RUSI in the News - September 2009

Citations of RUSI experts and analysis and events in the global media from September 2009

  • RUSI experts in the News
  • Reports of RUSI events

RUSI experts in the News

Afghanistan's link to UK terror

As Britain's war in Afghanistan continues to dominate this month's news agenda, RUSI experts are examining its link to UK terrorism more closely.  On 4 September, UK Prime Minister, Gordon Brown gave a speech on progress in Afghanistan, and stressed the importance of the campaign on UK domestic security.  Director of RUSI, Michael Clarke, criticised this, noting that 'terrorists who threaten us are not in Afghanistan'.  Indeed, Clarke stressed that terrorist organisations are 'already beginning to infiltrate in the Yemen'.  Disagreements over the aims of the Afghan war have been at the heart of UK political debate, and newly appointed Chief of the General Staff, Sir David Richards' remarks at RUSI's land warfare conference in June where he stated that this was 'truly a grand strategic issue' are still important.  The cost of the war - in human and financial terms - has slighted public support for the campaign.

For RUSI Analysis on Afghanistan, click here.

Coverage: Daily Mail, Jane's, Australian, National Post

UK defence spending debate

Following RUSI's report on the likely spending cuts facing the defence sector, Britain continues its debate on defence expenditure.  Whilst Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, is insistent that spending has increased by around ten per cent during Labour's power, Prof David Kirkpatrick highlights that this may not be as much of an increase as it sounds.  Arguing that the rate of development in the defence sector is faster than in other areas of government spending, RUSI's associate fellow warns that the ten per cent increase might be a 'false economy'. Indeed, a paper published 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 offering 'bits and pieces of capabilities to multinational forces with no significant autonomous or leading role'.

In the midst of this debate on defence expenditure, Nick Clegg, leader of UK's Liberal Democrat party called for an increase in salary of troops.  RUSI's fellow Trevor Taylor said that this would be met by largely positive public feedback, but the UK's other mainstream political parties have not yet given response to the proposal. 

To read Michael Codner's paper, 'A Force For Honour?', click here.

Coverage: Telegraph, Scotsman

Britain considers cut in nuclear warheads

UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown has declared this month that he will consider cutting the number of nuclear warheads as part of a 'global bargain' in efforts towards international de-nuclearisation.  The statement at New York's UN summit, which was unexpected by defence officials in the UK, was described by RUSI's Lee Willett as a 'buffer against growing domestic calls to abandon the deterrent completely'. 

Coverage: Guardian

Victory for UK intelligence services: the 'Lucozade bombers'

Early this month, three attempted terrorists were found guilty of a plot to smuggle liquid explosives onto a transatlantic flight in 2006.  A court ruling last year found the attempts to convict the men unsuccessful, and RUSI analyst, Anthony McGee stressed the importance of the case for UK security forces.  Deeming the trial a 'huge gamble', McGee said that second failure in trial would have been a 'disaster'.

The speed of the arrests is thought to have been the result of pressure from Washington, where US intelligence had been gathered to convict one of the trio in Pakistan, forcing UK forces to act quickly, 'before all the evidence was mature as possible', according to RUSI director, Michael Clarke: 'it wasn't quite ready'.

Coverage: LA Times, BBC, Times, Digital Journal

Threat of more airline terror attacks

The conviction of the trio of attempted suicide bombers this month raises the question of terrorism at large within the UK.  With threat levels recently having been lowered, analysts are questioning the likelihood of further attacks.  RUSI's Margaret Gilmore pointed out that these convictions were unlikely to affect the current generation of radicalised young Muslims.  Indeed, Michael Clarke stressed that Al Qa'ida were 'still plotting'.

Later this month, Clarke remarked on the amateurish nature of terrorists and proposed a cultural defence against such extremism.  He argued that alongside intelligence efforts to combat radicalisation, the British public could play a role in demoralising fundamental extremists by satire. A widespread mockery of radicals might reduce the mystique of terrorist groups, and Clarke suggested that 'some of the most valuable counter terrorism experts are comedians'.

Coverage: Christian Science Monitor, BBC, Daily Star, Chortle, Irish Times, Daily Mirror, India Today

Iran begins nuclear talks with the West

At the beginning of this month, Iran began to engage with the West in discussions on its nuclear capabilities. These talks are seen by many as a step forward in the process towards an open dialogue on nuclear power between Iran and the international community, but experts say that it is unlikely that the country will straight away scrap the development of nuclear weapons.  Mark Thomas, an analyst for RUSI Qatar, noted that Iran 'wants to keep the option of becoming a nuclear power'.

Coverage: Trade Arabia, Bloomberg

Calls for security sector reform in Zimbabwe

This month, head of RUSI's Africa programme, Dr Knox Chitiyo, released a paper entitled 'Making the Case for Security Sector Reform in Zimbabwe'.  Arguing that the stability of the country rests partially on the security sector, the paper outlines both short and long term policies for demilitarising the Zimbabwean state and making the country's return to democracy both sustainable and secure.

Earlier this month, Chitiyo commented on the African National Congress (ANC)'s call for faster progress in Zimbabwe in talks between President Mugabe and Prime Minister Tsvangirai on options for economic growth in the country.  South African authorities claim that Zimbabwean refugees are draining public services, and Chitiyo sees this call by the ANC as a 'signal of intent' for resolution in Zimbabwe.

To read Knox Chitiyo's paper, 'Marking the Case for Security Sector Reform in Zimbabwe', click here.

Coverage: Zimbabwean, SW Radio Africa News 

Reports of RUSI events

Security in the Caucasus: Enhancing Security Co-operation with Security Architectures

On 17 September, RUSI held a conference dealing with security in the Caucasus region.  A range of high-level representatives attended the roundtable discussions, with dialogue focusing on conflict and reconciliation in the area.  An increase in trust between countries of the Caucasus was urged alongside the development of diplomatic relations between themselves and other international players.

For more information on the event, click here.

Coverage: APA

The DPRK's Nuclear Policy

This month, RUSI held a lecture focussing on the history and future of nuclear capability in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.  His excellency, Mr Ja Song Nam, the DPRK's Ambassador to the UK, gave talks relating to the country's attitudes towards nuclear power.  Provided there is no direct nuclear threat to the country, Ja Song Nam told the Institute, the DPRK would 'try to de-nuclearise the Korean peninsula'.

Coverage: Reuters, VOV News, Joon Ang Daily, US Daily, Bangkok Post, Chosun Ibo

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