As President Jimmy Carter’s national-security adviser during the 1979 fall of the shah in Iran, Zbigniew Brzezinski has dealt intimately with history-bending revolutions. After mass protests deposed a regime in Tunisia and later spread to the streets of Egypt and Yemen last week, NEWSWEEK’s John Barry talked to the Johns Hopkins professor about the way young people across the Arab world—many of them disaffected and disenchanted—are now connecting on the circuits of a new revolutionary age.
The White House is impatient for Chinese President Hu Jintao’s Jan. 19 state visit, but not to talk about China. Instead, the critical agenda item is North Korea. Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg recently led a delegation to Beijing seeking help in persuading Pyongyang to cease its provocations. Publicly, Beijing has stood by its neighbor through it all, from the sinking of the South Korean warship Cheonan in May to the lethal shelling of Yeonpyeong Island in November. Privately, though, U.S. officials are convinced, China’s support is wearing thin.
Deficit cutters almost all agree that Pentagon spending will have to take a serious hit in 2011—and for the foreseeable future. The cost of defending the U.S. has doubled since 9/11, to nearly $700 billion in the current fiscal year. But what to cut?
When celebrated Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout landed last Tuesday night at Stewart International Airport in upstate New York—before being whisked to Manhattan to appear the next day in front of a district-court judge—it marked the end of a saga known to the Drug Enforcement Administration as Operation Relentless. The man who ran it tells NEWSWEEK the affair began with a challenge from the White House.
As Lockheed Martin’s Marietta, Ga., plant prepares to begin building the 187th—and last—F-22 super-fighter, the military is already dreaming of its successor. In a query to the aerospace industry earlier this month, the Air Force laid out its wish list, and it wants everything: a plane that can win dogfights, demolish air-defense missile networks, support ground troops, and run surveillance missions; a partial prototype would be ready by 2020, with entry into service by 2030.
During a few tumultuous months in 1989, Soviet tanks pulled out of Eastern Europe, communist governments there collapsed, the Berlin Wall fell—and the Cold War ended without a shot fired. Figuring out why it happened so fast and so peacefully will occupy historians forever, and a new 700-page collection of documents will be essential to their understanding. Masterpieces of History: The Peaceful End of the Cold War in Europe, 1989 is a treasure trove of the most secret discussions by leaders of the Soviet Union and the West that year, and the first time they’ve all been pulled together. Publication of the 122 documents, and hundreds more online, is the climax of a 15-year effort by the National Security Archive, the contemporary-history research project at George Washington University.
No other NATO ally has the ability—and willingness—to deploy forces like Britain. Which is why the Pentagon is standing by with a sense of foreboding as the U.K. undertakes a formal review of its defense posture. The question now arising in certain circles is how much backup America can count on after the recession-battered British government makes deep cuts to its military budget.
The land battle in Afghanistan grinds on, but the drone war is accelerating. So far this year there have been 62 reported strikes against Afghan Taliban and affiliated insurgent groups in Pakistan. This compares with 53 strikes in 2009 and 35 in 2008, according to local media and the Pakistani military.
Researchers confronting the giant heap of 92,000 documents from Afghanistan just dumped by WikiLeaks may think they will reveal something about the U.S. military's actions. But the preliminary answer is that there is less to the documents than meets the eye.
Almost as soon as President Obama announced that U.S. forces would start leaving Afghanistan in July 2011, a text message began zipping between Afghan insurgents’ mobile phones. “Mubarak,” it said—Arabic for congratulations. “If you are a believer, you will be a victor,” the message continued, quoting the Quran. Then the kicker: “The enemy president is announcing a withdrawal of troops who will leave our country with their heads bowed.”
Why should President Obama's shakeup of his Afghan team stop with the firing of Gen. Stanley McChrystal? After all, some of the harsh comments the general and his aides made about policymakers, while perhaps insubordinate and disruptive, were not necessarily wrong. Tragically, they reflect a broader truth: Afghan policy is in disarray, and the people behind the policy are at odds with one another.
Generals demand that political leaders respect their professional expertise. In return, it's expected that generals understand the multiple pressures weighing on their civilian leaders, and respect—even if they don't agree with—whatever compromises these pressures dictate. At this point, can McChrystal and Obama reconcile their differences?
The real nuclear issue isn't arms reduction, it's loose nukes.
Why the U.S. military is the only organization that can effectively manage the chaos in Haiti. And other hard truths about the disaster.
For the first time in almost 40 years, the nuclear arsenals of the U.S. and Russia are unregulated by a mutual treaty: START—the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty—expired earlier this month. Envoys from both countries are working on an interim deal to extend START—then the goal will be to craft a new treaty. Negotiating that accord will take at least the remainder of President Obama's term. But already the Air Force worries how a new pact might affect the fate of its storied B-52H and B-2 bombers.For half a century, America has deployed a "nuclear triad": warheads aboard land-based intercontinental missiles; aboard a fleet of Trident submarines; and aboard the B-52H and B-2 as bombs and cruise missiles. But with Obama and his counterpart, Dmitry Medvedev, committed to negotiating further cuts in their nations' stockpiles, the multibillion-dollar question is whether the triad ought to become a dyad or even a monad, with nuclear weapons mounted on only one or two platforms.Remarkably, a...
How quickly can the afghan army stand up, so American troops can stand down? It's a question that could determine the success or failure of President Obama's "surge" in Afghanistan. The U.S. training program faces some formidable challenges in meeting Obama's 18-month timeline. Among the many issues: the problem of the "professional recruit." So ingrained is corruption and double-dealing in Afghan society that the country's meager Army finds itself sometimes recruiting the same men over and over again--scamsters who make off with guns and equipment each time.Afghan Defense Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak recently described to a U.S. official how one man signed up for the Afghan Army five times. Deserting after a couple of months, he would sell his rifle for a good price, shave his beard, sign up again--and then regrow it. He was finally recognized on his sixth attempt, the official, who didn't want to be named discussing a private conversation, tells NEWSWEEK. "Everyone's heard of...