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  • Author: C. Anthony Pfaff
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College
  • Abstract: As is well known, then acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly fired Captain Brett Crozier, captain of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt, after he wrote a letter arguing that all but ten percent of the crew should disembark the ship to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Doing so, he acknowledged, would diminish the carrier’s readiness and slow its response time in a crisis. Justifying that decision, however, he argued, “We are not at war. Sailors do not need to die. If we do not act now, we are failing to properly take care of our most trusted asset — our Sailors.”1 The problem for the captain, of course, was not the content of the letter as much as it was the subsequent leak to the San Francisco Chronicle. Setting aside the fiasco that resulted in his firing, and led to Modly’s sudden resignation, 2 the captain raises some important concerns regarding what the risks sailors, soldiers, airmen, and marines3 should be required to take in peacetime. Because it is peacetime, he argues, “[W]e … cannot allow a single Sailor to perish as a result of this pandemic unnecessarily.”4 Of course, even in war no one should die unnecessarily; however, the captain raises a good question: “what risks are necessary in peacetime?” To answer that question it is first important to understand what risks are necessary in wartime
  • Topic: War, Armed Forces, Military Affairs, Risk, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: United States of America
  • Author: Robert E. Hamilton
  • Publication Date: 08-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: On August 26, Politico reported that U.S. service members were injured after an altercation with Russian forces in northeast Syria. This pattern of Russian challenges to U.S. forces was enabled by the Trump administration’s decision to retreat from parts of northern Syria in 2019, allowing Russia to fill the void. Until this decision was made, the two countries had agreed to make the Euphrates River the deconfliction line to keep U.S. and Russian forces separated. Russia stayed on the west side of the river, and the United on the east side, where this incident took place. Robert Hamilton, Senior Fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, commented on the story and warned that it will not be a one-off incident: “We need to respond to this immediately and forcefully. Russian forces deliberately escalated against U.S. partners when I was running the ground deconfliction cell for Syria in 2017, but tended to be careful when U.S. forces were present. Unless we make it clear that we’ll defend ourselves, these escalations will continue with dangerous and unpredictable results.” Below, we offer readers an excerpt from a chapter written by Robert Hamilton from a forthcoming edited volume on Russia’s Way of War in Syria.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, War, Military Strategy, Military Affairs, Troop Deployment
  • Political Geography: Russia, Eurasia, Middle East, Syria, United States of America, North America
  • Author: Hanan Shai
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Begin-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies (BESA)
  • Abstract: The conquest of southern Lebanon in Operation Peace for Galilee, and Israel’s long sojourn in the area, had political and military justification. But defects in the IDF’s deployment during the operation, and later in its protracted security activity, culminated in the May 2000 hurried withdrawal that continues to this day to negatively affect Israel’s national security.
  • Topic: National Security, War, Conflict, Hezbollah, Israel Defense Forces (IDF)
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Lebanon
  • Author: James M Dorsey
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Begin-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies (BESA)
  • Abstract: As tens of thousands more refugees are shunted by Turkey toward Europe and a new phase of the brutal Syrian war unfolds, Russia, Turkey, the EU, and the international community are being handed the bill for a flawed short-term approach to the nine-year conflict that lacked empathy for the millions of victims and was likely to magnify rather than resolve problems.
  • Topic: War, Refugees, Syrian War, International Community
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Turkey, Middle East, Syria
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: The utilization of mercenaries has become one of the key predicaments in the Middle East, particularly in the hotbeds of armed conflict, including Libya, Yemen and Syria. Such militia are usually transferred through the use of civil flights, crossing land borders or smuggling through organized crime networks. This has been reflected by numerous evidence including the escalating tensions between the international powers such as ‘France’ and regional ones such as ‘Turkey’, even affecting the mutual hostility between the ‘Syrian Democratic Forces’ and Ankara, and the latter's policy aiming at disturbing Libya's neighboring countries. In the case of Yemen, the Houthi militia and Islah party have also used African mercenaries. It is further evident in the warning given by the Yemeni government to ‘Tehran Mercenaries’ against turning Yemen into a battlefield after the murder of Qassem Soleimani.
