This Week in Geopolitics, April 2016

Xi Jinping Takes Command of the People’s Liberation Army

April 25, 2016

Chinese President Xi Jinping announced last week that he will take command of all of China’s armed forces, including the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). He is already chairman of the Central Military Commission that oversees the army. He is now assuming a more direct role as head of the new Joint Operations Command Center, ostensibly putting him in operational command of the PLA in time of war. In all likelihood, the new title means little in terms of actual command, but it has tremendous...

From the Baltic Encounter to the Internet Wars

April 18, 2016

Last week, two Russian SU-24 fighter planes buzzed a US Navy destroyer over the Baltic Sea. One of the planes flew within 30 feet of the ship, according to US officials. Secretary of State John Kerry protested, saying that the Russians were endangering the destroyer. The media in the West concluded that the Russians were simulating an attack on the destroyer. The Russians made no official statement, though a spokesperson for the Russian Defense Ministry commented to Interfax that Russia had...

Europe and NATO

April 11, 2016

I will be leaving shortly for a week in Europe, visiting Slovakia, Romania, and the Czech Republic. After 1989, these former Soviet satellites sought integration with Europe—and, in a sense, salvation—by becoming members of the two major transnational organizations: the European Union and NATO. The former was strictly European, while the latter bound Europe and the United States together.

The War Whose Name No One Dares to Utter

April 4, 2016

French President François Hollande and US President Barack Obama held a joint press conference last week. At the conference, Hollande referred to Islamist terrorism, but his remark was inaudible on the video that was released. After the omission was noticed, the White House said that it was due to a technical error, and a later release contained the restored wording. The muting of Hollande’s remark may have been a technical snafu, but it reminded me of Obama’s unwillingness to refer to...