A worker adjusts pipes during a hydraulic fracturing operation at an Encana Corp. well pad near Mead, Co., March 25, 2014 (AP photo by Brennan Linsley).

Shale gas is revolutionizing the world’s energy landscape. Seemingly overnight, supplies have increased dramatically due to technological advances, including hydraulic fracturing—known as fracking—and horizontal drilling. A world accustomed to energy scarcity and declining supplies is rapidly readjusting to abundance, at just the time when concerns about global climate change and the desire to identify cleaner, relatively inexpensive fuel sources intensify. These conditions and the impressive size of proven reserves within the Western Hemisphere in particular provide the Americas with an enviable opportunity for leadership in global shale gas. The United States, Argentina, Canada, Mexico and Brazil all rank within the […]

EU chief negotiator Ignacio Garcia Bercero and U.S. chief negotiator Dan Mullaney address the media at the end of the sixth round of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, Brussels, Belgium, July 18, 2014 (AP photo by Yves Logghe).

Last month, Germany voiced concerns over the inclusion of an Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) in the free trade agreement between the European Union and Canada. German objections also call into question the inclusion of an ISDS in the trade deal currently being negotiated between the EU and the United States. In an email interview, Timothy Josling, senior fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies at Stanford University, discussed the settlements and their role in international trade agreements. WPR: What is an Investor-State Dispute Settlement and how common is it in free trade agreements? Timothy Josling: Investor-State Dispute Settlement […]

Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton as she greets a customer during a book signing of her new book "Hard Choices" at Northshire Bookstore in Saratoga Springs, N.Y, July 29, 2014 (AP Photo/Mike Groll).

The United States is at a transitional point in its national security strategy at least as important as the one after Vietnam and perhaps as crucial as the opening years of the Cold War. Although debate today about America’s future role in the world is limited to think tanks, academia and the media, during the 2016 presidential campaign, this will change. National security will move into the limelight as differing visions within and between the Democratic and Republican parties clarify policy options and choices. For both U.S. and global security, much will be at stake. It is, of course, too […]

Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi speak during a press conference in Baghdad, Iraq, Feb. 23, 2014 (AP photo by Ahmed Saad).

When asked recently by New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman whether China, as the “biggest energy investor in Iraq,” should behave more like a stakeholder there, U.S. President Barack Obama had a pointed reply. The Chinese, he said, “have been free riders for the last 30 years and it’s worked really well for them,” while the United States has had to bear the burdens of maintaining international security and prosperity for the good of the world. Those comments triggered a sharply negative reaction in the Chinese press. Although Obama might not have intended to be so blunt, his remarks […]

A Russian construction worker speaks on a mobile phone in Portovaya Bay, Russia, during a ceremony marking the start of Nord Stream pipeline construction, April 9, 2010 (AP photo by Dmitry Lovetsky).

It is the misfortune of the Obama administration to preside over the unraveling of several long-term U.S. strategies in Eastern Europe and the Middle East. The tactics used by previous administrations to delay making hard choices in the hope that problems would resolve themselves over time without Washington being required to make sacrifices are no longer available, as the crises in both regions make abundantly clear. For the past 20 years, successive U.S. administrations have held open the door for Ukraine’s full integration into the Euro-Atlantic world, with the expectation that either Russia would at long last accept the move […]

Indian Defense Minister Arun Jaitley greets U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel in New Delhi, India, Aug. 8, 2014 (AP photo by Manish Swarup).

Last week, U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel visited New Delhi on a political mission to sound out Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s new government on the Defense Trade and Technology Initiative (DTTI) first proposed two years ago by Hagel’s predecessor, Leon Panetta. The United States is promoting DTTI as the “centerpiece” of the India-U.S. defense relationship going forward, hoping it will lead to a renewal of the New Framework for Defense Relationship signed by both sides in 2005, which expires next year. The 2005 framework accord led to U.S. military sales totaling $9 billion to India, but that happened essentially […]

A fighter with the Islamic State group stands guard in front of the headquarters of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) in the Christian village of Bartella, northern Iraq, Aug. 7, 2014 (AP photo).

For Islamic extremists, particularly the most angry and violent ones, al-Qaida is yesterday’s news. From Yemen to Africa, fighters are leaving al-Qaida-affiliated groups and joining the ultra-radical and violent movement now known as the Islamic State. This gives some worrisome hints about the future of extremism in the Islamic world. The ascendance of the Islamic State, initially known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), is due in part to al-Qaida’s failures. Over the years much of the funding al-Qaida used to energize and stoke militant movements was cut off or dried up. Pummeled by the United States […]

Two A-129 Mangusta helicopters fly over an unknown location in Afghanistan, Sept. 8, 2013 (AP photo courtesy of the Italian Army Public Affairs Office in Herat).

Next month’s NATO summit needs to make greater progress on so-called Smart Defense, the alliance-wide effort to get more collective benefits out of individual members’ defense budgets. The initiative aims to induce NATO governments to acquire military capabilities collectively that they cannot afford individually, so that even members with limited resources can contribute to expensive joint projects. The May 2012 Chicago summit launched almost two dozen Smart Defense projects in such areas as logistics and sustainment; intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; and force protection. One country leads each project. For example, Germany is in charge of pooling maritime patrol aircraft; France […]

Displaced Iraqis from the Yazidi community cross the Syria-Iraq border at Feeshkhabour border point, in northern Iraq, Aug. 10, 2014 (AP photo by Khalid Mohammed).