  • Topic: War, Non State Actors, Houthis, Militias, Mercenaries
  • Political Geography: Iran, Turkey, Middle East, France, Libya, Yemen, North Africa, Syria
  • Author: Mitchell Lerner, Judy Tzu-Chun Wu, Arissa H. Oh, Zachary M. Matusheski, Peter Banseok Kwon, Monica Kim
  • Publication Date: 09-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations (SHAFR)
  • Abstract: A Roundtable on Monica Kim The Interrogation Rooms of the Korean War: The Untold History
  • Topic: International Relations, Cold War, War, History, Military Affairs, United States , Korean War, Diplomatic History
  • Political Geography: South Korea, North Korea, Korea, Korean Peninsula
  • Author: Evan Perkoski
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Political Violence @ A Glance
  • Abstract: Will the COVID-19 pandemic increase or decrease conflict around the globe? Across myriad blog posts and op-eds, a consensus appears to be emerging: in the short term, the global community may experience a pax epidemia, as Barry Posen refers to it, where “the odds of a war between major powers will go down, not up.” But the opposite may be true for intrastate conflict—e.g. civil wars and insurgencies—where conditions seem ripe for more turbulent subnational politics.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, War, Conflict, COVID-19, Armed Conflict
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Jason Pack
  • Publication Date: 05-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Italian Institute for International Political Studies (ISPI)
  • Abstract: In early April 2019, General Khalifa Haftar instructed the Libyan National Army (LNA) to take Tripoli by force, initiating Libya’s Second War of Post-Qadhafi Succession. Drawing upon the Libya-Analysis proprietary real time militia mapping project, this paper examines the main armed groups involved in the war: ascertaining their strengths, weaknesses, command and control structures, motivations, alliances, military capacities, and financing. It illustrates how all armed groups in Libya exploit the country’s dysfunctional war economy. Unappreciated by most international policymakers, the current conflict has actually increased their leverage to pry Libya out of this downward spiral. Major international players have the tools to prevent Libya from becoming permanently enshrined as a kingdom of militias, but only if they transcend their divergent approaches and rally together to cut off the belligerents’ purse strings. Failure to act is facilitating the growth of global jihadi movements, migrant flows to Europe, and the tragically avoidable humanitarian catastrophe currently engulfing Libya.
  • Topic: War, Proxy War, Humanitarian Crisis, Khalifa Haftar
  • Political Geography: Libya, North Africa
  • Author: Rina Bassist
  • Publication Date: 05-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies
  • Abstract: Rina Bassist examines new alliances between international powers as a result of the ongoing Libyan civil war. The April 4 offensive launched by Gen. Khalifa Haftar and the National Libyan Army (LNA) to take control of Tripoli is now, as of May 2019, in its second month; regional actors are becoming fearful of a bloody stalemate. While the ongoing civil war in Libya has pitted mostly local forces against each other, countries such as Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Russia have allied against Italy and Great Britain, in an intensified diplomatic battle primarily being waged at the UN Security Council. In fact, the ongoing Libyan crisis has shattered traditional alliances. The usual global camps have been turned upside down, replaced instead by new, improbable partnerships. This article will deal with these new emerging alliances which are replacing, in this particular context, the long-established balance of power in the UN Security Council and the international arena. More particularly, we will look into the motives behind the strategic shift, and why world powers have abandoned their initial objectives for Libya.
  • Topic: War, Alliance, Crisis Management, Proxy War
  • Political Geography: Libya, North Africa
  • Author: Amanda Demmer, Richard A. Moss, Scott Laderman, Luke A. Nichter, David F. Schmitz, Robert K. Brigham
  • Publication Date: 04-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations (SHAFR)
  • Abstract: A Roundtable on Robert K. Brigham, Reckless: Henry Kissinger and the Tragedy of Vietnam
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, War, History, Vietnam War, Diplomatic History
  • Political Geography: United States, Vietnam
  • Author: Navin Bapat
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Political Violence @ A Glance
  • Abstract: The Washington Post’s publication of the Afghanistan Papers reveals that, although the official line was that the war was turning in favor of the US and its allies in Kabul, policymakers have long been aware that the situation was bleak, deteriorating, and unlikely to produce anything resembling a “victory.” Following 9/11, the US identified failed states as a key national security risk, in that these environments enabled terrorists, rebels, warlords, and other non-state actors to plot and plan operations against the US and the international community. Given that Afghanistan seemed to represent the prototypical weak state, the solution was obvious: Afghanistan needed to be transformed into a strong state that would resist non-state actors—particularly terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda. But in trying to achieve this lofty goal, the US has lost thousands of soldiers and contractors and spent several trillion dollars—and the costs will likely continue rising. The Afghans themselves have suffered even more, with over 100,000 deaths since 9/11. Despite all of this loss—and the open acknowledgment that the strategy is failing—there is little appetite among US policymakers for reversing course.
