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  • Author: Daniel W. Dresner
  • Publication Date: 10-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Security
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: The 2008 financial crisis dramatically worsened the fiscal future of the United States. In the first five years of the Great Recession, the debt-to-gross domestic product ratio of the United States more than doubled, and multiple bond-ratings agencies downgraded U.S. federal government debt. The inevitable debate in Washington is where and how much to cut federal spending. The national security budget is a natural target for fiscal conservatives. Their logic is clear-cut: defense and war expenditures are not the primary culprits for the parlous fiscal state of the United States, but they acted as accessories. For the 2013 fiscal year, the U.S. federal government has budgeted more than $685 billion in defense expenditures. Tacking on budgeting for intelligence and nuclear forces raises that figure to more than $725 billion. With the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan winding down and al-Qaida's top leadership decimated, the security threats to the United States have also declined. At the same time, the country possesses an unparalleled lead in defense assets and expenditures. Given its unchallenged military supremacy, targeting cuts toward defense spending after a decade of dramatic budgetary increases is a natural ambition.
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, Iraq, Washington
  • Author: Keir A. Lieber, Daryl G. Press
  • Publication Date: 10-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Security
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: For the last two decades, U.S. leaders have focused on the possibility of nuclear terrorism as a serious threat to the United States. In the wake of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, those fears grew even more acute. In his State of the Union Address four months after the attacks, President George W. Bush warned a worried nation that rogue states “could provide [weapons of mass destruction] to terrorists, giving them the means to match their hatred.” Both Vice President Dick Cheney and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice amplified the president's warning in order to justify the war against Iraq. According to Rice, “Terrorists might acquire such weapons from [Saddam Hussein's] regime, to mount a future attack far beyond the scale of 9/11. This terrible prospect could not be ignored or wished away.” Such fears continue to shape policy debates today: in particular, advocates of bombing Iran's nuclear facilities often justify a strike based on the idea that Iran might give nu-clear weapons to terrorist groups. Even President Barack Obama, who as a senator opposed the war against Iraq, declared, “The American people face no greater or more urgent danger than a terrorist attack with a nuclear weapon.” For U.S. leaders, the sum of all fears is that an enemy might give nuclear weapons to terrorists. But are those fears well founded?
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, America, Iran
  • Author: Jeff D. Colgan
  • Publication Date: 12-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Security
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: What roles do oil and energy play in international conflict? In public debates, the issue often provokes significant controversy. Critics of the two U.S.-led wars against Iraq (in 1991 and 2003) charged that they traded "blood for oil," and that they formed a part of an American neo-imperialist agenda to control oil in the Middle East. The U.S. government, on the other hand, explicitly denied that the wars were about oil, especially in 2003. U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld argued that the war "has nothing to do with oil, literally nothing to do with oil," a theme echoed by White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer.
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Michael Beckley
  • Publication Date: 01-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Security
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: According to the Global Language Monitor, which tracks the top 50,000 media sources throughout the world, the "rise of China" has been the most read-about news story of the twenty-first century, surpassing the September 11 terrorist attacks, the Iraq War, the election of Barack Obama, and the British royal wedding. One reason for the story's popularity, presumably, is that the rise of China entails the decline of the United States. While China's economy grows at 9 percent annually, the United States reels from economic recession, costly wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and massive budget deficits. This divergence in fortunes has produced two pieces of conventional wisdom in U.S. and Chinese foreign policy debates. First, the United States is in decline relative to China. Second, much of this decline is the result of globalization-the integration of national economies and resultant diffusion of technology from developed to developing countries-and the hegemonic burdens the United States bears to sustain globalization.
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, China, Iraq, America
  • Author: Stephen Biddle, Jacob N. Shapiro, Jeffrey A. Friedman
  • Publication Date: 07-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Security
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: From 2004 to mid- 2007, Iraq was extremely violent: civilian fatalities averaged more than 1,500 a month by August 2006, and by late fall, the U.S. military was suffering a monthly toll of almost 100 dead and 700 wounded. Then something changed. By the end of 2007, U.S. military fatalities had declined from their wartime monthly peak of 126 in May of that year to just 23 by December. From June 2008 to June 2011, monthly U.S. military fatalities averaged fewer than 11, a rate less than 15 percent of the 2004 through mid-2007 average and an order of magnitude smaller than their maximum. Monthly civilian fatalities fell from more than 1,700 in May 2007 to around 500 by December; from June 2008 to June 2011, these averaged around 200, or about one-tenth of the rate for the last half of 2006.
