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Littoral Combat Ship: The U.S. Navy's Nightmare That Won't End

The National Interest - Fri, 08/03/2024 - 21:40

Summary: The Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) program, a post-Cold War initiative aimed at enhancing the U.S. Navy's green-water capabilities, has become a symbol of defense procurement failure. Initially costing $500 million per ship, the LCS was envisioned as a versatile, modular warship adaptable to various missions with a small crew and fast maneuverability. However, the reality has been far from the promise. Several LCS have been retired early, and others are frequently out of action, earning the nickname "Permanent Dry Dock Club" due to their frequent need for repairs. This situation underscores a broader issue of defense spending inefficiency, with high expectations leading to underperforming assets. As the U.S. enters a competitive global environment, the legacy of such missteps raises concerns about the military's readiness and strategic capabilities.

The Littoral Combat Ship: A Tale of Naval Ambition and Reality

Whenever a defense contractor or a Pentagon spokesperson starts talking about their new “cost-effective” program, just know that it’s a bunch of malarkey. The program is usually going way over budget, the product itself will not be as good as promised, and the systems will be delivered late – meaning that We, The People, as well as our military, are about to get hosed.

Such is the case with the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS). The program introduced warships so awful that many in the U.S. Navy have taken to calling them "Little Crappy Ships.” 

Littoral Combat Ship: The Navy Wanted a Green-Water Navy

It seems strange today, with all the talk about China’s threat to the U.S. Navy and the possibility of a great-power war erupting, but there was a time in recent memory when the Navy was obsessed with the notion of building what is known as a green-water navy. 

The Cold War ended with most of the world’s powers laid low. Only America stood tall as the last remaining superpower. The enemies of the United States were a combination of terror groups and rogue states. Their power and reach were limited. 

So the U.S. military needed to devise new strategies and weapons to fight that enemy. Since these enemies had limited ability to project power, the Navy needed to get closer to where they were.

A green-water navy is basically a group of warships that operates very near the coastlines of other countries, or of its own. It cannot conduct independent operations in the blue waters of the deep oceans. So these smaller warships bring the fight to the enemy’s shores. The concept made sense in the 1990s and early 2000s. 

In theory, the Navy still needs a much greater green-water capability. Sadly, the Navy’s war planners chose to meet the demand by investing in the LCS at the cost of a whopping $500 million per ship.

The LCS: A Swiss Army Knife of a Warship

The origins of the LCS can be traced back to 2002,  when then-head of U.S. Naval Operations Adm. Vernon Clark visited a Danish destroyer. During that visit, he noted how the Danes swapped the warship’s weapons in less than 40 minutes. The American admiral quickly envisioned creating a Navy warship that could operate like a Swiss Army knife. 

The warship’s parts would be interchangeable depending on the mission. The LCS would be operated by a crew of 40 sailors — far smaller than any other warship the U.S. Navy had. It would be fast and lightly armed, but the plug-and-play model of the LCS would revolutionize Navy operations. 

After nearly two decades of commitment, the Navy has already begun retiring several of the LCSs, even though they are among the youngest warships in the Navy's fleet. Others are falling apart because they were never able to meet the demands of having interchangeable parts. As a result, the LCS is an even bigger boondoggle than the Zumwalt-class destroyer

The LCS and the Zumwalt class represent two evolutionary dead ends for the Navy. More painfully, they could have been avoided.

Almost from the start of the research and development phase of the LCS program, multiple high-level engineers on the project began voicing their concerns. Nevertheless, the Navy had decided. The bureaucracy was totally behind the LCS concept. There would be no stopping it. 

Too bad for everyone that, in this case, the naysayers were proven correct. 

The LCS: Standing Members of the Permanent Dry Dock Club

The LCS program was a total failure. The Navy’s next generation of warships are not currently sailing the high seas, despite having been operational since 2016. They spend more time in port being repaired, prompting some Navy officers to nickname these warships "Dry Dock One," since they spend so much more time being repaired than they do at sea.

What has that $500 billion per LCS unit gotten us? A whole lot of nothing. The Navy attempted to make the LCS a jack of all trades, and ultimately the LCS was a master of none. 

The Littoral Combat Ship is another example of how absurd the post-Cold War era was for the U.S. defense community. When America should have been pulling back from its defense commitments and focusing on enhancing itself at home, the “end of history” and “unipolar moment” types in Washington convinced themselves — and U.S. leaders — that the end of the Cold War was a green light to let loose, blowing the nation’s wealth on military products that were never going to live up to their expectations.

Now that the unipolar era is over and America is in a very competitive global environment, it is left with the bitter legacy of that post-Cold War policy decadence. 

The question now is: Can the U.S. military recover from these missteps in time to prevent a strategic catastrophe from befalling U.S. forces? 

About the Author 

Brandon J. Weichert is a former Congressional staffer and geopolitical analyst who is a contributor at The Washington Times, as well as at American Greatness and the Asia Times. He is the author of Winning Space: How America Remains a Superpower (Republic Book Publishers), Biohacked: China’s Race to Control Life, and The Shadow War: Iran’s Quest for Supremacy. Weichert can be followed via Twitter @WeTheBrandon.

The Iowa-Class Battleship's 16-Inch Guns Were Raw Naval Power

The National Interest - Fri, 08/03/2024 - 21:15

Summary: The Mark 7 16-inch/50-caliber gun, equipped on the iconic Iowa-class battleships, stands as a testament to U.S. naval engineering prowess during the mid-20th century. Developed as a compromise between firepower and treaty restrictions, the Mark 7, paired with the Armor Piercing (AP) Mark 8 projectile, rivaled the destructive power of larger caliber guns while adhering to displacement limits. Featuring advanced construction techniques including autofrettage and chromium-plated bores, the Mark 7 offered increased barrel life and superior firepower. Each gun was part of a three-gun turret system requiring a crew of 77 sailors for operation. The Mark 7's versatility was further demonstrated by its wide range of ammunition types, from conventional high explosive shells to the nuclear Mark 23 warhead, showcasing its adaptability and formidable combat capability.

Power & Precision: Unveiling the Legacy of the 16-inch Mark 7 Gun

The Iowa class was the last U.S. battleship ever built, and one of the most iconic. Fittingly, the class was equipped with what might be the most iconic naval gun, the celebrated 16-inch/50-caliber Mark 7. Let’s take a look at the Mark 7 to better understand what made the gun so superlative.

The Development of the Mark 7 16-Inch Gun on Iowa-Class

In the late 1930s, the U.S. commissioned a set of studies for “fast battleship” designs. The General Board, which considered design options, initially considered using an 18-inch/47-caliber gun that had been in use since the 1920s. The 18-inch gun was massive and formidable. But accommodating the gun would have meant increasing displacement above the 45,000-ton limit that, in the late 1930s, was still treaty-enforced.

Eventually, the General Board settled on the 16-inch Mark 7. The gun was originally designed to fire a lighter, 2,240-pound Armor Piercing (AP) Mark 5 projectile. But the Mark 7’s shell handling system was redesigned to handle the heavier, 2,700-pound AP Mark 8. The Mark 7, paired with the Mark 8 projectile, allowed the guns to achieve penetrating power similar to that of Japanese 18.1-inch guns, despite weighing less.

