22 November 2015

Comeback: Putin's Newfound Global Clout

November 20, 2015

Vladimir Putin should have left the G-20 summit in Antalya, Turkey, in an upbeat mood. The Russian president clearly demonstrated that on the world stage he is neither isolated nor marginalized. His interactions with other key global leaders, both in the multilateral format of the summit as well as in numerous bilateral sidebars, showed, in the words of a headline in The Guardian, Putin’s dramatic transformation from “pariah” to “powerbroker” in the span of a single year.

It is telling that the most public rebukes delivered to Putin for the continuing crisis in Ukraine came from Canada’s newly elected prime minister Justin Trudeau. Other Western leaders indicate that they brought up the Ukrainian situation in their talks with the Russian president but the tone seemed to shift from last year’s unequivocal condemnation in Brisbane of Russian actions to one of “agreeing to disagree” on the situation today. Putin’s tete-à-tete with Angela Merkel, for instance, seems to have been focused more on technical aspects related to the full implementation of the EU-Ukraine association agreement and Russia’s likely trade response—as well as Russia’s apparent willingness to discuss restructuring Ukrainian debt—rather than on holding Russian feet to the fire on complete implementation of the Minsk Accords.

Confirmed: Russia Just Sold 24 Lethal Su-35 Fighters to China

November 19, 2015

Russia has reached an agreement with the People’s Republic of China to supply the nascent Asian superpower with twenty-four Sukhoi Su-35 Flanker-E fighters. The two countries have been discussing the sale of the powerful Russian-built jet since at least 2011.
“Long negotiations for the supply of Su-35 in China are completed, we signed a contract,” Sergei Chemezov general director of Rostec—which is a Russian government entity that helps facilitate Moscow’s defense exports—told the Russian daily Kommersant.

According to Kommersant’s Russian government sources, the People’s Liberation Army Air Force will receive twenty-four jets for a total of $2 billion dollars. The unit price for each Su-35S is expected to be $83 million. “China officially became the first foreign customer of the Su-35 is unprecedented in the history of the contract deliveries of combat aircraft,” a Russian defense source told the newspaper.

Is War Between China and India Possible?

November 19, 2015

As I was researching and writing the latest Contingency Planning Memorandum for CFR’s Center for Preventive Action, “Armed Confrontation Between China and India,” one of my top priorities was to avoid overstating the probability of the contingency. Throughout most of my conversations with Indian, Chinese, and U.S. policy analysts, I found a striking consensus about the relative stability between these two giant Asian neighbors. This was reassuring, but also slightly surprising given the lingering suspicions and growing competition between New Delhi and Beijing.

Then I started reading a new book by Bharat Karnad, Why India Is Not a Great Power (Yet), and quickly observed that nearly all of the avenues by which I thought a China-India conflict might conceivably emerge (land border skirmish, Tibetan protests, India-Pakistan standoff, and maritime disputes) were also areas where Karnad believes India should pursue far more aggressive policies. The one exception is Pakistan, where Karnad suggests India should principally deploy economic incentives to overcome longstanding hostilities (an approach he recommends for all of India’s smaller neighbors).

Paris, the EU, and China’s Foreign Policy

By Shi Zhiqin, Lai Suetyi, Vasilis Trigkas
November 20, 2015

In January 2015, Chinese President Xi Jinping foresaw the rising complexity of China’s international environment. Almost a year later his assessment seems valid. Accelerated geopolitical competition with the United States in Asia, the drama of the eurozone crisis and its adverse effects on Chinese exports, and turbulence in the Middle East (China’s main source of oil) could create new condundrums for economic growth and social harmony in the Middle Kingdom. Meanwhile, the rise of Islamic fundamentalism could exacerbate Chinese internal security issues in Xinjiang.

The terrorist attacks in Paris on November 13 have now added even more complexity to China’s international environment, for they could influence both the political identity of France and, most importantly, the vision of the European integration project. An increasingly insulated “fortress Europe” with rising nationalistic demagogy could disrupt Chinese economic growth and undermine Beijing’s grand vision for a Eurasian economic space sponsored in the One Belt, One Road mega-initiative.

