Defense & Security
Military strategy, alliances, weapons, troops and firepower. Defense and security issues shape geopolitical events now more than ever. GIS experts provide scenarios for future military developments.
South Sudan heads from bad to worse
Political conflict, ethnic violence and man-made famine have turned South Sudan into Africa’s worst disaster since the Rwandan genocide in 1994. The crisis shows the limits of humanitarian aid and will have devastating long-term effects. It also poses a test for the international community, which must decide whether to intervene at a time when multilateralism is out and realpolitik is in.
Scenarios for Central and Eastern Europe in a Russia-NATO conflict
Geopolitically, the region between Russia and Western Europe is among the most volatile parts of the globe: in the 20th century alone, it was a major theater for two world wars and the Cold War. As relations between the West and Russia sour, the region may again see its fate decided by outside powers – this time, the triad of the United States, the European Union and Russia.
Russia’s nuclear strategy exposes NATO’s deterrence problem
Russia’s conventional forces are weaker than those of the West, but the Kremlin may fall back on its strategy of “escalate to de-escalate.” Launching a single, low-yield nuclear warhead in a local conflict, Russian leaders could challenge NATO member governments into a fateful decision: to stand down and negotiate, or risk escalating the conflict into a full-scale nuclear war.
U.S. trade options in Asia
President Donald Trump’s pledge to crack down on countries that have large trade surpluses with the U.S. has created a lot deal of uncertainty in Asia. Will the new administration enforce current laws and seek bilateral deals, or will it take a more punitive, protectionist stance? Washington’s choice – and how its partners respond – may determine whether the U.S. keeps its leading role in Asia or gets marginalized.
Trump pushes U.S. defense buildup
The Trump administration has recently announced its budget priorities, and the most eye-catching figure was the $54 billion increase in defense spending, to $603 billion. Though there is wide agreement that the U.S. military is under increasing stress and is becoming less able to defend American interests, the proposal is highly controversial. The most likely scenario, however, is that the end of defense reductions in the U.S. is over.
Ivory Coast’s recovery looks fragile
Ivory Coast is on the mend after a lost decade of internal turmoil and civil war. Yet recent army mutinies and protests by angry cocoa producers show how little real progress has been made in diversifying the economy and creating reliable security forces. On the horizon, perhaps, looms a presidential succession crisis as well.
Tensions in the Balkans reach fever pitch
Ethnic, nationalist and border disputes are heating up in the Balkans. European political crises and uncertainty surrounding the policies of U.S. President Donald Trump have raised the stakes. Three scenarios are possible: the West could maintain its strong influence in the region; it could pull back, creating instability and leaving a vacuum for Russia to fill; or borders in the Balkans will be reshaped once again, potentially violently.
Russia’s deeper involvement in Libya changes the game in the Middle East
It seems Western powers have again been caught off guard by Russia’s moves in the Middle East. This time, Moscow is stepping up cooperation with Libya, an old ally. Closer ties with the Tobruk government could give it a pretext to strengthen its presence there, and even potentially to establish military bases as in Syria. That would open a new can of worms for Europe and NATO.
Opinion: Military situation heats up on China’s perimeter
The main threat to world peace can be found not in Eastern Europe or the Middle East, but along a 6,000-mile stretch of land and sea on Asia’s eastern and southern rim. As China’s push for access to the sea runs up against a picket line of U.S. allies and bases, potential conflicts are brewing.
African migration and the EU’s response
Migration from Africa to Europe is here to stay. Though the EU has undertaken many measures to stem the tide, demographic and economic realities ensure that those measures will be insufficient. African economies cannot absorb their growing workforce, and in fact benefit from diasporas in Europe. Putting up fences will only make the problem worse.