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.
Will Duterte end the Philippines-U.S. alliance?
President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines has made a splash for many reasons, one of the most important being his suggestions that Manila will work toward a new strategic alignment. While shunning the United States, he has called for new alliances with Russia and China. How likely is this shift to take place in the all-important South China Sea region?
Beijing’s maritime militias add to growing instability in the China Seas
Territorial waters disputes in East Asia have led to an arms race in the region. Military expenditure by East and Southeast Asian nations has risen by almost 90 percent between 2005 and 2015. A striking feature of the evolving geopolitical game is the increasing use of civilian maritime militias; at this point, China is positioned to win this lesser-arms race.
The Minsk process and Syria
The breakdown of yet another truce in Syria has sent relations between Russia and the United States to new lows. The mosaic of opposing forces and conflicting agendas is so complex that without a strong element of trust between Russia and the U.S., there cannot be a sustainable truce, let alone a realistic path to peace. This path leads through Donbas, in eastern Ukraine.
The European Union’s stillborn army
The plan for a European Union army appears to be an idea doomed to fail. Its failure, however, could pave the way for closer European defense cooperation centered on Germany. More likely, the push for an integrated European army will lead, somewhat paradoxically, to a renationalization of defense. Any such effort will have to rely heavily on NATO, and therefore on the alliance's strongest European military, Great Britain.
The Balkans’ future: unions vs. multiethnic states
The redrawing of national borders and creation of multiethnic states ended the bloody ethnic wars of the late 20th century in the Western Balkans. But two decades later, this model is under strain. One way to extend its life could be through regional unions that reconnect the dispersed Serbian and Albanian nations.
Gabon’s despair and France’s postcolonial strategy
Francophone countries in Africa have had trouble implementing democracy. Gabon, where a former dictator's son has just won a second term as president in a controversial election, is the poster child for this disease. Why does this happen? Part of the answer lies in France's postcolonial geopolitical strategy. Is there any hope? For ordinary Gabonese, that appears unlikely.
Trump or Clinton? For Africa, there’s not much difference
Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump’s campaigns are both missing an Africa strategy. But with Chinese activity in Africa ramping up, the next leader of the free world may have to come up with one quickly. Expect a President Trump to forcefully challenge Chinese strategy in the continent, while a President Clinton would follow a more traditional approach.
Vietnam’s balancing act
Vietnam has traditionally sought a maximum degree of autonomy. However, its geopolitics are dominated by competition between the United States and China, as well as Russia. How the machinations between these powers play out in the region will determine the choices Hanoi makes, as it tries to balance the benefits it receives from its alliances with its desire to hold back external influence.
Northern Syria after Turkish intervention
Turkey’s decision to intervene in Syria has demolished U.S. plans to press home the ground war against Daesh. Ankara must now decide whether to respect an American-sponsored cease-fire or venture deeper into Syria to break up the emerging Kurdish autonomous zone. If they choose the latter course, as seems likely, the Turks could find themselves in a military quagmire.