2012: The RUSI Year

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2012 has been another busy year for RUSI and its research agenda, especially as there was significant transition in the major international power centres. The following are highlights of RUSI activities, but is in no way an exhaustive account of its work in all areas of defence and security.


For RUSI, 2012 began with a reminder of past conflicts as Britain and Argentina revived bi-lateral tensions over the sovereignty of the Falkland Islands. RUSI hosted a conference on the UK's most pressing security concern; the London 2012 Olympics, with the Home Secretary Theresa May participating. Iran began to impose itself on the news agenda with the assassination of Iranian nuclear scientists contributing to rising regional tensions over its supposed nuclear ambitions. RUSI also hosted an exhibition to mark the unveiling of the Bomber Command Memorial later in the year.


The agenda in February was dominated by terrorism as four Britons pleaded guilty to planning to blow up the London Stock Exchange. RUSI began its series of online briefings, the UK Terrorism Analysis, beginning with an assessment of UK counter-terrorism landscape after the Olympic Games.

February brought  General Werner Freers, the Chief of Staff of the Bundeswehr to RUSI to discuss the future of the German army.


March brought the (re)election of Vladimir Putin to the Russian Presidency. RUSI examined the potential implications for Russia's foreign policy and NATO's missile defence strategy of Putin's return to the Kremlin. The UK's reorganisation of defence policy around the principle of austerity became clearer, as fiscal constraints drove the decision on the F-35 variant the UK would purchase - RUSI hosted a series of articles covering all aspects of the debate. RUSI also published its concluding report assessing the Libya operation the year before, arguing that this was not a model for future intervention.


As instability in Mali crept up the news agenda, RUSI published its second briefing from its UK Terrorism Analysis series arguing that 'Al-Qa'ida' is re-grouping and re-energising itself in Africa. The report highlighted disturbing trends that would have serious implications for Western policy makers. This month was also dominated by weapons systems. RUSI.org ran articles on India's new Anni-V nuclear missile and the UK's decision to purchase aircraft carriers for the Royal Navy. RUSI also published an Occasional Paper arguing that looted sovereign wealth is a matter of international security and required a coherent policy framework. Finally a study in the RUSI Journal on cyber-weapons was concluded by a podcast and event.  RUSI also commemorated the 1982 Falklands Conflict with a lecture by Julian Thompson.


In May, RUSI partnered with leading think-tanks in the United States to contribute to the agenda of the NATO Summit held in Chicago. The election of Francoise Hollande to the French Presidency brought the possibility of change in French economic and security policy which Vivien Pertusot examined for RUSI.org. Expanding on the theme of threat reduction; Andrea Berger wrote on the bumpy fortunes of the NPT Treaty. RUSI hosted the Russian Ambassador the UK who spoke on the deep historical roots of the UK-Russia relationship. Finally RUSI demonstrated its importance as a source of analysis by hosting a conference on defence acquisition reform with Cranfield University.


As the Middle East continues to undergo profound transition, King Abdullah II of Jordan gave a briefing to RUSI, offering his assessment of the Arab Spring. RUSI.org analysis examined the Saudi succession process and the consequences for the Al-Saud family. As the Greek elections held in June threatened the stability of the Euro, RUSI examined the implications for the rest of the region. RUSI also published a joint study examining the vulnerabilities India had to CBR (Chemical, Biological and Radiological Materials) terrorism.  June also saw the RUSI Founder's Day Lecture given to commemorate founding of RUSI in 1831.


The high influential RUSI report on the escalating violence in Syria was published in July. It analysed the situation on the ground and studied the various options available to policy makers. RUSI also published the considered views of experts in defence acquisition who argued that the proposed MoD plan to privatise the multibillion-pound government military equipment and support arm suffers many weaknesses and remains a high risk option.