Before Paris Talks, China Outlines Its Plan for Tackling Climate Change

November 20, 2015

Less than two weeks ahead of the start of a major UN climate change conference in Paris, China has released a report detailing its “Policies and Actions for Addressing Climate Change.” In a press conference introducing the report, Xie Zhenhua, China’s special representative for climate change affairs, told reporters that he is optimistic the Paris talks will be successfully. He also pledged that China will meet all the commitments it has made in the past two years, including promises to have emissions peak in 2030 and to introduce a national emissions trading scheme in 2017.

Given that many observers directly accused China of killing any possibility of a strong deal at the Copenhagen climate change talks in 2009, Beijing is eager to let the world know how seriously it’s taking the Paris conference.

Confirmed: China Buys 24 Advanced Fighter Jets From Russia

November 20, 2015

China and Russia have finally signed a contract estimated to be worth $2 billion for the purchase of 24 Russian-made Sukhoi Su-35 multirole fighter jets, TASSreports, based on information obtained by the Komersant business daily.

“The protracted talks on Su-35 deliveries to China have ended. We have signed the contract,” Sergey Chemezov, director-general of the Russian state corporation Rostec, told Komersant.

“China has officially become the first foreign contractor of the Su-35 aircraft. The contract has no precedents in the history of military aircraft deliveries,” he added.

According to TASS, the 24 Su-35 fighter jets will be built at the Komsomolsk-on-Amur Aircraft Production Association in Russia’s Far East. A high-level official in the Khabarovsk Territory government told TASS:

Paris Carnage: The Outreach Of Terrorism – Analysis

By Bhaskar Roy*
NOVEMBER 20, 2015

Paris, on November 13 evening, was nothing unusual. A concert with an American band from California performing. A friendly football match in the stadium between France and Germany. And people in bars and cafeterias enjoying themselves. Gay and Carefree Paris was impervious to a threat from Islamic State (IS) or Daesh, when all hell broke loose.

The IS had struck, leaving 129 dead and over 300 injured with 99 of them in critical state. Nine terrorists who took part in the killings were eliminated by the police or blew themselves up with explosive belts they were wearing (According to available reports, two are absconding).

This IS claimed responsibility for the carnage, and gave a warning that they had infiltrated into Europe in the guise of refugees. France swung into action and Belgium coordinated in almost simultaneous response as some of the perpetrators were also Belgian citizens. The support elements of the attackers are being hunted down. The French authorities believe the attack was planned outside France. At least one of the terrorists killed carried a Syrian passport and had entered as a refugee.

The 2015 Paris Terrorist Attacks: An Assessment

By Weimeng Yeo*
NOVEMBER 20, 2015

The suicide armed attacks in Paris on 13 November 2015 were unprecedented in magnitude and scale. It has exposed France’s vulnerability to political armed violence and has alerted the rest of Europe to the jihadist threat within their domain.

The series of simultaneous armed and suicide bomb attacks that killed more than 130 people and left 350 injured in multiple locations in Paris have highlighted once again the terrorism threat in France. Though tragic, these attacks in Paris, France, do not come as a complete surprise.

In the last 18 months, France has already suffered from more than five major terrorist attacks. What is surprising is the magnitude and scale of these six assaults, which were very ambitious. Divided into three distinct groups, the militants were able to execute simultaneous strikes on six locations. Simultaneous attacks are very effective as they cause significant number of casualties before the security services have the time and ability to respond. These attacks were also very well coordinated and involved myriad attack devices reflecting a sophistication that can only come from having some level of military training and expertise as well as centralised control.
Similar to the Mumbai attacks in 2008

France’s Response To Paris Attacks Encourages Islamic State Caliphate Fantasy – OpEd

NOVEMBER 20, 2015

France’s emotional response to the recent tragedy, devoid of reason and ignoring history, just makes matters worse.

The death toll in the November 13 attacks in Paris stands at 127. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani sent a message to his French counterpart Francois Hollande condemning the attacks. “In the name of the Iranian nation, itself a victim of the evil scourge of terrorism, I strongly condemn these inhumane crimes and condole with the bereaved French nation and government.”