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq
  • Author: Benjamin S. Lambeth
  • Publication Date: 10-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Security
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: Assessing major combat experiences to help rectify errors made in the planning and conduct of operations has enjoyed a long and well-established tradition in the fields of military history and security studies. In particular, since Operation Desert Storm against Saddam Hussein's Iraq by U.S. and coalition forces in 1991, the pursuit of "lessons learned" from major combat has been a virtual cottage industry within the defense establishments of the United States and its principal allies around the world.
  • Topic: Security, War
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Israel
  • Author: Aaron Rapport
  • Publication Date: 12-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Security
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: Why did the administration of George W. Bush hold so many mistaken beliefs about the costs of establishing a transformed Iraqi state after the removal of Saddam Hussein? Relatedly, why did the president and senior officials devote so little attention to plans for the postconflict phase of the war, referred to as Phase IV? According to the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR), the administration had "no established plans to manage the increasing chaos" in Iraq, adding "when Iraq's withering post-invasion reality superseded [officials'] expectations, there was no well-defined 'Plan B' as a fallback and no existing government structures or resources to support a quick response." Numerous analyses of the administration's assumptions and preparations for the postwar phase of the conflict have argued that leadership in the White House and the Department of Defense grossly underestimated the cost of securing peace in Iraq. President Bush, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, and other key administration figures failed to foresee the rise of sectarian violence and ignored officials working on potential postwar problems or left them under - resourced, without the necessary time or guidance necessary to plan effectively.
  • Political Geography: Iraq
  • Author: Peter D. Feaver
  • Publication Date: 05-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Security
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: On January 10, 2007, President George W. Bush announced in a televised prime-time address to the nation a bold, even risky, new strategy in the Iraq War. The United States' military and political fortunes in the war had eroded so sharply over the preceding year that President Bush had authorized a thorough internal review to deter - mine why the current strategy was not succeeding and what, if anything, could be done about it. The review had concluded that the United States was on a trajectory that would end in defeat unless the president authorized a new strategy and committed new resources to it. Bush used the televised address to describe in broad strokes the results of the review and the new strategy, which the media quickly dubbed the “surge strategy,” because its most controversial provision involved sending have new brigade combat teams (BCTs) to Iraq, a commitment that grew to a total of nearly 30,000 additional troops—this at a time when public support for the Iraq War was strained to the breaking point.
  • Topic: Intelligence
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq
  • Author: Charles A. Duelfer, Stephen Benedict Dyson
  • Publication Date: 06-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Security
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: Why did the United States and Iraq and themselves in full-scale conflict with each other in 1990–91 and 2003, and in almost constant low-level hostilities during the years in- between? We suggest that the situation was neither inevitable nor one that either side, in full possession of all the relevant information about the other, would have purposely engineered: in short, a classic instance of chronic misperception. Combining the psychological literature on perception and its pathologies with the almost unique firsthand access of one of the authors— Charles Duelfer—to the decisionmakers on both sides, we isolate the perceptions that the United States and Iraq held of each other, as well as the biases, mistakes, and intelligence failures of which these images were, at different points in time, both cause and effect.
  • Topic: Intelligence
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Soviet Union
  • Author: Malfrid Braut-Hegghammer
  • Publication Date: 06-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Security
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: Thirty years after the Israeli attack on the Osirak reactor in June 1981 the consequences for Iraq's nuclear weapons program remain hotly debated. A new history of this program, based on several new Iraqi sources, yields a net assessment of the impact of the Israeli attack that differs from prevailing accounts. The attack had mixed effects: it triggered a covert nuclear weapons program that did not previously exist, while necessitating a more difficult and time consuming technical route to developing nuclear weapons. Notwithstanding gross inefficiencies in the ensuing program, a decade later Iraq stood on the threshold of a nuclear weapons capability. This case suggests that preventive attacks can increase the long-term proliferation risk posed by the targeted state.