“In 1969, Capt. Edward Snyder of the USS New Jersey (an Iowa-class battleship) reported that the armor piercing shell could penetrate 32 feet of reinforced concrete,” Tim Migaki wrote. “Reportedly, the explosion of a High Capacity shell would create a crater 50 feet wide and 20 feet deep.”

Clearly, the designers had built a gun with considerable firepower. 

The design of the Mark 7

The Mark 7 was built with “a liner, A tube, jacket, three hoops, two locking rings, tube and liner locking ring, yoke liner,” Migaki wrote. “Some components were autofretted. The bores were also chromium-plated to increase barrel life.”

To build the Mark 7, each piece of the gun was heated and expanded, and then slid down over the tube. As the gun part cooled, it would shrink, creating a tight unit.

On the deck of an Iowa-class ship, the Mark 7 would be mounted in turrets on individual slides, which could be elevated independently of each other. The result was, technically, a three-gun turret, rather than a triple turret.

“Each turret assembly consists of a gun house with a rotating structure, a fixed structure, a barbette, and magazines,” Migaki wrote. “The gun house is the rotating armored structure that contains the guns, sighting, and rangefinder stations. The gun pit and machinery flat extend below the shelf plate of the hun house into the upper and lower barbettes.”

Remarkably, a bare minimum of 77 sailors was needed for the operation of a single Mark 7 turret.

The arming of the Mark 7 16-Inch Gun 

Of course, the Mark 7 could be loaded with different types of ammunition. These included Armor Piercing; High Capacity; High Explosive – Controlled Variable Time; Improved Conventional Munition; High Explosive – Electronic Time/Point Detonating; and later, the Nuclear Mark 23 with a 15-20-kiloton nuclear warhead.

About the Author: Harrison Kass

Harrison Kass is a defense and national security writer with over 1,000 total pieces on issues involving global affairs. An attorney, pilot, guitarist, and minor pro hockey player, Harrison joined the US Air Force as a Pilot Trainee but was medically discharged. Harrison holds a BA from Lake Forest College, a JD from the University of Oregon, and an MA from New York University. Harrison listens to Dokken.

Image Credit: Public Domain.

Podcast: Joe Biden's Fiery State of the Union (w/ Harry Kazianis)

The National Interest - Fri, 08/03/2024 - 20:40

Facing growing scrutiny over his age, President Joe Biden came out swinging Thursday night with a forceful State of the Union address that set the tone for the 2024 general election. Will his performance assuage doubts about his fitness, at age 81, to lead the U.S. through an increasingly volatile global order? In this episode, Jacob Heilbrunn speaks with Harry J. Kazianis, executive editor of The National Interest. Kazianis previously served as part of the foreign policy team for Senator Ted Cruz's 2016 presidential campaign and worked for the conservative Heritage Foundation.

Joe Biden's Fiery State of the Union (w/ Harry Kazianis)

F-35 Armed Ford-Class Aircraft Carrier John F. Kennedy Headed to Pacific

The National Interest - Fri, 08/03/2024 - 20:33

Summary: The USS John F. Kennedy (CV-67), the last conventionally-powered aircraft carrier built for the U.S. Navy, was decommissioned in 2007 after nearly 40 years of service, including key operations like the initial strikes in Operation Desert Storm. Succeeding it is the Gerald R. Ford-class nuclear-powered supercarrier CVN-79, named the future USS John F. Kennedy, set to enter service in 2025 and make its maiden deployment with the United States Pacific Fleet. Despite being a year behind schedule due to an altered Post-Shakedown Availability (PSA) strategy, the new carrier is 90% complete. This strategy aims to integrate necessary modifications and efficiency improvements learned from its predecessor, the USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78), including adaptations for the F-35C Lightning II and the upgraded Enterprise Air Surveillance Radar. This approach, endorsed by Congress, replaces the previously considered dual-phase delivery with a more capable single-phase delivery, ensuring the carrier's readiness for deployment to the Indo-Pacific, thereby bolstering U.S. naval deterrence in the region.

Next-Gen Power: The Future USS John F. Kennedy Set for Pacific Deployment

During her nearly 40 years, the Kitty Hawk -class variant aircraft carrier USS John F. Kennedy (CV-67) – the last conventionally-powered flattop built for the U.S. Navy – saw more than a dozen deployments to the Mediterranean and also commenced the very first strike operations against Iraqi forces as part of 1991's Operation Desert Storm.

Decommissioned in 2007, the now-retired warship will be succeeded by the Gerald R. Ford-class nuclear-powered supercarrier CVN-79, which was laid down in July 2015, and launched four years later. The future USS John F. Kennedy is now scheduled to enter service in 2025, but her initial deployment won't be in the same waters as the former carrier named for the 35th president of the United States.

Rather, it was announced last November that CVN-79 will become a unit of the United States Pacific Fleet when she makes her maiden deployment later this decade, Sea Power Magazine reported.

According to Captain Brian Metcalf, the U.S. Navy's program manager for the Ford-class aircraft carriers, following the commissioning and training workups, the nuclear-powered warship would make a deployment to the Indo-Pacific region and arrive at its new homeport on the U.S. West Coast. Metcalf made the comments while speaking at a panel of the American Society of Naval Engineers' Technology Systems and Ships seminar in November.

Metcalf also reaffirmed that the future USS John F. Kennedy was 90% complete at HII's Newport News shipyard, adding that the program office plans to complete much of the vessel's Post-Shakedown Availability (PSA) work would be completed on during the construction and before commissioning, would enable the Kennedy to enter its basic training phase on time.

USS John F. Kennedy Aircraft Carrier: Behind Schedule – But Still Coming

The second nuclear-powered carrier of the Ford-class is currently about a year behind schedule according to Fiscal Year 2024 (FY24) budget documents released a year ago. The delays were due to the altered PSA.

"The Navy is implementing a strategy to pull baseline work from the Post Shakedown Availability (PSA) into the construction period in order to provide more capability at ship delivery," the U.S. Navy's shipbuilding budget documents noted, USNI reported.

That revised schedule would ensure that CVN-79 would be ready to deploy to the Indo-Pacific when she enters service.

"This approach will prepare CVN 79 as the first FORD class aircraft carrier to operate in the Indo-Pacific region and decrease the amount of time CVN 79 would be required to be at the shipyard after ship delivery to conduct the PSA," the documents added. "CVN 79s PSA will align to a traditional period of resolving discrepancies discovered during trials. The revised strategy maintains the overall 'ready for deployment workups' milestone for CVN 79."

Dual Phase Delivery Scrapped

The sea service had decided to switch from a dual-phase delivery for the carrier to a single-phase delivery, which added two years of work to the flattop's detailed design and construction contract.

Initially, the U.S. Navy had employed the dual-phase to save money on construction schedules in the shipyard while avoiding significant overlap between USS John F. Kennedy entering the fleet and USS Nimitz (CVN-68) leaving. However, under the dual-phase approach, the Ford-class carrier would have received retroactive modifications for the carrier-based Lockheed Martin F-35C after delivery.

