Friday, May 28, 2010

National Security Strategy Released

So the National Security Strategy is (finally) out -- some commentary on it for your perusal.

I argue herethat finding additional shoulders to bear the burdens may be a bit more difficult than anticipated ...

Here, I wonder whether the administration can commit to setting priorities; and also whether the backdoor on the extent to which the U.S. will cooperate with international institutions will create difficulties with the emerging powers ...

James Joyner over at the Atlantic Council sums up some of the initial reactions to the NSS, including those of my colleague Derek Reveron (who is also quoted here discussing the expansion of the definition of national security.)

Ian Bremmer discusses the NSS with Steve Clemons in the context of rebuilding America's economic edge (and I'd also recommend reading his End of the Free Market: Who Wins the War Between States and Corporations?).

Thursday, May 27, 2010

India and Turkey on a Global Stage

With all the renewed interest in Turkey as an emerging global player, I found Peter Pham's essay on Turkey's Return to Africa to be quite interesting.

Nitin Pai's recent Pax Indica column is also well worth a read. Particularly sobering is his assessment that despite the many interests that should push Washington and New Delhi closer together, "it is uncertain if the two countries can achieve collaborative 'win-win' solutions to common challenges." For those who've counted on an India "automatically" being in America's camp in the future, his analysis as to why India should "swing" between Washington and Beijing should be carefullynoted.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Preparing for Covert Action

I've been arguing that since a direct military strike on Iran is not likely, but with diplomacy not appearing to be producing reslts for the Obama administration, the only real recourse will be covert action.

Mike Mazzetti, in today's New York Times, reveals a directive signed last fall by CENTCOM commander David Petraeus:

The seven-page directive appears to authorize specific operations in Iran, most likely to gather intelligence about the country’s nuclear program or identify dissident groups that might be useful for a future military offensive. The Obama administration insists that for the moment, it is committed to penalizing Iran for its nuclear activities only with diplomatic and economic sanctions. Nevertheless, the Pentagon has to draw up detailed war plans to be prepared in advance, in the event that President Obama ever authorizes a strike.

“The Defense Department can’t be caught flat-footed,” said one Pentagon official with knowledge of General Petraeus’s order.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Sanctions or Settlement?

Does the Turkey-Brazil deal with Iran put us on the road to a possible settlement of the nuclear issue? Will the unity of the P-5 to continue with another round of sanctions last? How does this affect the status of sanctions legislation pending in the Congress?

My thoughts on these questions over at World Politics Review.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Iran Deal or No?

Have Brazil and Turkey reached a deal with Iran over nuclear enrichment? As expected, Iran has accepted in principle, and as we've seen in the past, acceptance in principle often leads to delays in terms of implementation. But if Russia and China accept that this is significant progress in terms of advancing diplomatic efforts, does it slow down the adoption of a new sanctions resolution at the UN--and in turn accelerate Congress's efforts to reconcile the stalled sanctions legislation awaiting reconciliation?

Friday, May 14, 2010

Iran Maneuvering

Brazil and Turkey take the gamble that they can negotiate a settlement to the Iran standoff, while the Obama administration calculates whether a 123 civil nuclear agreement with Russia can produce a sanctions resolution that in turn will satisfy Congressional demands. How this plays out remains to be seen.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Piracy Again

Reposted from

The rescue of the oil tanker "Moscow University" brings a satisfying close to this particular incident of piracy on the high seas: the ship and crew freed, pirates killed or in custody--and with the possibility that the captured suspects will not be "caught and released" but transported to Moscow to face trial. The good news, however, is counterbalanced by the fact that the South Korean tanker Samho Dream still remains in the hands of pirates off the coast of Somalia. Indeed, despite the impressive coalition of naval vessels that has been sent to patrol the western Indian ocean, pirate attacks have increased and some 20 vessels are currently being held for ransom.

And more robust enforcement measures run the risk of backfiring. Yemeni fisherman claim that the Udaloy-class destroyer Marshal Shaposhnikov and its helicopter crews, credited with the rescue of the Moscow University, has been responsible for detaining and harassing fishing vessels; the Indian Navy, whose robust approach to combating piracy has been praised, has also been criticized for its treatment of fisherman.

Yet who is truly a fisherman, and when is this just a convenient disguise? David Axe reported first-hand this week about some of the barriers to effective identification of "friendly fisherman" from "enemy pirates."

Nor is an on-the-ground solution in the works. Local governments in Somalia who promise to crack down on piracy run up against the cold hard cash that pirate gangs can offer for support and political protection.

Increased naval patrols have helped to thwart some attacks and to prevent others, but there are not enough vessels to patrol the entire range susceptible to pirate attack. So we are likely to have continued individual successes, such as the rescue of the "Moscow University", but this is not the harbinger of a real solution to the piracy problem.

In the past, I've suggested a "sons of Somalia" approach, working with local clans and governments to create the basis of a rundimentary coast guard, giving local fishermen-turned-pirates the option of being paid to work against piracy, following the model utilized in Iraq to "flip" insurgents from fighting U.S. forces to serving as local security. It too is a short-term fix--but it might be the first step in crafting a lasting solution to maritime security in the area.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?