• CounterterrorismSaudi-led Islamic counterterrorism alliance holds first summit meeting

    Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the young but dominant figure in Saudi Arabia, on Sunday convened a meeting in Riyadh of top defense officials from forty-one Muslim countries for the first summit of the Islamic Military Counterterrorism Alliance. Saudi Arabia announced the alliance in December 2015 to fight “terrorism,” singling out the “Islamic State” (IS) as a disease tarnishing the name of Islam. Analysts note that the real target of the new alliance may not be Islamist extremism, but Iran. All the alliance members are Sunni-majority or Sunni-led countries. The alliance does not include Shiite Iran; Syria, which is ruled by Alawite president Bashar al-Assad; or Iraq, which is led by a Shiite government.

  • Communism: 100 years onTracing communism’s reach, 100 years after the Russian Revolution

    One hundred years ago Wednesday, 25 October, the Bolsheviks overthrew the Provisional Government in Petrograd (St. Petersburg), which came to power on 3 March 1917 after the abdication of Emperor Nicholas II. The Bolsheviks, or communists, under the leadership of Vladimir Lenin, were now in power in Russia, ending nearly two centuries of monarchic rule. A civil war followed, leading to the creation of the Soviet Union (USSR) in 1922. So great was the Soviet Union’s outsize impact over the course of its brief life, that its dissolution, on 25 December 1991, led to debate over what to expect in a world without it. In a 1989 essay titled “The End of History” – expanded in a 1992 book — political scientist Francis Fukuyama argued that the end of communism meant that the last challenge to Western liberal democracy had ended, and that humanity had reached an endpoint, with the “universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government.” NYU politics professor Joshua Tucker, the co-author of a new book, Communism’s Shadow, suggests that communist thought continues to have a real impact today, and that the legacy of the Soviet Union is very much alive.

  • Hemispheric securityRewriting NAFTA has serious implications beyond just trade

    By Jessica Trisko Darden

    President Donald J. Trump has called the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) our “worst trade deal.” After flip-flopping between scrapping NAFTA altogether and saying that the agreement required only tweaks, Trump is trying to force a renegotiation of a deal that supports three million American jobs. This may seem like just another trade dispute, but NAFTA has bound together North America’s economic and security considerations. The renegotiation of NAFTA may thus have serious implications not only for trade and the continental economy, but also for immigration and border security. Bad deal or not, NAFTA has fundamentally reshaped North America’s immigration and security policies. Any changes to NAFTA will certainly have repercussions that reach far beyond the economy.

  • The Russian connectionRussia, an alleged coup, and Montenegro’s bid for NATO membership

    By Vesko Garcevic

    While the investigation into Russian meddling in the U.S. 2016 election continues, Americans should be reminded of the signs of Russian interference in democratic processes outside the United States – specifically, in the Balkans. Montenegro was targeted by an apparent coup attempt during its last parliamentary election on 16 October 2016. Montenegro’s chief special prosecutor has accused two Russian Military Intelligence Service (GRU) agents for attempting to organize the coup. The GRU is the same organization sanctioned by the Obama administration for hacking the Democratic National Committee offices. As some of the plotters later confessed, their goal was to overthrow Montenegro’s government, kill then-Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic and put into power political groups that oppose Montenegro’s NATO membership. Russia’s involvement in Montenegro is a part of Russia’s broader strategy to roll back NATO and EU enlargement while regaining influence in countries that aspire to join those organizations. Russia has proved that it has the capacity to threaten, influence and subvert NATO’s “open door” policy, and there is no reason to believe that the setback in Montenegro will cause Russia to change course.

  • War & peaceThree degrees of separation: War less likely among nations which are “friends of friends”

    Even nations can have friends of friends, a new study has found. Results suggest these indirect relationships have a surprisingly strong ability to prevent major conflicts, and that international military alliances may matter more than we typically expect. Many studies have shown that nations with military alliances are less likely to go to war, but a new study is the first to show that neighboring countries without direct alliances are still unlikely to have serious conflicts, as long as they are indirectly connected through an ally in common.

  • Global contextIn Europe, nationalism is rising

    By Christina Pazzanese

    Over the past seventy-five years, many Western nations moved steadily toward cooperation and interconnectedness, as their shared economic and political interests converged during this period called globalization. But the political winds are shifting, and there are signs of a new age of populism and nationalism emerging in Europe, a development that eventually could undermine post-war security and unity. After the triumphs of Trump and Brexit, right-leaning parties see paths to political power.

  • Trade securityPreferential trade agreements bolster global trade at the expense of its resilience

    The global commodity trade is a complex system where its network structure, which may arise from bilateral and multilateral agreements, affects its growth and resilience. At time of economic shocks, redundancy in this system is vital to the resilience of growth.