Instead, following a mandate from Congress, HII's Newport News Shipbuilding provided the modifications for the F-35C Lightning II during the vessel's construction, while other issues that were found during the construction of the lead vessel USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) were also addressed. In addition, CVN-79 received the upgraded Enterprise Air Surveillance Radar.

"Shifting to single phase and incorporating the F-35C modifications will enable the delivery of a more capable and lethal carrier," said James Geurts, assistant secretary of the Navy for Research, Development and Acquisition. "Initiating this work now will build on the lessons learned from USS Gerald R. Ford to maintain the optimal construction timeline for the shipyard and to avoid inefficiencies."

Progress on the carrier continues, and it was last month that Newport News Shipbuilding began topside testing of the electromagnetic aircraft launch system (EMALS) on the carrier.

The U.S. Navy's newest nuclear-powered carrier, operating with the most advanced multirole fighter will be heading to the Indo-Pacific by the end of the decade – serving as a strong deterrent to China.

Author Experience and Expertise: Peter Suciu

Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,200 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, politics, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu. You can email the author:

In Waiting for the Great Displacement

Foreign Policy Blogs - Fri, 08/03/2024 - 19:43

The first recorded loss on an American made M1 Abrams tank in Ukraine was documented around the same time as the 2024 NATO Summit.

In a recent NATO meeting, the territorial losses Ukraine has recently suffered along with documented losses of Western equipment has put NATO and Ukraine’s allies in an anxious position. Claims by some NATO members that NATO troops could be sent to the front in Ukrainian territory would approach a Vietnam like scenario, where young people in Western nations would slowly see their friends and relatives enter live combat, hoping that laws requiring Conscription would not be passed in those countries. With this meeting coming at a time when Russia’s Opposition leader Navalny dying or being murdered in custody, bad policy decisions in the recent past may lead to some significantly terrible consequences for Western allies.

In addressing in the main threats to the West, there should be three different approaches to the three main threats in Asia, Europe and the Middle East. This is based on the actual popularity of the current governments in those regions as well as the relationship those governments have with their population in putting them and keeping them in power. This would affect the outcomes of challenging these actors, as each scenario is different as well as their end goals. The main issue in all three regions is that only half measures have been taken to discourage increased conflict or to abate it. Voting matters more than ever in 2024, as it is affecting everyone personally.

When consumer products mattered more to Western countries than the fate of Hong Kong’s democracy, and an Olympic Games was held close to a region where minority communities were suffering systemic human rights abuses, it was made perfectly clear that relations with China did not include actual human rights issues in its application. Ignoring core values in our democracies when dealing with foreign powers has resulted in eventual tensions with China. This lacking policy has damaged relations to the point where on Feb 27th 2024, the American news program The National Desk did a report on how the Fentanyl crisis in North America is wholly and directly related to China’s Government, even extending to operations in Mexico. With a nation changing foreign interference debate also taking place in Canada at the moment, the policy the West has had towards China is a direct outcome of ignoring our core values and beliefs.

It is difficult to know the popularity of China’s Government by its people, but it is well known that China’s biggest fear is an uprising by its citizens against the current Government. The first generation of the current Government in China is has not been experienced by this generation and has been re-characterized in a positive light in the recent past. A healthy economy is what is keeping China operating, and it is likely best for China to take actions to keep exports high as it is questionable how an open conflict with Taiwan or India would be taken by citizens in China, and what the outcome would be if the Government actually fell to a popular uprising. Since the West will not challenge China and does little to protect itself from China degrading their own youth in the US and Canada, it would be best that the West use China to displace its support for Russia’s war effort, while giving needed equipment and artillery to Ukraine. This of course should be done with an acknowledgment of local crises, and actions being taken to end the crisis, as opposed to policies that extend its destruction.

China and Russia are not natural allies, and have fought wars on their border over still simmering territorial disputes. While Russia can exchange oil for arms, it would be in China’s best interest to not be linked to one side of a conflict far from its borders. China is actively seeking to displace Russia’s arms sales and much of their artillery uses Soviet designed technology that can be used with old Soviet equipment; equipment also used by Ukraine. China also constructs fairly new and updated equipment faster than any other nations, so their retired artillery and anti-air systems from 2008 could be purchased directly or via a third party as China is actively promoting weapons sales abroad. If there is no stomach to challenge China and they are dependant on exports to Western nations, a displacement of arms to Russia as well as an effective policy to protect our own communities is essential to avoiding a larger conflict.

Russia’s long term goals were always plausible due to the high level of support Russia has in their own population as well as a sanctions regime by the West that is more virtue signal than action. While the US and Canada do little to nothing to displace Russian oil and gas export revenues, Russian oil and gas is still being purchased by Western countries via third countries, who themselves have questionable human rights records. NATO and Western allies that are not united in the objectives of ending funds that go to Russia’s war effort have helped produce a scenario where Ukraine is starting to lose territory. These same countries have diminished the support for Ukraine by enabling its support to be used for local political gain in countries that are suffering from high prices and energy costs due to a lack of displacement of energy, along with social crises as described like those above that result in local crime and chaos. Ukraine should consider openly questioning allies who contribute to Russia’s propaganda, energy funding, and military, and request that NATO inquire into these allies that are undermining the war effort directly or indirectly. Policies and stronger sanctions should not come only after we have lost Navalny, and there is little that can be done to change the support Russians have for their Government if we allow people like him to be detained indefinitely. We need to displace the funding to stop the arms factories, and we must end our own contributions as well as external supplies to their war effort.

Iran has famously lost much of its local support from its population, a freedom movement that have been frequently abandoned by the West as is common treatment with most of the pro-Western communities in the Middle East. So lacking is the support for their movement, that several opportunities have been given to abuse and harass those living in Iran, as well as against those in the larger Middle East. It should be noted that the first people to be conquered by the Iranian Regime was the Iranians themselves, and actions that leave them to be brutalised are the same ones that have lead to atrocities in the greater region that will expand abroad.

In the same time period that we found out that ballistic missiles from Iran were purchased by Russia, there was also a story about Western technology aiding in the design of Iranian drones used to murder innocent people in Ukraine, as well as networks in North America seeking to assassinate regime opponents in the United States directly. With so much conflict via proxies, via Yemen and arms exports to Russia, it would be wise to challenge threats to the West and its allies at its source as the passive approach has lead to a NATO that had to debate openly between its own leaders in a display of panic and weakness. When direct threats are oppressing their own citizens, innocents in the near region, and affect the entire global community, ignoring threats or taking half measures only ensured future conflict and the normalisation of brutality. While China can be financially managed and Russia can be fought into debt and attrition, when several incidences of Casus Belli take shape, passive responses will simply encourage a horrific outcome. If the West want to win or simply gain stability, they must take concrete actions to avoid a larger conflict.

