The nuclear triptych of 2017

Nuclear weapons have come into the political limelight in 2017 as they have hardly done since the 1980s. North Korea, the Iran nuclear deal and the new Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons create a triptych – one panel for arming up and nuclear confrontation, one for arms control, and one for complete nuclear disarmament. Which way is the world headed? Continue reading

North Korea and the US: are there ways out?

Was it a response? Was it not a response? Following a missile test on 15 September, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) went two months without another one. On 20 November, President Trump formally designated the DPRK as a state that sponsors terrorism. On 28 November the DPRK carried out launched what may have been an intercontinental-range missile, reckoned by some reports to be its 20th test-firing of the year. The risk of the US-DPRK face-off leading to conflagration is still not huge but it is increasing. With such high stakes, it is urgent to find a way to cool things down. Continue reading

Iran nuclear deal under pressure

The Iran nuclear deal – formally, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or JCPOA – is under pressure. In his speech to the UN General Assembly today, 19 September, President Trump called it “one of the worst and most one-sided deals” and said it is “an embarrassment to the United States.” Some commentators already see this as advance notice that the US will pull out of the agreement. But it was a good deal when it was made in 2015, it is being properly implemented, and it should be upheld. Continue reading

Stockholm – City of my dreams, City in the world

On Friday 7 April, a man stole a truck in central Stockholm and drove it into a crowd on Drottninggatan, a pedestrianised street and major shopping area. He killed four people. A suspect has been arrested. Meanwhile the life of Stockholm continues. Here I offer a few personal reflections. Continue reading

Is the US preparing to engage on two fronts?

It has been a disturbing few days. On Tuesday 4 April, Syrian aircraft allegedly used nerve gas against civilians. On Thursday 6, the US responded by attacking Syrian forces for the first time. On Friday 7, there was a truck attack in central Stockholm, the city’s  first terror incident since December 2010. On Saturday 8, a US naval task force set out for northeast Asia to  strengthen US sea power near the Korean peninsula. A small bomb was discovered in Oslo. On Sunday 9, nearly 50 people died from bomb attacks at two churches in the Nile delta.

Amid the uncertainties of the time, it’s worth asking if the US is about to get engaged in armed conflict on two fronts. Continue reading

European security in its winter of discontent

This year’s Munich Security Conference was held amid an atmosphere of deep foreboding. It became a meeting that was not so much about western security as about the West itself. Continue reading

A foreign policy for Brexit?

Brexit both contains and is creating abounding unknowns and uncertainties. These will have an impact on many aspects of international relations and security policy in Europe. How will it be possible to navigate them?

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