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Greg Thielmann, Senior Fellow (Arms Control Association) — The future of U.S. and Russian nuclear cruise missiles is at an inflection point. Russia’s alleged testing of a ground-launched cruise missile has jeopardized not only the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, but other bilateral nuclear agreements as well, adding further strain to the U.S.-Russian relationship.
The U.S. allegation and Moscow’s three countercharges should be resolved with the help of the treaty’s Special Verification Commission, which was explicitly designed to deal with compliance issues. But the two countries need to take a broader look at nuclear cruise missiles.
New strategic cruise missiles are part of an unaffordable drive by Washington and Moscow to simultaneously modernize all three legs of their strategic arsenals. Given the increasingly marginal role that nuclear cruise missiles play in ensuring a U.S.-Russian balance and their destabilizing impact when deployed by emerging nuclear powers such as Pakistan, it is time to consider doing away with them entirely.
Joanna Paraszczuk (Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty) — The photo shows a bearded militant in military fatigues and a black woolen hat. He squints into the sun, smiling shyly as he holds a large sniper rifle. A pick-up truck painted in camouflage colors is in the background. The photo was taken in Syria.
In a second snap, the militant is pictured in front of a children's playground in Iraq. He has taken off his woolen hat and is holding it in his hand instead of the sniper rifle. A giant plastic palm tree and a giraffe ride are in the background, incongruous next to the man's camouflage jacket.
This was the last time the militant was photographed alive. Abu Zarr al-Ingushi, an ethnic Ingush from Russia's Northern Caucasus region who fought with the Islamic State (IS) group's main Chechen-led faction, Katibat al-Aqsa (KAA), was killed in a U.S.-led air strike in March.
Jerry Hendrix (National Review) — A battle of the hawks is raging on Capitol Hill. Defense hawks say the nation’s security will be endangered if the caps imposed under the 2011 Budget Control Act aren’t lifted, allowing for more defense spending.
Fiscal hawks assert with equal vehemence that the nation’s long-term economic health — the foundation for all government activities, including defense — will be permanently harmed if burgeoning deficits and debts are not addressed.
Defense hawks argue for a massive investment to maintain the United States’ position as the world’s strongest power. Fiscal hawks argue for innovative improvements in efficiency to sustain U.S. leadership.
Shana Marshall (Institute for Middle East Studies) — The Egyptian military has gained unprecedented power since overseeing the ouster of two Egyptian presidents, Hosni Mubarak in 2011 and Mohamed Morsi in 2013.
The Egyptian Armed Forces (EAF) is often referred to as a “black box”—especially with regard to the institution’s role in the domestic economy. Most of the military-controlled economy is off the books, and many of the EAF’s sources of influence are obscured—such as its control over parliamentary seats titularly reserved for peasants and workers.
With its major political rivals sidelined, more than $20 billion in Gulf aid, and widespread domestic support for General-Turned-President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, the Egyptian Armed Forces (EAF) has restarted its defunct industrial operations, secured control over massive infrastructure projects, and inserted generals at virtually all levels of government. But political overreach and internal rivalries may prove obstacles to long-term EAF control.
Efraim Inbar (Middle East Quarterly) — Following the abduction and murder of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank and a continuous barrage of Hamas rockets on Israeli towns and villages, the government of Israel launched Operation Protective Edge on July 8, 2014, mostly in the form of air strikes on Hamas targets.
On July 17, a limited ground incursion commenced to locate and destroy tunnels into Israel, coming to a close on August 5. Having either rejected or violated numerous ceasefires, on August 26, Hamas finally accepted an Egyptian ceasefire proposal (originally made on July 15). The operation lasted fifty days and was longer than all previous rounds of violence in Gaza.
What were the operation's strategic rationale and goals? How has it affected Israel's international standing, its negotiations with the Palestinians, and regional deterrent posture? Above all, who actually won the war?