NATO at a Crossroads? Trump’s Remarks and the Future of the Alliance

Foreign Policy Blogs - Fri, 08/03/2024 - 19:00


Former President Trump is no stranger to controversy, but his recent remarks represent perhaps his most alarming challenge to transatlantic unity. During a campaign rally on February 10, the likely Republican presidential nominee declared that he would not defend a NATO ally that fails to meet the 2% GDP defense spending requirement. Beyond undermining deterrence and establishing conditions for an attack on NATO, this statement tramples on the alliance’s foundational ethos of indivisible security and “one for all, all for one.” With prospects of a second Trump presidency on the horizon, the specter of diminished American involvement hovers over NATO once again. This time, however, the alliance confronts a belligerent Russia to the east amidst a rapidly deteriorating global security environment.

On the other hand, the invasion of Ukraine has galvanized the transatlantic community, leading to a surge in defense spending across the board. With the Russo-Ukrainian war approaching its second-year mark on February 24, it is time to revisit the discourse surrounding NATO’s 2% minimum. Trump’s comments also prompt two disconcerting questions: will he withdraw from NATO, and can the world’s most powerful alliance survive without America’s guiding hand?

To be sure, Trump’s callousness departs from the norms of transatlantic diplomacy, but his association with the 2% controversy skews what is fundamentally a longstanding issue. Every administration since Eisenhower has lamented the inequitable distribution of defense costs within NATO, with Ike himself once bemoaning that the Europeans were “making a sucker out of Uncle Sam.” The disparity became even more pronounced after the Cold War, and by 2014, only three member states allocated at least 2% of their GDP to defense. From the perspective of the American security establishment and public, Europeans are free-riding off U.S. taxpayers despite America being more secure and arguably deriving less benefit from NATO. In fact, there is widespread consensus in the public policy community that Trump is correct about inequitable burden-sharing, but his modalities are ill-conceived and have only strained relations. Where Trump is wrong lies in his utter disregard for the sanctity and historical bonds that underpin U.S.-European ties.

Nonetheless, the tides are turning, and tangible changes are evident. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine triggered a fundamental reassessment of how European nations conceptualize and define their security interests. In 2024, NATO anticipates that 18 member states will meet the minimum 2% defense spending requirement, the highest number to date. This uptick undoubtedly bolsters NATO’s capabilities, but it more significantly reflects a reinvigorated political determination and commitment to collective security.

While the U.S. should take satisfaction with this improvement, the ongoing debate places excessive emphasis on the numerical benchmark itself and insufficient focus on the fund’s allocation. Simply achieving the 2% GDP expenditure on defense does not inherently translate into a net benefit for the alliance. Take Greece, for example; it has historically met the threshold, but in 2014, 77% of its military budget covered personnel costs in the form of pensions and salaries. While compensating service members is necessary, many strategically vital activities lie beyond the scope of this requirement. Critical investments in logistics, infrastructure, and mobility play pivotal roles in operations but fall outside the umbrella of defense spending, raising questions about whether NATO should consider more flexibility in the existing criteria.

Despite incremental progress, the Russian invasion clearly showed that Europe continues to depend heavily on the U.S. for its security. Therefore, if Trump turned away from NATO or pulled out altogether, could the alliance endure in America’s absence? The answer is yes, but not without caveats. America’s withdrawal would severely degrade the alliance’s capabilities, cutting its tank and artillery fleet in half. NATO would also be devoid of strategic and stealth bombers, as well as assets like aerial control, reconnaissance, and, most critically, aerial refueling. While the remaining 30 members possess the expertise and wherewithal to adapt, such a transition would take years and substantial investment. For instance, Belgium would require $5-7 billion and several years to produce sufficient ammunition for merely two months of combat. Furthermore, providing additional assistance and weaponry to Ukraine while maintaining adequate stockpiles for conventional deterrence would be out of the question.

Nevertheless, the alliance would retain supremacy on the seas and in the skies. Most NATO members operate American-made F-16 and F-35 fighter jets, and the complementary French Rafales and Eurofighter Typhoons represent formidable weapons in their own right. France, the UK, Italy, and Turkey would ensure continued naval proficiency, while the British and French nuclear arsenals provide the alliance with a much-needed nuclear deterrent. Additional optimism accompanies its newest members in Finland and, pending approval, Sweden. While all members contribute strategic value, Sweden and Finland stand out with cutting-edge defense industries and relatively sizable armed forces. Still, no single or combination of members could fill the void left by the U.S., but the alliance, at the very least, could effectively stand its ground against Russia in due time.

Fortunately, given that Russia has its hands full in Ukraine, its military is in no position to initiate a conflict along the 1,500-mile-long Russian-NATO border. Moreover, chances of the U.S. leaving NATO are virtually nonexistent, even if Trump wins reelection. It is crucial to digest Trump’s comments within the context of American populism and the domestic support he garners through anti-NATO rhetoric. Furthermore, for reasons of bureaucratic inertia and logistics, America’s exit from NATO would incur far greater costs in terms of finances, time, and influence compared to the status quo. With approximately 100,00 troops stationed in Europe, the U.S. boasts 16 military bases, four naval stations, and eight air force bases across the continent. Washington also maintains around 150 nuclear weapons throughout Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and Turkey. Even if Trump intended to leave NATO, negotiating the transfer or dismantlement of these assets in a four-year timeframe is as impractical as it is impossible.

That said, if Trump secures reelection, the alliance will inevitably grapple with issues of cohesion, and the future of Ukraine is far less certain. However, one should take comfort that his anti-NATO rhetoric appears grounded in populist posturing and the costs associated with burden-sharing. NATO has endured thus far, and while present concerns are legitimate, there is ample reason to believe that history’s most powerful alliance will remain so in the foreseeable future.

Iowa-Class: The U.S. Navy's 58,000 Tons of Raw Battleship Firepower

The National Interest - Fri, 08/03/2024 - 18:22

Summary: The Iowa-class battleships stand as one of the most iconic symbols of naval power from the late 19th to the mid-20th century, epitomizing the zenith of battleship design and capability. Notably large, these ships measured 860 feet in length and displaced 58,460 tons, surpassing the limits set by international treaties due to strategic necessities. Armed with formidable weaponry, including the massive 16-inch Mark 7 naval guns, they were designed primarily to counter the Japanese Navy during World War II. The Iowa class boasted unparalleled firepower and speed, with a propulsion system generating 212,000 horsepower, enabling speeds over 32 knots. Only four were built, yet they served in multiple conflicts including World War II, Korea, Vietnam, and Desert Storm, marking a significant chapter in naval history and leaving a lasting legacy in military and public consciousness.

Iowa-Class Battleships: Titans of Naval Warfare History

One of the most iconic vessels in the history of naval warfare is the battleship. From the late 19th century through the mid-20th century, the battleship was the pre-eminent naval vessel and the lynchpin of the world’s most powerful naval forces. Memorialized with a board game, Hasbro’s Battleship, the battleship transcended military culture and entered the public consciousness. 

The battleship was, and in many respects is, what the general public thinks about when they think about a warship. And of all the different varieties of battleship, from Germany to America and from Britain to Japan, perhaps the most iconic of all was the Iowa class. 

Introducing the Iowa-Class

The Iowa class was a large ship. Measuring 860 feet at the waterline with a beam of 109 feet and a draft measuring 37 feet, it displaced 58,460 tons. In fact, the ships were so large that they would have violated an international treaty, which capped battleship displacement at 45,700 tons, had it not been for the elevator clause of the Second London Naval Treaty. That clause allowed for larger builds given Japan’s withdrawal from the original treaty. 

