Will Turkey Invoke NATO’s Article 5 over Syria?

NATO members are meeting today to discuss Syria downing a Turkish fighter jet. Concern is rising that this incident could pull NATO into an armed conflict. Turkey has called the meeting under Article 4 of the Washington Treaty—just the second time this has been invoked in NATO history—which states:

The Parties will consult together whenever, in the opinion of any of them, the territorial integrity, political independence or security of any of the Parties is threatened.

The circumstances and facts of the incident are not clear. What is clear, however, is that Turkey is not taking this situation lightly . . .
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Obama's "Hot Mic" and America's Pointless European Missile Defense System

By now the GOP national security establishment is sufficiently apoplectic over President Obama’s off-the-cuff statement at the Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul to outgoing Russian President Dimitry Medvedev that he’d have more “flexibility” on missile defense after November’s election.  There have been the usual accusations of Obama’s appeasement of Moscow and his selling out of American national security.  Fortunately Jacob Heilbrunn at the National Interest responds to the wailing with a cold dose of reality:

The good news would be if Obama really was prevaricating—if he was secretly prepared to jettison an expensive and worthless missile-defense program that is . . .
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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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Needlessly Kicking a Bear

Recent announcements by Russian President (for now) Dimitry Medvedev raise the specter of a new round of confrontation between the United States and its former superpower rival.  In response to planned American missile defense deployments in Europe Medvedev has said Moscow will deploy Iskander missiles, target land-based interceptor sites that will be activated later this decade, and shut down the Northern Distribution Network to Afghanistan that runs through Russian territory—a serious problem in its own right but even more so given the recent deterioration in U.S-Pakistan relations.  Russia, as well as its Soviet predecessor, has a history of making . . .
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Libya, Civilian Casualties, and NATO "Success"

A recent piece by McClatchy newspapers reports that NATO will not be undertaking any effort to determine how many civilian casualties have been caused by the Atlantic alliance’s bombing campaign.  According to NATO spokesman Col. Roland Lavoie, “NATO has no plans for further investigations.”  His justification, which was given in an email to McClatchy about an incident near Majar, Libya where civilians were supposedly killed by a NATO airstrike on suspected pro-Qaddafi forces, explains that “NATO does not have troops on the ground in Libya and consequently no reliable method to verify the civilian casualty allegations.” 

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John Bolton: Still Wrong About Nuclear Weapons

Everybody’s favorite former ambassador to the United Nations, John R. Bolton, is back with his second op-ed on nuclear policy in as many weeks (h/t Greg Scoblete).  This time, writing in the Washington Times, Ambassador Bolton frets that the Obama administration’s commitment to New START and the negative security guarantees made in the administration's Nuclear Posture Review are going to make American allies uneasy—despite all available evidence suggesting that they are not. %%anc%% if (1==1) {document.getElementById(“link140″).style.display=”none”;}

Apparently Ambassador Bolton is worried that reductions in America’s strategic nuclear arsenal and declarations in the 2010 Nuclear Posture Review that forgo nuclear . . .
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Making the Case for Ambiguity in Cyberstrategy

Cyberspace is a whole new game. We have to start from scratch and build brand-new concepts, doctrines and strategy. Or so it goes. The inherent ‘newness’ of cyberspace has lead most countries to start a painstaking process to define cyberspace, in particular the security aspect of it. The novelty of cyberspace can be quite overstated, but in some ways old rules do not apply—or, at least, they are not as well served in this new domain. One particularly fascinating and important example of this is the role of ambiguity in policy. How to define cyberincidents and determine thresholds for . . .
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Russia’s Mixed-Up Responses to America’s Missile Defense Plans

It would be nice if Moscow would get its story straight on how it feels about the missile defense system the United States will deploy over the next decade in conjunction with its NATO allies.  Last week, Russian President Dimitry Medvedev said that failure to secure an agreement on a joint NATO-Russian missile defense system in Europe would cause Moscow to have to consider expanding its strategic arsenal—in effect, abrogating New START before the ink even dried.  Medvedev had previously raised the specter of a renewed strategic arms race, and had been fairly consistent in his warning up until . . .
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On Libya, U.S. Must Send Signal to Europeans: Pay for Your Own Security

In my last post, I criticized the Washington Post’s editorial, “The Libya stalemate,” for mischaracterizing the Obama administration’s reasoning behind taking a supporting role in the Libya military operation. The calculation behind this policy is not ideological, but more likely a compromise within the administration and an acknowledgement by President Obama of the unintended consequences if the United States is the lead actor and responsible for the outcome in Libya.

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But regardless of how the White House reached this policy, there is a crucial strategic reason for the President to remain resolute in his decision. . . .
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Obama's Confused, Pragmatic Policy on Libya

The Washington Post published an editorial Saturday, April 16, “The Libya Stalemate,” lamenting President Obama’s hesitation to increase the U.S. role in Libya.  They also do not appreciate the President leaving our NATO allies, specifically Britain and France, high and dry when we have the military capabilities to do whatever it is they want us to help them do.

According to The Post, only the unique capabilities of the U.S. military can tip the balance in favor of the rebels or at least effectively protect civilians and enforce the UN resolution.  But The Post concludes Mr. Obama is stubborn . . .
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