In contrast, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu opened his weekly Cabinet meeting by calling on world leaders to condemn terror against … Israel. He began by addressing the killing of two Israelis, ignoring the 81 Palestinians who have died in protests this month. “The time has come for the nations of the world to condemn terrorism against us as much as they condemn terrorism anywhere else in the world.” He pledged Israeli intelligence assistance to France, adding “An attack on any of us needs to be seen as an attack on all of us.”

Translate: France’s tragedy is a wake-up call for solidarity with … Israel.
France’s colonial legacy

Big Questions Remain Unanswered About Paris Terrorist Attacks

November 20, 2015

Big questions remain over Paris attacks

In less than a week after the Paris attacks, French police have managed to track and kill one of the most-wanted Islamic State jihadists and a “ringleader” of the carnage, Abdelhamid Abaaoud.

However, as investigators weave together a vast and complex web of clues pointing to a sophisticated logistical operation that took place under the nose of European intelligence officers, several burning questions remain.

How did no one know Abaaoud was in Europe?

The Belgian jihadist of Moroccan origin is one of the most high-profile European fighters with the Islamic State group, and has featured in several grisly videos.

His notoriety only heightens the glaring failures of intelligence services to pick up his presence back in Europe since he left for Syria in 2014.

French Intelligence Did Not Know That Paris Attack Ringleader Was In Paris, Not in Syria

November 20, 2015

Paris never received information attack mastermind was in France: minister

France received no information from other countries to signal that Abdelhamid Abaaoud had entered Europe until after 129 people were killed in the French capital, Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said on Thursday. 

“No information coming from European countries, where he could have transited before arriving in France, was given to us,” Cazeneuve said of the man suspected of being the mastermind of the attacks.

“It was only on Nov. 16, after the Paris attacks, that an intelligence service outside Europe signaled that it had been aware that he had been in Greece,” he said, without specifying when Abaaoud was spotted there and who gave France the intelligence.

Media in Belgium said Abaaoud had been involved in a series of attacks planned in Belgium and foiled by the police last January.

Several of the Paris Attackers Were on U.S. Terrorist Watchlists

November 20, 2015

Several Paris attackers were on U.S. watchlists -officials

WASHINGTON Nov 19 (Reuters) - At least four of the Paris attackers were listed in a central counter-terrorism database maintained by the U.S. intelligence community, five U.S. officials said on Thursday.

At least one and possibly more of the attackers was also on a more selective U.S. “no fly list”, three of the officials said, though they would not provide a specific number.

In coordinated attacks in Paris last Friday, 129 people were killed and more than 300 were wounded. The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for the worst violence in France since World War Two.

The U.S. officials said four of the attackers who have been publicly named by France were listed before the attacks in TIDE, a central, highly classified database of raw information maintained by the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC), a division of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. They did not name those who were listed in TIDE.

160 Russian ISIS Fighters Have Been Killed in Syria

November 20, 2015

Official says 160 Russian IS fighters killed in Syria 

MOSCOW (AP) — A Russian deputy foreign minister says that 160 Russians fighting for the Islamic State group have been killed in Syria.

Russian news agencies on Thursday quoted Oleg Syromolotov as saying that out of some 2,700 Russians fighting in Syria, 73 have returned and been convicted and 36 placed under arrest.

Russia in September began carrying out attacks on IS positions to support President Bashar Assad’s forces. President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday pledged to intensify Russia’s air operation there after the Russian intelligence chief announced that a bomb brought down a Russian plane over Egypt on Oct. 31, killing all 224 onboard.

IS claimed responsibility for the attack but Russians would not say whether they think the IS was behind it.

Discarded Cellphone Found Near Paris Concert Hall Led French Police to Ringleader of Paris Terrorist Attacks

November 20, 2015

Discarded cell phone led to Paris attacks ringleader 

PARIS (AP) — French investigators tracked down the alleged ringleader of last week’s Paris bloodshed after receiving a startling tipoff: The Islamic militant wasn’t in Syria but in Europe, plotting yet another attack. A discarded cellphone found near a bloodied concert hall led them to his cousin, and then to a suburban Paris apartment where both died in a hail of bullets and explosions.

