Tuesday, January 31, 2012
Friday, January 27, 2012
The Florida GOP Debate tonight focused mostly on domestic issues; some issues of national security and foreign policy were touched upon. After months of campaigning and debating, the candidates by and large have not expanded on their foreign policy aspirations. This is primarily due to the economic situation of the United States demanding so much attention. Nevertheless, here is what I gathered in the debate tonight.
Rick Santorum, as he has in previous debates, focused on the current administration's dealings with Latin American countries. He claimed that Obama was not supporting pro-democratic countries like Colombia, and instead was strengthening ties with leftist authoritarian "Marxist" countries, i.e. Cuba and Nicaragua. He also stated that he would not try to establish diplomatic relations with Cuba until after Fidel Castro is gone. Under the current administration, not much attention has been paid to Latin America at all, but the region seems to be an area of expertise for Santorum so he will continue criticizing current U.S.-Latin American relations.
Mitt Romney shifted the focus of foreign policy to the Middle East, where he said Obama had "betrayed" America's ally, Israel. Not sticking with Israel 100%, according to Romney, had led Hamas to take more extreme, violent actions against the Israeli state. Romney made it clear that he supports a two-state solution, but will not waver in his support for Israel. He did not, however, mention the difficulties of creating a Palestinian state, such as the demographics of certain areas and boundaries of a Palestinian state (the possibility of a Palestinian state being surrounded by Israel on all its borders).
Newt Gingrich reiterated a previous statement he made- that the Palestinian nationality is an "invention" of the 1960s. He believes that Palestinians are really just a combination of Egyptians, Lebanese, Syrians, etc. Keep in mind, this was directed at a member of the audience who was a Palestinian-American. He also said that the Israeli state, having been attacked in the fall of last year, should have responded by launching war against Hamas. Of the remaining candidates, Gingrich seems to have the least developed foreign policy ideas. Unless, of course, you include establishing a colony of Americans on the moon.
Ron Paul did not have an opportunity tonight to talk about his foreign policy ideas, but as one might expect, they include an isolationist stance and a refrain from using or deploying U.S. troops abroad.
The domestic issues of the United States (the economy, border control, taxes) are still the center of attention in the political debates. But hopefully if the race between Romney and Gingrich remains close, the two will be forced to expand upon their foreign policy ideas in more detail.
Thursday, January 26, 2012
In order to ensure higher security in Asia, India and the United States are seeking to build a more strategic relationship through discussions about missile defense systems. Last week, in an attempt to help India deter nuclear threats, the American Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for South and Southeast Asia stated that they were willing to examine the sale or joint production of missile shield systems with India. American officials have met with Indian missile experts, and participated in both actual and computerized missile simulations. The U.S. was hoping that India would purchase the Patriot Advanced Capability(PAC)-3 missile defense system, the most advanced air defense missile, but India has shown an interest in building its own systems. This obviously produces contention from Pakistan and China, since these discussions display the shared strategic interests between the United States and India and encourage giving India further technology that would enable them to better defend themselves against Pakistani and Chinese missiles. There’s also the added risk of Indian officials deciding to forego American equipment and build their missile defense system indigenously, thus lessening the amount of transparency and accountability.
Conversation on such things between the two countries is nothing new, since the two countries began discussion about ballistic missile defense shields three years ago. However, the discussions are of particular interest since India is in the midst of a substantial military modernization program and was named the world’s largest weapons importer by the arms watchdog SIPRI. The plans to continue the dialogue are also of particular importance since Pentagon officials have named China as a threat and seek to keep their relationship with India particularly strong as Asia gains increased global power.
