International Security

  

Self Determination: The Democratization Test

Self Determination is the process by which people, who are governed by a foreign power, gain self government. Often the people first form a sense of community - a sense of a shared identity, destiny, and core values - and then seek to invest those in a state, forming a nation. The term self determination is also used to refer to the normative principle that is evoked to justify breaking away from the old regime to form a new one. 

Freedom of Navigation Assertions: The United States as the World’s Policeman

In line with its ‘‘Freedom of Navigation’’ program, the United States conducts ‘‘operational assertions’’ by sending naval vessels to violate what it considers to be the excessive maritime claims of other states. Efforts have been made to legitimate this program to the public and elected officials on both liberal and realist grounds: Freedom of navigation is an important component of the liberal international order while also central to the exercise of U.S. naval power. However, it does not follow that military assertions, which create a security risk and are inconsistent with liberal principles, should take precedence over diplomatic and multilateral steps. Rather, the program has faced little scrutiny to date due to its relative obscurity.

The Democratisation Mirage

One is reluctant to publish an essay that suggests that the families who lost their loved ones in Afghanistan and Iraq (as well as in Vietnam) – and the even larger numbers who have been maimed there – made these sacrifices in vain. As a former combatant, I know this grief closely. However, a clear-eyed view might prevent even more bloodshed and grief. 

COIN: A study of strategic illusion

Has the US military become a learning institution, one able to transition from relying on a conventional war model to fighting against irregular adversaries such as insurgents and terrorists? This article examines the United States' interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan in an effort to respond to this question.

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. 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.’’ It has also been facilitated by ‘‘subterranean factors’’ including the interests of influential military contractors and the military’s own inclination toward conventional warfare.

Full article here.

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. 
 
Full article here.

The Communitarian Foreign Policy of Amitai Etzioni

Amitai Etzioni’s communitarian perspective offers a comprehensive approach to international affairs in addition to offering guidance for domestic policy. His argument that a focus on traditional “realist” concerns for a nation’s security and interests (“security first”), combined with a dialogue over competing moral imperatives, is more likely to lead to the emergence of an idealist end state--a sustainable international community. His emphasis on gradualism--of breaking apart complex policy goals into small, discrete steps--comes from his assessment that this is a better way of promoting lasting change in the international system. His perspective does not fit neatly into any of the dominant U.S. foreign policy approaches, but his ideas have formed part of the foreign policy debate for the last fifty years.

Full article here.

Liberal Communitarian Approach to Privacy and Security

This article asks which normative framework should be applied in determining whether privacy is unduly diminished in the American quest for enhanced protection against terrorist attacks; which specific criteria should be employed in determining whether the balance has tilted too far toward enhancing security or protecting privacy; and which measures can be taken to reduce the inevitable conflict between security and privacy. It also seeks to show that enhanced transparency is inferior to enhanced accountability, although there is some room for adding more of both kinds of scrutiny.

Who Authorized Preparations for War With China

“Who Authorized Preparations for War With China,” Yale Journal of International Affairs, June, 2013.

Learning the Lessons of Afghanistan

“Learning the Lessons of Afghanistan,” The National Interest, August 30, 2012.

Little America should be required reading for all military personnel sent overseas, replacing the fake Three Cups of Tea, which was warmly embraced by naive generals who bet on nation building under the guise of the COIN (counterinsurgency) strategy. The book is a detailed report of our failed policies in Afghanistan by Rajiv Chandrasekaran, a leading Washington Post reporter. It uses an early episode in U.S.-Afghan relations as a revealing and emblematic tale of why the United States suffers from a severe case of what I previously called Multiple Realism Deficiency Disorder