As a manhunt intensified Thursday for a fugitive connected to the carnage, details emerged about the intelligence operation that allowed authorities to zero in on Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the Belgian-Moroccan extremist they say orchestrated the attacks in Paris and four plots thwarted earlier this year.

The narrative provided by French officials raised questions about how a wanted militant suspected of involvement in multiple plots could slip into Europe undetected.

Investigators quickly identified Abaaoud as the architect of the deadly attacks in Paris, but they believed he had coordinated the assaults against a soccer stadium, cafes and a rock concert from the battlefields of Syria.

ISIS Trying to Produce Chemical Weapons, Intelligence Sources

November 20, 2015

Officials: IS determined to produce chemical weapons 

BAGHDAD (AP) — The Islamic State group is aggressively pursuing development of chemical weapons, setting up a branch dedicated to research and experiments with the help of scientists from Iraq, Syria and elsewhere in the region, according to Iraqi and U.S. intelligence officials.

Their quest raises an alarming scenario for the West, given the determination to strike major cities that the group showed with its bloody attack last week in Paris. U.S. intelligence officials don’t believe IS has the capability to develop sophisticated weapons like nerve gas that are most suited for a terrorist attack on a civilian target. So far the group has used mustard gas on the battlefield in Iraq and Syria.

Still, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls on Thursday warned that Islamic extremists might at some point use chemical or biological weapons.

“Terrorism hit France not because of what it is doing in Iraq and Syria … but for what it is,” Valls told the lower house of Parliament. “We know that there could also be a risk of chemical or biological weapons,” he added, though he did not talk of a specific threat.

Fingerprints Confirm That Belgian Mastermind of Paris Terrorist Attacks Died in Saint-Denis Police Raid

November 19, 2015

Top Suspect in Paris Attacks, Abdelhamid Abaaoud, Confirmed Dead

PARIS — Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the Islamic State militant suspected of orchestrating the Paris terrorist attacks, died in a police raid in the northern Paris suburb of St.-Denis early Wednesday, the French authorities announced on Thursday. 

The confirmation of Mr. Abaaoud’s death followed fingerprint analysis, the Paris prosecutor, François Molins, said in a statement. Mr. Abaaoud’s body was heavily riddled with wounds from gunfire and a grenade detonated during the raid. “We do not know at this stage whether Abaaoud blew himself up or not,” Mr. Molins’s office said.

At least one other person died in the raid: a woman who opened fire on police and then detonated a suicide vest, whom two French intelligence officials have identified as Hasna Aitboulahcen, 26, a cousin of Mr. Abaaoud.

Mr. Abaaoud’s death ended one chapter of the intense criminal investigation that began on Friday night, after three teams of terrorists, in a series of closely coordinated attacks, killed 129 people. But a manhunt continued in Belgium for Salah Abdeslam, 26, a French citizen who is thought to have fled to Brussels after taking part in the attacks.

Who Would Cardinal Richelieu Bomb?

November 20, 2015

Vive la France has been a rallying cry in the wake of the recent Paris bloodbath at the hands of ISIS terrorists. While a deeply emotional response to the carnage of nearly 130 brutal murders is understandable, a cold-blooded assessment of how to confront the situation will prove far more productive in the long run than a knee-jerk reaction. The correct rallying cry should beraison d’état—national interest—not Vive la France.

In Paris’ wake, it seems ironic to once again invoke the specter of Cardinal Richelieu, as I have already once before done at the National Interest. However, rarely has there been a more propitious moment to again call forth the strategic acumen, ruthlessness and single-minded purposefulness of the Red Eminence.

After Paris: ISIS Makes a Big Bet

November 19, 2015

ISIS, Russia, Iran and China all share a common concern: the United States. In short, it’s a problem. As conventional states, three of them have a view of how the world ought to be organized, but America stands in their way. They all also have the same idea—to win without fighting.

Of the four, ISIS has shown it is the least risk-averse. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and his boys have sent clear signals they are willing to bloody the other side and risk America’s wrath. Likely as not, ISIS believes the caliphate can get away with it.

