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Category: Military

Uzbekistan’s order of battle in the 21st Century

Written by Colin Robinson.

Security sector reform research is often concentrated upon questions of accountability. It is the high-profile, atrocious incidents of human rights violations which often draw attention to the behaviour of security forces. But security sector reform is generally agreed to include both efforts to improve the democratic accountability and the effectiveness of security forces.[1] But neither objective is really fully possible without adequate information about the actual institutions under study.

Reform appears unlikely for many years in the former Soviet states of Central Asia. But when that time comes, it will be aided by accurate information. One of the more powerful and prominent states in the region is Uzbekistan, which attracted attention when it used elements of its security forces to fire upon demonstrators at Andijan in May 2005. Two years later, Burnashev and Chernykh explained some of the military dynamics in the pages of China and Eurasia Forum Quarterly.[2] The Journal of Power Institutions in Post-Soviet Societies (PIPSS) and the Journal of Slavic Military Studies continue to shed light on these issues, with a particularly pertinent article, by Sébastien Payrouse on training in Central Asian militaries, being issued in 2010.[3]  

Axis of Evil or Access to Diesel? Reflections on the Iraq War

By Andreas Bieler.

How can we understand the dynamics underlying the Iraq war in 2003? My latest article with Adam David Morton, entitled ‘Axis of Evil or Access to Diesel? Spaces of New Imperialism and the Iraq War’ is now published in the journal Historical Materialism and attempts to address this question.

In our analysis, we argue that the Iraq war did not simply reflect the unitary decision by the U.S. state to assert its interests in the global political economy, nor was it the result of co-operation by a group of allied capitalist countries to secure access to oil in the Middle East. Equally, we reject the notion that the use of military force reflected the interests of an emerging transnational state. Following on from our International Studies Quarterly article and in contrast to the above positions, our main focus is to assert the philosophy of internal relations as the hallmark of historical materialism. Thus, transnational capital is not understood as externally related to states, engaged in competition over authority in the global economy. Instead our focus shifts to class struggles over the extent to which the interests of transnational capital have become internalised or not within concrete forms of state and here in particular the U.S. form of state.

Russia resurgent? Russian military performance in Crimea and its implications on Western defence requirements

By Bettina Renz

Russia’s annexation of Crimea and subsequent developments in East Ukraine prompted much speculation in the West about Russia’s ‘new military prowess’. Many analysts and decision makers, including in NATO, concluded that modernisation efforts over the past few years had transformed the Russian military into a force that now posed a real threat to European and transatlantic security. Serious discussions are already underway about what this might mean for Europe’s and NATO’s future defence capabilities and requirements. There seems to be much agreement that Russia’s new-found military strength needs to be met with more military spending in the West. Sweden has announced an increase in its defence budget in response to the Ukraine crisis. This will include the expansion of its fighter jet fleet from 60 to 70 aircraft as well as the procurement of two new submarines. A UK Parliamentary Defence Committee report concluded that events in Crimea and Ukraine were a ‘game changer for UK defence policy [that] provoked a fundamental re-assessment of both the prioritisation of threats in the National Security Strategy and military capabilities required by the UK’. Is this a realistic assessment? What can the conflict in Ukraine really tell us about Russian conventional warfighting capabilities?