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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: Denise Natali
  • Publication Date: 11-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Georgetown Journal of International Affairs
  • Institution: Georgetown Journal of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Despite the contentious Iraqi political arena, the Kurdistan Region of Iraq is pressing ahead with its ambitious agenda for economic development and greater autonomy. The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) continues to negotiate large-scale energy deals with foreign governments and international oil companies (IOCs), expand its commercial and investment interests, and assure internal stability by controlling the use of force within its borders. Economic opportunities have encouraged political cooperation with regional states, especially Turkey, while reaffirming shared border security commitments. The KRG not only has become Ankara's key—if not only—regional ally, but its partner in checking the Kurdistan Worker's Party (Partiye Karkaren Kurdistane-PKK) and its expanding trans-border affiliates. Yet, the Kurdistan Region's particular condition as a quasi-state also makes it a political spoiler, or a potential one. In the absence of external sovereignty, the region thrives on international recognition, external patronage, and a weak central Iraqi government to advance its nationalist ambitions. While these features of quasi-statehood help affirm the KRG's autonomy, they challenge the Iraqi government's own state-rebuilding efforts that seek to consolidate its authority and territorial integrity. Additionally, the region's landlocked position and absence of an independent revenue source leave it highly dependent upon Baghdad and regional states for its economic and political survival. These geopolitical and financial realities may encourage deal-making to secure Kurdish interests or the status quo in Iraq; however, they can also source conflict within and across Kurdish nationalist communities beyond Iraq's borders
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Turkey, Baghdad, Kurdistan
  • Author: Nathalie Tocci
  • Publication Date: 11-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The International Spectator
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: Relations between Turkey and Northern Iraq have evolved at a breathtaking pace, with Turkish policies currently bolstering the KRG's drift towards independence, a prospect considered unthinkable in Ankara only a few years ago. Energy politics is an important component of this puzzle, but Ankara's strategic choice can only be understood against the backdrop of Iraq's deepening sectarianisation, the unfolding civil war in Syria and the dynamics in Turkey's own Kurdish question. The Turkish government is pursuing a high risk/high gain strategy. A more democratic Turkey, in partnership with the KRG, would be best placed to hedge against the centrifugal sectarian trends afflicting its southern neighbours. It is far more likely that Turkey will win its gamble with the support of the European Union.
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Turkey, Syria, Kurdistan
  • Author: Brian Fishman
  • Publication Date: 11-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: CTC Sentinel
  • Institution: The Combating Terrorism Center at West Point
  • Abstract: Al-qa`ida's operation in Syria is both its most dangerous and dysfunctional. Al-Qa`ida chief Ayman al-Zawahiri's rebuke of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), in which he ordered it to focus solely on Iraq and defer authority in Syria to Jabhat al-Nusra (JN), is evidence that terrorist groups can still pose a significant threat even when plagued by internal divisions.1 Moreover, despite al-Qa`ida's internal strife in Syria, the context in which it operates is deeply advantageous compared to other environments, including Iraq.
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Syria
  • Author: Elizabeth Bishop
  • Publication Date: 11-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Alternatives: Turkish Journal of International Relations
  • Institution: Center for International Conflict Resolution at Yalova University
  • Abstract: Citizens of the Arab Middle East have taken part in a wave of democracy movements; in Egypt, Libya, and Tunisia at least, their protests have resulted in regime change. Drawing on Michel Foucault's personal experiences in one of these countries, and informed by his concept of “biopolitics,” this essay connects Egyptians' current liberation struggle with their earlier revolution in 1952, in order to compare these experiences with Iraqis' 1958 Tammuz revolution. Were new social media as important, as the level of funding dedicated to the military? And what is the role of diplomacy in a revolutionary moment?
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Libya, Egypt
  • Author: James I. Matray
  • Publication Date: 11-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Journal of Korean Studies
  • Institution: International Council on Korean Studies
  • Abstract: This article describes the events surrounding the Second North Korean nuclear crisis that began in October 2002. It focuses attention particularly on identifying the reasons President George W. Bush decided to abandon the Agreed Framework of October 1994, as well as questioning the validity of his claim that Pyongyang's development of a Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU) program justified the initiation of this confrontation. The article begins with a description of the factors that explain the Bush administration's adoption of "Hawk Engagement" as a strategy to achieve regime change in North Korea. It then covers the ongoing efforts to end the crisis, tracing negotiations at the Six-Party Talks beginning in August 2003 in Beijing. The article presents evidence to substantiate the judgment that Bush's hardline advisors were responsible for implementing a militant and aggressive policy that, rather than toppling Kim Jong Il's government, strained relations with South Korea, elevated the status of China in East Asia, and forced North Korea to expand its nuclear weapons program as an act of self-defense.
  • Topic: Human Rights, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Korea
  • Author: Megan Johnson
  • Publication Date: 10-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of Military and Strategic Studies
  • Institution: Centre for Military, Security and Strategic Studies
  • Abstract: From Kabul to Baghdad and Back, written by John R. Ballard, David W. Lamm, and John K. Wood, chronicles the conflicts that the United States undertook in Afghanistan and Iraq following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. This book sets out to discuss the strategic and operational actions the United States took in its efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq, paying close attention to the critical decisions that wentinto planning each of the combat operations and how those decisions affected the outcomes in each of the respective campaigns. Methodically researched and well written, the authors provide in-depth analysis and valuable insight into the complex nature of fighting a two-front war. While the book is not a complete or all-inclusive study of the successes and failures of America’s decade-long war, the authors present a clear analysis of how conducting a two-front war affected the outcomes in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Their premise is that much would have been different in America’s war in Afghanistan had the choice not been made to simultaneously go to war with Iraq. This book is full of great detail and covers a topic that is massive in scope and complexity, giving the reader much to absorb and ponder. The layout of the book, however, makes it more manageable with each chapter broken down further by subtitles. The selected bibliography and extensive footnoting of the book are valuable assets and ensure the reader access to a plethora of additional resources.
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, Iraq
  • Author: Bradley Martin
  • Publication Date: 10-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of Military and Strategic Studies
  • Institution: Centre for Military, Security and Strategic Studies
  • Abstract: In Hybrid Warfare, military historians Williamson Murray and Peter Mansoor edit a volume that seeks to define and discuss the history of hybrid warfare, the idea that conflict includes combinations of conventional and irregular forces. Williamson Murray is a well-regarded military historian who serves as Professor Emeritus at Ohio State University and has completed voluminous works involving military transformation, military adaptation, and grand strategy. Peter Mansoor is a highly respected scholar who currently serves as the Raymond E. Mason Chair in Military History at Ohio State University and also a retired Army Colonel who served as the Executive Officer to General David Petraeus in Iraq. The book presents in depth cases studies, while also providing lessons learned that should be applied to future conflict. The contributors to the volume come from a wide range of backgrounds and nationalities and include retired military officers, independent researchers, and academics.
  • Political Geography: Iraq