Archive for the ‘Commentary’ Category

The Realists in Tehran

Sergey Markedonov. The National Interest, 4 May 2012.
http://defensealt.org/J9a1FN

Excerpt:

The Iranian problem stands out on the international agenda. But it is much broader and more diverse than Iran’s desire to acquire a nuclear bomb. Iran is accused of being a source of both regional instability and far-reaching geopolitical ambitions. Although today’s Iran demonstrates a desire to play in the international geopolitical game, it remains primarily a regional power with a significant presence in the Middle East, Central Asia and the South Caucasus.

What if realists were in charge of U.S. foreign policy?

Stephen M. Walt. Foreign Policy, 30 April 2012.
http://defensealt.org/JXUjc5

Excerpt:

The liberal/neoconservative alliance is responsible for most of America’s major military interventions of the past two decades, as well as other key initiatives like NATO expansion. By contrast, realists have been largely absent from the halls of power or the commanding heights of punditry. That situation got me wondering: What would U.S. foreign policy have been like had realists been running the show for the past two decades?

Editor’s Comment:
Unfortunately we’d only be a little better off. What has been missing is any effort to construct a new international politics following the Cold War. Realism reflects the war system within international politics and will not serve to transcend it.

One U.S-Afghan Security Pact, Two Very Different Missions

Spencer Ackerman. Danger Room, 23 April 2012.
http://defensealt.org/JCKNPc

Excerpt:

To be blunt: Afghanistan is valuable to the United States because it’s the most logical place from which to conduct a war in Pakistan that’s primarily fought by armed drones and occasionally special operations forces. It’s not really valuable in and of itself. The U.S. interests in Afghanistan, as defined by the Obama administration, are to keep Afghanistan from internal collapse so al-Qaida doesn’t return.

On the hook in Afghanistan for at least another decade

Philip Ewing. DoD Buzz, 23 April 2012.
http://defensealt.org/Ic1h0p

Excerpt:

Washington had no good choices on Afghanistan. The White House probably hopes its agreement will give enough distance that most American troops can come home and force the Afghans to step up, as planned, but also keep Afghanistan close enough that it doesn’t again offer a vacuum to be filled by terrorists. So after more than 10 years, all that’s certain is that the next 10 years in Afghanistan will be critical.

Time to get U.S. nukes out of Europe

Stephen M. Walt. Foreign Policy, 18 April 2012.
http://defensealt.org/Ifat2Q

Excerpt:

There’s an overwhelming case for removing these archaic and unnecessary weapons from the European continent. Ideally, we would do this as part of a bilateral deal with Russia, but we ought to do it even if Russia isn’t interested.

Editor’s Comment:

Couldn’t agree more!

The Politics of Fleet Constitution

Galrahn. Information Dissemination, 27 March 2012.
http://defensealt.org/GY5CjA

Excerpt:

The Navy has put 7 cruisers up for early retirement. Keep in mind that all 7 cruisers put up for early retirement in FY13 and FY14 are capable of being modernized for ballistic missile defense…It is fairly obvious to this observer that the Navy put these cruisers on the chopping block precisely because they expected Congress to swoop in and save the 6 cruisers the Navy wants to save, and allow the Navy to dump the amphibious ships and no one will care. Cruisers are shiny toys that represent power projection, and these specific cruisers have a significant future ahead of them if the money was to be found and made available for the US Navy to keep them.

The Future of Irregular Warfare

Seth G. Jones. RAND, 27 March 2012.
http://defensealt.org/HzvPUo

Excerpt:

By early 2012, there were approximately 432,000 counterinsurgency forces in Afghanistan – approximately 90,000 U.S. soldiers, 30,000 NATO soldiers, 300,000 Afghan National Security Forces, and 12,000 Afghan Local Police. In addition, the United States spent over $100 billion per year and deployed a range of sophisticated platforms and systems. The Taliban, on the other hand, deployed between 20,000 and 40,000 forces (a ratio of nearly 11 to 1 in favor of counterinsurgents) and had revenues of $100-$200 million per year (a ratio of 500 to 1 in favor of counterinsurgents).

Throwing Money at the Pentagon: A Lesson in Republican Math

William Hartung. Foreign Policy in Focus, 26 March 2012.
http://defensealt.org/HsgyYJ

Excerpt:

Romney’s proposal implies that the Pentagon is essentially an entitlement program that should receive a set share of our total economic resources regardless of what’s happening here at home or elsewhere on the planet. In Romney World, the Pentagon’s only role would be to engorge itself. If the GDP were to drop, it’s unlikely that, as president, he would reduce Pentagon spending accordingly.