The Iowa wasn’t just large but well-armed, bristling with an array of devastating weaponry. Indeed, of all the battleships to ever sail, the Iowa was the most heavily armed. 

First laid down in 1940, the Iowa class was designed as a thwart to the formidable, and expanding, capabilities of the Japanese Navy. As such, its ships were fitted with nine breech-loading 16-inch (406mm)/50-caliber Mark 7 naval guns. These were housed in three 3-gun turrets, configured with two turrets forward and one turret after, in the “2-A-1” configuration.

Each of the Mark 7 guns measured 66 feet long – 50 times longer than their 16-inch bore. Only about two-thirds of the Mark 7 gun was visible, as the gun house obscured the other third. The Mark 7s were truly massive, weighing about 239,000 pounds apiece. Each Mark 7 could fire a 2,700-pound armor-piercing shell at a muzzle velocity of 2,500 feet per second, to a range of up to 24 miles.

The Mark 7 was not the only gun nestled on the Iowa’s deck. It was joined by the Mark 12. While smaller than the Mark 7, the Mark 12 still weighed nearly 4,000 pounds, with a bore length of about 16 feet. The Mark 12 fired shells at about 2,500 feet per second and was classified as a “dual-purpose gun,” or DP, because it could be toggled to target between surface and air targets.

For propulsion, the Iowa class used eight Babcock & Wilcox boilers and four double reduction cross-compound geared turbines, with each turbine driving a single shaft. The power plant was sufficient to generate 212,000 horsepower, which could propel the Iowa at more than 32 knots per hour. To keep the power plant engaged, the Iowa class would sail with 9,000 tons of fuel, which enabled an operating range of 18,300 miles.

Only four Iowa-class battleships were built, but they made an outsized impact, serving in World War II, Korea, Vietnam, and Desert Storm

About the Author: Harrison Kass

Harrison Kass is a defense and national security writer with over 1,000 total pieces on issues involving global affairs. An attorney, pilot, guitarist, and minor pro hockey player, Harrison joined the US Air Force as a Pilot Trainee but was medically discharged. Harrison holds a BA from Lake Forest College, a JD from the University of Oregon, and an MA from New York University. Harrison listens to Dokken.

CVV: The Medium Aircraft Carrier the U.S. Navy Never Built

The National Interest - Fri, 08/03/2024 - 17:22

Summary: The concept of the CVV, a medium-sized aircraft carrier proposed over 50 years ago during Admiral Enzo Zumwalt's tenure as chief of naval operations, is gaining renewed interest in the U.S. Navy. Initially designed as a conventionally powered vessel to carry 55 to 65 fighter jets and helicopters at a lower cost than Nimitz-class carriers, the CVV idea was shelved with the increase in the military budget under President Ronald Reagan. However, contemporary challenges, particularly Anti-Access/Area Denial (A2/AD) strategies by U.S. adversaries, have led to reconsideration of similar concepts. The Navy is exploring "Lightning Carriers" that can operate F-35B Lightning II stealth fighters, offering a versatile and risk-mitigated approach to maintain operational capability in contested regions like the South China Sea and near Taiwan, indicating a potential revival of the CVV concept to adapt to modern strategic needs.

CVV: Could Medium-Sized Carriers Be the Answer to the Navy's A2/AD Challenge?

The U.S. Navy fields the most aircraft carriers in the world. The service’s 11 supercarriers are complemented by several other warships that can double as light carriers when needed. 

The concept of the light aircraft carrier isn’t new. But the Navy has a mixed relationship with it, usually preferring fewer but stronger carriers for its fleet. 

More than 50 years ago, the Navy came close to fielding an interesting carrier. 

The CVV Concept 

In the 1970s, the Navy was undergoing a major change. Adm. Enzo Zumwalt was the chief of naval operations, the top officer in the Navy, and he was pushing for a naval force of more but smaller warships. 

As part of that push for numbers, Navy officials circulated the idea of an interim aircraft carrier. The Aircraft Carrier (Medium) CVV concept envisioned a conventionally powered warship that would be cheaper and smaller than the Nimitz-class supercarriers that were then under construction. 

With a displacement of more than 62,000 tons, a complement of about 4,000 men, and the ability to carry 55 to 65 fighter jets and helicopters, the CVV concept promised to diversify the Navy’s fleet. 

A single prototype was planned, and the Navy released artistic impressions of the ship. But the CVV concept perished when Ronald Reagan came to the presidency and unleashed the military’s budget. With money no longer a limiting factor, the Navy could just build more Nimitz-class aircraft carriers – vessels that could carry almost 100 aircraft and were also nuclear-powered. 

All of this took place more than 40 years ago, but today’s challenges might revive the CVV concept. 

Countering Adversary Strategies 

The idea for a CVV fleet might have died an inglorious death in the planning boards of the Navy Yard in Washington, D.C., but the concept behind the medium aircraft carrier lives on. 

For several years now, U.S. adversaries have been developing Anti-Access/Aerial Denial (A2/AD) capabilities that aim to restrict America’s Nimitz- and Ford-class supercarriers from contested waters. Indeed, a well-placed hypersonic munition could damage, destroy, or sink a multi-billion dollar aircraft carrier like the USS Gerald R. Ford, which cost $13 billion. 

The Navy is looking for ways to counter A2/AD capabilities and continue to operate without restriction close to geopolitically important regions such as Taiwan, the South China Sea, and the Black Sea. 

One of the concepts under development is that of the “Lightning Carrier.” The concept is similar to the CVV. A cheaper, smaller aircraft carrier comes with less risk for military planners, and it offers more solutions. The Navy has been pairing amphibious assault ships with the right aircraft – AV-8B Harrier attack jets and F-35B Lightning II stealth fighter jets. These aircraft have Short Take-off, Vertical Landing capabilities, meaning they can take off and land like helicopters. 

As the possibility of a near-peer conflict in the Indo-Pacific increases, the concept of the medium aircraft carrier is becoming more enticing to Navy planners. 

About the Author  

Stavros Atlamazoglou is a seasoned defense journalist specializing in special operations and a Hellenic Army veteran (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ). He holds a BA from Johns Hopkins University and an MA from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). His work has been featured in Business Insider, Sandboxx, and SOFREP. Email the author:

U.S. Navy Battleship USS Texas Is Now Back in the Water

The National Interest - Fri, 08/03/2024 - 17:08

Summary: This remarkable journey of restoration and preservation for the USS Texas, a venerable symbol of naval history, stands as a testament to the enduring respect and dedication to maritime heritage. The USS Texas (BB-35), having served with distinction in both World Wars, represents a living bridge to pivotal moments in history. Its recent emergence from the dry dock at the Gulf Copper facility in Galveston, after extensive repairs that included the replacement of nearly 700 tons of steel, is not just a technical achievement but a renewal of its legacy.

Battleship USS Texas Is Now Back in the Water Once Again 

A historic warship is now back in the water after 18 months of repairs. The USS Texas (BB-35), the only surviving battleship to see service in both World Wars, has been undergoing repairs at the Gulf Copper dry dock in Galveston, where the warship's hull was recently patched and painted. Nearly 700 tons of steel was recently replaced.

