Archive for April, 2015

Russia Provides Arms Against ISIS

The Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has stated that Russia will provide weapons and arms to the Syrian Government and Iraqi Government in order to combat the threat of ISIS. He has stated that ISIS has become their biggest threat with fear that radicalized Russians will return to the country and perform acts of terrorism within their country. This is a huge step toward the elimination of ISIS as another great power has publicly announced ISIS as their number one threat. However, this further complicates the situation within Syria if the Russian government continues to support the Assad regime, it makes the situation difficult if the rest of the world is trying to have Assad removed from power.


Turkey and NATO

A recent NATO conference in Izmir Turkey on Southern and Eastern security threats to the alliance highlights Turkey’s importance to NATO.  Turkey plays a key role in deterring Russian aggression due to its geographic positioning along the entrance to the black sea.  It allows access to the Russian annexed Crimea as well as to southern Ukraine.  These are Russian vulnerabilities which NATO has highlighted through a number of naval exercises in the black sea within the first half of 2015.  Turkey’s partnership with NATO will be key to facilitating through naval, land, and air exercises NATO’s displeasure over Russian aggression. Edward

US Navy Prepares for CyberWar

The US Navy has announced plans to extend its cyber warfare capabilities and transform its networks into a cyber warfare platform. This plan mostly revolves around retaliatory cyber strikes, increasing awareness in cyberspace by cooperating with the private sector, and using cyberspace as an operational domain. The navy hopes to deter both attackers and potential hackers by making the promise of retaliation more real.

This program has the potential to be very beneficial to US cyber security but there are some significant potential drawbacks.There is an issue with the actual ability of the US Navy to correctly identify attackers and retaliate appropriately.  Then there is the fact that it is difficult to remove a threat from inside the system.

Lucas Duty

Belarus: Still Russia’s ally?

As Russia’s Victory Day, May 9th, is getting nearer,  the preparations for the grand parade in Moscow, dedicated to the 70th anniversary of victory of Allied forces over the Nazi Germany, are either complete or about to be complete. The leaders of a number of countries are invited to observe the parade. Not everyone, however, had agreed to show up. Among confirmed attendees are representatives of China, North Korea, Cuba, Czech Republic, Cyprus, Slovenia and Greece. Among those who have declined the invitation are US, Israel, Germany, Poland, Baltic states, France. All of the above, however, is hardly surprising, as the decision about the attendance reflects accurately enough whether the relationship of said countries and Russia were “chilly” or not.

What is quite surprising, however, is that, after taking his time to weigh the pros and cons, Lukashenko, the first (and so far the only) president of Belarus, had declined the invitation as well. Lukashenko, who has been considered as one of the most loyal allies of Russia, had declined the invitation for such a high-profile event! Can it be? What  does that even mean?

It certainly looks like Lukashenko is starting to worry about the security of his position the president of Belarus. The next presidential elections in Belarus will happen soon enough, and, as Russia has been frowning upon Lukashenko for some time already, it may try to support a presidential candidate who will prove to be more reliable in the future.

Lukashenko claims that he had decided to deny the invitation because of his own Victory Day parade in Minsk, which sounds reasonable enough, though still that might look rather suspicios to Russia. Meanwhile, this gesture should not be considered as a sign that Belarus is finally starting to lean toward the West. However, if Lukashenko will be invited to attend the parade in Riga, the capital of Latvia, which isn’t exactly on the friendliest of terms with Russia, and if he will accept such an invitation, that might certainly be seen as an attempt to distance himself from Russia. -Dmytro

Israel and Palestinians ‘reach accord’ on frozen taxes

Israeli officials on Saturday, April 18th confirmed an agreement that would unfreeze tax money to Palestine and would transfer $459 million to the Palestinian authority.  Israel froze the tax tranfers in January as punishment for the Palestinians applying to join the Internation Criminal Court.  This was a step that could pave the way for possible war crimes against Israel.  Prime Minister Netanyahu announced that the transfers would resume as a humanitarian gesture.  According to Nickolay Mladenov, UN special coordinator for Middle East peace efforts, this deal is an important step “in the right direction.”

Although this deal warrants praise, it is unlikely that this will ultimately solve the conflict.  It could possibly improve trust between the Palestinian Authority and the Israeli government, but this trust needs to be improved.  There needs to be more cooperation between the Israeli government and the Palestinian government in order to ultimately look towards a possible solution.


