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  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman
  • Publication Date: 08-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: In fairness, peace almost always consists of a pause in the fighting that becomes a prelude to war. Taking modern Europe as an example, the Napoleonic wars were punctuated by failed peace attempts, and then led to the rise of Germany and a whole new series of wars with Austria, Denmark, and France. The repressive peace settlements following Europe’s upheavals in 1848 set the stage for decades of new rounds of conflict and revolution. World War I led to World War II, and then led to the Cold War and now to the Ukraine. Nevertheless, the current U.S. efforts to support peace negotiations in Afghanistan and the Middle East seem remarkably weak even by historical standards. In the case of Afghanistan, “peace” is being negotiated without even the same cosmetic level of local government participation that occurred in Vietnam. It is being negotiated when there is no political stability to build upon, and no apparent prospect that the coming election can bring real unity or effective leadership.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Military Strategy, Conflict, Peace
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Africa, Iraq, Middle East, Libya, Yemen, Syria, Gulf Nations
  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman, Abdullah Toukan
  • Publication Date: 09-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The U.S., its European allies, and its Strategic Partners in the Middle East achieved a significant victory in breaking up the ISIS protostate – or “caliphate” – in Syria and Iraq. This break up has sharply reduced the fighting against ISIS in Iraq, and in Eastern Syria. The U.S.-led Coalition did not, however, fully defeat ISIS in either Iraq or Syria or eliminate ISIS and other forms of extremism as serious threats. It did not bring lasting stability to Iraq or end the Syrian civil war, and it did not eliminate the threat from ISIS and other extremist groups in the rest of the MENA area. This analysis covers two important aspects of the crisis in Iraq and Syria since the break of the “caliphate.” First, it summarizes key official reporting on the resurgence of ISIS as a serious threat in both Syria and Iraq. Second, it puts ISIS in perspective – showing that it did not dominate the violence and levels of terrorism in Syria even at its peak, and noting that ISIS is only one of the major threats to stability in Iraq.
  • Topic: Terrorism, Military Strategy, ISIS, Conflict
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Syria, United States of America
  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman
  • Publication Date: 02-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The U.S. has learned many lessons in its wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria—most of them the hard way. It has had to adapt the strategies, tactics, and force structures designed to fight regular wars to conflicts dominated by non-state actors. It has had to deal with threats shaped by ideological extremism far more radical than the communist movements it struggled against in countries like Vietnam. It has found that the kind of “Revolution in Military Affairs,” or RMA, that helped the U.S. deter and encourage the collapses of the former Soviet Union does not win such conflicts against non-state actors, and that it faces a different mix of threats in each such war—such as in cases like Libya, Yemen, Somalia and a number of states in West Africa. The U.S. does have other strategic priorities: competition with China and Russia, and direct military threats from states like Iran and North Korea. At the same time, the U.S. is still seeking to find some form of stable civil solution to the conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria—as well as the conflicts Libya, Yemen, Somalia, Sudan and West Africa. Reporting by the UN, IMF, and World Bank also shows that the mix of demographic, political governance, and economic forces that created the extremist threats the U.S. and its strategic partners are now fighting have increased in much of the entire developing world since the attack on the World Trade Center and Pentagon in 2001, and the political upheavals in the Middle East and North Africa in 2011. The Burke Chair at CSIS has prepared a working paper that suggests the U.S. needs to build on the military lessons it has learned from its "long wars" in Afghanistan, Iraq, and other countries in order to carry out a new and different kind of “Revolution in Civil-Military Affairs,” or RCMA. This revolution involves very different kinds of warfighting and military efforts from the RMA. The U.S. must take full advantage of what it is learning about the need for different kinds of train and assist missions, the use of airpower, strategic communications, and ideological warfare. At the same time, the U.S. must integrate these military efforts with new civilian efforts that address the rise of extremist ideologies and internal civil conflicts. It must accept the reality that it is fighting "failed state" wars, where population pressures and unemployment, ethnic and sectarian differences, critical problems in politics and governance, and failures to meet basic economic needs are a key element of the conflict. In these elements of conflict, progress must be made in wartime to achieve any kind of victory, and that progress must continue if any stable form of resolution is to be successful.
  • Topic: Civil Society, United Nations, Military Strategy, Governance, Military Affairs, Developing World
  • Political Geography: Africa, United States, Iraq, Middle East, West Africa, Somalia, Sundan
  • Author: Sarah A. Emerson, Andrew C. Winner
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Washington Quarterly
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: U.S. politicians often work the topic of oil import independence into their campaign rhetoric as an ideal that would help separate U.S. economic prosperity and military responsibility from the volatility of Middle Eastern politics. In theory, oil independence would mean that events such as the Iranian revolution or internal political unrest in key Arab oil producers would have much less direct impact on the flow of oil to the United States, and thus U.S. prosperity (even if, in a global market for oil, the price impact of any supply disruption is shared by all consuming countries). More importantly, intra-state conflicts such as the Iraq-Iran war or the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait would not necessarily require large-scale U.S. military involvement to ensure oil production and exports to the United States and its allies. This linkage between U.S. oil import dependence and military commitment to the Gulf region has given rise to a myth favored by policymakers, markets, and the public that if the United States could attain oil independence, we could also reduce our military responsibilities around the world. Recent and ongoing changes in both the oil sector and in political-military strategy are for the first time in forty years combining in a manner that is leading some to believe this story could come true.
  • Topic: Military Strategy
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Iran, Kuwait
  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Over the years since the formation of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), the Southern Gulf states and the US have developed a de facto strategic partnership based on a common need to deter and defend against any threat from Iran, deal with regional instability in countries like Iraq and Yemen, counter the threat of terrorism and extremism, and deal with the other threats to the flow of Gulf petroleum exports.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security, Defense Policy, Military Strategy
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Iran, Middle East, Yemen, Arabia, North America
  • Author: Maren Leed, Hilary Price, Tara Murphy
  • Publication Date: 06-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The Department of Defense's (DoD's) mission to protect the nation necessitates its leaders' concern about the military's readiness for a vast and expanding range of missions. These concerns are heightened in the midst of two ongoing campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan and within the context of a world that is increasingly complex. To their credit, DoD leaders continue to seek insight from both inside and outside the department about areas of potential vulnerability; this study is one such effort.
  • Topic: Military Strategy
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Iraq