The Myth of Entangling Alliances

US President Harry Truman signing the North Atlantic Treaty on 24 August, 1949. Image: Abbie Rowe/Wikimedia

This article was originally published by War on the Rocks on 9 June 2015.

For the first 165 years of its history, the United States did not form any alliances besides the one it signed with France during the Revolutionary War. Instead, U.S. leaders followed George Washington’s advice to “steer clear of permanent alliance with any portion of the foreign world,” a recommendation subsequently enshrined in Thomas Jefferson’s inaugural pledge: “Peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations; entangling alliances with none.” » More

Is France Taking a Strategic Holiday?

A French army soldier plots a course on a map during the command post exercise portion of Exercise Steadfast Jazz. Image: US Army Europe/Flickr

This article was originally published by European Geostrategy on 31 May, 2015. Republished with permission.

The title of this article may seem like a staggeringly misplaced and ill-timed question. After all, is France not militarily engaged in Mali, the Central Africa Republic and Syria? Is Paris not involved in the type of crises that have a direct impact on European security, when so many of its fellow European states shy away from military action? Has France not jostled its way alongside London as the United States’ partner of choice on military affairs? Did France not recently agree to spend an extra €3.8 billion on defence over the next four years? » More

Military-wise, There Is No Europe

Image: geralt/Pixabay

This article was originally published by War on the Rocks on 3 June 2015.

For two decades a wide variety of plans, guidelines and roadmaps have been published and issued on European defense matters. The adoption of the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP), the creation of the European Union Military Committee and European Union Military Staff, the development of the European Defence Agency, the inception of the European Union Battlegroups, and the implementation of several military crisis management operations from Kosovo to Somalia and Iraq to Guinea-Bissau, are all examples of the process by which European states are trying to facilitate the creation of a new post-Cold War era military dimension to European politics. In other words, these above-mentioned projects have been attempts to form a European-wide approach to security and defense policy. » More

Death From Above

“Death from above” . Image: AK Rockefeller/Flickr

This book review was originally published by the Center for International Maritime Security (CIMSEC) on 28 May, 2015.

Andrew Cockburn. Kill Chain: The Rise of the High-Tech Assassins. Henry Holt Publishers. 307pp. $28.00.

It’s not often that a book review coincides with current events. Books, particularly nonfiction, are usually written and published months, if not years after an event has occurred. That’s because good nonfiction is written in retrospect: writers have spent some time absorbing their subject, researching and analyzing the facts; authors are hesitant to be rash in judgment or thought.

However, there are exceptions. Some pieces of nonfiction, particularly journalists’ works, are appropriate now — not later. Andrew Cockburn’s new book, Kill Chain: The Rise of the High-Tech Assassins, is one of them.  Cockburn’s book is timely.  In just the past few weeks there has been a flood of reporting from media outlets stating that a drone strike killed an American and an Italian hostage when targeting a group of Al-Qaeda members operating near the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. » More

Realignment in the Caucasus

Image: Travelpleb/Wikimedia

This article was originally published by the World Policy Institute on 22 April 2015.

An April 2 meeting between the defense ministers of Turkey, Georgia, and Azerbaijan might have easily passed as routine. Yet in a region like the Caucasus, fraught with deeply entrenched interstate rivalries, this summit could hardly be described as inconsequential. At the meeting, Azerbaijani Defense Minister Zakir Hasanov identified Armenia as a regional threat, remarking that it “is the only state in the region which lays territorial claims to our countries.” The same day, Russian fighter jets stationed in Armenia began three-day drills. Though these two events probably coincided by chance, they illustrate two distinct – potentially competing –  regional orders in the South Caucasus: a deepening Turkey-Georgia-Azerbaijan coordination and a historic Russian presence represented by the Kremlin’s close alliance with Armenia. » More

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