Archive for the ‘International Conflict, Terrorism & Security’ Category

18
Oct

In Washington’s ongoing debate about the cause of the continuing chaos in the Middle East, President George W. Bush stands condemned for the 2003 intervention that pushed Iraq into civil war, while President Obama stands condemned for the nonintervention that worsened Syria’s civil war. In Libya, meanwhile, Washington’s partial intervention also failed to bring peace, while too few Americans are even aware of their country’s role in the conflict afflicting Yemen.

Without trying to defend or absolve U.S. policy, then, it is worth stepping back to ask what shared historical experiences might have left these four countries — Iraq, Syria, Libya and Yemen — particularly at risk of violent collapse. The following maps help highlight how, at various points over the past century, historical circumstances conspired, in an often self-reinforcing way, to bolster the stability of some states in the region while undermining that of others.

1. Century-old states are more stable today

Countries whose political or geographic precedents stretch back over a century are more stable today. Turkey, Egypt, Iran, and, to some extent, the ruling dynasties of what are now Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman and the United Arab Emirates, all, in one form or another, trace their current political structures to the late 19th century, before European colonialism took root in the region. Consequently, they were more likely to have the resources to maintain some independence in the face of European imperialism, or at least negotiate a less disruptive form of colonial rule.

 

Read more…

26
Aug

However tempting it is to keep writing about Donald Trump, I’m going to move on to less bizarre topics. Last week I participated in a panel at the American Academy of Arts and Sciences on the implications of the Brexit vote (along with Leslie Vinjamuri of the University of London and Barry Posen and Francis Gavin of MIT). Their comments got me thinking— and not for the first time — about where the world is headed these days.

It’s easy to understand why people think the current world order is rapidly unraveling. Despite steady reductions in global poverty, the continued absence of great power war, and mind-boggling advances in science and technology, world politics doesn’t look nearly as promising as it did a couple of decades ago. It’s still possible to offer an upbeat view of the foreign policy agenda — as Joe Biden recently did — but the vice president is not exactly the most objective judge. He thinks the next president will be able to build on the Obama administration’s successes, but a more candid evaluation would conclude that the next president — whoever it might be — is going to face some serious challenges. Read more…

 

  • By Stephen M. Walt
  • August 21, 2016
  • Stephen M. Walt is the Robert and Renée Belfer professor of international relations at Harvard University.

 

23
Aug

The month of August always brings its share of seasonal distractions: last-minute vacations, the Olympic games in Rio, warm days that distract us from less calm parts of the world.

But those summer indulgences can sometimes divert our attention from serious problems. In this case, that means rising tensions in a part of the world that not only drives the global economy but is bringing some of the world’s most powerful nations closer towards outright conflict—a conflict that would make the Islamic State, Ukraine, and even the unending civil war in Syria seem small by comparison.

What am I talking about? The seemingly endless dance of danger between China and the United States over the South China Sea, a body of water that carries over $5.3 trillion in seaborne trade ($1.2 trillion of American goods, by the way).

And for those who have been watching this slowly brewing crisis, it appears the stage is being set for a crisis, one that could come later in the summer and early fall thanks to a combination of factors. Read more…

Harry J. Kazianis is a senior fellow for defense policy at the Center for the National Interest and senior editor at the National Interest Magazine. You can follow him on Twitter: @grecianformula.

Aug. 17th, www.foreignpolicy.org

15
Aug

In the next few months, a mixed force of Iraqi Arab and Kurdish security forces — including various Sunni and perhaps some Shiite militia elements — will enter Mosul, clear the city of Islamic State extremists and then work to bring governance, stability and reconstruction to one of Iraq’s most complex cities and its province.

There is no question that the Islamic State will be defeated in Mosul; the real question is what comes afterward. Can the post-Islamic State effort resolve the squabbling likely to arise over numerous issues and bring lasting stability to one of Iraq’s most diverse and challenging provinces? Failure to do so could lead to ISIS 3.0.

The prospect of the operation to clear Mosul brings to mind experiences from the spring of 2003, when the 101st Airborne Division, which I was privileged to command, entered a Mosul in considerable turmoil. Our first task, once a degree of order had been restored, was to determine how to establish governance. That entailed getting Iraqi partners to help run the city of nearly 2 million people and the rest of Nineveh Province — a very large area about which we knew very little.

Establishing a representative interim council to work with us in Nineveh proved to be no easy task — and its formation and subsequent developments hold insights for the coming endeavor in Mosul. Read more…

David Petraeus is a retired U.S. Army general who commanded coalition forces in Iraq from 2007 to 2008 and Afghanistan from 2010 to 2011 and served as CIA director from 2011 to 2012. He is a partner in a major global investment firm.

August 12th, thewashingtonpost.com

31
Jul

After the terror attacks in Paris last November – a carefully coordinated series of assaults carried out by multiple attackers, resulting in 130 deaths – there was intense pain and fear, but also a spirit of unity and resilience. By contrast, since the Bastille Day massacre in Nice – where an attacker, having received help from five men better described as criminals than as radical Islamists, barreled a truck into a crowd, killing 84 people, many of them children – the dominant feelings seem to be impotence and anger.

The French are now frustrated and anxious. They are used to some semblance of security in their cities, which have long been bastions of knowledge and art, not sites of relentless terror. They want to feel safe again – whatever it takes. These feelings are entirely understandable, but they don’t necessarily contribute to effective decision-making.

The “whatever it takes” is the problem. If people feel that their leaders are failing to protect them, they may turn to more radical alternatives; already, populist and even overtly racist political parties are gaining traction in France and elsewhere. Urged on by such forces, people may even decide to take the law into their own hands. Read more…

July 25th; Dominique Moisi, a professor at L’Institut d’études politiques de Paris (Sciences Po), is Senior Adviser at the French Institute for International Affairs (IFRI) and a visiting professor at King’s College London. He is the author of La Géopolitique des Séries ou le triomphe de la peur.

https://www.project-syndicate.org

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