Wednesday, April 29, 2009
The question, as posed, is stark and direct.
... our allies need to realize that it is not that we want their help, it is that either they step up or no action will be taken. We can no longer afford to go it alone.
We will have to stop asking every time a situation arises in the world, "What should we do?" And we will start having to do as other nations do and ask, "Should we do anything?"
Secretary Gates and others talk about balance, about setting priorities--and yet, the policy process still ends up making everything a priority. I remember at a magazine event a few years back where a speaker was asked whether he could prioritize the countries where the U.S. has a military presence--and he said that they were all important (some 144 countries!). So it will be interesting to see how and under what circumstances Rothkopf's question get answered.
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
I read with interest that today, the mother of the pirate apprehended after the rescue of the captain of the M/V Alabama, Abdiwali Abdiqadir Musi, has asked to be flown to New York, where her son is to be arraigned today. Is that proof of my colleague's theory?
Friday, April 17, 2009
Some Thoughts from Secretary Gates
--we need to stop thinking about a black and white distinction between "irregular warfare" and "conventional warfare" and start thinking about a spectrum of conflict. Even near-peer competitors of the United States may resort to irregular or assymetric means to counter U.S. advantages. So the U.S. military and national security apparatus has to be able to respond flexibly.
--our defense posture must be rooted in "real world assessments" and take into account U.S. limits. (Shades of Walter Lippmann?)
--you continue to purchase systems that are proven to be first in their class rather than buying things that are based on promising but yet unproven technologies. Listening to this, I was struck by the comparison with the Russian space program, which continues to use tried and true technologies rather than trying to develop new things for the sake of newness. If the Soyuz capsule works, stick with it--and try to modify it if there are new missions before going to the drawing boards for something completely new.
--his take on the military priorities of rising powers: they are not going to bankrupt themselves trying to match the U.S., particularly in trying to compete ship for ship with our navy. So he doesn't expect any arms races a la Britain/Germany prior to World War I. That's the good news. The not so good news: rising powers will concentrate their efforts on finding ways to neutralize U.S. capabilities.
Thursday, April 16, 2009
Meetings Don't Make A Strategy
I realize that politicians want to show how they are "doing something" but these meetings should have already been taking place. Why wasn't piracy a front-and-center issue at the NATO summit? Don't we already have quasi-diplomatic contacts with the separatist governments in Somalia (perhaps we don't).
The real challenge begins when the meetings are done. We've already had discussions about increasing the multilateral effort, about more countries prepared to prosecute pirates, about what industry should be doing. What happens if/when others don't step up to the plate? That's the eventuality we need to be planning for.
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
The Trans-Atlantic Relationship: Back on Course?
The White House maintained that president Obama's visit was to "plant the seeds" of a better relationship.
It's not a problem of laying the seeds it is a problem of whether the soil is fertile. The soil becomes fertile when other countries feel that their interests are aligning with those of the United States. The soil becomes more receptive when there is a sense that what the U.S. is proposing is beneficial.
Friday, April 10, 2009
Pirate Week Continues
My contribution to the New York Times forum Capture Pirates on Land and Sea
Some of my colleagues' thoughts as well:
****Derek Reveron discusses the situation with John Munson (NPR)
***Chris Jasparro on piracy and governance
Wednesday, April 08, 2009
Additional Thoughts on the Somali Pirate Question
As you can see, Derek takes a different tack on some of the questions from me (see the previous T(ex)WR post) ... so good material for discussion.
Somali Piracy Revisited
Some thoughts on possible ways forward.
Monday, April 06, 2009
My Pessimistic Take on the Reset Question
I cited Fedor Lukyanov's recent op-ed in Gazeta in the NA piece, but elsewhere he also had a good point--which is that right now we have a zero-sum set-up in the Eurasian space.
Any compromise on the former Soviet space is virtually out of the question. Washington will never recognize Moscow's right to a sphere of influence, since this goes against the spirit of American politics. The Kremlin, for its part, will never give up on its claims.So unless one side or the other compromises, there isn't going to be room for common ground--and in turn, that prejudices other initiatives that have been proposed.
From Russia's perspective, if it doesn't possess a special status on the territory of the former Soviet Union, it will be unable to protect its vital interests in the spheres of security and economy.