Archive for March, 2014

China and Russia grow closer

China and Russia have signaled a continued desire to strengthen cooperation with one another and provide benefits for both nations. Representatives from both countries are working towards economic cooperation that would lead the way for increased benefits. This should be a red flag for the Obama administration to look out for an energy deal between Russia and China that would eliminate the need for naval exports.

Joshua Clarke

Israel offers Palestinians New Proposal

Israel has handed to the Palestinians a proposal aimed at extending the talks beyond the April 29 deadline. President Mahmoud Abbas was presented a draft on Sunday. Palestinians refuse to even consider extending the talks unless Israel frees 26 prisoners. Israel broke the commitment of releasing the prisoners on March 29, a key issue in the US brokered terms to relaunch the peace process. On Friday, Israel informed the Palestinians that it would not release the prisoners unless the Palestinians commit to continue the talks.

I don’t think the Palestinians will be willing to extend the talks unless the prisoners are freed. The US should support the Palestinians on this matter, if we continue to allow Israel to do as it pleases the peace talks will get nowhere. Trust issues will continue to arise between Israel and Palestine, preventing a future agreement.

– Fatima

Source: Al Jazeera 

A stable Iraq could still be far off

Sabrina Casagrande of the German news source Deutsche Welle has written a very informative article on the current problems facing Iraq. Recent issues with the Iraqi electoral commissions resignation is adding to political problems within the country. Prime Minister Maliki was brought to power because he was assumed to be an easily manipulated figure head, however he has proven to be a much stronger force in Iraqi politics than previously anticipated. These factors, combined with increasing violence in the north continues to destabilize the situation.

This article contains a very good summary of the major issues the country faces, as well as addressing the pressing problem of Syrain violence spilling over into the northern provinces. I believe the political unrest beginning in the country during the elections could potentially lead to much greater problems down the road. If Iraq cannot remain at least centrally stable, then it cannot hope to pacify the north, and regain control of its borders without outside help. This puts U.S. interest at great risk due to the large number of U.S. contractors still in the country.

Congress Approves Aid of $1 Billion for Ukraine

A few days ago, the U.S. Congress voted overwhelmingly to give 1 Billion dollars in aid to Ukraine. It also makes official the sanctions that President Obama put in place not too long ago. This has been in the works for a while now, shockingly it took congress a while to act. This comes along side the news that the International Monetary Fund  approved up to $18 billion in lending assistance over the next two years. The net impact of these aid donations will not be known for some time unfortunately.

“This bill is a first step toward supporting the Ukrainians and our Central and Eastern European partners, and imposing truly significant costs on Moscow,” the House majority leader, Representative Eric Cantor of Virginia. (MY congressman by the way)  Woo. Notice the lack of an exclamation point after woo. There is no question that Ukraine is going to need some serious help after this ‘Crimean Situation’ is resolved, but considering this ‘Crimean Situation’ is far from over and the lack of success we have had at helping any situation by simply throwing money at it, I can’t help but be underwhelmed by this news. There is almost no doubt that some of this money will end up in the pockets of the financial oligarchs in Ukraine. And should Putin decide that the troops along the border aren’t just for show, I doubt whatever we spend money on would be safe. Let me correct a sentence I wrote, -“There is no question that the people of Ukraine will need help”, and that should be our goal.

– David

Defense spending increases in the Baltic

Last week, I noted that the recent crisis in the Ukraine adds urgency to the need for other NATO countries to spend more on defense and improving technology. In light of that, the Ukraine and other Baltic states are taking a look at their own defense spending.

The Ukraine has decided to set aside an additional $697 million USD in defense spending to mobilize troops, modernize weapons and improve the operational capacities of the country’s armed forces, Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said, adding that “Today we are talking about protecting our country. All other expenses are not worth anything if the Ukrainian Army, the Ukrainian Armed Forces are not able to protect the state.” The Ukraine already spends approximately 1.2 billion on defense spending, with a military of 144,000 troops. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Ukraine has underinvested in its troops. The Ukraine’s defense systems and weaponry are primarily of Russian origin, and some outdated technology, such as most of the Ukraine’s tanks, are Soviet-built.

In addition, the states of Lithuania and Latvia are stepping up their defense spending, to meet the level suggested by NATO, from less than 1% of their GDP to 2% by 2020, in a billed signed Sunday by the ruling coalition and opposition. The Czech defense minister also recently called for raising military spending to 1.5 % of their GDP. Estonia already spends the recommended 2%, but with Latvia, has called on NATO to move more defense resources to the region.

It’s clear that the recent events in the Crimea have woken a fear from the Baltic states. Whether Russia intends on invading its neighboring countries is unclear, but the fear of invasion and conflict is very real, and demonstrated by the proposals and actual raises in defense spending from several neighboring states. The actual ability of these states to contribute much to NATO or to sufficiently defend their states alone is mostly negligible, but is symbolic as a contribution to its own defense and as a show of balance of power.