Of course, in a way ISIS is already fighting the rest of the world. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) noted in a recent interview that “we have done about 8,000” bombing runs against the caliphate. Further, the U.S. has given aid and support to groups fighting ISIS, as well as putting a small number of special operations forces in harm’s way. Still, the U.S. has refrained from confronting ISIS directly on the field of battle.

That the U.S. government has no interest in going back to Iraq suits ISIS just fine. The one fight ISIS can’t win is a battle for territorial control against a superior conventional military force.

Russian Strategic Bombers Conduct Third Straight Day of Carpet Bombing Attacks in Syria

November 19, 2015

Russian Strategic Bombers Deal New Strikes on IS

MOSCOW — Russian strategic bombers struck targets in Syria Thursday in a third straight day of a heavy bombing blitz, military officials said.

Russia, which has conducted air campaign in Syria since Sept. 30, sharply raised its intensity this week on President Vladimir Putin’s orders.

Putin told the military to step up the bombing after the confirmation that the Russian plane crash in Egypt that killed all 224 people on board was downed by a bomb, which the Islamic State group said it had planted.

Col. Gen. Andrei Kartapolov of the Russian military General Staff said that long-range Tu-95, Tu-160 and Tu-22M3 bombers operating from Russian bases on Thursday took part in raids against IS targets in Syria. They joined Russian war planes based at the Hemeimeem air base in Syria’s province of Latakia.

Overall, Russian warplanes flew 126 combat sorties Wednesday, and on Thursday, more than 100 sorties are to be flown, Kartapolov said.


NOVEMBER 19, 2015

This week, Russia expanded on its campaign in Syria with a series of 34 air-launched cruise missile strikes, perhaps even eclipsing the October 7 cruise missile launches from Russia’s Caspian Flotilla. Just as with the ship-based missile strikes, the United States should pay attention to this air vector of attack from Russia’s mainland, and the deploymentof the new Kh-101 missile along with the modernized Kh-55. Russia’s bomber force is not an anachronism, but still breathes life. The sorties targeted Idlib, Aleppo, and the self-proclaimed Islamic State capital of Raqqa, although it is unclear what they actually hit. Russian airstrikes come on the heels of Moscow’s official confirmation that the MetroJet airliner was indeed brought down by an Islamic State bomb over Sinai. The introduction of Russian long-range aviation, employing an entirely different family of missiles, is a combination of official retribution, publicity, and capability testing. Russia’s bomber strikes were in part meant for its domestic audience as a reprisal to the Islamic State’s terrorist attack in a manner that goes visibly above and beyond the existing air campaign.

Russia's 'Carrier Killer' (Now ISIS Killer): The Tu-22M3 Supersonic Bomber

November 19, 2015

The Russian air force conducted another massive strategic bomber raid on Daesh targets in Syria yesterday.

As before, the Tupolev Tu-160 Blackjack and Tu-95MS bombers played a prominent role, however, the supersonic Tu-22M3 Backfire bombers conducted the majority of the attacks. “A squadron of Tu-22M3 long-range bombers made airstrikes against 6 ISIS facilities in the provinces of Raqqah and Deir-ez-Zor. They engaged depots with weapons and ammunition, mass concentrations of military hardware, training camps and workshops producing explosives,” reads a statement from the Russian defense ministry.

That statement was later amended to add: “Just a few minutes ago a squadron of Tu-22M3 long-range bombers has made the second massive airstrike against 6 militants’ facilities engaging a communications centre, ISIS ammunition depot, a small factory producing explosives and car bombs, as well as a terrorist training base.”

Syria's Other Foreign Fighters: Iran's Afghan and Pakistani Mercenaries

November 20, 2015

While much has been said about the dangers of Sunni foreign fighters returning home, the return home of the far more numerous Afghan and Pakistani Shia foreign fighters has received noticeably less attention. A major reason for the disparity is that most accounts of the Afghan and Pakistani troops fighting under the Hezbollah flag in Syria mistakenly tend to minimize their ideological motivations. However, the Shia foreign fighter phenomenon could have serious ramifications for South Asia, because it serves as a pretense under which Tehran trains and indoctrinates militant Shia populations.

