the French-Polish joint declaration on security cooperation really underscores that point. Time will tell how all of this will play out in terms of concrete developments. But as Gros-Verheyde observes, the potential for a French-Polish engine driving further EU defense cooperation is clearly in place. The declaration covers bilateral security cooperation in terms of training and industrial partnership, but places it in the context of European security. While it makes a point […]

For roughly four decades, a clear foreign policy rule set has existed between the United States and Latin America, centering largely on the question of counternarcotics. Starting with Richard Nixon’s “war on drugs,” an explicit quid pro quo came into existence: U.S. foreign aid (both civilian and military) in exchange for aggressive Latin American efforts to curb both the production and trafficking of illegal narcotics (primarily marijuana and cocaine). By virtually all accounts, that logistics-focused strategy has proven to be a massive failure. America’s focus on interdiction and prohibition has not stemmed domestic drug abuse. Instead, all indications are that […]

TORREÓN, Mexico — Ever since Mexico’s Felipe Calderón took office in 2006, his presidency has been irrevocably identified with one issue more than any other: security. Calderón has staked the credibility of his administration, not to mention the country’s bilateral relationship with the United States, on attacking drug runners, dismantling kidnapping syndicates, and making Mexico an overall safer country. But despite some improvements in Mexico’s institutional capacity to fight crime, Calderón’s security gamble has largely backfired. The present levels of drug-related violence are worse than ever before, and Ciudad Juárez, across the Rio Grande from El Paso, has become the […]

COIN Theory and Yankees’ Dominance

Good governance? Twenty-seven titles.Infrastructure reconstruction? The new Yankee Stadium.Legitimacy? The pinstripes. Nuff said. And still, this insurgency known as Red Sox Nation survives. Proof that some minor irritants, an empire is better off learning to live with than trying to destroy. Update: Plus, winning hearts and minds!!

Italy Convicts CIA Agents over Extraordinary Renditions

An Italian judge has convicted 23 Central Intelligence Agency officers of participating in the kidnapping and rendition of an Egyptian cleric in Milan in 2003. The trial marked the first time the controversial anti-terrorism tool, known as extraordinary rendition, was challenged anywhere in the world. “The message of this important ruling — to nations, governments, institutions, secret services, etc. — is that we cannot use illegal instruments in our effort against terrorism. Our democracies, otherwise, would betray their principles,” the lead prosecutor, Armando Spataro, told the Los Angeles Times. All of the Americans were tried in absentia, and it is […]

Today, German Chancellor Angela Merkel will become only the second German leader in history to give a speech to both houses of the U.S. Congress. One issue she may avoid raising is her new coalition government’s controversial commitment to remove all U.S. nuclear weapons from German soil within the next few years. By formally adopting the commitment as a core element of its platform, the German government has dramatically focused attention on what has until now been a low-key debate within NATO over whether to retain nuclear weapons as a core element of the alliance’s strategy. Although the precise number […]

Ten years ago last month, the U.S. Senate failed to approve the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. A decade later, the dangers posed by the potential spread of nuclear weapons and materials to additional states and terrorists have increased dramatically. Stopping proliferation will require a global effort — and an early, essential step in that effort must be U.S. ratification of the test ban. The test ban is clearly consistent with U.S. security interests. Because the United States does not conduct nuclear tests and has no plans or the need to do so, the United States should take advantage of the […]