The retired U.S. Navy battleship has served as a floating museum since 1948. It exited the dry dock on Tuesday morning, marking a significant milestone in the $75 million restoration effort to preserve the vessel for future generations.

"We feel great. It's been in the dry dock [for] 18 months. It was a major victory to get her here in the dry dock and this is a result of our hard work and what we’ve been doing for the last 18 months working on the hull," Tony Gregory, president and CEO of the Battleship Texas Foundation, told Houston-area TV station KHOU

It is still too early to celebrate, however. The ship will continue to undergo repairs for the next 18 to 24 months, during which time crews will replace the deck superstructure and refurbish the interiors.

"So we're going to be restoring 60 spaces inside or semi-restoring 60 spaces inside, as well as replacing the wood deck and repairing the superstructure. This is going to make it accessible to the public and relaunch it as an exciting, modern technological museum when we reopen to the public," added Matthew Pham, vice president of development for the Battleship Texas Foundation.

USS Texas: Returned for Former Glory

Restoration has focused on making the battleship appear as it did in 1945, at the end of the Second World War. As previously reported, above the boot top – the black band on the hull – the ship has been painted Navy Blue 5-N. That color was matched from existing examples found both internally and externally on the vessel.

Though the USS Texas was launched in 1914 and saw service in both World Wars, time and the elements have been her greatest enemies. Before she was moved to Galveston for repairs, the iconic 122-year-old dreadnought made its home at the San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site for more than 70 years. All that time in the water took its toll on the old battle wagon, and in June 2017, a six-by-eight-inch hole about 15 feet below the waterline opened and caused the USS Texas to list six degrees. 

The historic battleship was only kept afloat by pumps as the vessel took on 2,000 gallons of water per minute. At one point the situation was so dire that there were concerns the warship might sink. Fortunately, efforts were made to ensure the warship won't be lost to the elements. While there is still much work to be done, significant progress has been made to restore the honorary flagship of the Lone Star State to her former glory.

Video footage of the USS Texas being floated for the first time in 18 months was shared on X.

Author Experience and Expertise: Peter Suciu 

Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,200 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, politics, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu. You can email the author:

IMEC: America’s Uncertain Response to China’s Silk Road

Foreign Policy Blogs - Mon, 04/03/2024 - 18:47


In a global landscape rife with instability, conflict, and fragmentation, economic initiatives have hardly captured recent headlines. It comes with little surprise that French calls for a meeting of IMEC member states flew under the radar, much like the project’s announcement did when President Joe Biden unveiled its blueprints at the 2023 G20 Summit in New Delhi. IMEC, short for the India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor, is an ambitious integration proposal that aims to facilitate the movement of goods and people between India and Europe through the Middle East. While there is collective enthusiasm amongst its member states, the plan is also a clear American counter to China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). However, Washington is late to the game, and concerns remain regarding IMEC’s practicality and effectiveness in achieving its objectives.

Despite the plan’s uncertain future and relative obscurity to the American public, it could deliver tangible benefits for its eight signatories. The developmental project intends to cut production and transportation costs while increasing shipping speed through enhanced integration and digital connectivity. A 4,800 KM system of rail and shipping networks would allow goods shipped from India to the UAE to reach Israel via railway through Saudi Arabia and Jordan. Goods could then enter Europe from the Israeli port of Haifa. By bypassing the Suez Canal, the improvised route could reduce transportation costs from European ports by as much as 40%. New high-speed internet cables and green hydrogen pipelines would complement the transportation infrastructure and add a sustainable dimension. Thus far, the EU, France, Germany, Italy, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE have committed alongside the U.S. Israel has not formally signed the memorandum but is expected to play a crucial role in its realization.

The inclusion of Israel reflects the Biden administration’s long-term approach to Middle Eastern stability, advocating for the country’s political integration within the Arab world to alleviate tensions and foster mutual economic gains. In this context, IMEC is an extension of the Abraham Accords that could pave the way for further diplomatic normalization between Israel and the Arab states. Above all, however, Washington envisions this initiative as a countermeasure to recent Chinese inroads in the Middle East, which culminated last year in the Beijing-brokered deal that normalized relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran. That said, IMEC’s purpose transcends great power rivalries, and the individual interests of the other signatories merit consideration.

As a supranational institution lacking a robust military instrument, the EU wields influence primarily through economic strength. The rise of powers like China and India has left Brussels increasingly concerned about the bloc’s competitiveness in an era of multipolarity. Consequently, the EU views IMEC as an avenue to improve its trade and access to global markets while building influence in the Persian Gulf. The initiative also serves the EU’s “De-risking” objective, specifically mitigating economic dependencies and its accompanying strategic vulnerabilities.

European countries involved at the national level, France, Germany, and Italy, aim to bolster their economies by securing contracts for their major companies. For example, executives of prominent French entities like energy giant Total, engineering company Alstom, and the optical fibers company Nexans have already expressed interest in the project.

In a similar vein, India perceives IMEC as a strategic tool to broaden its influence and cement its ascendency in the global economy. New Delhi is also a staunch supporter of Israel and its regional integration, even amidst the war in Gaza. One might imagine this could complicate relations with other Middle Eastern states, but India maintains constructive relationships throughout the region.

Likewise, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Jordan take a pragmatic approach to foreign policy unrestricted by rigid dogmas. For Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, IMEC is one component in his aspiring Vision 2030 – an endeavor to diversify his economy away from oil and position Saudi Arabia as a global hub of tourism, technology, and business. The UAE equally seeks to carve itself a niche diplomatic role grounded in economic potential, simultaneously pursuing close ties with China, the U.S., India, and Russia.

Nevertheless, as one can imagine, IMEC faces numerous obstacles, not least the ongoing war in Gaza. Successful implementation hinges on stability in the Middle East, a formidable challenge even without the recent events. Moreover, the conflict has jeopardized prospects of a rapprochement between Israel and the Arab states, particularly diplomatic normalization with Saudi Arabia – a longtime U.S. objective.

Another concern regards the timeline. Engaged on several diplomatic fronts, the U.S. cannot be everywhere at once. It is probably safe to say that IMEC does not currently occupy a top spot on the Biden administration’s list of priorities. For a project that would take at least a decade to carry out, it is hardly encouraging that France is the only member state to nominate a special envoy to IMEC. Even if the region stabilizes, IMEC will not come to fruition without political will.

China certainly believes this is the case, viewing IMEC as another empty promise made by Washington that is destined to fail. Unfortunately, Washington’s proposal is unlikely to generate its intended effect of countering Chinese influence in the Persian Gulf. Since the BRI’s inception in 2013, Beijing has heavily invested in and developed deep financial ties in the region. Furthermore, the Gulf countries do not share Washington and Europe’s concerns regarding China’s rise, viewing their relationship in transactional terms and a boon for business.

