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Latin America

Today (15 Sept), two Tupolev TU 160 bombers (NATO codename Blackjack) are expected to overfly Cuba.

They are taking part in a training exercise which saw the aircraft's first-ever transatlantic flight and first-ever landing outside the former Soviet Union.

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By Adam Dempsey

Research associate U K Defence Forum

INTRODUCTION

Until comparatively recently it has proved difficult to find a time when Argentina could be truly identified as a fully-fledged democracy. Instead Argentinean politics was punctuated by periods of authoritarian military rule, attempts at free-market democracy or the populist rule of demagogues. Such fluctuations in political control demonstrate that Argentina's political history is by no means dissimilar to that of its Latin American counterparts. As with other parts of the continent Argentinaremains witness to a strong authoritarian legacy and deeply unequal societies.

Argentina's political problems were at their most profound between 1930 and 1983. Throughout this period Argentinawitnessed numerous military coups and twenty-five changes of presidential control. As a consequence of such political turmoil a further pattern emerged. During this period no constitutionally elected president served a full-term in office before handing power over to an elected successor.

The gradual consolidation of democracy prompted Argentina to redefine its role and reputation in the international system. This has resulted in Argentina becoming a leading contributor to international peacekeeping activities. Furthermore, working within international mechanisms has also allowed Argentina to develop closer ties with traditional regional adversaries. Not only have improved ties with Brazil benefited Argentina's contemporary military and energy policies, the potential for enhanced geopolitical significance has also increased.

As a result of increasingly cordial relations with its immediate neighbours, Argentina has also become a leading proponent of increased cooperation within the developing world. It is anticipated that such forms of cooperation will lead to a distinct geopolitical bloc that will advance the causes of developing states during negotiations within mechanisms of global governance. However the reinforcement of its commitment to the Western-led 'War on Terror' demonstrates that Argentina remains keen to develop good relations throughout the entire international system.

The full study is published by the U K Defence Forum www.ukdf.org.uk

 

Adam Dempsey, UK Defence Forum Research Asscoiate has written a study on Cuba after Fidel Castro. It is published as a paper on the UK Defence Forum's website www.ukdf.org.uk

This is the introduction.

On the 31st July 2006 Fidel Castro handed temporary control of Cuba's government and Communist Party to his brother Raul. Yet as a result of his continuing ill-health it was anticipated that Fidel would never exercise absolute power again. This was confirmed on the 24th February 2008 when Raul officially succeeded his brother to become the President. Raul's succession to the presidency also coincided with a meeting of the National Assembly of People's Power to determine membership of the Council of State. Yet despite the recent changes in government Fidel Castro still holds the official title of First Secretary of the Cuban Communist Party (PCC).

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By George Friedman and Reva Bhalla

Strange statements are coming out of Cuba these days. Fidel Castro, in the course of a five-hour interview in late August, reportedly told Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic and Julia Sweig of the Council on Foreign Relations that "the Cuban model doesn't even work for us anymore."

Once that statement hit the headlines, Castro backtracked. Dressed in military uniform for the first time in four years (which we suspect was his way of signaling that he was not abandoning the revolution), he delivered a rare, 35-minute speech Sept. 3 to students at the University of Havana. In addition to spending several minutes on STRATFOR's Iran analysis, Castro addressed his earlier statement on the Cuban model, saying he was "accurately quoted but misinterpreted" and suggesting that the economic model doesn't work anymore but that the revolution lives on.

Castro, now 84, may be old, but he still seems to have his wits about him. We don't know whether he was grossly misinterpreted by the reporter during the earlier interview, was acknowledging the futility of the Cuban model and/or was dropping hints of a policy shift. Regardless of what he did or did not say, Castro's reported statement on the weakness of the revolution was by no means revolutionary.

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By Adam Dempsey, Research Associate in Residence, UK Defence Forum

Russia's search an alternative buyer for S-300 air-defence missile batteries originally earmarked for Iran appears to have been hastily resolved. On 18th October Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez announced to journalists in Kiev, Ukraine, that his country intends to purchase five S-300s. The deal is expected to cost Venezuela $800 million. Russia's compliance with United Nations Resolution 1929 vindicates international consensus that Iran would use the S-300s to protect nuclear facilities. As it is highly unlikely that Venezuela has a similar nuclear programme the sale of the S-300s to Caracas should be comparatively easy. Yet why would Venezuela need to make such a purchase?

An overview of the S-300 suggests that Venezuela will be purchasing one of the most formidable air-defence systems currently available. The S-300 is capable of engaging six incoming targets simultaneously at ranges of up to 300km. According to the Federation of American Scientists the S-300 is also able to counter intensive air raids at low-to-high altitudes. The system can also be used to target low altitude objects such as cruise missiles and possibly to intercept strategic ballistic missiles.

Should Iran have completed the purchase of the S-300s the dynamics of the Middle East security environment would also have changed. As Iran's outdated air defences remain in place both the United States and Israel can retain the option of a pre-emptive strike on Tehran's nuclear facilities. Whilst the deployment of S-300s would do little to deter a larger-scale American bombardment it is likely that Tel Aviv would reassess its options. Yet this makes Chavez's decision to purchase the S-300s all the more mystifying.

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