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.
Boom or bust for Russian arms exports?
The Russian weapons business is facing a critical juncture. Once coequal with the United States as the world’s biggest arms exporter, Russia must now advance technologically or be displaced by rising competitors. The biggest threat is posed by two countries that were traditionally Russia’s best clients – China and India.
The U.S. military’s skeptical response to hybrid warfare
Hybrid warfare has been a hot concept in the military and security community since the mid-2000s. But it has not made much of a dent on U.S. military doctrine, which is more concerned with urban warfare and its own theory of “multi-domain battle.” At the strategic level, American planners do not consider hybrid warfare as an operating principle – just one of a plethora of threats they must face.
Mongolia’s role in security on the Korean Peninsula
Mongolia might be one of the only countries with which North Korea could have a normal conversation: the countries have historically had friendly ties. And Mongolia has hosted negotiations between North Korea and Japan, for example, before. However, a wide gap remains between Pyongyang’s goals and the West’s. Until the sides come to the negotiating table, Mongolia will play its own role: showcasing an example of a country in Northeast Asia with communist roots that achieved security without pursuing nuclear weapons.
Russia writes new rules for post-Cold War rivalry with NATO
Russia has been honing its conventional and nuclear forces for Hybrid Cold War confrontations with potential enemies, especially NATO. An important role in its new strategic toolbox is reserved for “safety valves”: Russia’s doctrine of first use of tactical nuclear weapons and the increased mobility of its conventional forces. At present, NATO has no effective countermeasures for either, dangerously adding to international instability.
Scenarios for the future of the EU-Turkey relationship
The relationship between Turkey and the European Union is on the rocks. Turkey cannot be considered eligible for membership, but the accession process remains officially ongoing. A collapse of the talks seems likely – but that would cause more problems than it would solve. Forging a new kind of partnership would have plenty of benefits, but would require ending accession negotiations. Sticking with the status quo gives both sides what they want, for now.
Iranians at odds as succession looms
Hassan Rouhani’s reelection as Iran’s president was greeted with euphoria by his reform-minded supporters, but has only sharpened divisions in a deeply polarized country. Supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei may be frail and ailing, but he still dominates the Islamic Republic, and his conservative supporters are well-positioned to steer any succession. The new U.S. administration’s attempts to isolate Iran will only strengthen them.
A new Euro-Atlantic strategy for the Western Balkans
The European Union and the United States are again paying attention to the Western Balkans, trying to keep the region firmly within the EU and NATO orbit. But Angela Merkel’s ambitious plans for economic development will hinge on overcoming traditional animosities – especially the conflict between Serbia and Albania over Kosovo and Greek-Macedonian tensions – which have allowed Russia to reassert its influence.
Doklam standoff reflects changing China-India relationship
The military showdown between unarmed Chinese and Indian troops on the Doklam Plateau in the Himalayas is different than previous border tiffs in the region between these two Asian giants. The new dimensions reflect a changing relationship between Beijing and New Delhi, as both gain international clout. The current crisis is unlikely to get out of hand, but China and India will continue to butt heads.
Opinion: Crimea as a freehold
What to do with Crimea is a seemingly insoluble problem. With patriotic Russian opinion firmly set in the “Crimean consensus,” returning the territory to Ukraine is out of the question. Letting it remain as part of Russia is equally unacceptable to Ukraine and the West. Perhaps the best place to start is with Crimea’s real owners – the peninsula’s 2.34 million residents.
Japan’s defense: easing the constitutional corset
As China emerges as East Asia’s dominant power and the unpredictable North Korean regime acquires offensive nuclear capability, nearby Japan is taking further steps to relax its constitutional ban on maintaining armed forces. Amending the constitution may not yet be in the cards, but beefing up the country’s arms industry has already started.