It wasn’t very long ago that international political observers were marveling at the political acumen of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, with headlines crowning him “King of Israel,” an allusion to his mastery of the political game. Israeli voters and his political rivals were somewhat less impressed, however, and they showed it in the Jan. 22 parliamentary elections, throwing cold water on Netanyahu’s plans to form a formidable coalition for a new term. One month after that election, with the clock ticking on the deadline to form a governing coalition, Netanyahu is struggling in his maneuvers to put together an […]

No topic in American security inspires more heated debate these days than the Obama administration’s use of drone strikes against armed militants, terrorists and their supporters. While debate and scrutiny of public policy is a good thing, a hefty proportion of this criticism is badly misguided, often mistaking the use of drones as America’s strategy itself. In large part this reflects a failure on the part of the Obama administration to develop a convincing narrative to explain the assumptions, logic and ultimate objectives of its strategy. Without seeing the big picture, it is difficult to understand how drone strikes fit […]

One of the issues newly inaugurated South Korean President Park Geun-hye will need to address is the demands from a growing faction of her own party for either the United States to return tactical nuclear weapons to the South or for Seoul to develop its own nuclear arsenal. In light of the apparently successful Feb. 12 North Korean nuclear test, this faction believes that Seoul needs a similar nuclear capability to deter potential North Korean military threats. Extended deterrence of the kind the U.S. currently provides South Korea requires that the guarantor has the capacity to defend the country threatened […]

Will Ban Ki-moon leave a substantial legacy when he completes his second term as secretary-general of the United Nations at the end of 2016? This question may seem premature. Ban has been in office for more than six years, but he has nearly four more to go. Yet, as Ban has already discovered, a U.N. secretary-general’s schedule is consumed by a mix of urgent crises and hollow diplomatic rituals. Last week, for example, Ban oversaw the signing of a new peace deal for the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, but also had to make time for a speech launching the […]

For the past 60 years, there has been convergence between the strategic logic of America’s strategy of forward deployment in key regions of the world and the economic imperative of securing the nation’s prosperity. Despite the constant protests on college campuses about “banana republics” and “no blood for oil,” there was, in fact, generally a strong correlation between the places where the American military was engaged and those areas that were seen as vital to the economic health of the country. Opposition from naturally isolationist tendencies of the American body politic was overcome, in part, by the argument that prosperity […]

Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez returned home Monday after 10 weeks of cancer treatment in Cuba, tweeting to his supporters, “We will live and we will conquer!” Still, many believe Chávez has come home to die, a belief supported by comments from his son-in-law, Science and Technology Minister Jorge Arreaza, who days earlier described his medical care as “palliative.” The prospect that Chávez will soon leave not only the presidency of Venezuela but also his undisputed position as the most prominent of the leftist leaders in Latin America has triggered a race to fill his revolutionary boots. The charismatic and histrionic […]

The list of of nations with nuclear weapons continues to grow. First it was the United States and the Soviet Union. They were soon followed by the United Kingdom, France then China. Later, India, Israel, Pakistan and North Korea joined. South Africa was a member of the club for a while, before abandoning its program. Iran will become a nuclear power some day, even if the United States or Israel postpones it a bit with an attack. A growing number of other states could build nuclear weapons in short order if they wanted to, including South Korea, Taiwan, Japan, Brazil […]

At a press briefing Monday, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman responded to North Korea’s Feb. 12 nuclear test by calling for all parties to avoid taking action that could worsen the situation on the Korean Peninsula. While China expressed its opposition to the test, Beijing also stated its desire to see an early resumption of the Six-Party Talks seeking a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula and called for the Security Council to adopt measures that would seek “realization of denuclearization, nonproliferation, and peace and stability on the peninsula.” Meanwhile, Chinese news commentary blamed U.S. intransigence as much as DPRK recklessness for the […]

The looming threat of sequestration is presenting the American national security community with a dilemma. Outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has laid out what some of the consequences will be if Congress and the president cannot agree on a plan to rescind the automatic spending cuts that are set to go into effect next month: One of the two U.S. aircraft carrier groups deployed to the Persian Gulf region will be withdrawn; deployments to Latin America will be canceled; and the U.S. presence in Europe will be reduced. Panetta even warned that a diminished U.S. military presence overseas would, over […]

