Articles and analysis

nickwattsIMG 20170907 0924504Recent comments by both French and German leaders have resurrected the idea of a 'European' Army. This idea re-appears from time to time and has previously been opposed by the UK, when it feared this would detach Europe (and Britain) from the US and NATO. But, the advent of Donald Trump and Brexit mean that this idea has resurfaced to a receptive audience, at least among the political classes, writes Nick Watts.

As with anything in politics, timing is everything. Chancellor Merkel said that a 'European' army would complement NATO, not undermine it. But she is leaving the stage and Macron is driving this initiative. As Europe pauses to recall the centenary of the armistice that ended the Great War, thoughts turn to what could happen in the future. The lessons of the Versailles peace treaty are not lost on the European political classes. A bad peace stoked German resentment. Fear of Bolshevism fed an appetite for strong leaders, and the US retreated to isolationism. Weak states newly created, after the collapse of the Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian empires, fell under the sway of powerful neighbours.

USA00000IMG 00000 BURST20190107130637518 COVERSeeking to utilize China's financial wealth to advance Beijing's international aspirations, Chinese President Xi Jinping has discarded the policy of Paramount Leader, Deng Xiaoping: "hide your strength and bide your time" to launch the "The One Belt, One Road Initiative" (OBOR), writes Joseph E Fallon. An ambitious and expensive series of "credit-fueled" infrastructure projects to increase world trade, at a projected cost to China of $4 trillion, OBOR seeks to integrate economies of Eurasia and China. Whether OBOR enhances Beijing's global power or bankrupt's the government, may be decided by events in China's rebellious, Muslim Xinxiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.

hebrandRecently, the Arctic Ocean has been melting to such an extent that we could be forgiven for thinking that the "battle for the Arctic" has begun, writes Patrick Hebrard. There are those who hope that, as the ice melts, they will have access to new trade routes, fishing areas, sources of hydrocarbons and minerals buried at the bottom of the sea. Others are concerned about the effects of thoughtless exploitation on the environment and indigenous peoples. Still others fear potential conflicts in the region.

Behind the veil of sustained political rhetoric, national posturing and media hype about unresolved territorial claims, vast hydrocarbon resources and the disappearance of the polar bear, there lies a complex web of controversial scientific debate fuelled by inadequate information and unreliable predictions. A constantly changing situation of this type is obviously a source of opportunism and faulty judgement. The most likely scenario,
however, is that of a natural or human disaster on a scale that no single country could hope to contain, a disaster that would require coordinated action, including military support.

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