WPR Articles 02 Jun 2012 - 08 Jun 2012
On June 17, 1953, after a rise in bread prices, demonstrations by striking workers in the streets of East Berlin were crushed by Soviet tanks. This year, June 17 may turn out to be another important day for Germany as well as for the euro and Europe. On that day, parliamentary elections will be held in Greece and France, and the outcome may be more important for Germany than many Germans realize.
During the period from 2003 to the present, much of the work of the CIA and military intelligence has been Predator-centric and paramilitary-focused. But while these “spy commandos” have enjoyed much success in the Afghanistan-Pakistan theater, the question has now arisen: Is this an appropriate role for U.S. intelligence? And what about the intelligence community’s world-wide responsibilities? Can the CIA do Afghanistan-Pakistan -- and the rest of the world as well?
Pakistan-India (TAPI) pipeline project is seen by the United States as a way to isolate Iran from regional integration efforts and showcase the potential of its New Silk Road Initiative. But New Delhi sees TAPI more as a test-bed for energy projects involving Pakistan, as well as a way to contract cheaper gas supplies from Central Asia before they end up being locked in by China.
With the U.S. and its NATO allies looking ahead to 2014 as the date when they can declare the war in Afghanistan over, in the country’s troubled southeast, there is little evidence that President Barack Obama’s surge of troops has yielded significant results. In visits to two border provinces, Paktia and Khost, I found that, if anything, things had gotten worse since my last trip there a year ago.
The U.S. has no clear and compelling evidence that Iran is developing nuclear weapons. It has been far more successful, however, in documenting Iran’s evasiveness and history of nondisclosure in terms of its nuclear program. This is why at upcoming talks, the West should focus not on Iran’s nuclear power infrastructure, but rather on the Iranians' refusal to make their nuclear program transparent.
The Obama administration is currently trying to negotiate an International Space Code of Conduct to protect the space environment. To gain support for the effort, the administration will have to overcome objections from some members of Congress, who often cite the supposedly aggressive nature of Chinese space activities as the reason why the U.S. should not agree to international accords regarding space.
Since the fall of the Soviet Union, the hostilities that historically divided the Cold War’s political and military opponents have cooled, but a heightened intensity in espionage has become evident as well. New antagonists have surfaced as old enemies seemingly became allies. Predictably, the playing field of global espionage has become more sophisticated as well. In 21st century global espionage, the stakes have changed but the value remains high.
Today, changes in the ways that economic, scientific and other sensitive information is created, used and stored mean that nearly all business records, research results and other sensitive economic data are digitized and accessible on networks worldwide. As a result, economic espionage, which threatens the economic security of any nation, has become easier for adversaries and even more dangerous for targets.
With budgetary constraints looming and global priorities shifting, one of the new approaches being developed by the Defense Department is the Regionally Aligned Brigade concept, whose pilot rotation will be conducted by Africom. More than simply “sending troops to Africa,” the concept recognizes the need to develop a more efficient force management system and explore a lighter concept of operations.
U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta made news this weekend at the Shangri-La Dialogue when he announced that the U.S. Navy would move the bulk of its fleet to the Pacific in coming years as part of the Obama administration’s military rebalancing program. But the declaration should have come as no surprise, as the Pentagon has been increasing the share of its assets in the Pacific for several years already.
Congress recently denied a request by the U.S. Special Operations Command for new authorities to train security forces from Africa to the Middle East. The request itself, though, reveals the ambitions harbored by the command. Standing up to SOCOM is currently politically difficult, but Congress -- and the White House -- needs to continue to resist an expanded role for U.S. special operations forces.
One danger of a possible war with Iran over its nuclear program is that it could push oil prices higher and send the global economy into a tailspin. But a number of developments have recently converged to erode the effectiveness of Iran’s oil weapon. Iran’s oil power has been dulled in part through tactical moves by the U.S., but the most significant change came not by design, but by misfortune.
Following the restoration of U.S. diplomatic relations with Myanmar and the relaxation of EU economic sanctions earlier this year, international investors have lined up to discuss opportunities for future investment in the resource-rich country, which boasts the world’s 10th-largest natural gas reserves. However, substantial hurdles must be overcome if Myanmar is to become the next Asian tiger economy.