  • Topic: War, Military Affairs, Afghanistan, Military Intervention, War on Terror, Military Contractors
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States
  • Author: Gabriel Cederberg, Jarno limnéll
  • Publication Date: 03-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Geneva Centre for Security Policy
  • Abstract: This paper examines the concepts of cyber politics and cyber-enabled hybrid warfare. It pays specific attention to the vulnerabilities of modern Western societies from a strategic-political perspective. The paper concludes that instead of cyber politics as such, a new kind of politics is needed – hybrid politics. Hybrid politics will be presented as a potentially winning concept for European security. Key Points: Issues related to cyberspace and its uses have risen to the highest levels of international politics, creating an area and discipline known as cyber politics. Protecting critical infrastructure and services from cyber threats is a complicated matter. The cyber domain is a central part of modern hybrid warfare, and malicious cyber-technical and cyber-psychological threats have both increased. Hybrid politics is a useful concept to describe both the importance of a holistic approach and the nature of high politics in the modern security reality. Hybrid politics is constantly changing the modern political process. The European Union (EU) should primarily understand hybrid politics as a potentially “winning concept” and take active steps to implement and sustain this understanding.
  • Topic: Security, Science and Technology, War, Cybersecurity
  • Political Geography: Europe, European Union
  • Author: Hans Blix
  • Publication Date: 10-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Stockholm International Peace Research Institute
  • Abstract: The SIPRI Lecture is an annual event focusing on major themes in peace and security. The event provides a platform for prominent global thought leaders sharing the values underpinning SIPRI, its research and other activities. The inaugural SIPRI Lecture was held in May 2018 on the theme ‘Is the world on the road to peace or war?’ in the presence of His Majesty Carl XVI Gustaf and Her Majesty Queen Silvia of Sweden. The lecture honoured HE Dr Hans Blix and his lifelong career of distinguished public service dedicated to peace, disarmament, non-proliferation and conflict resolution and was followed by a distinguished panel discussion.
  • Topic: Arms Control and Proliferation, War, Nuclear Power, Disarmament, Nonproliferation, Peace
  • Political Geography: Europe, Sweden
  • Author: Morgan Wesley
  • Publication Date: 01-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Institute for the Study of War
  • Abstract: The Afghanistan ORBAT (PDF) describes the location and area of responsibility of all American units in Afghanistan, down to the battalion level, updated as of February 2016..
  • Topic: International Relations, War
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan
  • Author: Pietro A. Shakarian
  • Publication Date: 11-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Rethinking Russia
  • Abstract: Russia and Turkey have been improving their relationship since June 2016, the Kurdish question presents a potential challenge to their attempts to strengthen their ties. Reconciling Kurdish aspirations with Turkish fears will be a top priority for Moscow in its effort to broker a post-war peace in Syria.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, War, Syrian War, Kurds
  • Political Geography: Russia, Eurasia, Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: Ephraim Kam, Zaki Shalom
  • Publication Date: 08-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Institute for National Security Studies (INSS)
  • Abstract: Senior officials within the Iranian regime have long been convinced that American administrations have striven to infiltrate Iran’s internal system and topple the Islamic regime, and this impression has been bolstered of late. For its part, even if the Trump administration has not presented a defined position on regime change in Iran, it undoubtedly has a clear interest in this regard. Yet the US administration has no concrete ability to bring about regime change in Iran in the desired direction – not by supporting internal opposition forces, and certainly not through military intervention. If the Iranian regime does change in the future, it will presumably result from internal processes and not external intervention.
  • Topic: War, International Security, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: America, Iran
  • Publication Date: 10-2014
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Project on Middle East Political Science (POMEPS)
  • Abstract: Syria’s nearly four year civil war took a dramatic new turn this month as the United States and its coalition partners began bombing militants from the Islamic State group (formerly know as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) and al-Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate Jubhat al-Nusra. The U.S. intervention opens up profound uncertainties about the objective and targets of the military action, the responses of the dizzying array of actors on the ground, and the potential for escalation. In December 2013, POMEPS published “The Political Science of Syria’s War,” a collection of original essays by many of the top civil wars and insurgencies scholars, which helped to place the Syrian war into a broad theoretical and comparative perspective. This new collection of articles originally published on “The Monkey Cage” explores the evolution of the conflict, the nature of the Islamic State, and key debates about Syria’s horrific war.
  • Topic: War, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Syria