Global Security Headlines

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Top 6 Strategic Questions for 2011

The past is prologue.

As we go forward, issues trending in the international affairs arena in 2010 are poised to intensify in 2011.

It is easy to get lost in daily press reports and miss the fundamental understanding of what really is happening.

While no one can accurately predict the future course of global security no more than the weather, informed estimates of military and diplomatic analyses must be made.

As GSM peers down the road, we ask the following 6 Strategic Questions (see our questions in 2010) to provoke thought and focus debate on the issues impacting global security now and likely in the near future.
1. Does despotism deepen in Russia ahead of 2012 presidential elections? Putin's Russia slid closer to a  one-man rule in 2010. Curiously the titular president Medvedev pressed his US counterpart Obama to ratify the ''new'' START Treaty for reductions in nuclear ICBMs and limits on future development of any anti-ballistic missile systems. But, the Russian Duma did not see any urgency at all and deferred any action until this year. The rule of law was severely weakened with the recent imprisonment of Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev, former Yukos oil executives, for what many observers see as a penalty for opposing Putin. His grip is tightening on all parts of the government ahead of his expected run in the 2012 presidential elections.

2. Is the Middle East destined for another armed clash? The Economist muses about clashes between Israel and Iran, its newly-replenished Hamas and Hizbolla proxies, and even Syria over Tehran's nuclear quest. Events last year could precipitate fighting in 2011. The spectacular failure of the latest US-led round of Palestinian-Israeli peace talks weighs on the scale. While estimates vary of when Iran may ''go nuclear'' given delays from the Stuxnet computer virus attack, it is possible Israel could decide to act sometime this year.

3. Can Calderon of Mexico save his country from narcoterrorism? Mexico is torn asunder by the war between the narcotraficantes and the government and internecine savagery between rival cartels for primacy. More than 22,000 have died since Presidente Felipe Calderón cracked down on the narcos and the border with the US is on fire. The systemic corruption, a weak judiciary, and suspect  federales only complicate any ''victory'' over the well-armed and well-financed narcos. US planners as far back as 2008 pondered a total collapse of the country. Calderón must act decisively to avoid that fate.

4. Does Brazil solidify its ''middle power'' status and stand up for freedom? Happy talk surrounds Brazil, Latin America's largest country and economy. Brazilians begin 2011 with a new president, Dilma Rousseff, the first female to take charge in Brasilia. Its oil success, if managed well, could pave the path to an economically stronger and less poorer regional  hegemon. Outgoing President Lula left Brazil better after 8 years of rule. However if Ms. Rousseff continues his left-bent embrace of neighbor Chavez and outreach to Iran by meddling again in the nuclear question, the turn away from supporting freedom abroad would detract from Brazil's attempt to gain international currency. Is Brazil ready for prime time?

5. Does India effectively balance against the Sino-Pak encirclement? China is India's chief adversary in south Asia. Beijing's ''string of pearls'' encirclement of India is nothing new. As both a maritime and land power, its regional power projection gives New Delhi options to counter the Sino-Pak gambit. US President Obama's visit last November bolstered India's standoff with both its neighbors. The chaos in the Afghanistan-Pakistan theater and China's rising aggressiveness challenge India to chart a delicate course.

6. Is there peaceful reunification on the Korean peninsula? Leadership transitions in totalitarian regimes are often dicey deals and in a regime as opaque as North Korea, doubly. Kim Jong-il named his third son as successor, a mere 27 year-old, to head up the dying regime in Pyongyang. While some observers say the transition is in its early stages, it is clear that freedom-loving countries including South Korea can barely spare any more existence of the nuclear-tipped, nuclear proliferating, and otherwise thuggish gang in Pyongyang. China, however, does not want a democratic and unified Korea on its border and thus continues to subsidize and prop up the NE Asian menace. Along with its proxy Iran, China can frustrate US goals in the respective regions. North Korea is enriching uranium and antagonizing the South at will, all in the throes of a transition. Is it possible the Pyongyang gang's lease on life is running short?
GSM is committed to providing the keen analysis our loyal readers demand and deserve.

Count on our continued commitment to providing the information and insights you have come to enjoy.

Happy 2011!

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