Ten Reasons Why China Will Have Trouble Fighting a Modern War

PLA soldiers in training. Image: Myles Cullen/Wikimedia

This article was originally published by War on the Rocks on 18 February, 2015.

The introduction of new weapons and platforms into the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has captured the attention of much of the world for well over a decade. However, new equipment is only one element of the PLA’s long-term, multi-dimensional modernization process. There is much to be done and no one understands this better than the Chinese themselves. Based on what PLA commanders and staff officers write in their internal newspapers and journals, the force faces a multitude of challenges in order to close the perceived gaps between its capabilities and those of advanced militaries. » More

NORAD’s Evolving Role in North American Homeland Defense

NORAD Command Center at Cheyenne Mountain, Colorado. Image: U.S Air Force/Wikimedia

This article was originally published by E-International Relations on 13 February, 2015.

The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) has long been a function of the North American security environment.  Initially established during the Cold War, NORAD was intended to fulfill a homeland defense role by looking outwardly to identify and interdict threats approaching Canada and the United States. In the post-9/11 period, NORAD’s focus has evolved and the institution has shifted from looking outwardly to include participation in homeland security operations taking place within the United States and Canada.  NORAD’s participation in North American homeland security operations has resulted in the redefinition of the institution’s role in defense and security operations.  In recent years, NORAD has provided airborne security at major sporting events, government conventions, and other large public gatherings.  This homeland security support role has been buttressed by the institution’s appropriation of popular cultural icons, such as Santa Claus and Superman.  These examples are symbolic of a broader shift away from strategic defense, towards a public relations’ role.  In the post-9/11 period, NORAD’s primary function has been to affirm U.S. dominance over North American skies, and to convey to the public audience that the potential for future terrorist attacks remains a threat to domestic security. » More

Chad: Taking the Lead in the War on Boko Haram

The President of Chad, Idriss Déby. Image: Rama/Wikimedia

This article was originally published by Strife on 6 February 2015.

The ground offensive in Gamboru, in which over 200 Boko Haram fighters were reportedly killed, followed several days of air raids against the militants and is the latest in a string of successful strikes by Chad against the Islamist group. As Boko Haram has stepped up its attacks in recent weeks, so Chad has stepped up its military presence in neighbouring countries: Chadian troops now operate in Niger, Cameroon and Nigeria. On 29 January, Chadian forces drove the Islamists out of the Nigerian town of Malum Fatori after attacking their positions from across the border in Niger. In mid-January, Chad deployed its military to Cameroon to assist its neighbour in fending off Boko Haram’s incursion into its territory and recapture Baga, the Nigerian border town ravaged in a massacre earlier that month. » More

Mediation Perspectives: Dealing with Organized Crime

Image: flickr/Diogenes

For a variety of reasons, many of today’s armed conflicts exist at the intersection between politics and economics.  As part of this phenomenon, organized criminal activity in armed conflict is increasing rapidly and poses many challenges for policymakers. In this context, an important question is whether there is space for mediation in resolving conflicts in which organized criminal activity plays a significant role. » More

Between Cohesion and Division: Reconciling the Faultines of Europe’s Past

European Union Colours by Tristam Sparks / Flickr.

This article was originally published by Democratic Audit UK on 14 January 2015.

For all our cherished empiricism, historians have a decidedly metaphysical task: to reject linear readings of the past, to warn against simplistic consequentiality, and yet – all the while – to impress a narrative onto history. Our discipline thrives on complexity and yet dreams of simplicity, employing ‘periodisation’, individualisation and causality as readily as it dismisses them. Should we beware, then, of the historian tempted by topical commentary? Maybe. Yet how can we be blamed, when History is exploited so effectively in politics, employed so callously in nation-building (and un-building), wheeled out so unscrupulously to justify just about everything? » More

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