There has been a lot of talk about humanitarian interventions over the past week, but much of it has been muddled, misleading or both. Russia has pressed for a “humanitarian mission” to the war zone in eastern Ukraine. The U.S. and its allies argue that Moscow is just using this as a pretext to invade the region. While telling Russia to back off, the Obama administration has stumbled into a new intervention of its own, launching air strikes in northern Iraq against the forces of the Islamic State, previously known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). The […]

A Kurdish Peshmerga fighter positioned behind dirt barriers along the front line with militants from the al-Qaida-inspired Islamic State, Mariam Bek village, between the cities of Tikrit and Kirkuk, Iraq, June 30, 2014 (AP photo by Hussein Malla).

A Texas court is the new battleground between the Iraqi government and the semi-autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). Baghdad insists that a tanker full of oil off the Texas coast, originating from the country’s Kurdish region, properly belongs to Iraq’s Ministry of Oil, and obtained a ruling to that effect from a Texas judge. On Aug. 4 the Kurdistan Regional Government filed a motion in a Texas court to lift the order. A KRG statement said that oil had been “legally produced, exported, and sold . . . in accordance with the Iraqi constitution and law.” The dispute comes amid […]

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks to the media after closed-door nuclear talks on Iran in Vienna, Austria, Tuesday, July 15, 2014 (AP photo by Ronald Zak).

The United States and Iran held snap bilateral talks on Thursday in Geneva as part of an effort to overcome differences that have prevented the conclusion of a final, lasting agreement on the status of Tehran’s nuclear program. Curiously, two of the three senior U.S. government representatives that participated according to the sparse State Department announcement—Deputy Secretary of State Bill Burns and the vice president’s national security adviser Jake Sullivan—are both expected to depart the Obama administration in a matter of months. This raised questions as to whether the Obama national security team was seeking to give the president some […]

Iraqis from the Yazidi community chant anti-Islamic militants slogans in front of U.N. headquarters to ask for international protection in Irbil, Iraq, Aug. 4, 2014 (AP photo).

Last June, when Iraq’s second-largest city, Mosul, abruptly fell to a militia of ultra-radical Islamists barreling in from Syria, the consensus among international observers was that the stunning collapse of Iraqi forces was the result of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s disastrous policies. Maliki’s sectarian regime had undermined the Iraqi military’s unity, preparedness and willingness to fight. To be sure, Maliki’s governing approach has proved devastating for Iraq, but events of the past few days point to a much more ominous explanation. The new evidence coming from the Kurdish regions of northern Iraq suggests that Baghdad’s dismal response to the […]

The U.S. military's Active Denial System, a non-lethal ray gun, Moody Air Force Base, Ga., Jan. 24, 2007 (AP photo by Elliott Minor).

Conventional militaries normally avoid fighting in cities, instead seeking open ground where generals can see what is happening and control their forces as much as possible. Certainly there have been large urban battles like Stalingrad, Manila and Berlin during World War II, but they were the exception rather than the rule, an act of desperation by a commander with no other options. Militias and insurgents, though, see things differently. Usually weaker than state security forces, they often choose to fight, as British Gen. Rupert Smith put it, “amongst the people,” in the hope that state security forces will not bring […]

1st Lt. Salvatore Buzzurro, USARAF military mentor, works with members of the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces on basic soldiering skills in preparation for the African Union Mission in Somalia (U.S. Army Africa photo).

As African heads of state gather in Washington this week for the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, the continent looks relatively peaceful, at least in comparison to other regions. Even the agenda of the summit, which according to its website “will advance the Administration’s focus on trade and investment in Africa,” reflects Africa’s relative stability. Though peace and security issues are admittedly included in the agenda, they seem more like a footnote than a priority. It is irrefutable that conflict in Africa has declined significantly over the past two decades and that African economies and the continent’s burgeoning middle classes represent a […]

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin speaks with NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry during a meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Commission in Brussels, June 25, 2014 (AP photo by Virginia Mayo).

A recently released paper of the Defense Committee of the U.K. House of Commons on Russia’s seizure of Crimea and the implications for Western security concludes that “events in Crimea and Ukraine represent a ‘game changer’ [that] will have significant implications for resources, force structures, equipment and training.” In addition to their excellent analysis of Russian strategy and tactics, the authors offered useful recommendations meant to inform both the next U.K. Defense and Security Review and the upcoming NATO summit. The alliance will need to adapt its capabilities and approach to collective defense if it is to avoid being caught […]

President Barack Obama during the APEC summit in Honolulu, Hawaii, Nov. 12, 2011 (White House photo by Pete Souza).

As U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry bustles around the world attempting to staunch conflict after conflict, one question arises with increasing frequency: Why bother? Kerry has certainly had a rough year. Major peace initiatives he had personally pursued, ranging from January’s Syrian peace conference in Geneva to the Israeli-Palestinian talks, have collapsed. His early efforts to defuse the Ukrainian crisis through direct talks with Russia also failed, while Israeli officials have poured scorn on his recent push for a cease-fire in Gaza. At a time when a majority of U.S. voters favor less engagement with foreign problems, Kerry’s ill-fated […]

Russian RS-18 Stiletto missile is launched from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, Oct. 22, 2008 (AP photo).

Last week, the State Department officially reported that Russia had violated the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty when it tested cruise missiles starting in 2008. Republican lawmakers expressed immediate dismay, building on a steady drumbeat of criticism about the Obama administration’s response to Russian actions in recent months. The report found Russia “in violation of its obligations” under the treaty to not test a ground-launched cruise missile with a maximum range of between 500 and 5,500 kilometers. A State Department spokesperson writes in an email to Trend Lines that “this is a serious matter which we have attempted to […]

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