Remilitarizing Europe: NATO isn’t the Answer

I think the logic underlying Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ argument that Europe needs to take military force seriously again is solid, even if the idealist in me (yes, he lives) wishes the world would move closer to the European consensus against war than vice versa. The problem is that Gates, like most American defense thinkers, presents NATO as the only acceptable expression of a remilitarized Europe. And for a variety of reasons, that’s just unrealistic. To begin with, this is akin to repeatedly insisting to a lazy teenager that he has to help out around the house. No matter how […]

For U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Carol Pottenger, Haiti was a wake-up call. In the aftermath of the Jan. 12 earthquake that killed more than 200,000 people and left millions homeless on the island nation, the U.S. military deployed tens of thousands of soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen to help with aid efforts. Pottenger, commander of the Navy’s nearly four-year-old Naval Expeditionary Combat Command (NECC), which oversees coastal forces, realized that almost all her 10 divisions had sent people to Haiti. “Every one of my capabilities has a piece of the action down there,” Pottenger told World Politics Review. […]

Clinton: NATO Strategic Concept

“Those of us responsible for crafting a new Strategic Concept do face a great challenge and a great opportunity. The phrase “post-Cold War” says more about what our current era is not than about what it is or should be. All of us here today will help define what this new era will become.” -Secretary of State Hilary Rodham Clinton, NATO Strategic Concept Seminar

Latin America’s major economies avoided the brunt of the global financial crisis, except for Mexico, whose 7 percent contraction in 2009 represented the region’s worst decline. The drop-off was primarily traceable to America’s recession: More than 80 percent of Mexico’s exports go to the U.S., and its major sources of foreign reserves — oil, remittances and tourism — depend heavily upon consumption north of the border. The loss of tourism revenues due to ongoing drug violence within Mexico and the emergence of H1N1 didn’t help matters. This year, as the panic subsides, Mexico’s economy is expected to return to positive […]

U.S. Nuclear Energy: The French are Coming!!

I’ve mentioned a number of times the ways in which France’s nuclear energy giant, Areva, has benefited from the U.S. opening foreign markets to nuclear energy. The U.S.-India 123 agreement is the most flagrant example, since it really involved bringing India in from the NSG cold. So it’s worth noting that among the beneficiaries of President Barack Obama’s new nuclear energy initiative is none other than . . . Areva. They’ve been partnering up with U.S. utility and nuclear power companies for the past few years in anticipation of the U.S. shift to nuclear. And part of their strategy of […]

War and DADT

I don’t make a habit of writing about things that seem obvious. Torture, for instance, is morally reprehensible and pragmatically ineffective, which is as close to a definition of un-American as I think you can come up with. Once you get caught up in trying to define the gray area, you’ve missed the point. Same goes for DADT, in my book. I won’t write about it often, because to me, there’s just not a whole lot of ground to cover before you run into the basic injustice of the policy. But I bring it up because of this TPM article […]

Obama Invests in Nuclear Energy

President Barack Obama announced more than $8 billion in loan guarantees for two new nuclear reactors, saying that the money will go to creating a clean energy sector that also generates hundreds of thousands of domestic jobs. This trend toward nuclear energy is being seen worldwide and is outlined in greater detail in WPR’s recent feature, Green Power: Geopolitics After Oil.

The Group of Experts assisting with the drafting of NATO’s new Strategic Concept traveled to Moscow last week, in an effort to reassure Russia about NATO and its activities. The Feb 9-11 visit followed the release of Russia’s new military doctrine, adopted on Feb. 5, which characterizes the alliance’s activities as threatening to Russia. Led by former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, the group, consisting of a dozen members, consulted with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, National Security Secretary Nikolay Patrushev, and members of the Russian parliament, and held additional meetings with other Russian security experts. Albright also delivered […]

Biofuels were hailed in the first half of the last decade as a green solution to reliance on imported petroleum, and a savior to farmers seeking higher prices for commodities in surplus. But in the second half of the decade, biofuels emerged as real and imminent threats to both environmental quality and food security, while being a costly and ill-conceived response to energy concerns. Agriculture and energy ministers met at a high-level conference at the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in Rome in June 2008, and essentially glossed over these issues in endorsing continued government subsidies to the biofuels question. […]

Regular Question Time for the President?

Following President Barack Obama’s surprisingly successful question-and-answer session with GOP legislators a week or so ago, some commentators and politicians suggested that such impromptu encounters should be more frequent, comparing them with the British prime minister answering weekly questions in the British House of Commons. Judging by Monday’s White House talks between the president and the Republicans on pressing domestic issues facing the nation, the constructive tone of that earlier dialogue would seem to have been a flash in the pan. But just for the sake of argument, could there be a case for a regular public “question time” of […]

Global Insights: Russia’s New Military Doctrine Reaffirms Old Values

At a Feb. 5 session of the Russian Security Council, President Dmitry Medvedev finally approved Russia’s updated comprehensive military doctrine, which was published on the president’s Kremlin Web site the following day. But notwithstanding a lengthy period of discussion and consideration, and despite all the developments of the past decade — including the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Georgia — the latest version generally supports the same policies as the previous military doctrine adopted in 2000. The doctrine depicts Russia as the target of increasing military threats emanating from NATO collectively and its members individually. It also expresses unease at […]

TBILISI, Georgia — Former U.S. President George W. Bush has a highway named after him in Tbilisi, Georgia’s charming and gritty capital, to commemorate his lofty rhetoric in praise of the Caucasian republic’s Western turn in 2003. During Bush’s visit in 2005, the president even eschewed his famous early bedtime to dance the night away in the jubilant Georgian capital. Much has changed since 2005, though. When Russian tanks rolled into Georgian territory in August 2008, Bush chose not to rise to the defense of the West’s ally in the Caucasus. But that was just the beginning. From the indignity […]

The American Dream, Guatemalan Edition

Great NY Times piece on the growing Guatemalan immigrant population in Brooklyn. The story itself is just an update of a very familiar one, but it shows the enduring appeal — as well as the brutal reality — of the American Dream. Every time I see an image of a U.S. Army platoon outpost in Afghanistan, I shudder at the thought of what we’re asking young Americans to live through over there. I had a similar, if not identical, reaction upon reading of a 39-year-old day laborer who hasn’t seen his family in 14 years. It’s also true that this […]

Haiti: The 51st State?

So instead of facing Haitian resentment to the U.S. humanitarian intervention, U.S. troops and civil aid workers are finding the mood among Haitians to be, More, please! But reconstruction is, for now, ruled out. Obviously, all reporting out of Haiti is for now anecdotatl, and today’s warm welcome could become tomorrow’s food riot. But it will be interesting to see just how long before one of our nation-building operations generates demands, not for nationhood, but for Statehood. Thomas P.M. Barnett touched on this with regard to Mexico and Cuba. Haiti seems like a viable candidate, too.

QDR: The Triumph of Integrated Defense Thinking

I haven’t had a chance to do more than skim through the 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review (.pdf), despite the fact that Congress Daily helpfully managed to acquire it over the weekend. I have read through some of the early reviews, though, and recommend Robert Farley, Spencer Ackerman and the gang at Information Dissemination for a start. I don’t think anyone who’s been following the military’s operational soul searching and evolution over the past five years will be surprised by anything here. But I’d offer one alternative reading of the degree to which COIN figures prominently in this year’s edition, as […]