Defense and Security

Article

Small Footprint, Small Payoff

Authors: Stephen D. Biddle, Julia Macdonald, and Ryan Baker
Journal of Strategic Studies

Stephen Biddle, Julia McDonald, and Ryan Baker argue that training, equipping, and advising partner militaries is an increasingly popular alternative to large U.S. ground force deployments in places like Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Ukraine, and many other places where the United States has real but limited interests at stake. Yet SFA has often yielded disappointing results in actual practice. The authors explain this pattern as the result of systematic interest misalignment between the United States and the partners it must work with in these kinds of missions—and argue that these problems are only partly remediable. The authors present ways to do better at the margin, but also argue that underlying interest misalignment will limit this tool's likely utility in the future, and that U.S. decision makers must take this into account when deciding when, where, and how to use it. 

See more in Iraq; Afghanistan; Defense and Security; Conflict Assessment

Op-Ed

The Trump Doctrine Was Written By CNN

Author: Max Boot
ForeignPolicy.com

Far from decisive, Trump’s decision to fire cruise missiles against a single air base in Syria was reminiscent of the kind of low-risk cruise missile attacks that Republicans have mocked in the past for their symbolic, ineffectual nature. While it is a good thing Trump did act, it is hard to know what larger lessons about U.S. policy in the world or in Syria itself one can draw from this decision. The Trump doctrine appears to be: The United States reserves the right to use force whenever the president is upset by something he sees on TV.

See more in Syria; Defense and Security; Media and Foreign Policy

Event

Reducing Tensions Between Russia and NATO

Speaker: Kimberly Marten
Speaker: Alexander R. Vershbow
Presider: Micah Zenko

Tensions between Russia and NATO are high, making escalatory rhetoric, dangerous military encounters, and conflict frighteningly real. Please join us for a discussion on a new approach to U.S. policy toward Russia, with speakers Kimberly Marten, Ann Whitney Olin professor of political science at Barnard College, and Ambassador Alexander R. Vershbow, distinguished fellow at the Atlantic Council.

See more in Asia and Pacific; Defense and Security

Article

Forget the Subs: What Taipei Can Learn From Tehran About Asymmetric Defense

Authors: Colin Carroll and Rebecca Friedman Lissner
War on the Rocks

Ahead of the Donald Trump-Xi Jinping summit this week at Mar-a-Lago, Taiwan is understandably anxious. Trump’s ascendance to the American presidency has injected uncertainty into the U.S. approach to China and Taiwan — an element of foreign policy that is traditionally carefully calibrated to avoid upsetting the precarious cross-strait arrangement.

See more in Taiwan; Iran; Defense Strategy

Op-Ed

What Was the Legal Basis for the U.S. Air Strikes Against Syria?

Author: John B. Bellinger III
Lawfare

The United States has just launched a missile attack against Syrian air bases, apparently in response to the Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons against Syrian civilians.  (The attack apparently was launched in the middle of President Trump's dinner with Chinese President Xi, and is not likely to make the Chinese very happy.) 

See more in United States; Syria; Defense Strategy; Military Operations