Top 5 by Venus in Arms – Week 32

First of all, the end of South Stream. Putin announced that he would scrap the strategic gas pipeline. So Russia will abandon the project. As reported by The New York Times, South Stream was “a grandiose project that was once intended to establish the country’s dominance in southeastern Europe but instead fell victim to Russia’s increasingly toxic relationship with the West“. Here you’ll find the report of The Moscow Times.

Moving from Russia to Iraq, it is worth noticing that Iran is deeply involved in military operations against the ISIL. The Pentagon revealed that Iranian fighter jets (F-4E?) have bombed Islamic State militants in eastern Iraq in recent days.

Remaning in Arlington, Ashton Carter emerges as  the top choice to replace outgoing Secretary Chuck Hagel. Here you’ll find the scoop (CNN). Carter served as Deputy Defense Secretary under both Leon Panetta and Hagel. His main focus has been the management of the defense budget (should we expect some changes also for the F35 programme?).

“Vice” provided several funny articles on “how to invade or conquer” different countries, such as Scotland, France, Russia or the UK. A sort of paradoxical sic-fi perspective on current security affairs. Also ViA contributed regarding the case of Italy.

Finally, one of the most important news of the week: Star Wars. Here the “The Force Awakens” Official Teaser. A lot of discussion on the new lightsaber. A suggestion: Dont’ underestimate the power of the Dark Side…

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Top 5 by Venus in Arms – Week 31

Hunting for a new SecDef in the US started as Chuck Hagel left his post on Monday. Failing, allegedly, to convince President Obama that the Pentagon has a coherent strategy to deal with ISIS. To fill the vacancy, someone should be very knowledgeable about Russia too.

Drone policy is one of the hottest issues for the CIA as well as the Pentagon, and it also plays an important role in the new season of Homeland. Debate rages on ethics and effectiveness, but it seems that in Iraq and Syria the largest problem for the US is drones’ scarcity.

Given that, how effective is “conventional” airpower in dealing with the issue? DefenseOne provides a calculation of “how many flying hours it takes to kill a terrorist”.

Always on robots, John Little of BlogsofWar discusses the implications of advancements in robotics in a podcast. The argument? Technological innovation might not favor the inventors but rather those who can exploit more fully because they have less ethical constraints.  

Food for thought (as usual) by Stephen Walt. In a list of the Top 5 Foreign Policy Lessons of the Past Twenty Years  you will find controversial and counterintuitive statements. Probably even something that stirs up rage. But it’s realism as it best.

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Top 5 by Venus in Arms – week 29

The enemy of your enemy is not necessarily your friend. That emerges quite clearly from a series of reports in the past few weeks that have been uncovering the nature of the opposition to IS influence in Iraq. Besides nominal allies in the region allegedly buying “IS oil”, the Shi’a Badr militias, once a staunch enemy, are now fighting against IS in Northern Iraq. No “formal” alliance in sight, but a lot of questions on who sides with whom.

In the meanwhile, President Obama is not the only one struggling with polls. Gordon Lubold reports that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s rating among national security workers dropped to 26 %, according to a survey commissioned by DefenseOne.

Remaining in the US, former Undersecretary of Defense  William Lind, now leading Finmeccanica North America and DRS Technologies, argues that the “market for defense systems” is changing rapidly, and at the global level, and thus the Pentagon should adapt to the new realities: More attention to companies such as Google and Apple and less to the traditional military-industrial complex.

Asia-Pacific has been set to become the most relevant region of action for the foreign policy of quite a few US Administration by now, before chaos in the Middle East brought the focus back. Nonetheless, President Obama is reportedly re-pivoting to Asia. Carnegie Endownent’s Douglas Paal responds to key questions on how to interpret, and what to expect from, this (re) positioning.

Remaining in Asia, India is sometimes overlooked as attention mostly focuses on the Pacific.  And still, India has been long searching for international cooperation in defense matters. Russia has been once a key partner, the US has signed a military pact, and most recently Israel has been developing important ties in key sectors such as missiles and UAVs among others.




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