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Showing posts from January 15, 2013

Avoiding the Wars That Never End

By George Friedman
Founder and Chief Executive Officer

Last week, U.S. President Barack Obama announced that the United States would transfer the primary responsibility for combat operations in Afghanistan to the Afghan military in the coming months, a major step toward the withdrawal of U.S. forces. Also last week, France began an intervention in Mali designed to block jihadists from taking control of the country and creating a base of operations in France's former African colonies.

The two events are linked in a way that transcends the issue of Islamist insurgency and points to a larger geopolitical shift. The United States is not just drawing down its combat commitments; it is moving away from the view that it has the primary responsibility for trying to manage the world on behalf of itself, the Europeans and its other allies. Instead, that burden is shifting to those who have immediate interests involved.
Insecurity in 9/11's Wake

It is interesting to recall how the United Stat…

U.S.-China Dialogue on Internal Developments in North Korea

The United States and China share an interest in a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula. To that end, they continue to cooperate closely; the Korean nuclear issue is a central focus of Washington’s diplomatic agenda with Beijing. Understanding China’s policy toward North Korea and the complexities of the Sino-DPRK relationship are essential to making progress. Since 2005, CSIS has sought to facilitate dialogue between American and Chinese experts about developments on the Korean Peninsula.

In July 2005 and December 2006, with the support of the United States Institute of Peace (USIP), CSIS hosted a delegation of Chinese experts on Northeast Asia and convened a day-long conference to discuss North Korea's domestic economic and political situation and external policies. A summary of the 2005 conference was published as a USIP Briefing in late 2005. A summary of the 2006 conference was published as a USIP Briefing in January 2007. It is available here.

In June 2006 and the spring of 2007, C…

Advancing the understanding of security issues in the Asia Pacific such as maritime security and security on the Korean Peninsula

Maritime Security

In recent years, tensions have flared between Asian nations that hold competing claims to territory in the South China Sea and East China Sea. On several occasions, nations have engaged in threats of military force and demonstrations of naval prowess; these rows threaten regional maritime security, raise concerns about the potential for conflict in the Asia-Pacific, and highlight the need for level-headed negotiation. China is an important player in these territorial disputes, and contests claims to the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea and numerous areas of the South China Sea. While the U.S. refuses to take a stance on sovereignty disputes, it also plays a significant role in the region by promoting multilateral negotiations, the freedom of navigation, and regional peace.

The CSIS Freeman Chair examines developments in the Asia-Pacific territorial disputes and their impact on maritime security issues, particularly in the following research areas:
The impact…

U.S.-Iranian Competition in the Levant: Parts I & II

By Aram Nerguizian
Contributor: Anthony Cordesman and Nori Kasting

The US and Iran are competing in a steadily more unsettled and uncertain Levant. Amid unprecedented popular unrest starting in 2011, dynamics in the region have become all the more complex thanks to changes in leadership, political contestation, the fragmentation of decaying state and security structures and socio-economic challenges driven by long-term popular discontent. Key arenas of competition – including the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Syria, Lebanon Egypt and Jordan – have been affected by this trend with the potential for knock-on effects on how the US and Iran compete in the Levant.

The Burke Chair at CSIS is preparing a detailed analysis of the history and character of this competition US-Iranian competition in the Levant. This project has led to the production of an updated third edition of the report tracking US and Iranian competition in the Levant.

This report is available in two parts:

Part I, “Competing S…

The Mindless Debate over Future U.S. Military Manpower in Afghanistan

By Anthony H. Cordesman

The growing media and think tank debate over the future levels of U.S. military manpower for Afghanistan is as dangerous as it is mindless. The United States now plans to withdraw virtually all of its military and civil manpower from Afghanistan by the end of 2014. It is planning massive cuts in military and civil aid spending but has not made any details public.

At the best of times, military manpower totals are a largely meaningless metric. The issue is never whether there are 6,000 men and women or 30,000. The issue is what they are deployed to do, what roles and missions they perform, what combat role they will play if any, how well funded and equipped they are, and how they support an overall strategy, plan, and effort to achieve a real strategic result. In an insurgency, and in an effort to conduct armed nation building in a failed state, military manpower is an even less meaningful metric than usual. The issue is the future size of the civil-military effo…