The early contests for power following the Arab uprisings proved rather easy for the Muslim Brotherhood. What has come since then, however, has been much more challenging, and the Brotherhood’s difficulties are only growing. Where the Brotherhood has not won, it is facing reversals. Where it did come to power, its leaders are finding that governing, and even keeping a country from going off the rails these days, is far more complicated than winning elections. In Egypt and Tunisia, Brotherhood-dominated governments are on the defensive. In Jordan, the Brotherhood’s strategy seems to be failing. In Syria, amid the carnage, the […]

As the Arab Spring enters its third year, several trends have become clear. The world now knows that massive and effective popular opposition to authoritarian regimes can coalesce with stunning speed and little advance warning. In an era of interconnectedness and information saturation, revolution often moves in waves as the collapse of one dictator inspires the opponents of other ones. Getting rid of dictators may be bloody and difficult, as in Libya and Syria, but even when it’s relatively quick, as in Egypt and Tunisia, the transition to a stable post-authoritarian system is extraordinarily difficult and fraught with the potential […]

In his second annual report on the state of the NATO alliance, released at the end of January, and in his Feb. 2 speech to the 2013 Munich Security Conference, NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen laid out a very ambitious current and future security agenda for the alliance, while stressing the need for NATO governments to sustain adequate defense spending to develop the capabilities needed to achieve the alliance’s goals. In this regard, Rasmussen identified four gaps where spending levels are producing capabilities deficits. The first is the traditional trans-Atlantic gap between the United States and its European allies, which […]

European soldiers, often mocked by American analysts in recent years, are back in fashion. France’s intervention in Mali has inspired commentators on both sides of the Atlantic to wonder whether, in the words of Anne Applebaum of the Washington Post, “the European Union could become the world’s policeman.” French President François Hollande’s willingness to go to war excites those who believe the Obama administration is too cautious in its use of military strength. Philip Stephens of the Financial Times observes that “Europeans have caught the interventionist bug just as the U.S. has shaken it off.” There are some obvious problems […]

After a bruising confirmation hearing last week before the Senate Armed Service Committee, former Sen. Chuck Hagel, the nominee for the position of secretary of defense in the second-term Obama administration, may be reconsidering whether he truly wants the position. But the stress he endured on the hot seat before his former colleagues may pale in comparison to the challenges that he — or anyone else nominated for the position should he fail to be confirmed — will have to cope with in the coming years. America’s ongoing fiscal crisis and the seeming inability of its executive and legislative branches […]

With middle-class dissatisfaction growing and her modus operandi becoming better understood, President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner is finding the crucial challenge of controlling the political narrative in Argentina increasingly difficult, and she may not be able to pin the blame for her country’s woes on outside forces for much longer. That’s a key part of the strategy that has proved so effective for more than a decade of Kirchner administrations, beginning with the late Nestor Kirchner and continuing with his widow, the current president. Every few days, Fernandez faces a new controversy, and each time she responds by singling out […]

Over the past few decades, North Korea has developed a penchant for aggression just below the threshold that would cause the United States, South Korea and other states to respond in kind. As its economy rots and one member of the Kim dynasty gives way to another, the provocations expand. They reached new peaks in March 2010 when a North Korean submarine sank a South Korean navy ship, and in November 2010 when the North Korean military shelled a South Korean island, killing two soldiers. Even more ominously, North Korea has worked strenuously to develop more powerful ballistic missiles that […]

It is no accident that European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton proposed, and Iran has accepted, holding the next round of nuclear talks in Kazakhstan on Feb. 25. Iran had recently rejected proposed talks in Istanbul on Jan. 28-29, presumably due to irritation with Turkey’s efforts to overthrow Syria’s pro-Iranian government. Citing a desire to reduce regional tensions and avert an escalation of the Iranian nuclear crisis, Kazakhstani Foreign Minister Erlan Idrissov reaffirmed his country’s readiness to host the next round of talks during a late-January visit to Moscow. The relationship between Iran and Kazakhstan is driven by pragmatism […]

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