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Arctic China (2) – The Chinese Shaping of the North

Over the last few years China has been multiplying commercial and political relationships with Arctic countries. Reciprocally, these countries have been deepening their Chinese bonds. For example, on 24 April 2014, Queen Margrethe II of Denmark paid a state visit to China, and was received by President Xi Jinping (Global Times, “China, Denmark eye closer relationship“, 2014-4-25). During this visit, a ceremony was held over the signature of several agreements, “involving maritime technology, energy conservation, and poverty elimination among other fields.” (Global Times, ibid). These new political and economic ties between Beijing and Copenhagen are being developed alongside new relations between China and Greenland (Viviane du Castel et Paulo Brito, Groenland, entre independence et recuperation géostratégique?, 2014), which, today, is partly autonomous […]

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Arctic China (1) – The Dragon and the Vikings

On 15 March 2013, China and Iceland signed a bilateral free trade agreement (Ministry for foreign affairs, Iceland). This agreement was signed three months before the Republic of China became a “permanent observer”of the Arctic Stephen Blank, “China’s Arctic strategy“, The Diplomat, 20 June 2013), while the “Snow Dragon”, the first Chinese icebreaker, has already made five trips in the Arctic, in 1999, 2003, 2008, 2010 and 2012, at which occasion it sailed the Northern Sea Route. This political and economic move by Beijing reveals a deep evolution of the grand strategy of the People’s Republic of China, as well as the shifting balance of power in the north-Atlantic region and in the Arctic. Over the last twenty-five years, with a […]

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Egypt and Climate Security

Since 2008, when massive food riots took place, followed by the “Arab spring revolution” in 2011, Egypt has become a land of political, religious and social conflicts (Krista Mahr, “Bread is life: food and protest in Egypt“, Time Magazine, January 31, 2011; Georges Corm, Le Proche-Orient éclaté, 2012), some of them between armed militant and religious factions on the one hand, the police, the military and the secret services, on the other. Meanwhile the civil society strongly emerges. Beyond spectacular events, the causes of these domestic political and religious conflicts are rooted, among other factors, into international and climate change dynamics. In effect, Egypt’s society and politics are deeply affected by the entanglement of economic, political, environmental and climate change […]

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Security and Sustainability: the Future of Egypt?

The new constitution of the Arab Republic of Egypt, approved in January 2014, states, in four articles, the rights and duties of the state and of the citizens about the Suez Canal, the environment and natural resources, and the Nile. These articles have a political and strategic meaning in the current domestic security situation, dominated by rising tensions between the military, the Muslim Brotherhood, and a catastrophic economic situation, heightened by the environmental and international context of Egypt and of the Nile riparian countries. To understand the political and strategic situation of Egypt, today and during the twenty years to come we must consider the context of its current national sustainability crisis (Valantin, Egypt, climate change and the long resource […]

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Egypt, Climate Change and the Long Resource Civil Warfare

Since the “Arab spring” reached Egypt in January 2011, the political situation has evolved quite quickly (Georges Corm, Le Proche-Orient éclaté, 2012). Many observers analyse the Egyptian political landscape as a battlefield between the Army, the Muslim Brotherhood, and a growing number of people wanting to experience democracy, while the whole situation is being put under pressure by a very degraded economic situation (Seumas Milne, The Revenge of History, 2013). Moreover, those different actors are participating in the political tensions between Arab countries, especially Qatar and Saudi Arabia, and between these countries and the U.S. (Corm, ibid). Egypt has tremendous political importance in the Middle East, in Africa, and at the international and global level. Since the antiquity, this very singular […]

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Hyper Siege: Climate Change versus U.S. National Security

In a passage of the “Seven Pillars of Wisdom”, T.E. Lawrence, a.k.a. “Lawrence of Arabia”, recalls that, as he waged a guerrilla war in the Arabian Desert, he was looking for a way to besiege an Ottoman garrison. He then had a kind of military epiphany, understanding that he did not need to do that, because the garrison was already besieged … by the desert. All he had to do was to stay mobile. However, a siege can be a very strong position for the defendant, which, often, can be defeated only from inside, as a long military history shows since the Trojan War. One can wonder if, nowadays, the U.S. national defence and security apparatus is not in the same […]

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Climate Blowback and US National Security

The recently released 2014 Quadrennial Defence Review (QDR) establishes that “The impacts of climate change may increase the frequency, scale, and complexity of future missions, including defence support to civil authorities, while at the same time undermining the capacity of our domestic installations to support training activities. Our actions to increase energy and water security, including investments in energy efficiency, new technologies, and renewable energy sources, will increase the resiliency of our installations and help mitigate these effects.” This important statement is followed by a thorough assessment of how climate change may become a “threat multiplier” through the combination of multiple stressors such as food insecurity, water shortages, rapid and global urbanization, and coastal flooding. The Review furthermore states: “Climate change […]

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Climate Change and U.S. National Security: a Geoeconomic Approach

In May 2013 and February 2014, Secretary of State John Kerry defined climate change as a global strategic threat. In May 2013, he declared: “… A principal challenge to all of us of life and death proportions is the challenge of climate change… So it’s not just an environmental issue and it’s not just an economic issue. It is a security issue, a fundamental security issue that affects life as we know it on the planet itself, and it demands urgent attention from all of us” (John Kerry, Remarks with Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeld, May 14 2013). In February 2014, on a diplomatic tour in Jakarta, he said: “When I think about the array of global climate – of […]

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Afghanistan at a New Crossroad: Resource Curse or Asian integration?

The first sentence of the 2006 US Quadrennial Defence Review is “The United States is a nation engaged in what will be a long war”. Any civilian, military or factious leader in Afghanistan, could have written almost exactly the same after thirty-five years of war. And this war still goes on, but it now faces a strange strategic, ecological and economic transition, that could be dominated by a new “Afghan resource and climate curse”. Failed state-building, climate and war From 1969 to 1972, Afghanistan went through a terrible drought and a harsh winter. A terrible famine followed, which ravaged the populations of central Afghanistan. The titanic scale of incompetence, mismanagement and corruption of the Kabul government aggravated it, and maybe […]

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The Red (Team) Analysis Weekly – 13 February 2014 – Storms and floods, harbinger of multifaceted changes

Editorial – Storms and floods, harbinger of multifaceted changes: While the US knows a very cold winter, Western Europe is hit by the ninth storm since 17 December 2013, each bringing destruction and floods in its wake. This shows first, in a somehow novel way, that so-called “rich and developed”countries can be relentlessly hit by what is most probably a consequence of climate change. Here we are faced with storms and related floods, but other types of extreme weather events could also occur. Second, these storms start giving us an idea of how this vulnerability will most probably have multifaceted and mammoth impacts. Actually, this issue is far from being completely new. We have already underlined the high likelihood to see […]

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