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Obama

By Baker Spring

The Obama Administration released its overdue Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) on April 6, 2010. [1] The review establishes five specific objectives for the future nuclear force of the United States. Missing from these five objectives is what should be the most important objective of all: defending the U.S. and its allies against strategic attack. Accordingly, Congress, the American people, and America's allies need to ask the Obama Administration a simple and straightforward question: Why won't you defend us?

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By Rep Ike Skelton, Chairman of the US House of Repreentatives Armes Services Committee

The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008 required the Secretary of Defense to perform a review of our nuclear posture, in coordination with the Departments of State and Energy.

The Administration's Nuclear Posture Review seeks to establish a bipartisan approach to nuclear policy, and, in my view, properly balances the role of our nuclear deterrent forces with the goals of preventing nuclear terrorism and weapons proliferation.

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By Jorge Rivera

Last week, President Obama and his Russian counter-part President Medvedev signed an agreement for further reductions to their nuclear arsenal. It is being labelled as the most significant pact for a generation, and will limit the number of operationally deployed nuclear warheads to 1,550, which is 30% lower than the deployed strategic warhead limit of the 2002 Moscow Treaty. It also limits the number of deployed and non-deployed inter-continental ballistic missile (ICBM) to 800 launchers.

The effects of this pact will take several years to be fully realised but it will put pressure on NATO to re-evaluate its stance on its nuclear capabilities. NATO's nuclear deterrence strategy has evolved significantly since the end of the Cold War as has the Alliance's force posture in order to meet the new security challenges. Changes to the international security environment on the other hand have posed serious obstacles to the nuclear free world that President Obama envisioned in his speech in Prague, Czech Republic 2009. However, the arduous journey towards complete worldwide nuclear disarmament has begun this month, albeit slowly, creating ripples rather waves in this area of policy.

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By George Friedman

Making sense of U.S. President Barack Obama's strategy at this moment is difficult. Not only is it a work in progress, but the pending decisions he has to make -- on Iran, Afghanistan and Russia -- tend to obscure underlying strategy. It is easy to confuse inaction with a lack of strategy. Of course, there may well be a lack of strategic thinking, but that does not mean there is a lack of strategy.

Strategy, as we have argued, is less a matter of choice than a matter of reality imposing itself on presidents. Former U.S. President George W. Bush, for example, rarely had a chance to make strategy. He was caught in a whirlwind after only nine months in office and spent the rest of his presidency responding to events, making choices from a menu of very bad options. Similarly, Obama came into office with a preset menu of limited choices. He seems to be fighting to create new choices, not liking what is on the menu. He may succeed. But it is important to understand the overwhelming forces that shape his choices and to understand the degree to which whatever he chooses is embedded in U.S. grand strategy, a strategy imposed by geopolitical reality.

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By George Friedman

U.S. President Barack Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize last week. Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite, established the prize, which was to be awarded to the person who has accomplished "the most or the best work for fraternity among nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the promotion of peace congresses." The mechanism for awarding the peace prize is very different from the other Nobel categories. Academic bodies, such as the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, decide who wins the other prizes. Alfred Nobel's will stated, however, that a committee of five selected by the Norwegian legislature, or Storting, should award the peace prize.

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By George Friedman

During the 2008 U.S. presidential campaign, now-U.S. Vice President Joe Biden said that like all U.S. presidents, Barack Obama would face a foreign policy test early in his presidency if elected. That test is now here.

His test comprises two apparently distinct challenges, one in Afghanistan and one in Iran. While different problems, they have three elements in common. First, they involve the question of his administration's overarching strategy in the Islamic world. Second, the problems are approaching decision points (and making no decision represents a decision here). And third, they are playing out very differently than Obama expected during the 2008 campaign.

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by Brett D. Schaefer

On September 23, President Barack Obama will give his first address to the United Nations General Assembly. Recent statements by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations Susan Rice may offer several clues as to the content of the President's speech. Both laid out a wide-ranging agenda that, together, would have the U.S. seeking U.N. action on nuclear proliferation and disarmament, global warming, the Israeli and Palestinian conflict, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, development, women's rights, and a number of other issues.

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By George Friedman

As August draws to a close, so does the first phase of the Obama presidency. The first months of any U.S. presidency are spent filling key positions and learning the levers of foreign and national security policy. There are also the first rounds of visits with foreign leaders and the first tentative forays into foreign policy. The first summer sees the leaders of the Northern Hemisphere take their annual vacations, and barring a crisis or war, little happens in the foreign policy arena. Then September comes and the world gets back in motion, and the first phase of the president's foreign policy ends. The president is no longer thinking about what sort of foreign policy he will have; he now has a foreign policy that he is carrying out.

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by Sally McNamara

On his first presidential visit to Moscow this week, Barack Obama continued to cast doubt on U.S. plans to deploy elements of its missile defense shield in Poland and the Czech Republic. Since taking office, President Obama has conditioned his support for the "third site" deployment of 10 missile interceptors in Poland and a radar in the Czech Republic on a number of factors--its workability, its cost-effectiveness, and the provability of an Iranian nuclear threat. On a visit to Prague in April, President Obama gave a keynote speech focusing on total nuclear disarmament whereby missile defenses would be completely unnecessary.

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by Ariel Cohen, Ph.D.

On July 7, Presidents Barack Obama and Dmitry Medvedev will meet for their first full-fledged summit in Moscow.

The two countries may have a window of opportunity to re-launch their relationship, which has been set back by Russia's intransigent positions and its litany of demands. While some in the U.S. believe that rhetoric alone can revitalize the deteriorating relationship between the two nations, only concrete steps by Russia--such as responding positively to the U.S. initiatives--will prove that the two sides are opening a new page.

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