August saw the culmination of the London 2012 Summer Olympics. While the event was widely considered to be an enormous success on the field, especially for the soldiers charged with protecting the Games, RUSI also examined the how the games, despite protestations, have been shaped by political considerations. RUSI.org published  articles on the competition and struggle for power in three very different countries; Syria, Egypt and the United States. The flagship RUSI Journal also published a Photo Essay examining life in war-torn Mogadishu, especially in the light of intervention from AMISOM troops.


September saw things fall apart. The merger between BAE Systems and EADS, at one point seen as a lock quickly disintegrated as news of the deal became public. In the Middle East violence erupted culminating in the killing of the US Ambassador to Libya on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. Will Hutton delivered a talk at RUSI, giving his thoughts on the current global crisis and the future of the modern economic settlement. A group of four prominent Afghan experts and academic presented the results of their extensive talks with four senior Taliban officials. They discovered that a small but significant moderate cohort exists within the Taliban, who would be open to beginning negotiations with ISAF. 


The, then, rapidly impending US election dominated RUSI's analytical focus in October. In conjunction with YouGov-Cambridge RUSI polled its defence network to interrogate what they believed were the challenges facing the US over the next four years. RUSI ran a series of articles exploring different regional perspectives on the US election. RUSI has led the debate on the implications for defence if Scotland was to be independent, and a new Whitehall Report examining the impact on defence expenditure. The role of private security contractors in Afghanistan was discussed at RUSI.

Finally, expanding its international footprint, RUSI established a new office in the Japanese capital, Tokyo, underscoring the deep and established relationship between RUSI and Japan's research and policy community. RUSI Japan will act as an independent research hub for Asia-Pacific Defence and security.


Events in the Middle East dominated the month's proceedings with the violence between Israel and Gaza leading. RUSI ran a comprehensive series of articles examining the immediate impact of the conflict as well as its wider regional significance. RUSI hosted a speech by the Israel Deputy Prime Minister where he articulated the position of the Israeli government on a series of issues. Looking beyond the Israeli-Palestinian conflict Gareth Stansfield examined the growing tensions between the centre and the periphery in Iraq as Baghdad sparred with the Kurdish Regional Government.  RUSI also concluded a high-level trip to North Korea, undertaking critical discussions with the Pyongyang policy-community.


December wasn't solely a period of celebration and good will. The North Korean missile launch brought the region's most problematic state back into international focus. RUSI celebrated the end of the year with two speeches from the most senior members of the British armed forces. Chief Air Marshall Sir Stephen Dalton delivered the Lord Trenchard Memorial Lecture on the future of air and space power. General Sir David Richards then gave the Annual Chief of the Defence Staff Lecture looking forward at the UK's strategic objectives and capabilities.

Compiled by Alexander Di Mascio




WHP 79 Irans Nuclear trajectory 2

RUSI examined the Islamic Republic's nuclear trajectory and the likely opportunities for a diplomatic settlement. A RUSI article interrogated what an air attack would look like and further work covered how the effect international sanctions are having on the Iranian economy.


With China undergoing its fifth leadership transition, RUSI sought to draw out the strategic significance of this change. China's approach to world was elucidated in a speech by Major General Gong Xianfu. The RUSI Journal published an analysis of how strategic competition between China and the US would shape their respective military development.


Europe's recent economic difficulties have placed its political foundations, laid in the aftermath of WWII, under the greatest strain yet. RUSI contributed to the debate with the Rethinking Europe project. The manufacturing infrastructure of European defence, BAE Systems and EADS, flirted with a merger but ultimately the deal collapsed.


Despite the focus on security issues from continents and nation states, the threat from non-state actors, like the Al-Qa'ida network endured. RUSI examined the role that armed UAVs were having on combating terrorism in Yemen and the region. The question of accountability and transparency was examined. The role of jihadist groups in the Syrian Civil War was also discussed. 


With London holding the world's attention in the summer, the imperative that that games proceed and undisrupted was critical. A conference was held at RUSI where officials and experts discussed how best to secure the games. The performance of G4S brought the UK's use of private security firms sharply into the public eye. Finally the broader historical and political significance of the Olympics were looked at.


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