With the increased likelihood that Assad will fall, even were he to hang on until a Gaddafi-style bitter end, pressure is mounting on the U.S., Europe, and Turkey inter alia to come up with a game plan for the post-endgame. The good news is progress is rapidly being made: stepped up aid from the U.S., aid from Europe, intelligence sharing among Turkey-Jordan-US-Europe, and direct training of Syrian opposition forces.
All of this may be enough to tip the balance against the Assad regime, leading to its end sooner rather than later. But it is not nearly enough to handle the widely expected chaos once the endgame is reached. What about playing the Russia card? The greatest fear is that extremist al-Qaeda affiliated groups will get their hands on a variety of weapons caches in the capital and elsewhere, let alone a full-blown civil war that would seriously destabilize the entire region. Special forces from the aforementioned countries will be needed, but they will likely be operating in an incredibly volatile if not thoroughly unstable environment.
Much ado. Investors keep getting burned in betting on the exit of members of the Eurozone, let alone the breakup of the currency/monetary union of the EU. And econ/business experts keep getting their predictions wrong. The simple reason: the EU, from its econ/financial area to the vast array of its other policy areas, at heart is a political project. Events continue to show that despite the painful strains of major economic duress, this commitment remains intact.
Despite the messy manner in which its member state governments deal with crises--largely explained by institutional reasons, less so by incompetence--the EU and the euro are around for good. The EU certainly has some major restructuring to do in terms of necessary banking and fiscal unions, and it rarely looks good in a crisis. But it will carry on muddling through its challenges and in a wider historical perspective continue to provide its citizens with a considerable range of benefits. Just as it has for decades, particularly since the advent of its single internal market nearly 30 years ago.
Nonetheless, the EU made major mistakes in the bailout of Cyrus and nearly botched the entire thing. Even worse, the whole affair demonstrates a distinct inability to act strategically when the stakes are high. Repercussions from this episode that haven't been captured in the headlines will continue to reverberate for years. Surprise, it was politics that accounted for bringing back the specter of crisis, not economics.
Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel de facto announced on Friday that the US will scrap deployment of ground-based ballistic-missile interceptors in Poland and Romania.
At a Pentagon press conference today, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel announced that the planned deployment of the high-speed SM-3 Block IIB interceptor to Poland (and the corresponding 4th phase of European Phased Adaptive Approach) has been cancelled. The transcript of Hagel’s prepared statement only states that the Block IIB programmed was being restructured, but the discussion in the following press conference makes it clear that the deployment plan has been cancelled:
In response to a question at the press conference, James Miller, the Undersecretary of Defense of Policy said (my transcription from C-SPAN video):
“The prior plan had four phases. The third phase involved the deployment of interceptors in Poland. And we will continue phases one through three. In the fourth phase in the previous plan we would have added some additional — an additional type of interceptors –the so called SM-3 IIB would have been added to the mix in Poland. We no longer intend to add them to the mix but will have the same number of deployed interceptors in Poland that will provide coverage for all of NATO Europe.”
In the prior plan, Block IIA interceptors would have been deployed in Poland as part of Phase III of the EPAA and then in Phase IV some or all of these would have been replaced by Block IIB interceptors. Whether the Block IIB development program is completely dead is unclear. This is a very significant development given that the Block IIB was the single greatest source of Russian objections to U.S. missile defense activities. Although there are certainly also good technical and economic reasons for cancelling the Block IIB, it will thus inevitably be portrayed as to be a major concession to Russia. Whether it will be actually be enough to satisfy the Russians remains to be seen, as many Russian statements have also objected to the unlimited deployment of the high-speed (although not as fast) Block IIA interceptor.
As was clearly the goal of the press conference, most media attention focused on the comparatively minor announcement that the number of deployed GBI interceptors in the U.S Ground-Based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system covering the United States would be increased to 44 from the current 30. This involves deploying 14 additional GBI interceptors into 14 already existing silos (although in some cases, these silos need extensive refurbishing – see my post of March 28, 2012 for details) by the end of 2017. The planned number of interceptors was already at 44 when Obama took office, but his administration quickly cut this back to 30, citing a lack of a threat. Since then the possibility of restoring the number of interceptors to 44 has frequently been portrayed by the Administration as a possible hedge against future changes in the threat.
