After 12 years of American pressure, al-Qaida’s core is, as President Barack Obama put it, “on the path to defeat.” That’s a good thing, but no one believes that crushing al-Qaida Central deep in its Pakistani sanctuary will mean the demise of the entire movement. Whether of necessity or as part of a deliberate strategy, al-Qaida has endorsed or adopted franchises across the Islamic world. Now American policymakers must assess the comparative danger posed by each of these and identify the most strategically significant ones. Counterterrorism experts often rate al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) the most active and lethal […]

At a NATO-Russia Council meeting last week, Rose Gottemoeller, the U.S. acting undersecretary for arms control and international security, complained about Moscow’s failure to provide advance notice of its recent large-scale military exercises. Gottemoeller stated that Russia had notified the U.S. about an exercise of “unprecedented size” in the Eastern Military District only as the activity commenced, while Washington “received word of the large aviation exercise in the Western Military District only through press reports.” According to the Russians, the “snap” exercises were designed to test the Russian military’s day-to-day readiness without advance warning of any drill. In addition, they […]

In mid-July, Mexican authorities captured Miguel Angel Trevino Morales, leader of the Zetas, a major Mexican drug trafficking organization known for its brutality. In an email interview, Brian Phillips, research professor at the Center for Research and Teaching in Economics (CIDE) in Mexico City whose research focuses on subnational political violence, discussed Mexico’s strategy of capturing or killing the leaders of drug organizations. WPR: What is the rationale behind Mexico’s kingpin strategy? Brian Phillips: Mexico focuses on arresting “kingpins,” high-level members of drug-trafficking organizations (DTOs), because it is trying to reduce the power and violence associated with these groups. The […]

While much of the world’s attention was focused on the birth of Britain’s Prince George, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden was visiting India, in an attempt to get the bilateral relationship between the world’s oldest and largest democracies back on track. New Delhi is understandably wary of the Obama administration. India’s policymakers are concerned about a possible U.S. “rush for the exits” in Afghanistan after 2014, especially if it involves a deal with the Taliban that would allow the militants to exercise real authority in the country and undercut Indian interests. Moreover, while India has real issues with China, including […]

On June 26, Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambayev formally signed a law “annulling” the country’s agreement with the U.S. to host an air base in his country. The true significance of the law is unclear, and it could be a bargaining ploy to gain more favorable terms for a new agreement on the base, which has been the United States’ most conspicuous presence in Central Asia since being established shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks. Regardless, the passage of the law has highlighted how U.S. interest in Central Asia is destined to diminish as the U.S. extracts itself from Afghanistan. In […]

The community of national security experts is consumed with debate on the appropriate size and configuration of the American military. Seldom does a week pass without some new report, commission or conference offering solemn advice on this complex issue. Policy journals and op-ed pages are awash with articles on it. Such vigorous discussion is a good thing, but it may be focused on the wrong issue—ultimately the size of the armed forces matters less than what they are asked to do. There are analysts, though, who are grappling with the type of conflicts the U.S. military may be ordered to […]

Given the recent prominence in international affairs of seemingly intractable disputes over maritime rights—from the South China Sea to the Arctic to the Eastern Mediterranean—it appears to be an opportune time for a 21st-century version of Otto von Bismarck, the “honest broker,” to convene the next great set of international conferences to settle some of today’s stand-offs. Moreover, since some of the most dangerous flashpoints that could bring major powers to the brink of war, particularly in the Western Pacific, are quite literally little more than rocks, someone with a Bismarckian sense of perspective is sorely needed. After all, as […]

Last month, the European Union renewed the mandate of the European Network and Information Security Agency, its principal cybersecurity agency, giving it expanded responsibilities. In an email interview, Alexander Klimburg, a fellow at the Austrian Institute for International Affairs specializing in cybersecurity as well as EU foreign and security policy, explained the state of EU cyberdefense and its role in EU-U.S. relations. WPR: How is responsibility for cybersecurity divided among EU member states and the institutions of the EU? Alexander Klimburg: In the EU Cyber Security Strategy, published earlier this year, the EU committed itself to all five of the […]

