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

VENEZUELAN SUBMARINE PURCHASE DERAILED BY SURLY BODYGUARDS?

If true, this is hilarious. Reportedly, Venezuela and Russia were close to a deal on purchasing several ultra-quiet KILO diesel submarines. Last November's visit to Venezuela by the Russian nuclear battlecruiser Peter the Great was intended to enhance the status of both nations and to help seal the submarine deal. Unfortunately, a dispute broke out: [ Dave Sherlaw of Seawaves ] pointed out that the KILOs (the subs) destined for Vietnam were originally to be purchased by Venezuela but that deal collapsed after a fistfight on board the Russian cruiser “Peter the Great” when it and other warships were visiting Venezuela. Venezuela’s leader Chavez was in the process of visiting the Russian flotilla but his bodyguards were prevented from boarding. A fistfight then broke out between the Russian sailors and the bodyguards. The nose of one Russian was broken. That ended the sub purchase. Evidence in favor: The submarine deal is off, although that may have more to do with Venezuela's...

PAKISTANI NUCLEAR BUILD-UP.

A New York Times article this morning highlighted the fact that Pakistan's nuclear arsenal appears to be increasing, in spite of the fact that the Taliban insurgency occupies much of Pakistani territory. This fits in well with a developing narrative about how Pakistan's focus on India is the problem: The story goes that the Pakistani military still considers India its central threat and isn't overly concerned with the Taliban. There are also long-term concerns about growing Pakistani capability and especially of the dangers of some of that capability falling into Taliban hands. With that in mind, I'm not sure that these reports are as alarming as they seem on face. Pakistan has long sought a more capable nuclear arsenal. This build-up is part of Pakistan's long-term national security strategy, rather than a response to the availability of U.S. dollars. The logic of the strategy itself can certainly be criticized, but that is an altogether different debate. Were the United States not...

THE END IN SRI LANKA.

The government is on the verge of crushing the last remnant of the Tigers in Sri Lanka. The leader of the LTTE, Velupillai Prabhakaran , appears to have been killed in the latest government offensive. Sri Lanka's prime minister will announce victory tomorrow. The military defeat of the Tigers won't exactly solve the political issues in Sri Lanka, as the Tamil minority continues to have serious, legitimate grievances with the government. Those grievances may eventually result in the development of a new insurgent organization, or in the re-emergence of the Tigers organization from its base in the diaspora and in ethnic Tamil areas of southern India. Organizational dynamics matter, however, and the idiosyncratic set of strategies that the Tigers used probably won't be replicated. These strategies included a focus on maritime power and suicide attacks. Hopefully, the latter will not be a primary tactic of any future Tamil politico-military strategy. The former probably will be, if only...

NORTH KOREA TO TEST A NEW NUCLEAR DEVICE?

Reuters reports that North Korea may be preparing a new nuclear test: There is increased activity at North Korea's known nuclear test site, a South Korean news report said on Thursday, suggesting Pyongyang is gearing up for a new test as it has threatened in response to tightened U.N. sanctions. Impoverished North Korea, whose only nuclear test in October 2006 led to U.N. financial and trade sanctions, could be ready to test another nuclear device in a matter of weeks, experts have said. Another test will serve as fodder for much bloviating on the right, but at this point there doesn't appear to be much that can be done. Undoubtedly, Newt Gingrich will assert that North Korean nuclear sites should be pre-emptively attacked . As Gingrich has absolutely no responsibility for policy, that's his luxury. The North Korean action appears to be in response to the relatively mild sanction imposed by the UN following the failed missile test of last month. On the upside, North Korea is thought...

ANTI-PIRACY LEADERSHIP?

According to Der Spiegel, National Security Adviser James Jones nixed a proposed German assault on a ship seized by Somali pirates. The assault would have been launched from the USS Boxer , and would have involved up to 200 German counterterrorism personnel. The operation planned to take the Hansa Stavanger , a German freighter with 24 hostages on board. Jones canceled the operation, apparently, because he believed that the pirates were reinforcing their position and that the attack could thus result in a bloodbath. There are several interesting points to consider in this story. The first is that states that don't have an amphibious/expeditionary capability of their own are deeply dependent on the United States and others in order to carry out operations abroad. Germany is one of very few major states that lacks an amphibious warfare vessel; even New Zealand has some expeditionary capability. The French, for example, would not have been forced to ask for U.S. assistance or permission...

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