Russian Strikes from Iran Point to Burgeoning Anti-Western Pact

For the first time in an almost year-long bombing campaign, Russian aircraft have used facilities in Iran to conduct strikes against in the Syrian cities of Aleppo, Deir ez-Zor and Idlib.

Iranian-Russian military cooperation is not unprecedented. The two took part in joint naval exercises in the Caspian Sea last year and Russia launched a salvo of missiles across Iranian territory into Syria. However, this latest news underlines the budding relationship between the two.

I have previously written that the close proximity of Russian air forces and Iranian ground forces in Syria raises questions about the two powers’ relationship. Fighting wars together — even those as convoluted as Syria’s — is something allies tend to do. This particular cooperation has been controversial, though, with many commentators suggesting that the Iranian-Russian alliance in Syria is one of convenience. Read more “Russian Strikes from Iran Point to Burgeoning Anti-Western Pact”

A “Russian Hand” in the Dutch Referendum?

Amsterdam Netherlands
Buildings on the Damrak in Amsterdam, the Netherlands (Unsplash/Ronni Kurtz)

A month after the Dutch political fringe claimed victory in a referendum that rejected the European Union’s association agreement with Ukraine, rumors of a “Russian hand” in the campaign that influenced voters to sabotage Ukraine’s European integration still swirl.

Can this referendum really be chalked up as a Russian triumph? Or is there an altogether more worrying lesson to be drawn? Read more “A “Russian Hand” in the Dutch Referendum?”

The Moral Case for a Minimum Deterrent

British submarine Vigilant
The British nuclear-armed submarine HMS Vigilant returns to Her Majesty’s Naval Base Clyde in Scotland, April 17, 2014 (MoD/Thomas McDonald)

Nuclear disarmament is once again addling Britain’s Labour Party. Unfortunately, the debate is riddled with the all-too-common and internalized falsehood that nuclear arms are in themselves immoral and that the world would be better off without them.

Long an objective of the party’s new leader, Jeremy Corbyn, the proposal to unilaterally disarm has spurred resignation threats, divided the leadership and affiliated trade unions, and — more than any other issue — defined Corbyn’s shadow cabinet reshuffle earlier this month.

“Moralists” and “pragmatists” argue the respective merits of leading by example — disarming in accordance with the Nonproliferation Treaty — and taking a more measured approach, advocating disarmament and nonproliferation while maintaining a minimum deterrent.

The pragmatists are in the majority and they are, in turn, supported by the majority of voters. They begrudgingly accept that wielding such ghastly weapons is necessary in a still-dangerous world. This argument has carried the day in Britain since 1952, but it routinely surrenders the moral high ground to “ideal world” happy-talk. Read more “The Moral Case for a Minimum Deterrent”