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  • Author: Patrick Martin
  • Publication Date: 04-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for the Study of War
  • Abstract: ISIS is waging a renewed offensive campaign in recaptured areas that could exploit vulnerabilities in the Iraqi Government’s ability to respond amidst accelerating political competition before upcoming elections.
  • Topic: War
  • Political Geography: Iraq
  • Author: Ross Wilson
  • Publication Date: 04-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Ambassadors Review
  • Abstract: Turkey has recently come to look like a beat-up boy. At home, it seems to have regained the authoritarianism of its past. Abroad, its behavior looks rough edged and militaristic. It gets blamed for not doing enough, or the right things, on Syria, the problem of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), and Europe’s migrant crisis. Some have concluded that this country, its regional policies in tatters and under the assault of an autocratic president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, can no longer be regarded as an ally.
  • Topic: Migration, Military Affairs, Authoritarianism, Refugee Crisis, Islamic State
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Turkey, Syria
  • Author: Anna Kronlund
  • Publication Date: 02-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Debates on the war-making powers of the US Congress and the President have been topical of late. President Barack Obama's actions in relation to Libya (2011), Syria (2013), and more recently the "targeted” actions against ISIL in Iraq and Syria, have raised discussions about the powers of the President as the Commander-in-Chief vis-à-vis the powers of Congress. If and when should the President seek congressional authorization for the use of US armed forces? This Working Paper argues that Congress has constitutionally established but contingently manifest powers when it comes to decision-making on war. To examine this, the paper explicates the procedures of congressional involvement in the decision-making process on war and illustrates congressional debates on the war powers between the branches of government. The recent cases of Libya and Syria are examined in more detail to indicate the (aspired) role of Congress. The powers between the branches of government are not static but rather (re)interpreted and (re)defined in different political contexts. War powers are one example to explicate the constitutional powers of the US Congress and the President that are divided, and to examine how these powers are considered and debated. While the debates are considered against the backdrop of the Constitution, the question to consider is how they relate to the political realities and power relations in changing political settings. The Working Paper also explicates the role of Congress in the broader perspective rather than through the legislative record and voting only, even though the members of Congress have particularly emphasized debate (and voting) in the decision-making process. Concepts such as collective judgment, popular sovereignty and separation of powers are used in this context to indicate the role of Congress in this field. The changing nature of war and the concept of war pose new challenges for understanding and defining the powers related to "war making”, and are reflected in the continuing debates concerning the scope and relevancy of the power of Congress (and the President) when it comes to decision-making on the use of US armed forces.
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Libya, Syria
  • Author: Riccardo Alcaro
  • Publication Date: 02-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: Such is the magnitude of the crisis in Iraq and Syria that experts have started wondering whether the area will witness a major realignment between the main rival camps, the US and its allies on the one hand and Iran and its proxies on the other. The US and Iran – so the argument goes – share a critical interest in fighting the Islamic State and keep Iraq from total breakdown. Only by joining forces can they bring stability to the region, which incidentally should also serve as an incentive for both parties to reach a compromise on the nuclear issue. This interpretation, however, fails to account for the effects that a US-Iran rapprochement would have on the US's system of alliances in the region. US-Iran relations are likely to remain antagonistic, although the Iraq-Syria crisis and the nuclear issue have indeed the potential to re-orientate them along a less adversarial pattern.
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Iran, Syria
  • Author: Lina Khatib
  • Publication Date: 06-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: The self-proclaimed Islamic State is a hybrid jihadist group with a declared goal of establishing a “lasting and expanding” caliphate. Its strategy for survival and growth blends military, political, social, and economic components. Yet the U.S.-led international intervention against it has largely been limited to air strikes. The gaps in the international coalition’s approach as well as deep sectarian divisions in Iraq and the shifting strategies of the Syrian regime and its allies are allowing the Islamic State to continue to exist and expand.
  • Topic: Civil War, Islam, Terrorism, Insurgency, Sectarian violence
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Arab Countries, Syria
  • Author: Anthony H Cordesman
  • Publication Date: 08-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The events in Iraq over the last month have shown that any success in Iraq requires both the Iraqi government and the United States to go far beyond the war against ISIS, and makes any partisan debate over who lost Iraq as damaging to U.S. national interests as any other aspect of America’s drift toward partisan extremism. The war against ISIS is a critical U.S. national security interest. It not only threatens to create a major center of terrorism and extremism in a critical part of the Middle East, and one that could spread to threaten the flow of energy exports and the global economy, but could become a major center of international terrorism. It is important to understand, however, that ISIS is only one cause of instability in the region, and only one of the threats caused by spreading sectarian and ethnic violence.
