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.
Opinion: NATO at 70 – where does the alliance go from here? (part 1)
With NATO having turned 70 this year, it is worth considering how the alliance became the guarantor of European security and what direction it should now take. In this first of a two-part series, GIS Expert Dr. Uwe Nerlich recounts how the alliance’s role transformed from a means of stabilizing postwar Europe into an instrument of “mutual deterrence.”
Israeli view: Hezbollah puts Lebanon at risk
Since 1982, the Shia Hezbollah movement has turned the Lebanese-Israeli border into one of the most volatile in the region. With help from Iran, it has also consolidated political power in Lebanon and expanded its involvement in the Syrian civil war. After its stunning success in last year’s elections, Hezbollah would bear responsibility for another possible confrontation with Israel, for which Lebanon would pay a steep price.
The militarization of space: separating the hype from the real risks
Since President Donald Trump reestablished the U.S. military’s Space Command, plenty of ink has been spilled on the potential for space-based weapons. While satellites are playing a larger role, the battle for dominance in space will remain earthbound for the long term. The question is whether the U.S., China and Russia can sustain the advanced research necessary to gain an edge over each other.
Trump-Kim summit game squeezes South Korea’s president
Spare a moment to consider the plight of South Korean President Moon Jae-in. In the three-way negotiation between Pyongyang, Washington and Seoul about denuclearizing the Korean peninsula, Mr. Moon has perhaps the most sensible policy and is certainly the most predictable player. Yet he is entirely overshadowed by his mercurial partners, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and U.S. President Donald Trump.
Kazakhstan: A seamless succession?
Nursultan Nazarbayev ruled Kazakhstan in patriarchal fashion since 1990 and is widely regarded as one of the ablest politicians in the post-Soviet sphere, winning respect even from his powerful neighbor, Vladimir Putin. Now that the moment has come to hand over presidential power, it appears that he has prepared with his typical caution and astuteness. Odds are that the gradual leadership transition will be successful, although plenty of things could still go wrong.
Prospects for stability in the Horn of Africa
For decades, the Horn of Africa has been home to conflict and failed states. Changes are occurring rapidly, however, driven by the recent rapprochement between Ethiopia and Eritrea. Even Somalia has made modest progress. The question is whether these gains can be consolidated, since economic and ethnic tensions are still rife, and a host of global and regional powers continue to vie for influence.
Opinion: Ukraine gridlocked
The evident stalemate in Ukraine is as much in Western policymakers’ heads as on the Donbas battlefront. Since the European Union has framed the conflict in moral terms that do not allow it to admit failure, it must maintain the pretense of success – giving Russia and Ukraine ample leeway to play their own games of deception. Yet the costs of this false equilibrium – to the EU, Russia and Ukraine itself – are too large to be sustained indefinitely.
The Kashmir crisis exerts pressure on both the U.S. and China
The conflict over Kashmir has led to three wars and countless skirmishes between India and Pakistan. As tensions are building up again in the region, outside powers cooperate to prevent the worst. However, Washington’s and Beijing’s influence over the decision-making process of the two nuclear weapons-armed states may be gradually waning.
Russia in Africa: the ‘covert action’ strategy
While China has received much attention for its diplomatic and economic efforts in Africa, Russia has been quietly seeking a foothold in the Central African Republic. Years of chaos and a violent civil war have set the stage for Russia’s entrance in the country, where it is now plying security expertise and pursuing investments in the mining sector. Russia’s discreet, low-stakes approach may help ensure its success.
China finds investment in Kyrgyzstan a risky necessity
The Central Asian rollout of China’s infrastructure construction program, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), has become a boon to Kyrgyzstan. There are big plans for the future, but also troubles on the horizon. Mounting anger over China’s predatory practices as a lender and investor, and concern for the abused Muslim Uighurs in China, have fed nationalistic, anti-China sentiment among the Kyrgyz population.