Top 5 by Venus in Arms – week 53

A US Edition this week. It’s time for the 2016 budget in the US, and defense budget enters the 2016 fray with a lot of issues on the agenda. DefenseOne has a very complete page to stay updated on how things will evolve, while key facts/numbers are provided by the conservative think tank American Enterprise Institute.

The US Navy clearly has an important stake in this process. If the direction of change is still unclear, there are few doubts that new challenges –and namely Chinese missile capabilities – have been interpreted as requiring a larger surface fleet than previously planned.  Financial sustainability of such plans is the key issue.

The DoD’s Cyber Strategy was also released. Duck of Minerva  features a post on the topic that provides quite a skeptical viewon the ability of the Pentagon to actually face the threat.

In the meanwhile, some voices have been urging President Obama to keep the US away from (too) troubled waters. The deterioration of the situation in Yemen, with risks of total chaos favoring US (and Saudi Arabia) foes, might seem to call for bold action. Fred Kaplan advises against getting into the Yemeni trap.

National Guard was used in the attempt to quell the riots in Baltimore, Maryland, that followed another case of alleged police violence against an African-American. The Atlantic’s Conor Feiersdorf argues that both the police and the violent rioters should held accountable for the situation.

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Top 5 by Venus in Arms – week 33

It is hard to be a saint in the city (so sings Bruce Springsteen), but it is also very hard to be a good  SecDef. Or at least to last very long in that position. Ashton Carter will have to deal with the several challenges associated with the office, as most of his predecessors, so Fred Kaplan predicts.

While DoD’s leadership changes, American intelligence goes through a painful process of assessment of its actions after 9/11. Foreign Policy’s Micah Zenko reports on the Senate’s newly released documents on torture, the most controversial of the CIA’s policies. A lot of work done, but still many loopholes.

With powers rising on the horizon (China), or becoming more assertive (Russia), nuclear deterrence experts restart debating “how much is enough” and how to design the US nuclear arsenal. Jerry Meyerle restates a classic argument about the need for flexibility.

Tensions in the Middle East have been touching (again) Jerusalem in the past few weeks with car attacks and with increasing political instability in the Israeli cabinet (new elections in March). The ICG’s Nathan Strall discusses the mounting “rage in Jerusalem”.

Tired of reading? Watch the Afghanistan’s correspondent Anand Gopal discussing the prospects for the country and why insurgent groups gain strength in the arc of instability,


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