Here are part one and part two of this post. I spoke last Tuesday at a USC-CSIS conference on Korean unification. I learned a lot, and it was very good. If you’re interested in unification, start here with the primary report on which the conference was based. The principal investigators said a final wrap-up report will come at some point, and I’ll put up that link when it arrives.
My comments below are on the papers presented on Tuesday about neighboring states’ reactions to Korean unification. These papers aren’t publicly posted yet, so all the comments might not make sense. But in the interest of completism, I’m putting this up to round out my thinking on this excellent unification project. (For my earlier thoughts on dealing with NK, try this; for my travelogue of my trip to the DPRK, try this.)
My big beef with these sorts of conferences on NK – I go to a lot - is that inevitably outsiders, especially Chinese scholars, start laying down all sorts of guidelines, restrictions, parameters, etc. for unification, as if it’s our right to muck around in this thing. I can understand the national interest in doing so. But we shouldn’t have the temerity to try to legitimate our muddying of the waters in what is really an internal family affair. It would also help a lot if the Chinese would stop talking (not so much at this conference, but definitely at others I’ve gone to) about how Korea needs to respect its wishes, because China is big and important now, post-2008 Olympics. I heard one guy once even say that China is now the ‘veto-player’ on unification. That’s true of course in realist sense, but that sorta cockiness infuriates Koreans who’ve really soured on China in the last decade. I see the same kind of emergent Chinese bullying on unification that Southeast Asian littoral states see on the South China Sea. So I try to call that out whenever it seems necessary.
Anyway, here on my thoughts on Japan, Russia, and China’s role in this thing.
tl;dr notice: 1200 words.
LOL Feith cites @slaughteram and Sam Power's jobs as evidence that Obama wanted to limit American use of military force
It turns out that the absurdity runs far deeper in Feith's piece. I know that Obama's fecklessness in the face of the Russian threat is an article of faith among neo-conservatives. As I've mentioned on numerous occasions, I think there's a case for the administration overestimating the willingness of Moscow to accomodate US policy priorities. But Feith's framing of the Reset owes more to the fevered imagination of right-wing bloggers than to anything resembling facts.
Associated PressAlthough he doesn't get the European Phased Adapted Approach (EPAA) quite right, Mark Adomanis at Forbes makes the right point about the BMD portion of
The seventh episode of the Duck of Minerva Podcast just went live. In it, I interview Alex Cooley about his books on hierarchy, basing, incomplete
Here is a word cloud of the speech's foreign-policy content:In this case, the cloud adds virtually nothing to our understanding, as the entire section is
Andrew Sullivan's blog has been running a series of reader reactions on the subject of the Olympics and nationalism. A recent entry:Gabby Douglas' gold medal
Per Dan's post below, I don't understand why Russia is our number-one enemy, either today or ten years from now. Neither, it seems, do Americans,
You may have heard that Romney referred to Russia as America's "number-one geopolitical foe" and plans to double down on this rhetoric during his big
The basic theory behind the Obama Administration's "Reset" policy was that US-Russian relations could be disaggregated: that it is possible for two countries to disagree
Dan Drezner asks "Dear realists: please explain Russia":I raise all of this because a few days ago Charles Clover in the Financial Times wrote an interesting story
Alex Cooley -- whose book on power-political competition in Central Asia is due out soon -- had an interesting op-ed in Friday's New York Times.
Moscow is once again expressing displeasure with US and NATO missile defense plans.Russia says it is prepared to use "destructive force pre-emptively" if the US
Hmm.Authorities in Denmark have charged a university professor with assisting “foreign intelligence operatives”, believed to be Russian. Professor Timo Kivimäki, a conflict resolution expert, who
My original post suggesting that Putin’s bogus reelection might be cause to eject Russia from the BRICS got a lot of traffic and comment (both
With Putin’s ‘return’ to the presidency, Russia is now officially a joke as a serious great power state. True, Putin has been ridiculous for awhile,
Haven't had time to form serious thoughts on the matter, so outsourced to the Power Vertical.
RFE/RL carries an interview with Susan Layton on her book, Russian Literature and the Empire. A sample:Russian national consciousness began developing in the 18th century,