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.
Terrorism in Europe and the clash of civilizations
Europe is under attack from global terrorism. Europeans are in shock, and no solution is in sight. The problem is globalized and asymmetrical to the strengths of the West; victory requires a close examination of global terrorist networks’ origins, and the asymmetries from which they derive their power. Of course, terrorism is not a new phenomenon. But what is new today is its global dimension. For about a decade, such terrorism has laid siege to European society. Just as in the United States after September 11, 2001, so today in Europe, the debate over this danger has begun. The Europeans do not shoot from the hip like those American cowboys did, but their response is no less regrettable.
Clarity and instability in the South China Sea
A Hague-based arbitration panel has declared that China’s famous “nine-dash line” provides no legal basis for its claims to the vast maritime territory it encloses. The decision suddenly brings legal clarity to the dispute between Beijing and several countries in the region over control of islands and shipping lanes in the South China Sea. How these countries – in particular the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan – react will be critical to the peace and security in the region.
Beijing’s dilemma in the South China Sea
Beijing is not going to back down after losing an international court case over its territorial claim to the South China Sea. The Chinese authorities have a long menu of policy options, including military escalation, economic pressure and diplomacy. Given the risks involved, they will probably be in no hurry to make a choice.
Mexico: Pena Nieto papers over security crisis
In nearly four years, President Enrique Pena Nieto has been unable to tackle Mexico’s difficulties with organized and violent crime. His shift of focus to economic matters only papers over the problem, rather than addressing its root cause: institutional weakness. The country’s perpetual security crisis looks set to continue.
The fraying of sanctions
Two years on, there is no obvious endgame for Western sanctions against Ukraine. Some European Union leaders are already calling for normalized relations with Russia, even as fighting erupted in Donbas. But a “dirty deal” would carry a hefty long-term cost.
Daesh is an armed coalition, not a terrorist organization
The popular perception of Daesh – also known as Islamic State or IS – as a terrorist organization is as inaccurate as it is dangerous. Daesh is essentially a military force that uses the desert to its advantage, employing terrorist operations where useful. The misconception is dangerous because it leads decision makers to implement bad policy and distracts from the cool-headed analysis needed to defeat the force.
Hezbollah’s role in Syria
Iran established Hezbollah in Lebanon in the 1980s to fight Israel and subvert Sunni regimes in the Middle East. Now, it is doing Tehran’s bidding in the Syrian civil war, supporting President Bashar al-Assad. The experience has given Hezbollah fighters the military skill necessary to strike again at Israel. The coming conflict could be much worse than the previous round of fighting in 2006.
Forget about the nukes, where is our aid?
The leaders of China have not found a way yet to tame their rogue ally, Kim Jung-un. Thus far, the North Korean dictator has been able to continue both developing his weapons of mass destruction, which China fears and has gently tried to block, and extracting economic aid from Beijing that his mismanaged economy necessitates.
Russia and Turkey after the coup
Turkey’s savage crackdown after the failed July 16 coup has imperiled its ties with the EU and NATO. The main beneficiary is Russia, where Vladimir Putin has long managed problems similar to those faced by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Military corruption crackdown strengthens Xi
The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) was, until recently, held up as a paragon of virtue in China, but that changed when President Xi Jinping came to power. By 2016, his anti-graft campaign had resulted in 46 senior military officers facing corruption charges. The campaign shows no sign of stopping. The result will be a massive restructuring of the military, designed to weaken generals and increase President Xi’s personal power base.