The Future of the Two Koreas

The Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea. Image: flickr/stephan

What does the future hold for the divided Korean peninsula? How realistic is the prospect of reunification between the prosperous and democratic South and the persistently isolated North? Indeed, how might the end of this ‘frozen’ conflict impact regional and international security? To discuss these and related issues, the Center for Security Studies (CSS) recently hosted an Evening Talk with Dr. Eun-Jeung Lee, who is a Professor of Korean Studies at Freie Universität Berlin, and Nina Belz, who writes on international affairs for the Neue Zürcher Zeitung (NZZ). While Lee focused on the historical and geopolitical aspects of the conflict between the two Koreas, Belz looked at what their neighbors think about the possibility of Korean reunification. » More

The US Coast Guard’s Western Hemisphere Strategy

US Coast Guard machine gun boat near Puerto Rico. Image: Shannon Okey/Flickr

This article was originally published by E-International Relations on 5 March, 2015.

On September 2014, the United States Coast Guard (USCG) published its Western Hemisphere Strategy (WHS), a document explaining the vision, objectives, priorities, and initiatives that the USCG plans to take in the immediate future, in order to protect the US and support regional partners in the Western Hemisphere, notably in the Greater Caribbean. The WHS is an important document that requires in-depth research, since the USCG is greatly involved in the day-to-day counter-narcotic operations taking place in the Greater Caribbean. In this analysis, we aim to discuss the Western Hemisphere Strategy, primarily focusing on the USCG’s current and future security-related operations.  » More

Bad Theatre

French soldier guarding the Eiffel Tower. Image: DerekKey/Flickr

This article was originally published by European Geostrategy on 26 February, 2015. Republished with permission.

Pairs of Belgian soldiers have been standing guard at the entrance of NATO headquarters and other sensitive locations in Brussels since the Belgian security services successfully raided a terrorist cell in the Belgian city of Verviers on 15 January, just days after the attack on the offices of Charlie Hebdo in Paris. One rather hopes that NATO especially was already somewhat protected before; two foot soldiers will hardly make much difference in any case.

Indeed, why deploy the army in the streets of Brussels at all? What one seems to forget is that no terrorist attack took place. Unlike in May of last year, when a returned French ‘foreign fighter’ murdered four people in the Jewish Museum in Brussels, this time an attack was prevented, thanks to excellent police and intelligence work – and yet now the army was deployed whereas last year it was not. That does not mean that there is no more remaining threat, quite the contrary, but it does more than nuance the causal link between troops in the street and security at home. Khaki in the streets is mostly bad theatre, a feeble attempt to signal resolve in the face of a threat that can never be entirely prevented (although in this particular instance it actually was). » More

Is Old-Fashioned Nationalism Driving a Militarized Gold Rush in East Asian Seas?

Republic of Korea Army 1st Lt. Choi Min Kyu points across the border into North Korea. Image: Seaman Christopher Church/Wikimedia

This article was originally published by IPI Global Observatory on 25 February, 2015.

The security climate of East Asia is changing. Last month, the Japanese Cabinet under Prime Minster Shinzo Abe approved a record defense budget of 4.98 trillion yen (42 billion USD) for fiscal year 2015. This is two percent more than last year and the third consecutive increase after more than a decade of stagnation. As of 2013, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) ranked Japan’s military spending as the world’s eighth largest.

With the country still in the economic doldrums, experiencing ballooning public debt and facing sharpening controversy over the government’s attempts at altering the war-renouncing constitution, Abe has justified the increased spending with the need to counter Chinese maritime expansion in the East and South China Seas. His government is also adamant Japan needs a stronger and more active military to contribute to the furthering of international security through “proactive pacifism.” » More

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

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