Saturday, January 21, 2012
|(AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo)|
Friday, January 20, 2012
The production of toy drones also makes a cultural statement in Iran, where several toys are not allowed due to their links to Western ideals and lifestyles. A substantial amount of Iranians condemn American toys, such as Barbies, due to claims of encouraging a permissive Western life style. Iranian store owners have reported that the country’s morality police have previously been sent to remove all of the voluptuous dolls from the shelves. The comparison was made years ago that the Barbie is America’s version of Troy, with cultural invading soldiers coming inside the dolls. The recent production of the toy drones renews the debate over the American soft war against Iran, in which Iranians claim the United States is trying to culturally invade Iran in an attempt to erode the religious values of the country.
An Iranian woman spoke in anonymity to reporters and expressed her frustration with the antics of the toy makers. She complained about the substantial amount of money that is being put into the production of the toy drones, while Iran, Israel, and the US are spouting war rhetoric, sanctions are increasing against her country, and the people’s savings have decreased in value by 40% in the past year. However, although she is frustrated with the frivolity of the toy creation efforts, she admitted she would probably buy one in an effort to “take the sting out of reality” and provide a bit of comic relief. It will be interesting to see how the Iranian population reacts to the toy’s production; whether they will rally behind anti-American sentiment or respond negatively to their own government’s efforts to minimize the gravity of the situation at hand. It will also be interesting to follow the American response, or lack thereof, to these actions as well.
Tuesday, January 17, 2012
First, the recent budget proposals have hinted at dropping 70,000 troops from the armed forces. Biddle states that often soldiers are unable to pick up on the nuances of finer force employment due to short-term enlistment. While the U.S. has a respectable average service of 6-8 years (outliers not accounted for), one has to ask if force employment will be as strong in this era of troop cutting and budgetary concerns. Less troops are not an issue, but their ability to serve for longer stints and gain knowledge of strategy is important and may be endangered comparatively to other states.
Secondly, technology is also decreasing the use of manpowered instruments. Will force employment be as strong if war should break out if less individuals are interacting with possible theatres, and will knowledge of proven tactics prove incompetent without longer enlistments and familiarity of the enemy and environment? These are questions I cannot answer, but I think they are important to pose.
Take for example drones. They lessen the need for manpower in the region of concern. Further, U.S. tactical advantages will become less once other states begin to manufacture drones comparable to ours. It seems that will be soon, China's drone will resemble a U.S. drone, thus will force employment be negated by similar weapons and an emphasis on hard targets instead of soft. Overall, progress will continue on drones, but it seems there has become a focus on reducing manpower, which could reduce tact in force employment, not because of reduction in men, but reduction in skills and time to learn the skills.
Thus, in a world where war could be fought without man, how will guaging the likely victor change? It seems force employment can only go so far without the human element. In accordance, new criteria may be needed to improve our chances in victory and this possibility should begin to be analyzed now.
Sunday, January 15, 2012
Looking at the situation more closely, three Iranian high-speed boats (approx. 30 ft in length) came within 500 yards of the USS New Orleans (approx. 680 ft in length) and would not respond to efforts to establish contact made by the U.S. ship. It's claimed that men on the Iranian boats were carrying a few AK-47 rifles, yet the USS New Orleans is equipped with two 30 mm Bushmaster II chain guns and two RIM-116 Rolling Airframe Missiles.
Really? A harassment? What could three tiny speed boat possibly do to threaten a ship with such size and attacking capability?
The other U.S. craft reportedly "harassed," the USCGC Adak (pictured below), is equipped with a 25 mm MK 38 machine gun, five .50 caliber machine guns, and a MK 19 40 mm grenade launcher, among other smaller arms. It is also worth noting that the Adak is approx. 110 ft in length, over three times as large as any of the Iranian speed boats that approached it.
Again, I am not saying that these developments aren't slightly concerning, but they certainly should not be deemed a "harassment" to U.S. naval craft. Considering the fact that the U.S. military has admitted to flying drones over Iranian airspace, this action taken by Iran hardly warrants a provocation in my opinion. In a period of extremely elevated high tensions between the U.S. and Iran, any hostile action (or inaction, in this case) by the latter will be perceived as a potential threat and a step closer to war between the two.