US Navy Collisions in the Western Pacific

Dec. 8, 2017 Over the past year, the U.S. Navy has been under scrutiny because of a series of collisions involving Navy warships from the Pacific Fleet. In May, the USS Lake Champlain guided-missile cruiser collided with a fishing boat in the Sea of Japan. A month later, the USS Fitzgerald destroyer collided with a cargo ship off the coast of Japan. Then in August, another destroyer, the USS John S. McCain, was hit by an oil tanker east of the Strait of Malacca. The latter two collisions resulted in the deaths of 17 American sailors. The Navy concluded that human error was the cause of both of those collisions.

Australian Military Service Casualties

Feb. 2, 2016 This map indicates the number of casualties the Australian military has suffered in various conflicts, mostly outside of the country’s own borders. Especially significant was Australia’s participation in World War I. This was to be a major turning point in defining Australia’s identity as a nation for two key reasons. The first is that the new Australian navy proved to be a formidable force and the country could now safely say that its first three strategic imperatives had been achieved without any doubt.

The second is that World War I marked the moment in history where the interests of Australia and the British Empire would diverge and this split would be irrevocable. Australia’s population was approximately 4.9 million during the war and over 450,000 Australians enlisted, equivalent to 38.7 percent of males between the ages of 18 and 44, according to Australian historian Ernest Scott. Of those enlisted, about 60,000 died. Moreover, the Gallipoli Campaign, a battle in 1915 in present-day Turkey that claimed 8,000 Australian lives, in hindsight was a paradigm-shifting moment for Australia. The perceived needlessness for which Australians died at Gallipoli led to the conclusion that, while Australia would choose to go to war many more times in the future, it would do so to defend Australia and not simply out of loyalty to Great Britain.

 

Why Syria Can’t Be Put Back Together

Sept. 8, 2017 Lebanon’s recent history provides valuable insights into what we can expect from Syria’s civil war and future. Lebanon is much smaller than Syria, and its ethnic groups were more evenly proportioned before its civil war. Even so, in 1975, it went to war – and at war it stayed for more than 15 years. We expect Syria’s civil war – which is already midway through its sixth year – to last at least as long.

Lebanon’s post-war years haven’t exactly been peaceful either. Syria’s will be worse. Syria is a broken country, and no amount of diplomatic handwringing or bombing is going to put it back together. The reason is simple: ethnic and sectarian chaos.

The Schengen Zone

Dec. 14, 2015 The Schengen agreement removed border controls of 26 European countries and allowed people to move from one country to another without needing to receive visas or stop for border checks once inside the zone. However, there are growing indications that the free movement agreement is under threat, with Greece being threatened with suspension and Germany and France floating a plan to allow for a European border control force to be deployed.

Denuclearization and the Demise of Moammar Gadhafi’s Regime

Could Kim Jong Un suffer the same fate as Moammar Gadhafi if North Korea’s nuclear program is destroyed?

A Month of Unrest in France

Government proposals to raise fuel taxes are mobilizing the public.

Rare Earth Elements: Global Reserves and Production

With China's recent threat to ban exports of rare earth elements to the United States, it may be time to find an alternative.

A Snapshot of the Battle Lines in Northern Syria

Turkey’s invasion of Afrin in northern Syria has really shaken up the established lines of battle. First, Turkey proposed cooperation with the United States in Afrin and Manbij, both of which are held by Syrian Kurds – whom the U.S. has been supporting and the Turks consider hostile. Though no formal agreement has been reached, U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis said the U.S. would work with Turkey to coordinate their actions in Syria. Then, the Syrian Kurds apparently invited pro-regime forces into Afrin to help fight back against the Turkish assault.

London, the Vanguard of an Economic Revolution

For the first several centuries of Britain’s existence, much of the world used London as a bridgehead for invasion. But after the Industrial Revolution, when the British Empire reached the height of its power, London instead became a bridgehead for England to invade much of the world.

Terrorist Trends in Europe

Aug. 25, 2017 Terrorism is a phenomenon with which Europe is all too familiar. Consider World War I. The proximate cause of the conflict was an act of terrorism – the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo. Consider the year 1972, when, in Munich, Black September, a secular Palestinian militant group, killed members of the Israeli Olympic team. That same year was also among the bloodiest of the Troubles of Northern Ireland.

Just 13 years later, terrorist organizations carried out multiple attacks on civilian targets: TWA Flight 847, an Italian cruise ship, airports in Vienna and in Rome. In 1986, the Libyan government, led by Moammar Gadhafi, sponsored an attack at a club in West Berlin. Ronald Reagan said 1986 was the year “the world, at long last, came to grips with the plague of terrorism.” Two years later was the Lockerbie bombing.

The times we live in are not special. Terrorism has long been a part of European life. In fact, more people died from terrorist attacks in the 1970s and 1980s than in any recent decade.

The King of Cobalt

The Democratic Republic of Congo has as much cobalt reserves as the rest of the world combined.

Presence of Salafism in the Middle East and North Africa

April 14, 2017 Salafism originated in the mid-18th century in an area that now encompasses Saudi Arabia. It can best be described as a tendency that envisions an austere form of Islam. This modern trend within Islam began as a corrective movement in 18th century Arabia to bring Muslims back to the religion’s original creed.

For many decades, the kingdom exported Salafism and associated ultraconservative ideas by constructing and purchasing mosques, underwriting seminaries, publishing literature, dispatching clerics, supporting charities and so on. Over time, however, it gradually lost control over the Salafist ideology itself, and three distinct branches formed: quietist, jihadist and electoral.