On Jan. 26, the Pentagon released further information (.pdf) about how the new Defense Strategic Guidance will be reflected in the Defense Department’s future spending priorities. The changes, designed to meet the White House’s mandate to cut $37 billion from its previously planned Fiscal Year (FY) 2013 defense budget, generally conform with the new directions contained in the strategic guidance document, but they leave several key questions unanswered. The department’s topline request for FY 2013 is $525 billion, down from an original $531 billion. The rest of the savings comes in the form of reducing supplemental funding for overseas contingency […]

Russia is trying to look tough at the U.N. Security Council this week, promising to reject a resolution backed by the European Union, the U.S. and the Arab League that calls for a political transition in Syria to end the violence there.* This is a new phase in Moscow’s efforts to defend its friend, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, which included blocking an earlier resolution in October that threatened U.N. sanctions against Damascus. Yet while Russia can use its veto power to paralyze the council again, the diplomatic battle over Syria has highlighted its weakness in global affairs. The U.N. serves […]

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In a huge win for the French defense industrial base, Dassault Aviation has emerged as the lowest bidder for a $10 billion contract to supply India with 126 of its Rafale fighter jets. If finalized, the deal for medium multi-role combat aircraft would be the first overseas order for the Rafale.* It would also represent a major loss for the rival bidder, the Eurofighter Typhoon, backed by the four-nation consortium of Britain, Germany, Spain and Italy. “Fighter jets are among the most expensive investment any country can make at the moment, and hence, because selling these is an expensive issue, […]

The American political discourse is rife with fear-threat reactions regarding rising China, embodied most saliently in the Obama administration’s strategic pivot to East Asia and GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s repeated promise to hold “currency manipulator” China responsible for its economic sabotage of the U.S. economy. Eagerly cashing in on the hype, last week’s Economist greeted us with the most lurid of covers heralding — yet again! — “the rise of state capitalism.” We are immediately informed by the subtitle that this is “the emerging world’s new model.” Sad to say, this is the state of strategic thinking in the […]

As the United States disengages from Iraq and Afghanistan and enters a period of declining defense spending, the argument that technology is rendering land power obsolete has been resurrected. The appeal of substituting standoff military methods — such as air- and sea-based missiles and unmanned drones — for a balanced capability is clear: Everyone favors minimizing U.S. casualties. Recent advances in technology have only strengthened this temptation. This means that as the U.S. military downsizes in coming years, land power may take a disproportionate cut. But before committing to such an approach, Americans must think carefully about its implications. In […]

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Last week, a group of rebel soldiers stormed the Papua New Guinea Defense Force barracks, placing the military commander under house arrest and calling for Prime Minister Peter O’Neill to step down. The mutiny, led by a retired colonel who was subsequently arrested over the weekend, was a failed attempt to put an end to the political impasse that has gripped the Pacific Island country for the past six months, ever since the parliament replaced former Prime Minister Michael Somare while he was out of the country for medical treatment. In December, the Supreme Court ruled that the parliament had […]

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The government in Edinburgh, Scotland is holding a public consultation on the terms of a ballot for the upcoming referendum on Scottish independence. First Minister of Scotland Alex Salmond, who wants to hold the vote in the fall of 2014, intends to ask voters: “Do you agree that Scotland should be an independent country?” The U.K. government insists that these matters must be decided in Westminster, home to the U.K. Parliament. But while they want to keep Great Britain as a united country, Prime Minister David Cameron and his deputy, Nick Clegg, wrote that they “will not stand in the […]

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The global financial crisis has shifted the patterns of global migration, with migrants in the Western Hemisphere increasingly avoiding the United States for the emerging South American democracies and migrants in Europe flocking to Germany. In an email interview, Stephen Castles, a specialist in international migration at the University of Sydney, discussed changing global migration patterns. WPR: What impact has the global financial crisis had on global migration patterns? Stephen Castles: The sharp fall in migration predicted by some experts in 2008 and 2009 did not materialize. Stocks of migrants overall have not declined and have indeed begun to increase […]

America’s current standoff with Iran over the direction of Tehran’s nuclear program is only one symptom of a larger problem. Concerns over climate change and the rising costs of ever-scarcer hydrocarbons are leading more countries to turn to atomic energy as a long-term source of cheap and emissions-free energy. While some of these nuclear newcomers will trust that international markets will be able to guarantee access to nuclear fuel, others will want to control the entire fuel cycle on their own territory. That means we may soon be faced with a situation where many countries will aspire to the technological […]

