RUSI in the News - January 2009

Citations of RUSI expert analysis and events in the global media, January 2009 

  • RUSI Experts in the News
  • Reports of RUSI events

RUSI Experts in the News

Barack Obama's inauguration

Michael Clarke suggests that what Obama offers Europeans in the field of defence and security 'might be regarded as a new deal, but on the old terms', emphasising that although the new President will be more willing to engage with his European allies, he will not involve the US in security problems within the continent.

Obama's promised change of focus from Iraq to Afghanistan will not be straightforward, warns Paul Smyth. Though the Coalition in Afghanistan is 'wider and more committed than that in Iraq,' he says, 'in some ways it faces a tougher task' because of the safe haven enjoyed by the Taliban in the border areas of Pakistan.

Osama bin Laden's release of a tape before George W Bush's departure was intended to demonstrate that he had outlasted the former President, and Barack Obama 'may find it just as difficult' to capture him, Andrew Legon cautions.

With the emergence of a new American approach towards Iran, Christopher Pang foresees that increased engagement will allow Washington to assess Iran's priorities. In Africa, Knox Chitiyo expects the US to maintain 'quite a strong presence in North Africa and the a forward platform in the war on terror.' 

Media coverage: Defense News, The Independent, The Scotsman, Trend News Agency, Council on Foreign Relations, Islam Online, Radio Netherlands, Business Day, New Times

For more on International Security under Obama click here

Conflict in Gaza

RUSI Director Michael Clarke questions whether Israeli defence chiefs were pursuing the correct overall strategy in undertaking a ground invasion of Gaza. 'You can’t go into a territory like this and eradicate Hamas in any meaningful sense,' he says. Analysing the absence of attacks by Israeli special forces, Amyas Godfrey suggests that Israel was not prepared to play a long game in the region and needed an 'immediate effect' to secure its objectives.

RUSI Associate Fellow Sandra Bell, commenting on allegations that Israel utilised white phosphorous shells in its attack, notes that Israel could be opened up to international criticism if it emerges that shells were used in civilian areas.

Media coverage: Financial Times, The Guardian, Financial Times, Haber forum: perspectives on the Gaza conflict

Maritime Security

Competing national claims for territory in the Arctic Circle as melting ice caps open up new shipping lanes could lead to a volatile international security situation, suggests Lee Willett. 'We may see that flashpoints come to pass there more readily than elsewhere in the world,' he adds.

Media coverage: Associated Press, The Telegraph, International Herald Tribune, Daily Mail, The Asian Age, Taiwan News

More analysis from RUSI on Maritime Security here

UK Armed Forces

The armed services are facing criticism from many quarters as it attempts to deal with series of overseas commitments and allegations of equipment shortages. 'The British army is like an engine running without oil,' comments Michael Clarke. 'It is still going, but it could seize up at any moment'. Elsewhere, commenting on the news that the Government is to cap the number of foreign nationals serving in Army units, he says that it made sense to focus on technical areas like logistics and medicine which could be vulnerable to disruption if they became over-reliant on foreigners.

Media coverage: The Economist, The Telegraph, The Press Association, BBC

British Security Policy Programme

European Security

After riots and street battles in Lithuania, Bulgaria and Latvia, fears mounted that East European states were ill-equipped to deal with the impact of the global economic downturn. 'These are often fragile economies ... with brittle political structures, political parties that are not very well formed and weak institutions,' Jonathan Eyal says.

Media coverage: Washington Post, The Guardian, United Press International, OpenDemocracy, Eesti Päevaleht, Bucharest Business Standard

Click here for more analysis on European Security

UK Intelligence

In response to the first public interview ever given by a serving Director General of MI5, Tobias Feakin argues that the service should make an effort to explain the nature of the threat posed to the UK to the public. Furthermore, he states, it is crucial that the strategy 'should be coherent across government'.

Media coverage: Channel 4 News

Click here for more from the NSR Department on MI5


As the UK prepares to withdraw troops from Iraq in July, discussion has centred on means of developing the country. Alastair Campbell suggests that further investment is needed to improve Iraq's prospects, with particular emphasis on the development of the country's security forces to 'promote stability in the region'.

Media coverage: Al Jazeera

Read more analysis on Iraq

Modern Conflict

Samuel Huntingdon's concept of a clash of civilisations has gained currency in some quarters after confrontations between Israel and Palestine and India and Pakistan. However, Malcolm Chalmers observes that 'the proportion of people dying in wars and conflicts has actually declined since the end of the Second World War'.

Media coverage: Nature

Civil Contingencies

The government's measured response to the Pitt Review should result in an improved Civil Contingencies Act, predicts Jennifer Cole. She argues that 'the five months the Government took to consider the recommendations should ensure that any new flood resilience measures introduced will be robust and effective in the long-term.'

Media coverage: Contingency Today

Read more on the Pitt Review


Reports of RUSI Events

Sir Christopher Meyer on the Future of US-UK Relations

The British Ambassador to Washington from 1997 to 2003, Sir Christopher Meyer, predicted that 'it will be hard issues like Afghanistan that define the temper of the British-American relationship' rather than the concept of the 'Special Relationship'.

'Our two countries are bound together by a multiplicity of links which will continue whether the political temperature of the moment is warm or cool,' he said.

Media coverage: The Times, The Telegraph

Frontline Insights: Infantry Operations in Southern Afghanistan

A presentation by the commander of the 2nd Battalion of the Parachute Regiment battle group in the upper Helmand valley last summer, Lt Col Joe Sullivan, gave an insight into the intensity of operations for British ground troops in Afghanistan.

He told an audience at RUSI that 'most soldiers in the rifle companies under his command could expect to fight for most days in forward positions, with daily battles for more than a month on the end.'

Media coverage: The Guardian

European Defence Capabilities

A conference jointly hosted by RUSI and the Czech Republic's Ministry of Foreign Affairs saw the Czech MoD question 'whether or not Europe is "serious" about taking steps towards defence industrial consolidation,' bearing in mind that establishing a European Defence Technological and Industrial Base (EDTIB) will 'not be costless'.

Media coverage: Jane's


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