The liwa’ fatimiyun (Fatimiyun Brigade) is composed exclusively of Afghans and fights under the auspices of Hezbollah Afghanistan. According to an Iranian news source, the number of Afghans fighting for the Assad regime is between 10,000 and 20,000, while other news sources put the number of Afghans at between 10,000 and 12,000. There is no doubt that Afghans have paid a heavy price in the fighting, as 700 Afghans are thought to have been killed in action around Aleppo and Deraa alone. Many of those tracking the number of funerals for Afghans fighting in Syria came up with numbers closer to the regime’s official narrative of 100 dead, because the bodies of Afghan fighters are often not recoverable and simply left to rot if they lie in rebel-held territory.

Europe’s Looming Nexus of Migration and Disease

November 20, 2015

Last week’s terrorist attacks in Paris are a stark reminder that well-intentioned and humanitarian efforts can have unintended consequences. A lack of effective screening has reportedly created an opportunity for terrorists to enter Europe disguised as asylum seekers. As Europe looks to bolster measures for mandatory screening, another type of screening must not be overlooked. To date, screening migrants for infectious and contagious diseases has been voluntary, inconsistent and under-resourced. If public health security is left unaddressed, this looming issue has potential to become another disaster for European authorities, threatening not just the health of both migrant and host populations but also possibly giving rise to further societal instability.

So far this year, over 750,000 migrants are estimated to have arrived in Europe. The EU has predicted that up to three million may arrive in 2016. Ensuring that all incoming migrants are provided with health screenings is an enormous undertaking, but it is a necessary one. Currently, European public health officials only conduct voluntary health screenings of migrants, at best. This means that many epidemic-prone diseases go undetected as migrants enter into Europe. Prioritizing infectious and contagious disease detection and treatment is a short-term must.

The Islamic State Problem is a Syria Problem

November 18, 2015

With the attacks in Paris last Friday night, the Islamic State has thrust itself to the forefront of the geopolitical map. Europe, Russia, and the United States are grappling with how to defang a terrorist organization that has promised to deliver further carnage as part of its crusade to establish a new caliphate in the Middle East. To address the questions surrounding the dangers posed by the Islamic State and by the ongoing conflict in Syria, the National Interest magazine and the Center for the National Interest convened a high-level panel on Wednesday for a luncheon discussion.

“It’s very hard to solve the Islamic State problem without solving the Syria problem,” Georgetown scholar and panelist Daniel Byman said in introductory remarks. Byman was joined by Andrew Parasiliti, the director of the Center for Global Risk and Security at RAND, by the president and CEO of the Center for the National Interest Dimitri K. Simes, by the Center’s vice chairman and former undersecretary of defense Dov Zakheim and by its chairman and former four-star Air Force General Charles G. Boyd who was also deputy commander in chief, U.S. European Command, and has extensive experience with no-fly zones.


NOVEMBER 20, 2015

The Church Committee’s report, “Alleged Assassination Plots against Foreign Leaders,” turns 40 today. Most of us first learned of this document — easily accessible courtesy of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence — as one of several reports the committee produced on the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in 1975. “Alleged Assassination Plots” remains a collection of fascinating revelations of CIA-sponsored covert operations in the Congo, Vietnam, Chile, and elsewhere in the developing world in the 1960s and early 1970s. Among the most shocking was ZR/RIFLE, the operations directorate’s code-word for a plan for the development of an assassination capability — something which seems to come right out of the Jason Bourne films. (Actually, it was the other way around.) The directorate’s leadership discussed Project RIFLE with Kennedy administration officials sometime during or just after Kennedy’s transition, although officials have long denied they ever brought it up or even knew about it. In any case, the directorate designated one asset, a European associated with organized crime, to recruit others who would carry out future assignments after this. But the plan never went beyond the drawing-board. RIFLE, the Church Committee concluded, never became anything more than a how-exactly-would-we-do-this-if-we-were-instructed-to-do-it thought at the agency.


NOVEMBER 19, 2015

Indecision is a hallmark of the human condition. In military circles, Nagumo’s vacillation at Midway and McClellan’s inability to take risks dominate the spectrum, but for those outside the military the epitome of indecision is Hamlet, Prince of Denmark.