Despite unfolding disasters in Egypt and Syria and the damage to American security from the bizarre Edward Snowden episode, Afghanistan, which had begun to seem like last year’s news, is grabbing headlines again. The Obama administration is undertaking yet another review of its options following the planned drawdown of U.S. military forces in 2014. Reports are that the administration, frustrated with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, is considering a “zero option” that would leave no American troops in Afghanistan. But before wholesale disengagement is even officially on the table, opposition to it is flaring. Angry at the idea, House Armed Services […]

During Secretary of State John Kerry’s trip to China in April, the U.S. and China issued a joint statement on climate change and agreed to undertake actions that would set an example for the rest of the world. In June, Presidents Barack Obama and Xi Jinping agreed to address the production and use of hydrofluorocarbons, a type of superwarming, short-lived greenhouse gas. While the two countries have plenty of issues to deal with on the bilateral agenda, climate change can be one of the least contentious, and further announcements are expected in the future. Announcements are good, but action is […]

Should the West attempt to make the Syrian civil war drag on for as long as possible? The question may sound morally offensive and politically wrong-headed. The U.S. and its allies have consistently called for a rapid cessation of hostilities and a negotiated settlement. Yet they are currently pursuing military, diplomatic and humanitarian strategies that could contribute to prolonging the conflict. This could result in either a stalemate inside Syria or even more violence in the country and across the Middle East. As the Syrian war escalated from steady but limited violence to large-scale bloodletting in 2012, many Western observers […]

U.S. Central Africa Policy Sees a New Surge of Energy

Last month’s appointment of former Sen. Russ Feingold as the new United States special envoy for the African Great Lakes region and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) signals an important surge of energy into American diplomacy in this troubled region. His appointment should be seen in the context of other recent positive steps, including the “Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Region,” a February 2013 agreement among 11 African states known as the PSC Framework. The framework aims at ending the decades-long instability, violence, multiple humanitarian crises and grave human […]

During the Cold War, the U.S.-Japan alliance was variously described as the cornerstone and the linchpin of U.S. Asia strategy, but over the past decade the role of this strategic alliance has come under increasing scrutiny. New dynamics in the Asia-Pacific region have prompted a rethinking of U.S. priorities in Asia. China’s rise has called for a more complex assessment in both Tokyo and Washington of the circumstances under which the alliance might be tested. Japan’s struggle with slow economic growth and a rather unpredictable effort at political reform has made strategic adjustment difficult. Similar concerns in the United States […]

The U.S. missile defense program suffered perhaps its most serious test failure in recent history last week. The July 5 setback should serve as a warning to the Pentagon for the need to hedge against further deficiencies in the Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system, a core element of the U.S. Ballistic Missile Defense System (BMDS). On Friday afternoon, the Defense Department launched a missile from the Army’s Reagan Test Site on Kwajalein Atoll, Republic of the Marshall Islands. Several minutes later, the Pentagon launched an unarmed Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle (EKV) aboard a rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California […]

The alliance between the United States and South Korea arose from the postwar liberation of southern Korea by U.S. forces and then the subsequent attack on the newly independent country by North Korea, backed by the Soviet Union and Communist China, in June 1950. U.S. forces have remained in South Korea ever since, though their numbers have fluctuated over time. During its first decades as an independent country, South Korea’s policy with regard to Pyongyang focused on being able to repel another North Korean invasion in partnership with the United States. The longer-term aspiration was to exploit the anticipated eventual […]

Prior to 1992, Philippine-U.S. security relations were framed by several bilateral defense arrangements. The two countries became formal allies in 1951 upon signing the Philippines-U.S. Mutual Defense Treaty. Both countries also became members of the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization in 1956. However, the most important of these bilateral defense arrangements predated the collective defense treaties binding the two countries: the 1947 Philippines-U.S. Military Bases Agreement, which facilitated the hosting of major American naval and air facilities in Philippine territory. The U.S. military bases in the Philippines, including the Subic Bay Naval Base and Clark Air Base, extended vital logistical support […]

The recent revelations about U.S. intelligence programs are causing an uproar in Europe. In particular, the wide-ranging efforts to monitor European diplomatic offices and communications networks have led a number of officials to voice their discontent publicly. German Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger said that U.S. behavior “was reminiscent of the actions of enemies during the Cold War,” while French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius was unequivocal: “These acts, if confirmed, would be completely unacceptable.” The question now is: What will be the actual policy implications of recent revelations about PRISM and associated intelligence collection efforts? And to what extent will these […]

Showing 1 - 17 of 221 2 Last