US Defense Spending Levels

The article I read this week had an interesting take on US defense spending levels. The fact that defense levels are up 45% since pre-9/11 levels is indicative of the arms race that was claimed in the article. I thought it was especially interesting that the US outspends some of our largest competitors by such a large margin (7 times over Russia and 3 over China). Ultimately, the article was relatively repetitive with everything else I’ve posted so those were the important parts to emphasize.


BP Oil Spill – 5 Years After

The event that many Americans described as the United States’ worst environmental catastrophe might not be as detrimental. Of course the sheer amount of gallons that have been spilled are the highest in history but measuring the environmental impacts as well as social ramifications not much has changed from before the oil spill to now. Oysters and clams that are collected along the coast and served to the tourists near the Gulf Coast were given a clean bill by the FDA. Few animals have seen a drastic decrease in numbers other than dolphins and sea turtles but that can be explained by them moving their breeding grounds due to residual oil not being about to facilitate a healthy life for their offspring. Why was this not as devastating? Luckily since the spill happened 5000 ft under the ocean and 40 miles offshore it was contained to an area not as rich when compared to the marshland and coast like of the Gulf of Mexico. The amount of oil that actually washed up on shore, which upset many Americans, was only 1/50th of the amount that spilled. Not enough credit was given to the 20 million dollar clean-up that BP initiated directly after the explosion. Why do we care now? This article just explains that BP did a great job with handling their situation, however this is a learning exercise not a gratitude party. Many other corporations can implement processes which minimize the risk of oil spills as well as other man-made disasters that negatively effect the ecology of the area. BP now has several (16) precautions they’ve installed since the spill. With new fail-safes, counter-measures, and new plan of action BP should be able to contain anymore mishaps. Companies, much like BP, are already under governmental pressure for energy efficient production as well as quotas and tariffs for their goods. Should they have required the increase of security to these potentially dangerous facilities or continue as they have done and leave it up to the company to decide?

Noah Bey

Air raids continue in Colombia

Rebels launched an attack against a military platoon around 12am on Tuesday. They killed 11 soldiers and 20 were left wounded. With an angry military and public outrage President Santos had no choice but to order the resumption of air raids against FARC camps. The rebels clearly violated agreements and have potentially threatened the future of the peace negotiations. FARC leaders say they are not responsible and that the government must agree to a cease fire now more than ever. Santos refuses to make any agreements until a deal is struck. The people of Colombia and politicians such as former president Uribe have criticized Santos for continuing the peace talks when FARC continues to kill citizens. But after decades of fighting, Santos believes the attack is also an indication of why peace must be reached. FARC leaders are not taking responsibility showing the lack of control over the 7’000 guerrilla soldiers. Why should a peace agreement be reached if the army is unreliable on its word? What would prevent different sectors from continuing attacks on the Colombian military? A unilateral agreement could mean nothing after more than two years of work towards peace.


New Health Security Threat?

In a western community in Nigeria 14 people have died in the last 10 days in a very mysterious manner, which locals have claimed to be more deadly than the ebola virus. As it stands they have yet to identify what is causing these deaths. Those who are now showing signs are being held in a quarantined area in a hospital nearby. Many agencies including the World Health Organization have been brought in to identify and contain the mysterious illness. The symptoms are reportedly different than those of Ebola, which include diarrhea, vomiting and fever. Victims of the unknown epidemic complained of headaches and weight loss before losing their sight.

Impact of the conflict in Ukraine on the local weapon manufacturing industry.

One of the few arguably beneficial (for Ukraine, at least) effects of the conflict in its eastern provinces is the demand for weapons, particularly small arms, that pretty much any military conflict creates. Since the beginning of the conflict in early 2014, the funds had started to be channelled to the fairly sophisticated projects, that were basically on a sidelines due to the lack of demand, since it wasn’t believed that these weapons will be able to compete with the comparable western products.

This new wave of demand is unlikely to help the struggling Ukrainian economy to any noticeable degree, however, it does already cause an impact in the area of the conflict, where significant part of Ukrainian forces are volunteers, who often have to buy the weapons themselves because of the inefficient bureaucratic procedures, designated for supplying volunteer units with the government-owned equipment.- Dmytro

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