The recent resurgence of the geopolitical and geostrategic importance of Central Asia (hereafter CA) has led to the re-adoption of the Great Game discourse, recalling the strategic rivalry which opposed the British Empire and the Russian Empire in the XIX century.
NATO has released last week a report containing the outline of the future NATO Strategic Concept that will be adopted at the Alliance summit this year in Lisbon. Although this is not even a draft of the new Strategic Concept, it is a blue print that offers a glimpse of NATO’s strategic thinking. Following its publication consultations and heated negotiations between member states will follow in order to draft the NATO’s new Strategic Concept. This article is first in a series dedicated to analyzing the outline of the Alliance’s future strategy. In this part I will summarize and analyze the chapters dedicated to the threat environment, core tasks of NATO and partnerships.
Few events have had such a deep impact on world history as the conflict that griped the international system seventy years ago. As all great power wars in the last five hundred years it started in Europe, with a bid a for hegemony made by a Germany, the second in twenty-five years, but it soon spread to North Africa, the Pacific and the Atlantic oceans. World War II was a total war, the second in less than a generation, and as such it involved attacks on civilians and genocide. From a military and strategic point of view it was a total war, as the aim of the war was the re-ordering of the entire international system and the destruction of some of its members; its scope was not limited to the European continent, it saw an unprecedented level of societal mobilization for the war effort in every country involved and it was prosecuted with every means available, culminating in the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Last week Romanian President Traian Băsescu refused to attend the reception hosted by the American embassy in Bucharest to celebrate the 4th of July. This is the first time since fall of communism that a Romanian president has refused to attend the celebration hosted by the embassy. It is an odd gesture coming from a president known for his pro-American stance. The official explanation of the Romanian Presidency concerning the absence of the president from the reception was that Traian Băsescu had a busy schedule on July 2nd. Instead Romanian Prime Minister Emil Boc, and the minister of Foreign Affairs Cristian Diaconescu both attended the reception along with a host of important Romanian personalities.
As part of an ambitious 15 billion euros modernization plan, conceived in 2005, Romania should have replaced by now its aging fighter force with a new modern multipurpose aircraft. However, political difficulties, internal wrangling and the economic crisis of September 2008 have delayed these plans and threaten Romania’s ability to protect its airspace and fulfill its obligations as a NATO member.
The mainstay of the Romanian Air Force for almost forty years has been the Soviet built MiG-21 Fishbed, which has now become hopelessly outdated and needs replacement. A series of upgrades and overhauls in the mid 90’s have allowed the MiG-21 fleet to stay airborne until 2012 and maintain a decent degree of interoperability with other NATO partners. However the life expectancy of these air crafts is now almost over and they offer little military capabilities. Consequently in 2006 the Romanian Ministry of Defense decided to allocate 4.5 billion dollars to buy 48 new multipurpose fighters for the Air Force. The decision to buy these fighters should have been taken in 2008, but for political and economic reasons it has now been deferred most likely until 2010.
This is the second instalment from the series of articles regarding Romanian foreign policy I promised I will publish on this blog. In this article I will discuss and comment the draft 10 year foreign policy strategy which has been recently published by the Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Actually the word strategy does not properly describe the document – it is more a list of priorities and objectives for Romania’s diplomacy for the next ten years. In this respect the word strategy is a misnomer – but for practical purposes, I will refer to it as a strategy (the document is meant to ignite a public debate concerning Romania’s foreign policy in the next decade).