The famously re-quoted “To be, or not to be,” the bane of high school English students, epitomizes Hamlet’s recurrent inability to act. He knows he must avenge his father. He knows he must rise to the throne. He knows what must be done. Yet, he never makes any real decisions and in doing so dies, completely failing to avenge his father and take the throne.

Each of those cases is a look backwards. For those seeking to right the future, the first step in fixing a problem is recognizing there is one. The second is to act. The U.S. military is capable of identifying issues, but seems stuck on the second step. Adm. John Richardson, the chief of naval operations (CNO), became the most recent senior leader to acknowledge that our innovation cycle does not work as it should. At the Reagan National Defense Forum, he said:

Taiwan: Because It’s 2016!

By Jakub Piasecki
November 19, 2015

The Democratic Progress Party (DPP) chairperson and presidential hopeful Tsai Ing-wen will not make history by becoming the first democratically elected female head of state in East Asia. That title has already been claimed by South Korea’s president Park Geun-hye, who was voted into office in 2013. But Tsai, who has a commanding lead in the polls, is making waves in other areas. Specifically, if she is elected next year, her cabinet appointments could well make the same kinds of headlines seen recently with the diverse cabinet formed by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Tsai has promised in her campaign that she would transform Taiwan and unite the Taiwanese people. It is her emphasis on openness and reconciliation that has won her widespread support across the island. No one is to feel excluded in the new Taiwan that Tsai envisions. And choosing to team up with Chen Chien-jen as her running mate for Taiwan’s top job would seem to exemplify this pledge.

Is Justin Trudeau Going to Rethink Canda's Approach to the Asia-Pacific?

November 20, 2015

To what extent is Canada recalibrating its strategic thinking towards the Asia-Pacific (APAC)?

Although Canada has enjoyed territory on both oceans since independence, Ottawa has historically concentrated the greatest attention on the Atlantic. Even in World War II, when the United States and the United Kingdom waged war across both oceans, Canada focused its contribution heavily on the European theater of operations. Yet with the United States shifting its military and diplomatic attention to the Pacific Rim, Canada may need to rethink how it distributes attention between the two oceans.

Canada faces two key problems in the APAC. First, its navy and air force lack the reach to operate successfully in a region characterized by large distances and small numbers of bases. No Canadian government has displayed much interest in paying for the naval capabilities (nuclear submarines, light carriers or amphibious assault ships) that could enable this reach. As Bochen Han has pointed out, while Canadian trade with Asia has expanded considerably, relations with the continent have yet to play a large role in the Canadian political imagination.


NOVEMBER 18, 2015

Reporting on the aftermath of the Paris attacks has included a good bit of speculative (and not necessarily well-informed) commentary on whether or not NATO’s collective defense provision (Article V of the North Atlantic Treaty) would come into play. As of this writing, France has not requested that Article V be invoked in response to the attacks apparently directed and organized by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

Some commentaries assume that when a NATO ally is attacked the other allies are required to jump to their defense. In fact, Article V is carefully worded and limited, in no small part due to demands from the U.S. Congress protecting their prerogative to declare war. The passage therefore ensures that all allies are able to make their own sovereign decisions about how to respond to an attack on another ally. According to the text, if an “armed attack occurs … each [member state] … will assist the Party or Parties so attacked by taking forthwith, individually and in concert with the other Parties, such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area” [emphasis added].

Will the United States Base 2 Aircraft Carriers in Japan?

November 20, 2015

Basing an additional aircraft carrier at the Yokosuka Naval Base in Japan would meet the entire demand for carrier coverage in the Pacific without having to build more ships to fulfill the U.S. Navy’s commitments in the Asia-Pacific region. That’s the conclusion of a new study published by the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments (CSBA).

Despite being the most powerful naval force in the world, the U.S. Navy, given its global presence, has been deploying its forces at a pace it can’t sustain. “The central force structure challenge facing the Navy and Marine Corps today is that demand for naval forces exceeds the supply they can sustainably deliver,” the study notes.

“Both services have been maintaining a higher level of presence than they typically plan for by extending deployments, deploying more than once per readiness cycle, and basing more ships overseas,” according to CSBA.