April 16, 2014
A new strategy being developed by the U.S. Marines would focus on expeditionary warfare that is “fast, austere and lethal,” partly in response to budget cuts and partly to prevent a future Benghazi-like embassy disaster. Called Expeditionary Force 21, the Marine Corps playbook will maintain the branch’s fighting prowess while adding surprising changes to improve crisis response.
Inside the Marine Corps Plan to Stop the Next Benghazi
Marines conduct a dawn patrol in the Nawa district of Afghanistan in May 2010. (US Marine Corps)
China’s Pollution Solution May Be Worse than the Problem
March 31, 2014
Chinese government plans to forestall an impending environmental disaster call into question whether the solutions coming from Beijing aren’t worse than the problems they seek to resolve. Washing coal to limit air pollution dirties China’s water, yet the proposed answer — converting coal to synthetic natural gas — would massively increase the amount of greenhouse gases China emits.
Onboard Laser Protects Israeli Passenger Jets From Missiles
March 28, 2014
Israel now has an anti-missile defense system ready to attach to its jetliners, a decade after one of its passenger planes in Africa was nearly destroyed by shoulder-launched missiles. A belly-fired laser that can deflect an incoming missile is ready after successful tests. If the system proves its mettle, the laser maker is eyeing sales to other airlines that fly over dangerous territory.
No Way Out? ‘Off-Ramp’ Would Offer Putin an Exit Strategy
March 28, 2014
Conventional wisdom holds that Russia’s intervention in Ukraine is the most destabilizing event in Europe since the Soviet era and an indication that Vladimir Putin will use military force against eastern Ukraine and other former Soviet republics. Another possibility, however, is that Crimea is a one-time event and that Putin now seeks what U.S. President Barack Obama has called an “off-ramp” to end tensions.
Chinese Use Copper as Collateral, Distorting Metal’s Price
March 28, 2014
Special Economic Report
by Peter Warburton, PhD

The price of copper dropped to its lowest level in more than three years in March. A perfect storm of weak China data, a Chinese corporate default and a surge in Shanghai copper inventory precipitated the downward move. Overlaid on the fundamental demand for and supply of copper is a complex web of financial transactions. The extensive use of copper as collateral in the Chinese financial system is a recurring source of rumor and speculation, and could signal imminent trouble.
Next Stop, Estonia: Steps Putin Could Take to Destabilize NATO
March 28, 2014
In a March 18 speech announcing the annexation of Crimea, Russian President Vladimir Putin made the case that the people of Crimea had the right to determine their political fate and strongly hinted that ethnic Russians outside the Russian Federation had the same right. That logic now can be applied by Moscow to Western allies on the periphery of Russia, in line with Putin’s presumed long-term goal: destabilizing NATO along Russia’s borders.

In the speech, Putin reiterated Moscow’s concerns regarding NATO, saying that it “remains a military alliance, and we are against having a military alliance making itself at home right in our backyard or in our historic territory.” Absent a firmer response from the West than mild economic sanctions, it appears that Putin has made Crimea’s new status a fait accompli and a powerful argument to further test Western resolve.
One Way the West Can Really Hurt Russia: Ban the Bolshoi
March 27, 2014
Russia’s blithe reaction to Western sanctions following the annexation of Crimea makes clear the impotence of such limited moves in the face of Russian realpolitik on the ground. Russia is simply not susceptible to trade or financial sanctions that the West might impose, especially not from Europe, which remains dependent on Russian energy supplies.
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