ASP – What we are reading

share this

27 Dec 2011

The Cold War and How We Think About Private Property

Peter Charles Choharis / The American Security Project / The Atlantic

Seventeen months after the Cuban Missile Crisis, the U.S. Supreme Court wrote in an opinion, “There are few if any issues in international law today on which opinion seems to be so divided as the limitations on a state’s power to expropriate the property of aliens.” The Court was considering a case involving the Fidel Castro government’s nationalization of American-owned private property. But based in part on this uncertainty about international legal protections for foreign investments, the Court held that U.S. courts should not judge the legality of a foreign government’s official acts and did not reach the merits of the case.

Afghanistan sets ground rules for Taliban talks

Sanjeev Miglani and Hamid Shalizi / Reuters

Afghanistan will accept a Taliban office in Qatar to help peace talks but no foreign power can get involved in the process without its consent, the government’s peace council said, as efforts gather pace to find a solution to the 10-year war.

A “New START” for arms control

Rose Gottemoeller / The Hill

Our experience so far demonstrates that the New START Treaty is enhancing our national security by building predictability and stability between the United States and Russia, still the world’s two largest nuclear powers. We are also setting the stage for the future, since new nuclear reductions will build on the success of New START and the innovations we are putting in place as we implement it.

Al-Qaida leadership almost wiped out in Pakistan, British officials believe

Jason Burke /

Senior British officials believe that a “last push” in 2012 is likely to definitively destroy al-Qaida‘s remaining senior leadership in Pakistan, opening a new phase in the battle against Islamist terrorism. So many senior members of the organisation have been killed in an intense campaign of air strikes involving missiles launched from unmanned drones that “only a handful of the key players” remain alive, one official said.

Pakistani government defends nuclear program against rising internal criticism

Tom Hussain / McClatchy Newspapers

A destabilizing confrontation between Pakistan’s fledgling democratic government and its powerful military is turning into a debate over the country’s nuclear weapons program. Opposition politicians on Sunday characterized President Asif Zardari as bowing to U.S. policy to roll back Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program. They dredged up his offer in November 2009 to abandon Pakistan’s “first strike” nuclear weapons posture against India, in return for a comprehensive peace agreement.

2011 in Energy: The Year of…

Geoffrey Styles / The Energy Collective

In my search for a catchy title for this year’s final posting, I toyed with “The Year of Solyndra”, “The Year of Shale”, “The Year of Fukushima”, “The Year of Exports”, and various other combinations of the energy buzzwords that percolated into our consciousness this year. In some ways, they’d all be apt choices.

Afghanistan cabinet OKs oil deal with China’s CNPC


Afghanistan’s cabinet cleared the way for the war-torn state to sign a contract with China’s state-owned oil giant China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) for the development of oil blocks in the Amu Darya basin, the Afghan president’s office said on Monday.

Sen. Richard Lugar fears that North Korean nuclear materials, nuclear weapons could be sold

Associated Press

The top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee says he fears that someone in North Korea might try to sell that country’s nuclear materials or nuclear weapons.

Pakistan’s faultlines

Mohammed Hanif  /

The country’s military is now fighting three wars – but is talking to the Taliban the start of the endgame?  “When we arrive at the endgame, these kinds of things are inevitable.” Pakistan‘s former intelligence chief General Hamid Gul was on a TV talkshow referring to the killing of 24 Pakistani soldiers in a midnight Nato attack along the Pak-Afghan border. General Gul sounded reassuring. He made the endgame sound exciting – it was as if we were already playing in extra time and soon we’d all be able to do high-fives, go home and watch the highlights.

Analysis: Attacks highlight Nigeria’s divisions

JON GAMBRELL / Associated Press

Boko Haram’s insurgency started with robed men on motorcycles killing their enemies one at a time across Nigeria’s remote and dusty northeast. Now the radical Muslim sect’s attacks have morphed into a nationwide sectarian fight.

Vengeance in Libya

Joshua Hammer / NY Review of Books

On November 20, the day after the capture of Seif Qaddafi, the second son and former heir apparent of Muammar Qaddafi, I set out from Tripoli for Libya’s Nafusa Mountains, to meet some of the former rebels who had tracked him down. I left the seaside capital just after dawn, followed the coastal road west, then turned inland. There were many signs of the recent civil war on the arid plain: craters formed by the impact of 122-millimeter Grad rockets, destroyed communications towers, crumpled armored vehicles struck by NATO bombs. Unexploded ordnance lay everywhere. My driver-translator, Wagde Bargig, said that “children have been killed playing” in the fields we passed.

And, as a round up for the year:

AP’s – Major news events of 2011

Final goodbye: Roll call of some who died in 2011

On the ASP Flashpoint blog:


Fusing Fusion Concepts: Plasma-Jet driven Magneto-Inertial Fusion (PJMIF)

The fusion projects we often hear about fall into one of two camps: Magnetic Confinement Fusion (MCF) or Inertial Confinement Fusion (ICF). Of course, each project has its own spin on fusion. For example, MIT’s Levitated Dipole Experiment (LDX) follows the tokamak model commonly used in MCF, but instead of generating the magnetic field through coils wrapped around the reactor, LDX brings the magnetic field inside the chamber, allowing for different interactions with the plasma. On the ICF side of things, the Naval Research Lab is taking a direct drive target approach, while scientists at Lawrence Livermore’s NIF have opted to go the indirect drive route. Despite their differences, all of these projects rely on the two fusion concepts that dominate the fusion discourse. 
On Budgets and National Security
Just what exactly is the cost of national security? After spending the better portion of a week researching this very question, I’m hard-pressed to give an answer. Looking through countless tables of budgets, estimates, inflation calculations, congressional testimonies, fact sheets, and think tank assessments, I’m ready to declare anyone who claims to have an accurate…


Hearts and Minds: Al Qaida’s Visit to Somalia
Al-Qaeda’s recent appearance at the Ala-Yasir refugee camp in southern Somalia was certainly unexpected. While the camp is located in the large expanse of territory controlled by al-Shabaab, a militant group associated with al-Qaeda, this was not only the first time the organization had spoken publicly in Somalia, but that it had distributed aid in…


About the American Security Project: The American Security Project is a non-profit, non-partisan public policy and research organization dedicated to fostering knowledge and understanding of a range of national security issues, promoting debate about the appropriate use of American power, and cultivating strategic responses to 21st century challenges.


For more information, visit


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>