• Strategic Comments

    US and Pakistan: a troubled relationship

    10 January 2012.  Relations between Washington and Islamabad deteriorated rapidly during 2011. The causes of the deterioration were complex, bound up closely with divergent approaches towards the future of Afghanistan as the departure of Western combat forces approaches and towards the extremist groups which expect to play a part in that future.

  • Strategic Comments

    Russia’s protests: not a revolution but an awakening

    31 January 2012.  A wave of anti-government protests in Russia in late 2011 has rocked its political establishment. United in anger at President Dmitry Medvedev's decision to cede his post to Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, as well as at evidence of electoral fraud in recent legislative elections, Russians have staged some of the country's largest protests since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Yet those who expect Russia to follow the path of Arab revolutions are likely to be disappointed.

  • Strategic Comments

    Strait of Hormuz: Iran’s disruptive military options

    09 February 2012.  Could Iran shut the Strait of Hormuz, or significantly hinder traffic passing through it? A recent decision by the European Union to impose a total embargo on the purchase of Iranian oil has prompted threats from Tehran to close the world's most important oil chokepoint. However, an assessment of military capabilities deployed in the area, and of probable tactics, suggests that Iran would find it difficult or unpalatable to cause major disruption.

  • Strategic Comments

    Confidence returns to the eurozone

    14 February 2012.  Tensions surrounding the eurozone have eased markedly in the early part of 2012 following the atmosphere of crisis that persisted through the second half of 2011. There is instead a new confidence that financial and economic disaster can be averted.

  • Strategic Comments

    Streamlined US military looks towards Asia

    23 February 2012.  Budget proposals published by the US Department of Defense on 13 February were pivotal in three ways. They came as America disengaged from two long-running wars; as it sought to shift the strategic balance of its forces away from Europe and towards the Asia-Pacific; and as the Pentagon sought to enact significant spending cuts mandated by Congress. Since the themes had been indicated in previous announcements, the main interest was in the detail of the many cuts proposed for the military and its equipment programmes.

  • Strategic Comments

    The MTCR: staying relevant 25 years on

    24 February 2012.  Twenty-five years after it was established, the Missile Technology Control Regime faces big challenges if it is to remain relevant in dealing with present-day technologies. It has had an important effect in containing the spread of long-range missiles. But it has not been as successful at curtailing the spread of cruise missiles, and nor is it structured to regulate the development of unmanned aerial vehicles.

  • Strategic Comments

    Syria: inevitable descent into civil war?

    01 March 2012.  Nearly a year into its uprising, Syria's descent into civil war seems unstoppable. The regime of Bashar al-Assad is pursuing a relentless security campaign that is unlikely to deliver the outright victory that he seeks. As popular mobilisation continues unabated, rebel groups are mounting self-defence operations and challenging the security forces, though their effort has not been coordinated or powerful enough to weaken the regime decisively.

  • Strategic Comments

    Seoul keeps an open mind on North Korea

    09 March 2012.  The change of leadership in North Korea could mark a turning point in relations on the Korean peninsula. With South Korean parliamentary and presidential elections on the horizon, and a popular consensus that the government's previously hardline approach to Pyongyang has only resulted in heightened levels of confrontation, President Lee Myung-bak has signalled that he would be open to dialogue in an effort to promote 'peace and stability' despite the provocations of recent years.

  • Strategic Comments

    Fukushima: the consequences

    13 March 2012.  The accident at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant a year ago, caused by an earthquake and tsunami that left 19,126 people dead or missing, has had many consequences. The accident has caused many governments to take stock of nuclear energy plans and has slowed the global growth of nuclear power.

  • Strategic Comments

    Serbia: a step closer to the EU

    19 March 2012.  The European Union's recent decision to grant full membership candidate status to Serbia has been welcomed not only in Belgrade but also across the western Balkans. The verdict delivered by EU leaders on 1 March will be a significant boost to regional stability and will encourage the other countries of the region to continue working hard on their own accession bids.

Merkel 4.0: not so different after all

German Chancellor Angela Merkel will lead a new coalition government that has diluted her power and produced low expectations, amid considerable domestic uncertainty and foreign policy challenges.

Zimbabwe after Mugabe

Robert Mugabe’s legacy of authoritarian misrule will be difficult to expunge. President Emmerson Mnangagwa appears determined to utilise the army to ensure party victory in forthcoming elections.