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 […]
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 […]
On 15th September 2013, saboteurs blew up the pipeline linking Yemeni oil fields in the North to the Hodeidah export terminal, on the Red Sea coast. It was the third time in two months. In the meantime, the Yemeni political life was also marked by a deluge of US drone strikes against militants of “Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula” (AQAP). On 18th October, a militia of armed and well-organised Islamist militants attacked a Yemeni military base in the Southeast, preceded by a car bomb suicide attack, which killed five soldiers. The two following weeks saw endless attacks and manifestations, against the government as well as sectarian violence, leaving dozens dead. In the meantime, on the other side of the Gulf of […]
Besides other issues, the agreement between the U.S. and Japan to modernize their security cooperation, implying among others a larger role for Japan, is most likely to have ripple effects, notably considering the tense situation with China and unhealed regional wounds stemming from World War II. Energy security then is very much to the fore, […]
Horizon Scanning for National Security No118: If the situation in the Middle East definitely requires to be paid attention to, the East and the Far East deserve no less, as Japan seeks to change its constitution, India continues to try asserting and expanding its role, and Central Asia is increasingly entrenched as a crucial geopolitical node. Meanwhile, news and studies regarding the adverse impact of climate change are at odds with some trends in energy security and with the tale according to which “rich countries” will be less hurt, while monetary policies, notably quantitative easing, remain controversial.
Horizon Scanning for National Security No100 – Redrawing the global strategic and geopolitical map: From the Syrian civil war and its impact on the region and beyond, with its many uncertainties, moving alliances and dilemmas, to the China-Japan unrelenting tension over the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands, through the rush for the Arctic, without forgetting the European quagmire and its multi-faceted apparently slow-moving polarization, this is actually the global political and strategic map that is being redrawn. How it will look like is still shrouded in the fog of war … or rather of wars, crises, and battles, present and, unfortunately, to come.
Frailties and Contagion: A bug is creating strange phenomena with the editing process this week, but there is still a lot to read, even if it is not always on the front page. The focus for the week is, besides the East Asian rising tensions, on the Middle East and the Syrian conflict increasingly impacting […]
Horizon Scanning for National Security No92 – Global Experiment and Fog of Transition: Those two labels – the first borrowed from Paul Krugman’s now famous interview, and the second from Global Trends 2030, among others, itself adapted from von Clausewitz’s fog of war – seem to describe most aptly the current period, and the short (to medium?) term future.
Horizon Scanning for National Security No91: The Actors and the System: Powerlessness? If we were to estimate the power of the actors by their ability to stabilize the system, they would not fare very well, and this, in itself, is a signal that tensions will most probably continue to rise and escalate in intensity as well as widen in scope. One of the interesting question would thus be: How long can this system withstand the pressure until it breaks?