Robert Farley

Robert Farley is an assistant professor at the Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce, University of Kentucky. He contributes to the blogs Lawyers, Guns, and Money and TAPPED.

Recent Articles

NORTH KOREAN NUCLEAR TEST FAKED?

There is chatter in the nuclear scientist community that North Korea's nuclear test may have been faked. Thus far, no radioactive evidence of an atomic explosion has been detected, putting the test at odds with North Korea's previous one, and with just about every other underground nuclear test ever conducted. The explosion is estimated at 4,000 tons of TNT; assembling that much TNT is difficult, but hardly impossible. Whether the North Koreans could have moved such a stockpile to the nuclear test site unnoticed is another question, but given the national proclivity for building tunnels, and the fact that no one was really looking for the North Koreans to make such a shipment, it's not out of the realm of possibility. The strategic logic of a faked test would be as follows. Given that the first test failed, North Korean leadership may believe that its nuclear deterrent is insecure. In order to convince the world that it does have nuclear weapons, North Korea could fake a small scale...

RUSSIAN DEMOBILIZATION BLUES.

Last year, Russia's armed forces were undergoing a mild revitalization after years of Kremlin neglect. The flood of petrodollars gave Moscow the opportunity to undertake some modernization of forces that had remained static or declined since the end of the Cold War. The number of personnel in uniform mildly increased to about 1.1 million, from a post-Cold War low of 900,000. Then came the war with Georgia, and the global financial crisis. Although Russia won the war, the conduct revealed some serious deficiencies in Russian military capability. Russia continued to operate on what amounts to an industrial model of war, rather than the information-centric model adopted by Israel and the United States. Of course, quantity has a quality all its own, and Russian forces were probably still more capable than their Georgian counterparts on a unit-by-unit basis, but the comparison of the execution of the Georgia campaign (which is different than comparing the outcome), demonstrated that the...

MORE ON OBAMA'S RHETORICAL POSITIONING.

To follow up on Tim 's previous points , Dan Nexon at Duck of Minerva has a good post on the demands that President Obama rhetorically intervene in the Iranian election. Responding to Allahpundit's directive that Obama join German Chancellor Angela Merkel in harshly criticizing the Iranian government: Well, this isn't rocket science but... last time I checked, not only are Germany and the United States different countries, but Germany (1) doesn't routinely project power into the Middle East, (2) doesn't pursue a containment policy against Iran, (3) didn't orchestrate a coup d'état against a man who is now revered Iranian hero, and (4) wasn't the key backer of a reviled Iranian dictator. In other words, a statement by the President of the United States might be expected to have a different effect than one by the Chancellor of Germany. I would add this; some substantial minority of Iranians voted for Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. I don't think anyone knows how many, but it's more than a residue...

NORTH KOREA DEMANDS THAT THE WORLD STOP PAYING ATTENTION TO IRAN.

On Saturday, North Korea declared an intention to continue to develop nuclear weapons and announced the existence of a parallel program to enrich uranium for use in weapons. The suspected existence of the uranium program helped derail the Agreed Framework that held between 1994 and 2002 (U.S. intransigence also helped), which eventually led to the restart of the plutonium program at Yongbyon. To be clear, the North Koreans have claimed that they will commence a uranium enrichment program, rather than acknowledging that one has existed all along. The North Korean declaration is in response to the tighter sanctions regime established by Friday's UN Security Council resolution , which provided legal justification for UN member states to intercept and inspect North Korean vessels suspected of carrying weapons. It also looks as if North Korea may be preparing a third nuclear test ; the general consensus is now that the device in the first test failed completely and the device in the second...

SUBMARINES, COCAINE, AND AQUATIC TERRORISM?

I'm not sure what submarines have to do with human nature, but, in any case, William Saletan has devoted a column to discussion of the threat posed to the U.S. by submarine-operating terrorists. Saletan points out that drug cartels have used submersibles to good effect -- though the amount's debatable, he says they transport up to a third of the U.S. cocaine supply. Cartels value the subs because they're difficult to detect, and because they have heretofore enjoyed legal near-immunity. When a drug-carrying submarine is identified by the Coast Guard or the Navy, the crew abandons ship and scuttles the boat, sending the evidence to the bottom. Laws regarding operation of submersibles have changed, limiting this legal immunity, but this mode of conveyance remains attractive to drug dealers. Compared to the price of the cocaine they carry, submarines are relatively inexpensive; the models currently in use are thought to cost about $1 million. Saletan then jumps from drug cartels to...

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