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This month, as Iranian leaders attended talks in Geneva with Western nations regarding their nuclear ambitions, President Ahmadinejad has made clear that his country's government will remain unaltered in its development of nuclear power. Mark Thomas, based at RUSI's Qatar headquarters, suggested that Iran wants to keep the option of becoming a nuclear power and is playing for time by these negotiations. He noted that Iran might 'hold out the prospect of concessions, whilst continuing a strategy of stalling in order to achieve a 'break-out' nuclear weapons capability'.
'Little Britain' in the global arena?
The UK Government is again this month considering the effects of the proposed cuts in its defence budget. A paper published in October by RUSI's Director of Military Sciences, Michael Codner, predicts that if the UK defence budget were to be cut significantly, it could lead to Britain's forces playing a more minor role in global strategy by offering 'bits and pieces of capabilities to multinational forces with no significant or leading role'.
To read Michael Codner's paper, 'A Force for Honour?', click here.
UK Afghanistan expenditure
In the context of the wider debate on defence spending in the UK, RUSI expert, Trevor Taylor has offered a focussed view on the war in Afghanistan. While the UK has been found to spend less per soldier on its current campaign, Taylor suggests that this is the result of a lack of preparation. With regards to Britain's relatively low expenditure per soldier in Afghanistan, he notes that the figures show that 'the Afghanistan conflict is not one that UK forces envisaged fighting.' The government's failure to supply adequate numbers of helicopters, Taylor argues, is a manifestation of this.
Public support for the war in Afghanistan has waned over the past months. The prospect of sending an increased number of troops into the region has inflamed opposition, and RUSI expert, Olivier Grouille, argues that 'no one has made the case for what we're doing in Afghanistan'. Despite this, RUSI expert, Michael Codner estimates that General David Richards, the newly appointed head of the Army, will request around 1,000 troops to be added to existing remaining forces in Afghanistan. Later this month, Gordon Brown issued a statement pledging 'in principle' to send 500 extra troops to the conflict, as per the international duty of burden sharing. Codner noted that 'Brown's statement is conditional' and based on the increased participation of other European states.
For more on Afghanistan, click here.
Australian defence forces 'unmoved by climate change data'
A white paper released this month by the Australian Defence Force claims that 'the science of climate change is too doubtful to change Australia's national defence plans'. In response to this, RUSI's Tobias Feakin, director of the Institute's National Security and Resilience department, accused the paper of being 'short-sighted'. He notes that, 'climate change is already happening', and halting the consideration of the phenomena as a strategic issue could be 'a mistake'.
For more on climate change and security, click here.
Af-Pak Strategy: a surge against the Taliban
Pakistan's government has pledged a 'surge' against Taliban and al Qa'ida insurgency. Dr Nasrullah Mirza, a visiting fellow of RUSI, notes that for Pakistan's army, the approach to this counter-insurgency problematic. 'First, it must co-operate with the US to eliminate al Qa'ida elements and counter militant Taliban in its tribal areas and beyond, or compromise its sovereignty by allowing the US to do the job.' Secondly, Mirza states that if Pakistan is seen as failing to be tough enough on the Taliban, it risks 'international isolation'.
Coverage: Herald Scotland
After the collapse of communism: the new autocratic rivals
With the upcoming anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, analysts are prompted to debate whether or not new autocracies pose a similar threat to that which had been defeated in 1989. RUSI's Jonathan Eyal notes that 'there are hundreds of millions of people, especially in Asia, who believe that democracy usually means more bickering, more indecision and less economic efficiency, and that it requires a trade-off with prosperity that they are not prepared to pay'.
Coverage: Wall Street Journal
NATO's Supreme Allied Commander lectures at RUSI
On 2 October, NATO's Supreme Allied Commander, Admiral James Stavridis, gave a speech at RUSI in which he re-identified the Alliance's focus and function, while highlighting issues of increasing strategic importance in the coming years. He warned that issues concerning the Arctic Circle would be something that NATO is 'starting to spend more time looking at'. Indeed, climate change is seen to have had large security impacts on the high north, with new trade routes opening up as a result of global warming and the increased importance of its previously inaccessible oil reverses.
To listen to Admiral Stavridis' speech, and for more information on the event, click here.
From 21 October, RUSI held the conference, Cyber Security: A Public-Private Partnership. The discussions considered the way in which Cyber Security Strategy informs and interacts with other areas of UK policy.
For more on the event, click here.