Defense Strategy

Foreign Affairs Article

The Lost Logic of Deterrence

Author: Richard K. Betts

For half a century, deterrence was the backbone of U.S. national security strategy. But now, Washington doesn't seem to know how and when to use it properly. The United States has needlessly applied deterrence to Russia, failed to apply it when it should have against Iraq and Iran, and been dangerously confused about whether to apply it to China. U.S. policymakers need to relearn the basics of deterrence in order to apply it successfully in the appropriate circumstances.

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Foreign Affairs Article

The Quality of Command

Author: Robert H. Scales

The argument of Thomas Ricks' new book, The Generals, is simple: since the end of World War II, the combat performance of the U.S. Army has been subpar, primarily because the highest-ranking generals have been reluctant to fire underperforming generals lower in the chain of command.

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Foreign Affairs Article

Time to Attack Iran

Author: Matthew Kroenig

Opponents of military action against Iran assume a U.S. military strike would be far more dangerous than simply letting Tehran build a bomb. Not so, argues this former Pentagon defense planner. With a carefully designed strike, Washington could mitigate the costs—or at least bring them down to a bearable level—and spare the region and the world from an unacceptable threat.

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Foreign Affairs Article

A Disciplined Defense

Author: Richard K. Betts

The United States now spends almost as much on defense in real dollars as it ever has before -- even though it has no plausible rationale for using most of its impressive military forces. Why? Because without political incentives for restraint, policymakers have lost the ability to think clearly about defense policy. Washington's new mantra should be "Half a trillion dollars is more than enough."

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Foreign Affairs Article

Bush and the Generals

Author: Michael C. Desch

The rift between U.S. military and civilian leaders did not start with George W. Bush, but his administration's meddling and disregard for military expertise have made it worse. The new defense secretary must restore a division of labor that gives soldiers authority over tactics and civilians authority over strategy -- or risk discrediting civilian control of the military even further.

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Foreign Affairs Article

Base Politics

Author: Alexander Cooley

As the Pentagon prepares to redeploy U.S. forces around the world, it should review its practice of setting up bases in nondemocratic states. Although defense officials claim that having U.S. footholds in repressive countries offers important strategic advantages, the practice rarely helps promote liberalization in host states and sometimes even endangers U.S. security.

See more in Diplomacy and Statecraft; Defense Strategy

Foreign Affairs Article

How to Win in Iraq

Author: Andrew F. Krepinevich

Because they lack a coherent strategy, U.S. forces in Iraq have failed to defeat the insurgency or improve security. Winning will require a new approach to counterinsurgency, one that focuses on providing security to Iraqis rather than hunting down insurgents. And it will take at least a decade.

See more in Iraq; Military Operations; Defense Strategy