  • Topic: Terrorism, International Security
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Liam P. Walsh
  • Publication Date: 12-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College
  • Abstract: Beginning in 2013, the U.S. Army began an effort to “engage regionally and respond globally.” A central tenant of this strategy, building upon National strategic guidance, is the necessity to build partner capacity. Army units, through the regionally aligned forces concept, may find themselves conducting security force assistance (SFA) missions across the globe as a means to achieve these ways. However, after examining the Army’s SFA mission in Operation IRAQI FREEDOM from 2003-10, it becomes apparent that institutional and organizational shortcomings plagued the Army’s initial efforts in this critical aspect of the campaign. Many of these shortcomings remain in the Army today, particularly within the Army’s core formation—the brigade combat team (BCT). This monograph examines the Army’s role in conducting SFA in Iraq, drawing key lessons for the Army’s experience there, and then provides recommendations as to how the Army can better optimize the BCT to conduct SFA, while still retaining its core mission to fight and win America’s wars.
  • Topic: National Security, War, Military Strategy, Military Affairs
  • Political Geography: Iraq, United States of America
  • Author: Dr. Christopher Sims
  • Publication Date: 12-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College
  • Abstract: The Human Terrain System embedded civilians primarily in brigade combat teams (BCTs) in Iraq and Afghanistan between 2007 and 2014 to act as a collection and dispersal mechanism for sociocultural comprehension. Set against the backdrop of the program’s evolution, the experiences of these social scientists clarifies the U.S. Army’s decision to integrate social scientists at the tactical level in conflict. Based on interviews, program documents, material from Freedom of Information Act requests, and secondary sources, this book finds a series of limiting factors inhibiting social science research at the tactical level, common to both Iraq and Afghanistan. Complexity in integrating civilians into the military decision-making cycle, creating timely research with a high level of fidelity, and making granular research resonate with brigade staff all contributed to inhibiting the overall effect of the Human Terrain System. Yet, while high operational tempo in contested spaces complicates social science research at the tactical level, the author argues that there is a continued requirement for a residual capability to be maintained by the U.S. Army.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, War, Military Strategy, Military Affairs
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Iraq, United States of America
  • Author: Dr. Steve Tatham
  • Publication Date: 08-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College
  • Abstract: The author explains how sophisticated social science research and behavioral profiling can be used to warn us of impeding issues and how that information might be used by senior strategy makers as a tool for testing and refining strategy. He makes a compelling case that the science of Target Audience Analysis (TAA) is now so well advanced that it must become a key component of future strategic decision-making. The author views social media as just another communication conduit, and sees this as a continuum of wrong activities being undertaken. In Iraq and Afghanistan, he saw how big public relations and marketing companies cost the U.S. taxpayer millions of dollars in ultimately failed communication and propaganda campaigns. Social media, he argues, has become yet another blank checkbook for companies who rely on creative energy rather than empirical understanding to produce communications campaigns. Instead, he argues for far greater resource in TAA and greater understanding by federal agencies of what is and is not possible or desirable in their communication efforts. To this end, he looks in particular at the U.S. Agency for International Development relief work in Pakistan and argues that the communication objectives set at the start of the projects are almost unattainable, even naive in their presumptions.
  • Topic: Science and Technology, Military Strategy, Military Affairs, Social Media
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq
  • Author: Dr. M. Chris Mason
  • Publication Date: 06-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College
  • Abstract: The wars in Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan were lost before they began, not on the battlefields, where the United States won every tactical engagement, but at the strategic level of war. In each case, the U.S. Government attempted to create a Western-style democracy in countries which were decades at least away from being nations with the sociopolitical capital necessary to sustain democracy and, most importantly, accept it as a legitimate source of governance. The expensive indigenous armies created in the image of the U.S. Army lacked both the motivation to fight for illegitimate governments in Saigon, Baghdad, and Kabul and a cause that they believed was worth dying for, while their enemies in the field clearly did not. This book examines the Afghan National Security Forces in historical and political contexts, explains why they will fail at the tactical, operational and strategic levels of war, why they cannot and will not succeed in holding the southern half of the country, and what will happen in Afghanistan year-by-year from 2015 to 2019. Finally, it examines what the critical lessons unlearned of these conflicts are for U.S. military leaders, why these fundamental political lessons seem to remain unlearned, and how the strategic mistakes of the past can be avoided in the future.
  • Topic: Security, Democratization, Politics, Military Strategy, Military Affairs
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Iraq, Vietnam