US to give Yemen missile-ready prop planes

Yemen may receive four bomb and missile-ready prop planes from the US to help the Yemeni military with target strikes against al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. “The 8020 is designed for surveillance, precision strikes, and rugged dirt strip utility missions and the 710Ps as being suited for both Military and Civil Security Department in the conduct of Border Security, Counterinsurgency, Counterterrorism, Counterdrug and Counter Piracy operations.” The planes and the Yamani Air Force will conduct air strikes that were formerly done by U.S. drones. Equipping the Yemeni Air Force will increase their capabilities in fighting al-Qaeda and help the US by conducting missions on their own. Some may be concerned about whether or not  the US can trust the Yemeni military to secure these planes and not end up in the wrong hands. If that were to happen the US has far greater capabilities to destroy these planes before an enemy can use them.



Foreign Policy

Pentagon Adapts Drones For Aerial Battles

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is currently in the process of developing IT software that would allow multiple drones to communicate with each other and relay data while undergoing combat missions. The program, Collaborative Operations in Denied Environment (CODE), is gathering contractors for a meeting this month to discuss this scenario. In the article, DARPA stated that “most of the current systems are not well matched to the needs of future conflicts, which [they] anticipate being much less permissive, very dynamic and characterized by a higher level of threats, contested electromagnetic spectrum and relocatable targets.” CODE has four main technology areas:

-Autonomy for a single drone.

-A connection between human controllers and the system.

-Team-level autonomy.

-Open architecture that will allow various groups to collaborate with each other more easily.

The creation and actual field use of this technology for drones would drastically advance and alter the battlefield. If drones were able to synch with one another and perform complex battle plans and airstrikes, the need for piloted aircraft and bombers would reduce rapidly. Drones are significantly cheaper than most manned aircrafts and a human life is arguably invaluable (in the military). The government would most likely carry out far riskier battle plans and probably more overall as costs and potential risk reduce. In addition, if another country developed or acquired this technology, air combat could increase as both governments are more aggressive in their actions and care little about the loss of a drone compared to a manned aircraft/ pilot. These hypotheticals may be a bit far fetched, however once this technology emerges it’s unclear how it will be used or dealt with.

USA Today

-Andrew C.


UN Taking Action in the CAR

The UN will be taking further action in the CAR by levying sanctions on those they believe to be against the better interests of the CAR and they have announced that they will bring those responsible for the violence to justice. Ban Ki-moon proposed to the UN Security council that a peacekeeping force of 12,000 strong would be enough to stem the violence. While it is nice to see the UN taking more action other then saying that someone should take action, I do not think using sanctions and making claims for future arrests will help the CAR. The nation is heading towards a genocidal campaign against the Muslims. With the addition of Chad soldiers opening fire on civilians and the Anti-Balaka militia resenting them and claiming that they are allied with the Seleka militia is putting Muslims into further danger. Perhaps a peacekeeping force of 12,000 strong will being peace to the nation, but for how long?


Scott McPeek

Obama and Saudi Arabia talk Iran issue

President Barack Obama met with the Saudi leaders to discuss the importance of the nuclear deal with Iran. The Saudi leaders told President Obama that they want to make sure that the United States does not make a bad deal that will let Iran obtain nuclear power. The Saudi king, King Abdullah, wanted to speak personally with President Obama to see how “determined” he was to make a strong deal with Iran. If Iran is able to develop a nuclear arsenal then they will be a powerful nation in the Middle East and they will be able to use there nuclear power to influence the nations around them. Saudi Arabian leaders do not want to see Iran obtain nuclear weapons because they do not trust what the Iranian Government will use them for. I can understand why the Saudi Government is worried. If Iran develops nuclear weapons then they might use their nuclear advantage to influence Saudi oil markets or influence Saudi leaders to create policies that favor Iran. This nuclear deal with Iran will effect more that just United States national security. It will effect all other nations in the Middle East as well. The United States and other world leaders must not back down on a forceful deal that will delay nuclear weapon development for Iran.


-Andy Sanz-Guerrero

Afghanistan’s Controversial Release

Last month, the Afghan government released 65 prisoners on the grounds that they did not have enough evidence to continue detaining them.  This action has served to exacerbate the already unstable U.S.-Afghan relationship.  The United States has openly criticized this action, claiming that it is a major step backward for the rule of law in Afghanistan.  These prisoners were detained due to the discovery of links between them and an attack that resulted in several U.S. and Afghan casualties.  The Afghan district attorney stated that the prisoners were released due to lack of evidence.  The U.S. military claims that it presented substantial evidence to the Afghan government implicating these individuals in the attacks.  This event is indicative of many of the problems found in the Afghan government.  Poor communication, corruption, and ineptitude run rampant through the government of Afghanistan and cause unnecessary problems such as these to arise.  In order to better its security situation, the Afghan government needs to make more of an effort to cooperate with U.S. forces.  This event is one of many recent occurrences where the Afghan government has disregarded U.S. security advice.  The Afghan government has resented U.S. involvement in their affairs for some time now, but it may be more constructive to accept foreign advice and involvement than to disregard it and worsen your own security situation.


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