2018 was another year of uncertainty and a spreading feeling of insecurity. What could turn that round in 2019? Here are some thoughts:
Syria: the mission and the alternatives
On Saturday 7 April came reports that chemical weapons (CW) were used in Douma, Syria. In the very early hours of Saturday 14 April the US, France and the UK launched 105 cruise and air-to-surface missiles against a CW research centre and two CW storage facilities. US President Donald J Trump tweeted “Mission Accomplished!” But what was the mission? Continue reading
Impressions from Moscow – MCIS 2018
The seventh Moscow Conference on International Security (MCIS) was on Wednesday 4 and Thursday 5 April. Listening to the speeches and chatting with various people during and after it, my first thoughts concern three related issues: the growing confidence of Russian policy; soft power; and shared concern about the increasing risks in global politics, together with deep differences about where those risks come from. 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
Today is the UN International Day of Peace and it comes at a time when many people seem to feel peace is taking a horrible worldwide kicking. Is it so bad? Continue reading
Syria – myth and argument about non-intervention
Last week an article in the Washington Post stirred what seemed like quite a Twitter buzz, lamenting the effects of “the disastrous nonintervention in Syria“. The article is angry and vivid about the misery and destruction wrought by war in Syria. It blames the war’s continuation largely on the US deciding not to intervene in the war. It is an argument that could become influential so it’s worth examining. Continue reading
European security. Crisis? What crisis?
The tone of this year’s Munich Security Conference – the Davos of global security – was captured by the Munich Security Report’s theme: ‘Boundless chaos, reckless spoilers, helpless guardians.’ The front page headline on The Security Times, a conference special edition from the stable of Die Zeit, featured a box of matches and urged an appropriate response: ‘Don’t do stupid stuff.’ Continue reading
Syria: Geneva III, the nettle of negotiation (again), and ISIS (again)
Two years ago, the Geneva II talks on Syria took place. As they began, their prospects could be optimistically viewed as “virtually zero“. On Friday 29 January, Geneva III talks are due to begin and prospects do not look much better. That doesn’t mean they are a waste of time. Continue reading
From the War on Terror to war on ISIS
French reaction to the November 13 attacks in Paris that killed 130 people and injured over 300 has turned the War on Terror into a war on ISIS. France has stepped up its bombing raids on ISIS, aiming, President François Hollande has said, to ‘destroy’ the organisation. Alongside these quickly decided military measures, other kinds of response have received much less attention. Continue reading