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Israel
  • Author: Hal Brands, David Palkki
  • Publication Date: 06-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Security
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: Efforts to understand Saddam Hussein's strategic thought have long been hampered by the opacity and secrecy of the Baathist regime. Newly available, high-level Iraqi archival documentation demonstrates that in the late 1970s and early 1980s, Saddam viewed nuclear weapons through a fundamentally coercive, revisionist lens. He had long hoped to wage a grinding war of attrition against the Israeli state, and he believed that Iraqi acquisition of the bomb would neutralize Israeli nuclear threats, force the Jewish state to fight at the conventional level, and thereby allow Iraq and its Arab allies (with their larger economic and population base) to prosecute a prolonged war that would displace Israel from the territories occupied in 1967. These findings have implications for the existing theoretical literature on the causes and consequences of nuclear proliferation, as well as for the growing body of work on “nuclear alarmism.” The Iraqi case undermines the thesis that states proliferate primarily because of defensive concerns. Saddam certainly viewed possession of the bomb as a means of enhancing Iraq's security, but his attraction to nuclear weapons revolved around offensive objectives. Saddam hoped to exploit the deterrent balance with Israel to initiate a bloody conventional war that would have likely been immensely destructive and destabilizing for the Middle East as a whole. In other words, though Saddam never obtained nuclear weapons, his views on their potential utility give good cause for both pessimism and alarm.
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Israel, Arabia
  • Author: Deborah Welch Larson, Alexei Shevchenko
  • Publication Date: 04-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Security
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: Since the end of the Cold War, scholars and foreign policy analysts have debated the type of world order that the United States should strive to create—a hegemonic system, a multilateral institutional system, or a great power concert. Initially, a major issue was whether attempts to maintain U.S. primacy would stimulate counter - balancing from other states. But since the 2003 Iraq War, a new consideration has emerged—how to persuade other states to cooperate with U.S. global governance. States that do not oppose efforts by the United States to maintain stability may nonetheless decline to follow its leadership. This is a matter for concern because although the United States can act alone, it cannot succeed on such issues as controlling terrorism, curbing proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), rebuilding failed states, or maintaining economic stability without help from other states.
  • Topic: Cold War
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, China, Iraq
  • Author: David A. Lake
  • Publication Date: 12-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Security
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: The Iraq war has been one of the most significant events in world politics since the end of the Cold War. One of the first preventive wars in history, it cost trillions of dollars, resulted in more than 4,500 U.S. and coalition casualties (to date), caused enormous suffering in Iraq, and may have spurred greater anti-Americanism in the Middle East even while reducing potential threats to the United States and its allies. Yet, despite its profound importance, the causes of the war have received little sustained analysis from scholars of international relations. Al-though there have been many descriptions of the lead-up to the war, the fighting, and the occupation, these largely journalistic accounts explain how but not why the war occurred.
  • Topic: Cold War
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, America
  • Author: Thomas Hegghammer
  • Publication Date: 12-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Security
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: A salient feature of armed conflict in the Muslim world since 1980 is the involvement of so-called foreign fighters, that is, unpaid combatants with no apparent link to the conflict other than religious affinity with the Muslim side. Since 1980 between 10,000 and 30,000 such fighters have inserted themselves into conflicts from Bosnia in the west to the Philippines in the east. Foreign fighters matter because they can affect the conflicts they join, as they did in post-2003 Iraq by promoting sectarian violence and indiscriminate tactics. Perhaps more important, foreign fighter mobilizations empower transnational terrorist groups such as al-Qaida, because volunteering for war is the principal stepping-stone for individual involvement in more extreme forms of militancy. For example, when Muslims in the West radicalize, they usually do not plot attacks in their home country right away, but travel to a war zone such as Iraq or Afghanistan first. Indeed, a majority of al-Qaida operatives began their militant careers as war volunteers, and most transnational jihadi groups today are by-products of foreign fighter mobilizations. Foreign fighters are therefore key to understanding transnational Islamist militancy.
