WPR Articles 09 Jun 2012 - 15 Jun 2012
This weekend, Spain followed Greece, Portugal and Ireland in seeking shelter under the EU's rescue umbrella in order to save its banks. The confession of failure might take a harder toll on the Spanish nation than the formal monetary rescue procedure itself: The fact that Spain now becomes the first major EU economy to experience this humiliation makes it a significant psychological blow to national pride.
Following the death of four French soldiers in Afghanistan on Satruday, French President François Hollande reaffirmed his decision to withdraw French combat forces from the country by the end of 2012. Militarily, the withdrawal of French troops will have little impact on the war effort. But for a number of reasons, it represents an unforced error on the part of the recently elected French president.
It is easy to be impressed with U.S. Army Special Forces' skills and training. Relative to general purpose forces or even those special operations forces that specialize in direct action, Green Berets are as well trained and educated with respect to local norms and traditions as we can expect soldiers to be. The relative advantages enjoyed by special operations forces, however, should not obscure their limits.
For the revolutionaries who launched the Egyptian uprising, and for voters anxious about their country's future, the final hours leading up to this weekend's runoff presidential election in Egypt have become a contest of fears. The euphoria of revolution, that feeling that anything was possible, has been replaced by a searing pressure: the need to decide which is the worse of two bad options.
Speaking at the Naval War College’s Current Strategy Forum, Ian Bremmer argued that we are living through a period of “creative destruction” of the post-World War II global architecture. The problem, however, is that no single state currently possess the necessary preponderance of resources to be able to construct a new global system, as the U.S. was able to do in the aftermath of World War II.
With Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on a tour of the South Caucasus last week, hopes that she could use the visit to push for regional peacemaking were quickly overcome by events on the ground. Though Clinton’s meetings in Georgia were mostly low key, the brittle cease-fire between Azerbaijan and Armenia was tested by a series of clashes, fueling fears that another Caucasus war was in the offing.
A key element of Russian President Vladimir Putin's strategy to strengthen Moscow's influence in Central Asia is to enhance the Collective Security Treaty Organization's role in responding to diverse security threats facing the region. And because of the Arab Spring and NATO's declining presence in Afghanistan, Putin’s plan currently enjoys favorable conditions.
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff has enjoyed a smooth ride since her inauguration in January 2011. Despite a series of corruption scandals that led to the resignation of seven of her cabinet members, she has suffered no real political damage after 18 months in office. But a flagging economy and a related crisis roiling small and medium-sized Brazilian banks could pose the greatest threat yet to her leadership.
Since April, when two Tuareg rebel groups seized control of northern Mali, the situation in the sparsely populated region has steadily worsened. The prospects for a humanitarian crisis and the threat of a safe haven for Islamists have now led neighboring states to call for a military intervention. But while their alarm is understandable, it is unclear how exactly a military approach would improve the situation.
China has taken a strong stand in opposing efforts to force the Syrian government to end its repression of anti-regime protesters. But China, unlike Russia, with which it has joined to block measures seeking to remove Syrian President Bashar al-Assad from office, is motivated primarily by principles rather than interests in Syria. And China, unlike Russia, seems more open to changing its position.