Sunday Readings

Swiss Voting To Tighten Immigration Levels
Immigration is a hot button issue in the US – and in Switzerland as well. This weekend, Swiss voters are voting on a measure that would ostensibly put an end Switzerland’s free movement of people agreement with the European Union. So far, the vote is evenly divided.

Reuters reports that the split is a break with Switzerland’s past record of openness and may reflect “growing concern among the Swiss population that immigrants are eroding away the nation’s Alpine culture and contributing to rising rents, crowded transport and more crime.”

Warming Ties Between Russia And China Boosting Arms Trade
Writing in Russia in Global Affairs Vassily Kashin sheds light on the closer ties between China and Russia, a relationship which is leading to a growth in the weapons trade. With warming relations it would appear Russian military exports to China picking up again reaching a level last seen during the 1990s and the early 2000s.

But, he notes, the arms trade “in the overall structure of co-operation between the two countries” is “insignificant.”

He continues: “In the 1990s, military-technical co-operation was one of the pillars of mutual trade, and served as the basis for their bilateral partnership. After Russian arms exporters had broken into new markets in the 2000s, China’s share in the total volume of exported Russian military equipment decreased noticeably. According to published data, Russian arms exports to China peaked during the early years of the last decade.”

Use Of Drones In US Military Strategy Remains Point Of Contention
Military drones may appear to be the optimal solution to reducing battlefield deaths, but they remain controversial and the topic of ongoing conversation.

For example, recent drone attacks in Yemen resulted in several civilian deaths dueling Yemeni anger and more calls to end their use in the region.

“As the strikes continue, public outrage is rising in Yemen, where many people, including government officials, argue that the attacks increase sympathy for al-Qaeda. In December, after a drone attack killed more than a dozen people in a rural wedding convoy, Yemen’s parliament passed a non-binding motion to ban the strikes,” reports The Washington Post.

Drones, according to the Hoover Instution’s Thomas Donnelly continue to capture “the public imagination or excited the futurists more than unmanned systems,” but they also warrant further examination.

Donnelly believes it is important to the discussion of drones to “distinguish between which features of the drone war are contingent and thus likely to be transitory and which are indicative of a larger trend.”

Also critical to analyzing the use of drones in military strategy is to acknowledge the potential of becoming “dangerously addicted” to unmanned war, as well as to realize that, Donnelly says, drones may be less bloody, but that does not mean more effective.

“Drones may make the conduct of war more pleasant for Americans and Westerners, but it’s not clear whether they make war sufficiently unpleasant for those on the receiving end. And to the degree that war remains an act of violence to compel our enemy to do our will, drones have not yet proved to be a decisive or revolutionary form of violence,” he asserts.

A podcast featuring Donnelly can be accessed on Hoover’s website.

Featured Flashback
In an article first published in 2012, Emory University Professor Tonio Andrade examines China’s long history of warcraft, a topic which he believes it is critical to study in order to understand today’s China.

“No nation is so deeply imbued with its own history as China. Commanders in China’s armed forces are as deeply aware of China’s deep legacy of military thought as Zheng Chenggong and his generals were. They know their Sun Tzu, their Zhuge Liang, their Qi Jiguang. But they can also quote Clausewitz and Mahan and Petraeus. They know their own tradition, and they know the Western tradition. They’re following Sun Tzu’s advice: ‘Know your enemy and know yourself.’

If Westerners don’t study the Chinese military tradition, then the West will be at a significant disadvantage. The Sino-Dutch War, Europe’s First War with China, is a great place to start learning.”

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