New figures from the European Defense Agency (EDA) confirm what is already well-known: The gap between what Europe and America spend on defense is only growing wider, despite perennial calls from Washington for Europe to share a bigger part of the military burden. In 2010, the European Union countries — excluding Denmark, which is not a member of the EDA — spent a combined $252 billion on defense, down from $266 billion in 2008. The U.S., in contrast, spent $689 billion in 2010. While U.S. defense expenditures accounted for 4.8 percent of GDP in 2010, for the EU this ratio […]

JERUSALEM — When the U.S. and Israel announced last week that they had decided to either cancel or postpone the biggest joint military exercise in their history, the news kicked the wheels of the Mideast rumor and speculation machines into high gear. After all, the missile defense maneuvers codenamed Austere Challenge 12 had been touted as a major event, designed to send a clear message to several key audiences — including the Iranian government — that Israel and the U.S. would work together to stop Iran’s nuclear enrichment program. What had started as a determined show of military force and […]

Indian External Affairs Minister S. M. Krishna’s visit to Israel earlier this month produced a number of significant outcomes, notably proposals for the opening of a new Israeli consulate in Bangalore and a bilateral free trade agreement, as well as Israeli support for a permanent Indian seat on the U.N. Security Council. More importantly, the trip highlighted the degree to which solidifying relations with Israel, and in particular maintaining robust defense ties, has become a bipartisan foreign policy consensus in India. India recognized the Jewish state in 1950 but eschewed the establishment of full diplomatic relations during the Cold War, […]

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Boko Haram, the radical Islamist sect behind a recent surge of violence in Nigeria, launched a series of attacks Friday that left at least 185 people dead in Kano, the country’s second-largest city. The attacks struck multiple security buildings as well as the regional police headquarters, and were the deadliest yet by the militant organization. The group, which aims to overthrow the Nigerian government and impose Sharia law, has grown increasingly violent, with its August 2011 bombing of the United Nations building in Abuja, the capital, as well as its attacks on churches raising alarm among international observers. “Boko Haram […]

ELDORET, Kenya — In a milestone ruling issued Monday, the International Criminal Court (ICC) has decided to bring four prominent Kenyan political figures to trial for war crimes allegedly committed during the 2007-2008 post-election violence that engulfed the country, East Africa’s economic powerhouse and former paradigm of stability. Striking at the core of Kenyan political society, presidential frontrunners and Members of Parliament William Ruto and Uhuru Kenyatta will now face charges of masterminding the grassroots violence that claimed 1,200 lives, injured countless more and displaced hundreds of thousands. Civil service chief Francis Muthaura and radio broadcaster Joshua arap Sang will […]

Who shall we bomb next? Pundits and commentators have begun to fall over themselves declaring the necessity of launching military campaigns against Syria and Iran — the former to prevent a humanitarian disaster and the latter to forestall the development of a nuclear weapon. The catalyst for this enthusiasm is the success of NATO’s aerial campaign in Libya, a war that apparently vindicated the long-standing promise of advanced, precision-guided airpower to cheaply and easily solve inconvenient political problems. Unfortunately, the rediscovered enthusiasm for intervention demonstrates only that the foreign policy punditocracy is committed to serially mislearning the lessons of airpower […]

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Law enforcement officials from seven West African countries met in Sierra Leone last month to discuss increasing anti-corruption efforts at a conference organized by the U.S. State Department and U.S. Justice Department under the auspices of the West Africa Cooperative Security Initiative (WACSI). In an email interview, Boubacar N’Diaye, an associate professor of black studies and political science at the College of Wooster, discussed the WASCI. WPR: What is driving the West Africa Cooperative Security Initiative, and which U.S. government agencies are involved? Boubacar N’Diaye: The driving force behind the WACSI is the United States’ desire to curtail drug trafficking […]

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Relations between Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan have grown increasingly strained in recent weeks, particularly after Erdogan, a Sunni Muslim, urged the Shiite leadership in Iraq to resolve sectarian tensions, which have escalated in the wake of the recent U.S. military withdrawal from the country. Maliki responded by telling Erdogan to stop interfering in Iraqi affairs, with the sharp exchange between Baghdad and Ankara taking an alarming turn when several rockets were fired at the Turkish embassy in Iraq last week. According to Henri Barkey, a Turkey expert at Lehigh University, the recent […]

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