  • Topic: Intelligence
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Iraq
  • Author: Bruce E. Moon
  • Publication Date: 04-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Security
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: Prospects for democracy in Iraq should be assessed in light of the historical precedents of nations with comparable political experiences. Saddam Hussein's Iraq was an unusually extreme autocracy, which lasted an unusually long time. Since the end of the nineteenth century, only thirty nations have experienced an autocracy as extreme as Iraq's for a period exceeding two decades. The subsequent political experience of those nations offers a pessimistic forecast for Iraq and similar nations. Only seven of the thirty are now democratic, and only two of them have become established democracies; the democratic experiments in the other five are still in progress. Among the seven, the average time required to transit the path from extreme autocracy to coherent, albeit precarious, democracy has been fifty years, and only two have managed this transition in fewer than twenty-five years. Even this sober assessment is probably too optimistic, because Iraq lacks the structural conditions that theory and evidence indicate have been necessary for successful democratic transitions in the past. Thus, the odds of Iraq achieving democracy in the next quarter century are close to zero, at best about two in thirty, but probably far less.
  • Political Geography: Iraq
  • Author: Jeremy Pressman
  • Publication Date: 04-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Security
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: The administration of President George W. Bush was deeply involved in the Middle East, but its efforts did not advance U.S. national security. In the realms of counterterrorism, democracy promotion, and nonconventional proliferation, the Bush administration failed to achieve its objectives. Although the United States did not suffer a second direct attack after September 11, 2001, the terrorism situation worsened as many other countries came under attack and a new generation of terrorists trained in Iraq. Large regional powers such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia did not become more democratic, with no new leaders subject to popular mandate. The model used in Iraq of democratization by military force is risky, costly, and not replicable. Bush's policy exacerbated the problem of nuclear proliferation, expending tremendous resources on a nonexistent program in Iraq while bolstering Iran's geopolitical position. The administration failed because it relied too heavily on military force and too little on diplomacy, disregarded empiricism, and did not address long-standing policy contradictions. The case of the Bush administration makes clear that material power does not automatically translate into international influence.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Iran, Middle East, Saudi Arabia, Egypt
  • Author: Elizabeth A. Stanley
  • Publication Date: 07-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Security
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: Throughout history, shifts in governing coalitions have critically affected war termination. For example, the execution of the Athenian democratic ruler Cleophon and the ascendancy of the pro-Spartan oligarchs in B.C. 404 led to Athens' surrender to Sparta and ended the twenty-seven-year Second Peloponnesian War. Similarly, the death of Russian Empress Elizabeth in January 1762 led her Prussophile successor, Peter III, to immediately recall Russian armies that were occupying Berlin and conclude the Treaty of Saint Petersburg by May—ending the fighting between Russia and Prussia in the Seven Years' War. During World War I, riots in Germany ushered in a new government that then negotiated the final war armistice, as Kaiser Wilhelm II fied to Holland. Likewise, during World War II, France and Italy surrendered shortly after changes in their governing coalitions, in 1940 and 1943, respectively. Most recently, on his first full day in office, U.S. President Barack Obama summoned senior officials to the White House to begin fulfilling his campaign promise to pull combat forces out of the war in Iraq.
  • Topic: Government, War
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Iraq, France, Germany, Korea, Prussia
  • Author: Nicholas Sambanis, Jonah Schulhofer-Wohl
  • Publication Date: 10-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Security
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: The debate over territorial partition as a solution to civil war is highly politically relevant. At the height of the Iraqi civil war in 2006 and 2007, faced with intensifying violence against civilians, mistrust among the main Sunni, Shiite, and Kurdish groups, and bleak prospects for state building, policymakers and analysts turned to ideas about partitioning the country. War-induced partitions and partition-induced wars continue to be prominent features in international security—two recent examples being the de facto partition of Kosovo from Serbia in 1999 followed by international recognition of Kosovo's independence in 2008, and the August 2008 war between Russia and Georgia following the latter's invasion of the separatist region of South Ossetia.
  • Political Geography: Russia, Iraq, Kosovo, Serbia, Georgia, South Ossetia