  • RussiaRussia violates landmark arms-control treaty by secretly deploying banned cruise missile

    The Trump administration may be facing its first challenge from Russia as news emerged that Russia had secretly deployed a new cruise missile. The development and deployment of the cruise missile violates a landmark arms control treaty, signed in 1987 – the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF Treaty) — which prohibited the development and deployment by the United States and Russia of land-based intermediate-range missiles.

  • Russian interferenceRussian nationalists tried to topple pro-West Montenegro government

    Montenegro said that Russian nationalists were behind a coup attempt in Montenegro. The coups involved assassinating the pro-Western prime minister because of his government’s support for joining NATO, and install a pro-Russian coalition to run the country. Moscow has openly supported what it called the “patriotic parties” in Montenegro which oppose Montenegro becoming a member of NATO. Serbia has deported an undisclosed number of Russian diplomates and operatives who were monitoring the Montenegro prime minister’s movements from Serbian territory.

  • Security commitmentsFalse economy: Savings from cutting U.S. overseas security commitments dwarfed by lost U.S. trade

    Proponents of U.S. foreign policy “retrenchment” have called for steep reductions in U.S. overseas security commitments, contending that the U.S. commitments are too costly to sustain, allow partner governments to free-ride off the U.S. defense budget, and fail to deliver the promised security and stability. A new study finds, however, that the policy of engagement the United States has followed since the 1940s has contributed greatly to U.S. prosperity by making the world politically and militarily stable, thus fostering international economic stability which has benefitted the United States by increasing trade in goods and services and access to global capital, leading to higher rates of economic growth at home. Reducing U.S. overseas security commitments, including U.S. troops stationed abroad as well as U.S. security treaties, could lead to greatly reduced U.S. trade with other countries, with the economic costs from lost trade estimated to be more than triple any associated savings in U.S. defense spending.

  • Nuclear materialsSuspension of U.S.-Russia plutonium disposal agreement a setback: Expert

    Earlier this week the lower house of the Russian parliament approved President Vladimir Putin’s decree on suspending the U.S.-Russian Plutonium Management and Disposition Agreement (PMDA), which requires each nation to dispose of thirty-four metric tons of plutonium from its dismantled nuclear weapons and military stockpiles. Russia has claimed that the United States is violating the agreement by changing its disposition method from irradiating the plutonium as mixed-oxide (MOX) fuel for commercial nuclear reactors to a process called dilute and dispose, but a nuclear expert says that the United States has not violated the terms of the PMDA by proposing that it change its plutonium disposition approach.

  • Border issuesResolving border issues offers rival nations best hope of moving toward peace

    Resolving border disputes gives rival nations the best hope for moving toward peace. A new study concludes that settling territorial conflicts had a greater impact on rival nations’ relations than democratization or ending civil wars. Border disputes create a threat that prompts citizens to give their leaders greater autonomy in exchange for protection. This leads to a more aggressive foreign policy and militarization.

  • Russian bearClose Putin ally: If Americans fail to vote for Trump, they risk nuclear attack

    Vladimir Zhirinovsky, a nationalist Russian politicians who is one of Vladimir Putin’s staunchest allies, said Americans should vote for Donald Trump or risk a nuclear war. Zhirinovsky said that electing Trump would be a “gift to humanity,” while electing Hillary Clinton would likely start a third world war. Zhirinovsky is a flamboyant and colorful individual typically offering brazen, even outrageous, comments, which appeal to the nationalist segment of the Russian electorate. As a close ally of Putin, Zhirinovsky has regularly been used to float policy ideas.

  • Nuclear weaponsRussia’s ultimatum to US: Reduce commitment to NATO, lift sanctions – or nuclear deal is off

    The Kremlin, in an unprecedented series of ultimatums on Monday, said Russia would suspend an agreement it had signed with the United States to turn weapons-grade plutonium into nuclear reactor fuel unless the United States rescinds the sanctions imposed on Russia because of its annexation of Crimea – and also cuts its military commitments to NATO. The Kremlin said that both the economic sanctions and the U.S. military commitments to its NATO allies are “unfriendly” acts to ward Russia.

  • Shimon Peres, 1923-2016Shimon Peres and the legacy of the Oslo Accords

    By Natasha Ezrow

    Shimon Peres, the former prime minister of Israel, has died at the age of 93. A titan of Israeli political life, Peres remained an active player in his country and the region until his death, working hard to promote closer ties between Israelis and Palestinians. He will be remembered above all else for his role in negotiating the 1993 Oslo Peace Accords and for winning the Nobel Peace Prize in 1994 along with then-Israeli Prime Minster Yitzak Rabin and Yasser Arafat. The Oslo Accord delayed dealing with the core issues of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict — the status of Jerusalem, right of return for the 1948 Palestinian refugees, the status of the Jewish settlements in the West Bank and Gaza, the borders of the Palestinian territory – for a later date, but that date has yet to arrive. Although the two sides are far apart, Peres died an optimist, still hopeful that the day would come when the Israeli Defense Forces’ soldiers would serve purely for peace. As he famously put it: “Impossibility is only a product of our prejudice.”