Some Thoughts on the New Defense Strategy

It’s hard to say a lot about the new strategic guidance released by the Pentagon on Thursday since the document (pdf), titled “Sustaining U.S. Global Leadership: Priorities for 21st Century Defense,” doesn’t say all that much.  A more detailed assessment may be possible when the defense budget is released in February.  It’s noteworthy that Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta admitted that the new defense plan did not factor in the $500 billion is cuts over the next decade mandated by the supercommittee’s failure to reach a deal late last year.  According to Panetta, if a compromise isn’t reached and . . .
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Advocating Converging Interests in South Asia

In a New York Times analysis last week on fraying U.S.-Pakistani relations Mark Mazzetti wrote that letting other countries gain influence with Pakistan might not necessarily be a bad thing. Over the past few weeks an old narrative has reappeared; if the United States breaks up with Pakistan, China will swoop in and take its place. According to several analysts Mazzetti has spoken to, the United States could actually benefit from getting regional actors engaged in Pakistani affairs. As former State Department official Vali Nasr notes, you need to convince “China, Saudi Arabia, and other nations like the United . . .
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Book Review: Monsoon

When hearing the word “monsoon,” most people would be forgiven for immediately imagining torrential rains, floods, and disaster.  But this entirely misses the beneficial role the monsoon winds of the Indian Ocean have played throughout history—facilitating travel, trade, and cultural exchange across vast swaths of territory long before the invention of the steam engine.  Or, in other words, because of the monsoon winds, the Indian Ocean had globalization before globalization was cool.

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Coming off his fascinating Foreign Affairs article, “Center Stage for the 21st Century: Power Plays in the Indian Ocean,” Robert Kaplan brings us Monsoon: . . .
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The messy foursome in South Asia

The Times of India reported this week that Pakistan and China are strengthening military ties. The two countries have announced a “packed military exchanges’ schedule in 2011,” which includes two joint military exercises, and military representatives from both sides spoke of closer security cooperation going forward. Kind words between these two isn’t anything new, but developments in South Asia and elsewhere on the continent could give new relevance to the relationship and catch them in a bothersome foursome.

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As we have noted before, China is pushing into Central Asia while also stirring up an arms . . .
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Russia: China’s restraint in the Pacific?

According to a story in Newsweek Russia is planning to build up its Pacific navy in an attempt to challenge China in the Pacific. The push is part of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s latest stimulus package, thanks to a surge in oil prices. Putin plans to spend $678 billion on defense, with a quarter going to revamp the Russian fleet in the Pacific. According to Newsweek, the shopping list includes “20 new ships, including a new class of attack submarines, plus new missile subs, frigates, and an aircraft carrier.”

It is not clear whether this is posturing or a . . .
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