None of these factors doom IMEC, but like all goals worth fighting for, there is an uphill diplomatic climb. And just because the project will not sideline China’s regional presence should not dissuade the U.S. from pursuing it. In fact, showing the world that Washington’s motivations behind international engagement extend beyond great power competition will reinforce its global leadership. The U.S. should continue pursuing IMEC, but with more rigor, emphasizing mutual gains that will deepen American partnerships with its member states. When political will is present, history shows it is never a good idea to bet against America. One can only hope political will exists within the next administration.

After the Eleventh Hour

Foreign Policy Blogs - Thu, 29/02/2024 - 18:46

A Japanese F-15J with a cultural livery shows Japan’s close ties to the United States and their common defence posture.


Each day it appears that new conflicts are arising globally, and every month there is a change in the discussion on how these events were allowed to occur, and the best approach in resolving them. The best example of how to address many policy failures often comes from acknowledging past errors as well as learning from historical examples of successful transitions from nations at war towards nations who freely have chosen peace as their forward path. While some nations have had long traditions honouring warriors in their culture, the final word on those societies were not to extend conflict, but to seek peace, especially with former adversaries. One of the best examples of a large nation with this warrior tradition is Japan, who actively honours their past in many forms while focusing on peace and stability wherever possible.

Pre-1950s Japan was well known as an Imperial Empire that aggressively captured much of Asia and the Pacific region, subjecting their adversaries to some of the most brutal treatment known to humanity. The loss of the Second World War to the United States and Allied forces was not only a military defeat, but a cultural revolution where old customs and systems of bias were reformed and subject to liberal ideas and modern approaches. While Japanese culture and traditions varied greatly from liberal values, the following years would create a local model of modernisation and progress that is a benefit to the rest of the world and the people of Japan itself. This transition did not occur in a vacuum, but developed with set expectations and measured approaches to turn Japan into one of the most modern societies in the 21st Century.

Post War Japan suffered from the same issues as many other nations after the Second World War, with shortages and newly administered Governments heavily influenced from abroad actively reshaping Japanese culture assertively and systemically. The 1960s emerged with a challenge to Japan, as economic development, education and social welfare systems mirrored that of many developing countries at the time. A focus on economic innovation and the promotion of their economy into the larger world utilised Japan’s increasingly educated and innovative population to challenge many Western dominated industries in the 1970s. By the 1980s, the Japanese economic model was by all measures well established and extremely competitive within the global marketplace. While Japan’s economic fortunes after the 1990s began to diminish, the country tended to have similar economic problems and solutions as their partners in North America and Europe and were seen as equal allies in the global economy and dependable partners in global security.

What some might call a Japanese economic miracle did not simply arise from good economic policy and fortunate foresight of future economic opportunities, but from a change in the general world view held by many in Japan post-1950. Japan actively produced an education system and culture that was disdainful of conflict, even though much of Japan’s history involved honouring a warrior tradition. Cultural properties in Japan that are often known internationally give a window into this development, and have in turn influenced the ideas of honour and tradition in cultures abroad as a result. Films and media went from Tokyo being attacked by offshore monsters towards a re-engagement with Samurai warrior culture via showing their humanity in the application of old ideas of honour and traditions. Eventually, much of these properties focused on the soul during conflict and the exploration of humanity during war, often around a narrative that is constantly vying for a path to peace. So expansive is the idea of pushing past the limitations of conflict and honour to seek peace, that the concept of peace though force became the focus of some media properties, establishing the idea that warriors achieve their greatest honour by directly fighting to end all wars as seen in the media property Gundam 00. Ideas around peace seems to have been a national project, so much so that the language of society turned the ideas of peace and humanity into a concept rooted in honour. A warrior after the 1950s could perhaps be seen not as someone who seeks war, but as someone who fights against it in the 2020s.

Japan has taken many decades to reform itself from a nation that saw brutality and war as a part of its warrior traditions, towards a country that is a model for economic and cultural development in the 21st Century. Japan actively shows that support for peace, financially, culturally, and systemically is the likely path to stem the continuation of future wars globally. Taking the approach of funding added conflict does little for the people in those nations, and works more to weaponise a world view instead of cultivating a culture that seeks peace and stability. What is apparent in many Japanese media properties and general culture is that war has no winners, and that those who seek war are never the honourable ones in the conflict. Perhaps they are correct, there is no honour in war, and those who seek it will never be warriors or heroes without false narratives painted over their empty deeds. Achieving Peace might be the purest form of Honour.


Le Monde Diplomatique - Thu, 08/02/2024 - 18:07
« Voilà ce qui figure dans mon évaluation 2020 : “une infirmière remarquable pour ses soins prodigués et sa conscience professionnelle”. Je suis suspendue depuis un entretien avec des personnes de la direction des ressources humaines auquel assistaient aussi des représentants syndicaux. Ce jour-là, (...) / , , - 2024/02

Departing the Red Sea

Foreign Policy Blogs - Wed, 07/02/2024 - 19:13

A Soviet Era Rubezh system launching a Cold War era ground based Anti-Ship missile, similar in appearance to those seen being used by Houthis in the Red Sea.

The creation of the Suez Canal was successful in advancing trade from the East to Europe as a mark of industrial advancement in the 19th Century. So important was trade through the canal that it prompted national movements, significant wars, and inspired many other large similar projects worldwide. With the threat of Anti-Ship missiles being launched at commercial vessels in the Red Sea, the canal is being abandoned and ships passing through the area are losing their ability to be insured. Companies are now being forced to choose the traditional longer and more costly route around the entirety of Africa in order to deliver goods to the Mediterranean and North Africa. The loss of funds from the canal has a great economic effect on Egypt, and creates higher prices to those living in Europe who are already strickened with inflationary issues from global events and the war in Ukraine.

While the missiles being shot at ships in the Red Sea vary from basic anti-ship missiles and artillery to what looks to be a copy or version of an older chunky Soviet anti-ship missile, the possible damage to commercial vessels and possible loss of life is something the international community and world trade had not tolerated, ever. From stories of old Pirates to those featuring Tom Hanks, an international response would always be the end result as blocking commercial shipping tends to damage almost all nations who trade via blue water routes. While links between Iran toward the Houthis also suggests ties with Russia and China, both Russian and Chinese commercial shipping have suffered economically from attacks in the Red Sea region, even if not directly hit by missiles. While there has been an international military response to the threat, it is surprising that it has not been more immediate and more severe as it has often been throughout the history of trade overseas.

Notable allies and adversaries have entered into protection mode in the area, as Indian Navy ships help rescue injured vessels while China’s has taken to actively calling for the protection of commercial shipping interests alongside the US, UK, and France. With a motley crew of often adversarial Navies now working in concert, or at least for a common purpose, it is likely the case that policy approaches and actions amongst many of these adversaries have now shown to have created a lose-lose situation for all involved. This has come with the realisation that some allies are best left on their own, as their support is as harmful or worse than being in direct conflict when them. Ties to allies that have often resulted in past suffering in a country’s own population has not been a mystery for many Russians. China, with its own national challenges, is able to keep itself in a good position internationally even if it is not as robust or profitable as it has been five or more years ago. Coming so close to all out conflict when all parties are suffering from poor policy choices might do more to encourage diplomacy and resolutions to political challenges. Doing so while chunky Anti-Ship missiles are whizzing by your country’s flagged ships is probably not the motivation any party sought in resolving their fissures with international rivals, but its what is now the new normal in 2024.

