2019 Global Outlook: The Fertile Crescent
The single most important development in the Middle East has been the end of Syria’s civil war, which was unequivocally won by the Baath regime. Even the hammer blows of a determined religious opposition could not destroy the post-World War I system that created Syria, Iraq and Jordan as Arab states. But with the announced U.S. withdrawal from Syria and the victory of the Assad regime and its Russian and Iranian sponsors, the way could be cleared for an explosive confrontation with Israel.
Russian airpower on trial
Russia’s air force has come a long way from its inept performance during the 2008 war with Georgia. In terms of command and control, logistics and sortie rates during its expeditionary campaign in Syria, it has far surpassed expectations. But that still tells us very little about how it would stack up against a more sophisticated enemy, and especially against the U.S. Air Force.
War in the North? Israel, Lebanon, Syria and Iran
Israel is girding for another war in southern Lebanon. But this time Hezbollah can pound northern and central Israel with up to 1,500 missiles a day – 10 times as many as it launched in the entire 2006 Lebanon war. And the conflict could well spread to Syria and Gaza, and perhaps even to Iraq and the Mediterranean offshore gas fields. As Iran supplies Hezbollah with ever more advanced missile technologies, the window for a preemptive strike by the Israeli Defense Forces is closing.
Israel and Hezbollah: The war nobody wants may be about to happen
It may already be too late to avoid another armed conflict in the Middle East. Iran has systematically upgraded Hezbollah’s ability to strike at strategic and civilian targets deep inside Israel. Increasingly, the only viable option for Israel’s military to neutralize this threat is another invasion of southern Lebanon.
U.S. missile defense tries to keep ahead of North Korea and Iran
The U.S. strategic missile defense program tends to speed up under Republican presidents and slow down under Democrats. This trend seems to be holding as the Trump administration puts renewed emphasis on missile defense as a cornerstone of its military strategy. Amid threats from North Korea, look for Washington to prioritize defending the homeland against nuclear missiles.
In naval deterrence, numbers matter
Chinese naval construction has far outpaced that of the United States for many years. By some measures, the lethality of its surface combatants is a match for comparable Western vessels – or even better. With the U.S. Navy already stretched thin in the East Asia, reliance on its traditional allies and long-time technological edge is not enough. There must be more hulls in the water.
Kim Watch: Army men
The impeachment of South Korea's president has Kim Jong-un looking longingly across the border. For now, the North Korean leader has busied himself with staging mock commando assaults on a replica of the presidential palace in Seoul. But he would clearly like to do much more.
What Russia’s military is good for
Russia’s military potential is dwarfed by the West’s, but it is surprisingly well-prepared for the limited wars it is most likely to fight. Key new technologies have been developed to keep NATO at arm’s length, but the Kremlin’s greatest edge may be its mindset.
The militarization of Northern Europe
The Baltic Sea and northern Scandinavia is rapidly turning into the most likely area of armed conflict between NATO and Russia. Northern Europe is to today’s confrontation with Russia what Central Europe once was during the Cold War with the Soviet Union. And that might be the good news.
Next U.S. president must address aging nuclear arsenal
The United States’ nuclear weapons systems are old, and getting older. How – or even whether – the country will take steps to maintain and modernize this force is one of the key unanswered questions for U.S. defense policy going forward. The issue has attracted scant attention from the politicians running for president, but nuclear policy will be a topic that the n...