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The Military Balance 2009 Press Release from the IISS

The Military Balance is The International Institute for Strategic Studies’ annual assessment of the military capabilities and defense economics of 170 countries worldwide. It is an essential resource for those involved in security policy making, analysis and research.

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The Military Balance 2009
Press Statement
27 January 2009

Dr John Chipman
Director-General
The International Institute for Strategic Studies
London

An Executive Summary of the main points in this year’s The Military Balance, as well as this brief statement will be available right after this press conference and also on our web page. The Executive summary gives a brief region-by-region assessment of the key defense and military developments of the past year.
The Military Balance 2009 is published in the wake of the inauguration of President Barack Obama in the US and the interest his election has inspired worldwide as a force for reconciliation. The challenges his administration faces in the security domain are as awesome as those he confronts in the economic and financial realms.
The recently well established threats from international terrorism networks and from nuclear proliferation risks persist, but they do so in an environment plagued by poor relations between Western powers and Russia, diminishing will-power and capacity among European states for sustained projection of combat military power and growing instability in the Middle East and South West Asia. African conflicts remain very intense, with violence in the Congo recently leading to the displacement of 250,000 people, the Zimbabwe crisis unresolved and the challenges of Darfur addressd by a force too small for the task. Piracy has become a greater international challenge, and another unfortunate by-product of the failing-states phenomenon.
The global economic crisis means additionally that financial resources for conflict prevention and reconstruction will not be abundant. This means that creative diplomacy must be an ever greater component of good strategy.
The foreign policy and security team being assembled by President Obama will, it appears, engage in heavy diplomacy. His use of the Special Envoy instrument and his appointment of figures such as Richard Holbrooke and George Mitchell to such positions is confirmation that diplomatic and conflict-resolution efforts especially in South West Asia and the Middle East will intensify.
Certainly the Mumbai terror attacks dangerously upset the India-Pakistan relationship. The Western intervention in Afghanistan is faltering and a robust diplomatic strategy involving tribal outreach and a more co-ordinated international approach is vital to success. The Gaza war has not eliminated the threat to Israel. While Hamas suffered serious blows, the diplomacy surrounding the efforts to end the crisis, and the anxiety that the level of civilian casualties created in the Arab world, has served to legitimise Hamas in the eyes of part of Arab public opinion and even amongst some regional leaders, weakening the position of the co-called moderates.
A priority for US and international diplomacy must be dealing with the multiple crises in South and South East Asia, and the Near East and the Gulf. Whatever new impulse is given to these efforts by the US administration, however, involving Europeans and regional actors effectively will require unprecedented levels of consultation in order to establish a relatively common strategic approach.
 

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