Étrangers et précaires… mais médecins

Le Monde Diplomatique - Wed, 07/02/2024 - 17:28
En annonçant début janvier une « régularisation » floue des médecins étrangers, le président Emmanuel Macron s'inscrit dans la continuité d'un système de formation qui fait d'eux la principale variable d'ajustement. Le maintien d'un volant de praticiens dans la précarité pallie la restriction des postes (...) / , , - 2024/02

Le droit international du plus fort

Le Monde Diplomatique - Tue, 06/02/2024 - 19:16
Imagine-t-on des relations internationales codifiées et imposées au reste du monde par des pays d'Amérique latine, d'Afrique, du Caucase ou d'Asie ? Guère, et pour cause : depuis le XVIIe siècle, le droit international décalque les intérêts des grandes puissances. Ses formes contemporaines, comme les (...) / , , - 2024/02

À Jacques Delors, le grand marché unique européen reconnaissant

Le Monde Diplomatique - Tue, 06/02/2024 - 16:18
Parfois la charité voudrait qu'on juge un personnage à ses intentions plutôt qu'à ses réalisations. Jacques Delors, un humaniste chré­tien membre du Parti socialiste, s'est ainsi trouvé être l'archi­tecte d'une Europe des marchés qui pratique le dumping social. On dit qu'il en éprouva des remords. (...) / , , - 2024/02

The State of the World into 2024…

Foreign Policy Blogs - Mon, 05/02/2024 - 19:13

Vintage set icons of ballot box for presidential election in USA . Elections 2024. Vote.

One month into the New Year, and we can already confirm that the rumors are true- 2024 will be a precedent setting year …. One might say that we enter the year between a rock and a hard place.  Major conflicts rage on multiple fronts and along multiple planes. Literal fighting continues to take place in Ukraine and the Middle East. A different sort of battle is taking place which will impact the standing of global democracy and the enduring power of important international bodies. Each one of these tension points has the potential to upset the global apple cart- sudden shocks along multiple fronts would be even more disruptive.

The uptick in global violence, exemplified by the warfare in Ukraine, Israel and Gaza, represent a worrying deviation from a decades long trend of increasingly peaceful relations. Each of these conflicts has taken a tremendous toll on combatants and non-combatants alike- some 10,000 civilians have been killed in Ukraine, alongside the over 25,000 Palestinians and roughly 2,000 Israeli civilians who have fallen in the fighting. Beyond the overwhelming loss of life and human potential that has already taken place, these conflicts both appear durable and come with serious downstream risks. 

The current state of affairs in Ukraine, baring a dramatic shift on the ground following the deployment of F-16s, suggests a momentumless and prolonged conflict. Even if we can limit our considerations exclusively to the facts on the ground, neither the Ukrainians nor the Russians appear satisfied with resolving the conflict in accordance with the military positioning as it is today. Once we allow ourselves to remember that other leaders with revisionist objectives are observing the existing power’s reaction to Russian aggression, the position becomes even more tenuous. 

The prospects that Ukraine maintains the whole of its territorial integrity appear increasingly dim, especially given the trajectory of American politics, yet rewarding aggression with territorial expansion sets a worrisome precedent.  A hypothetical “save face” outcome in which Ukraine gains NATO membership in exchange for ceding the currently occupied territories to Russia, feels unsatisfying for all parties involved.

The conflict in Gaza appears similarly intractable  given the current state of leadership both in Israel and in Palestine. Just as it feels increasingly uncontroversial to say that Benjamin Netenyahu’s time in office appears to be coming to an end, so too has it become increasingly clear that the military component of Hamas ought not serve as the de facto government in Gaza. Even as the establishment of a Palestinian state and the integration of existing political organizations in Gaza appear fundamental in order to secure a lasting peace, the military wing of Hamas is unsuited for that role. If more moderate leadership is able to rise in both camps, the international community appears ready to endorse a reimagined status quo in the Middle East.

Just as these conflicts will test the resolve of individual nations, so too will prominent international institutions be measured by their ability to mediate resolutions. In the very same moment during which entrenched powers would like to depend on well respected international bodies, the United Nations finds itself racked with controversy. Israeli political leaders have alleged that dozens of employees in the UNRWA participated in the October 7th attacks. This leaves American policy makers with the difficult choice of either working to reform the complicated UN bureaucracy or stepping away from an institution that long served as a pillar of Liberal values on the world stage. 

Despite the current moment of tension between American policymakers and the UN, the United States has proven itself capable of working within the United Nations framework to pursue American interests. This was on display in 2022 when the United States led an overwhelming diplomatic effort to denounce the Russian invasion of Ukraine. When the United States and the United Nations speak with one voice, their power is mutually reinforcing. American policy makers would be wise to strike the balance between unilateral actions abroad and respect for the international bodies that reinforce an American lead world order. 

Hanging over all of this is the opportunity, and the vulnerability, that comes with the some 4 billion people scheduled to vote in global elections in the coming year. The victory of the independent-leaning Democratic Progressive Party in Taiwanese elections resulted in less disruption- to date- than might have been expected, but there is no guarantee that similar calm would follow other hotly contested elections.The trajectory of American presidential elections will influence how voters in India and Mexico think about their economic and material security- offering an opportunity either for a coming together of international democracies or the further fracturing of the Postwar order.

Given all of this turbulence, and given all that is at stake in the coming months, it is more important now than ever for increased attentiveness to international affairs, and for those of us living in Liberal Democracies, increased concern for the health of our political institutions. 

To paraphrase one of my compatriots in the foreign policy arena, let’s hope that 2024 does not become a year which must not be named. 

Peter Scaturro is the Director of Studies at the Foreign Policy Association.

Uber fera-t-il sa loi à Bruxelles ?

Le Monde Diplomatique - Mon, 05/02/2024 - 18:07
Ils sont intégrés dans le décor urbain au même titre que les feux rouges qu'il leur arrive de brûler. Coursiers cyclistes et chauffeurs automobiles payés à la tâche pour Uber ou Deliveroo incarnent pour ces entreprises l'avenir d'un travail hors du salariat et donc sans droits. La réglementation (...) / , , - 2024/02

Étrange comme l'enfance

Le Monde Diplomatique - Mon, 05/02/2024 - 18:06
Jean Stafford et sa Molly Fawcett ont été quelque peu oubliées. La première était nouvelliste et romancière, collaborait au New Yorker et reçut un prix Pulitzer en 1970 ; la seconde est un de ses personnages. Alors que l'une meurt en 1979 à l'âge de 63 ans, épuisée par une vie chaotique, et que l'autre (...) / , - 2024/02

Cristallisations de la créolité

Le Monde Diplomatique - Mon, 05/02/2024 - 17:06
Pour le poète et philosophe antillais Édouard Glissant, la littérature engage une nouvelle poétique des frontières, physiques et psychiques, et l'écriture du roman offre des liaisons magnétiques et insoupçonnées entre réalité et imaginaire. C'est ce qu'offrent, aujourd'hui, certains auteurs des Antilles. (...) / , - 2024/02