Rising tensions in Asia, as highlighted at the recent Shangri-La Dialogue, have brought to the surface fault lines between Australia’s foreign affairs and defense strategies. With a foreign affairs focus on “economic diplomacy,” Australia has struggled to reassure its largest trading partner, China, that the deeper military ties it forged with Japan and the U.S. this week in no way represent a threat. The Shangri-La Dialogue was notable this year for heated exchanges between China, Japan and the United States. The 28-nation Asia Security Summit, hosted annually in Singapore by the International Institute for Strategic Studies, is usually carefully scripted […]

Production stack emissions from the Johns Manville fiberglass insulation plant in Alberta, Canada, Feb. 13, 2019 (Photo by Larry MacDougal via AP Images).

While the Obama administration’s new climate regulations target carbon emissions from power plants, they are also setting the stage for negotiations on a global climate pact scheduled for next year. On June 2, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) unveiled the “Clean Power Plan,” which aims to cut carbon emissions from U.S. power plants by 30 percent compared to 2005 levels. “Although we limit pollutants like mercury, sulfur and arsenic,” said EPA administrator Gina McCarthy in remarks announcing the new rules, “there are no limits on carbon pollution from power plants, our nation’s largest source” of such pollution. Ultimately, she […]

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The election of Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi as president of Egypt will further inflame the jihadist insurgency that took off after the Egyptian military removed Mohamed Morsi, the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, from power in 2013. If history is any guide, el-Sisi, a former general, will hold tightly to power, justifying it as the only way to protect Egypt’s security, thus repeating a common pattern across Africa and the Middle East as elections lead to de facto dictatorships with a few trappings of democracy. Invariably this will further anger and radicalize the Islamist opposition, empowering the extremists who believe that the […]

Lax oversight. Deregulation. “Shadow banking.” These are some likely responses an expert might give if asked what caused the 2008 financial crisis. In the years since the meltdown, there has consolidated in the public consciousness an image of the pre-crisis global financial system as a sort of Wild West, where greedy bankers, rather than reckless outlaws, operated with impunity, causing irreparable social harm. But there is now a new sheriff in town, with the letters “U.S.A.” boldly emblazoned on its badge. Determined to impose order on a once “lawless” system, the U.S. Federal Reserve and Justice Department are unilaterally playing […]

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Underneath the politicking, exaggeration and sensationalism, the angry national conversations about wait times for veterans’ health care, on the one hand, and the alleged transgressions of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, on the other, have offered a clear window into some rough realities of military life. Americans have learned a number of things in recent days that, judging by the evidence, we would rather not know. The release of audits of the workings of the Veterans’ Administration confirmed that too often whole branches of government charged with meeting our commitment to care for veterans have resorted to deception and dishonesty instead of […]

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After nearly six years, Rio de Janeiro’s Police Pacification Units (UPPs) appear to be faltering. Since the beginning of the year, multiple categories of violent crime have risen across the city, and with the spotlight on Brazil due to the upcoming World Cup soccer tournament, the program is now facing unprecedented levels of criticism and scrutiny. Many pundits and journalists are arguing that the pacification program is no longer effective. Meanwhile, public security officials are calling the recent escalation in crime a temporary setback in an otherwise successful effort to combat powerful drug trafficking gangs. In truth, neither of these […]

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Against the backdrop of ongoing tensions with Russia, President Barack Obama began a four-day trip to Europe this week. His first stop was Poland, a NATO ally celebrating 25 years of independence from Soviet domination. As Obama stood next to Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk, the situation in Ukraine was a central theme of his remarks. The United States and Poland are “absolutely united in the need to stand with the Ukrainian people as they move forward,” Obama declared. In Warsaw, Obama also announced a $1 billion “European Reassurance Initiative” to support regional partnerships and fund U.S. presence in the […]

President Barack Obama has delivered a consistent message during his trans-Atlantic sojourn this week, including a stirring address in Warsaw, and hit all the right rhetorical notes. To Europeans concerned that the long-announced “rebalance to the Pacific” means less U.S. attention to their continent, the president reaffirmed that European security is the “cornerstone of our own security, and it is sacrosanct.” The former Soviet-bloc countries were promised that they “will never stand alone.” Now comes the hard part: translating words into policy. The initial signs are not encouraging. The president’s announced “reassurance plan” for European security, with a price tag […]

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The least visible leg of America’s nuclear deterrent, its fleet of stealthy ballistic missile submarines, is widely considered to be its most effective. It is also phenomenally expensive even by the standards of Pentagon acquisition programs. This is one reason that the Senate Armed Services Committee, in its recent markup of the fiscal year 2015 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), moved to establish a “National Sea-based Deterrence Fund” to ensure that the Navy replaces the current fleet of Ohio-class submarines “at the appropriate level of priority” assigned to it by the Navy leadership. This is an acknowledgment of the pressures […]

For years, security experts have warned of the threat from “homegrown terrorists” inspired by al-Qaida’s violent ideology. While American jihadists have not yet pulled off an attack on the scale of 9/11, they were responsible for the Boston Marathon bombings of 2013. Other Western nations have been similarly unfortunate: Homegrown terrorists engineered the Madrid train bombings of 2004 and the London Underground bombings of 2005. And it could get worse as dozens or even hundreds of trained, experienced, radicalized fighters return home from conflicts in the Islamic world. The Syrian insurgency is the biggest concern. An estimated 11,000 foreign fighters […]

Yesterday, Salvador Sanchez Ceren of the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) succeeded Mauricio Funes as president of El Salvador. While Funes has received overall high marks from the Salvadoran public, in particular in the area of education, he leaves a public security mess for the incoming Sanchez Ceren administration. Funes assumed the presidency in June 2009 amid growing public insecurity due to MS-13 and 18th Street gang violence, organized crime and drug trafficking. During his first year in office, Funes ordered 2,500 additional troops to the 1,500 already patrolling the country’s most violent neighborhoods and streets. The vast majority […]

Speech Plus Action Needed for Obama Doctrine to Succeed

By the time you read this column, the American public and punditocracy alike will have moved on from President Barack Obama’s West Point speech—after all, five days is an eternity in today’s media landscape. But a question I was asked by Sirius XM’s Ari Rabin-Havt in commenting on Obama’s address has stuck in my mind. What would it take, Rabin-Havt asked, for Obama’s West Point speech to be remembered like the Marshall Plan speech? He was referring to George Marshall’s 1947 commencement address at Harvard, which laid out the need for major economic assistance to postwar Europe. The outlines of […]

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