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The Institute for Communitarian Policy Studies at the George Washington University is the nation's leading center for communitarian policy research and is a research institute dedicated to finding constructive solutions to social problems through morally informed policy analysis and moral dialogue.

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Air Sea Battle: A Case Study in Structural Inattention and Subterranean Forces

In response to China’s military modernization and growing anti-access/area denial capabilities, the US military has adopted an ‘‘Air Sea Battle’’ (ASB) concept entailing extensive strikes on the Chinese mainland. ASB has been embraced at the Pentagon and increasingly affects procurement decisions. Critics argue that ASB creates grave escalation risks and may incite an expensive arms race. Less discussed, but also of serious concern, is that ASB was adopted with little to no civilian oversight, in a case of ‘‘structural inattention.’’ This failure of civil–military relations derives from institutional factors such as the nature and composition of the White House staff, as well as from the administration’s pragmatic rather than strategic approach to China. It has also been facilitated by ‘‘subterranean factors’’ including the interests of influential military contractors and the military’s own inclination toward conventional warfare.

No More Land Wars?

There is a growing consensus that the United States should not engage in another major land war in Asia or Africa, a view encapsulated in the catchphrase “no more boots on the ground.” Indeed, currently the US is either refraining from taking military action, or is limiting itself to drone strikes, covert operations, “capacity building” of local forces, and advising. This consensus, we shall see, is based in part on a fundamental misunderstanding of the course of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. In fact, the US won both easily, quickly, suffering few casualties and low costs—causing rather limited collateral damage. Both campaigns ended up badly (although major analysts differ with regard to the question of how badly and what exactly caused the unfavorable outcomes) once the US decided to engage in nation building, helping these nations build stable, democratic, US-friendly regimes. 

Grant Kurdistan Arms and Independence

In dealing with Iraq, the U.S. and its allies would benefit from drawing on an important axiom of economics, that of “sunk costs.” It suggests that contrary to common intuition, how much you have invested in a property (or policy) in the past should not affect your decisions about future investments. The decisive question is whether the property is currently in good shape, or is falling apart. It makes no sense to invest in a sinking Titanic, however much it cost to build.

U.S. President Barack Obama and many others are moved by the huge sacrifices in life, money and political capital that were made in Iraq. Obama hopes that one more investment will finally make Iraq into a functioning nation and ally. He demands that Iraq’s next government be formed in a way that Sunnis will feel “connected to and well served.”

Hillary Clinton’s China Policy

Hillary Clinton’s book Hard Choices reaffirms what critics have long stated about President Barack Obama’s China policy: that there is none but merely vague generalizations and that the administration is largely reactive rather than proactive.

Clinton’s book will be welcomed by those who are interested in certain areas of the world more than others, because, unlike many memoirs, this book is not organized chronologically. Instead, there is a chapter for each region or country of special interest: one on Afghanistan, one on Pakistan, one on Europe, one on China, and a whole chapter on Chen Guangcheng.

Should We Go Back to the Moon?

Today marks 45 years since Neil Armstrong became the first person to walk on the moon, taking "one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." Overall, 12 American astronauts have walked on the lunar landscape, the last – Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt – doing so in 1972.

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Air Sea Battle: A Case Study in Structural Inattention and Subterranean Forces

September 15, 2014

In response to China’s military modernization and growing anti-access/area denial capabilities, the US military has adopted an ‘‘Air Sea Battle’’ (ASB) concept entailing extensive strikes on the Chinese mainland. ASB has been embraced at the Pentagon and increasingly affects procurement decisions. Critics argue that ASB creates grave escalation risks and may incite an expensive arms race. Less discussed, but also of serious concern, is that ASB was adopted with little to no civilian oversight, in a case of ‘‘structural inattention.’’ This failure of civil–military relations derives from institutional factors such as the nature and composition of the White House staff, as well as from the administration’s pragmatic rather than strategic approach to China. It has also been facilitated by ‘‘subterranean factors’’ including the interests of influential military contractors and the military’s own inclination toward conventional warfare.