Prior focus: Our Perspectives

The Roles of Navies in the Yemeni Conflict

The Saudi Naval Jack. Image: Wikimedia

This article was originally published by the Center for International Maritime Security (CIMSEC) on 31 March 2015.

Although the Saudi-led Operation RESOLUTE STORM (alternately translated as DECISIVE STORM) began with air strikes into Yemen on March 26 and continue as of this writing, the heightened level of regional activity also includes maritime operations. These national and multi-national operations highlight the importance of naval platforms and presence. Yemen is strategically located with the heavily-trafficked Red Sea to its west and the Gulf of Aden along its southern coast. Some twenty thousand ships transit the Gulf of Aden annually. Yemen’s ports have been largely closed to commercial traffic. » More

Prior focus: Academic Perspectives

Russia’s Info-War: the Home Front

Grafitti of Vladimir Putin in Moscow. Image: Esther Dyson/Flickr

This article was originally published as Issue Alert No. 18 by the European Union Institute for Security Studies

The use and misuse of information is as important to today’s Kremlin as it was to the Soviet Politburo. But if the ultimate goal is the same – to control the people from above – the techniques used to achieve it are strikingly different. Whereas
Soviet leaders imposed strict censorship in an attempt to isolate the people from the ‘heresies’ of the West, Putin’s government bombards them with fantastical stories designed to paralyse their critical faculties. And if Soviet propaganda was
meant to contribute to the construction of a new society, modern Russian propaganda is wholly destructive. Rather than try, in vain, to persuade the people of the virtues of its rule, today’s Kremlin disseminates lies and half-truths designed less to convince than to disorientate. In so doing, the regime cuts away the ground from beneath the people’s feet, propelling them into a world where, in Peter Pomerantsev’s words, ‘nothing is true and everything is possible’.

On the home front of the information war, President Putin has scored a decisive victory. He has succeeded in persuading his people that the Kiev authorities are fascists and the Americans aggressors, while he himself is all that stands between
Russia and total chaos. » More

Prior focus: Partner Insights

Ethics on Film: Discussion of “Timbuktu”

Jihadists of the group “Ansar Dine” near Timbuktu, Mali. Image: Magharebia/Wikimedia

This article was originally published by the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs on 25 February, 2015.

2014, 97 minutes. Nominated for Oscar for best Foreign Language Film.

For an American audience used to war movies with explosions, good guys and bad guys, and finite conclusions, the Oscar-nominated, Mauritanian film Timbuktu is a departure. The violence is never gratuitous, most of the jihadists seem like normal (albeit dangerously misguided) people, and, at the end, the fates of the eponymous city and several main characters are left hazy. The people who would most likely choose to see Timbuktu are already numbed by the constant stream of horrific news out of Syria, Nigeria, Pakistan, etc., so this low-key approach is the perfect strategy. We know about the executions, suicide bombings, and coalition airstrikes. But what we don’t realize is, perhaps, the main takeaway from the film: This type of militant extremism, more than anything else, is soul-crushingly boring for the occupied populations. » More

Prior focus: Our Perspectives

Is Russia Really a Threat to NATO?

A Russian officer guarding the Kaliningrad border. Image: Igor Zarembo/Flickr

Russia’s ongoing military modernization program continues to alarm NATO’s eastern flank. Over the next five years, Moscow aims to have revitalized between 70 – 100 percent of the country’s armed forces. To assist, the Russian military budget was increased by 33% this year, to approximately 3.3 trillion Rubles ($81 billion), or 4.2 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), with an estimated $700 billion to be spent between now and 2020.

Yet, can Moscow really afford its current defense spending spree? And why has Russian President Vladimir Putin decided that the time to revitalize the country’s armed forces is now? Part of the answer to these questions lies in a concurrent development in Russian defense policy – the recent adoption of the country’s new military doctrine. » More

Prior focus: Academic Perspectives

The U.S. Energy Pivot: A New Era for Energy Security in Asia?

A fracking site near Los Angeles.Image:Erik Gustafson/Flickr

This article was originally published by New Security Beatthe blog of the Environmental Change and Security Program (ECSP) at the Wilson Center, on 26 March, 2015.

The past decade has brought ground-shaking changes to global energy markets. The unconventional fuel boom has unexpectedly reduced U.S. dependence on oil imports, while in the Asia-Pacific region, energy-constrained nations are increasingly reliant on foreign sources to meet their soaring demand. With the U.S. slated to export liquid natural gas (LNG) to Asia as early as 2017, a new energy era has come.

The shifting landscape is forcing countries such as Japan, South Korea, and China to rethink regional cooperation on energy issues such as strategic oil stocks, and technological and institutional coordination, said Mikkal E. Herberg, senior lecturer at the University of California, San Diego, and research director of the Energy Security Program at the National Bureau of Asian Research, at a Capitol Hill event on February 24. » More

Page 2 of 321