Defense and Security

Must Read

New Yorker: The Al Qaeda Switchboard

Author: Lawrence Wright

"Yes, the F.B.I. could have stopped 9/11. It had a warrant to establish surveillance of everyone connected to Al Qaeda in America. It could follow them, tap their phones, clone their computers, read their e-mails, and subpoena their medical, bank, and credit-card records. It had the right to demand records from telephone companies of any calls they had made. There was no need for a metadata-collection program. What was needed was coöperation with other federal agencies, but for reasons both petty and obscure those agencies chose to hide vital clues from the investigators most likely to avert the attacks."

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Must Read

Monkey Cage: How Hard Is it to Win Hearts and Minds in Afghanistan? Very Hard.

Author: Jason Lyall

"While a key policy takeaway—avoid civilian casualties—seems obvious, even taking great pains to minimize civilian suffering is no guarantee that civilians can be won over. Cognitive biases that predispose individuals to favor (or excuse) the actions of their fellow in-group members, while simultaneously using negative actions by the out-group (like ISAF) to confirm prior prejudices, are powerful frameworks not easily overcome during wartime. Without engaging these underlying psychological biases, however, efforts to win hearts and minds are likely to be expensive, protracted, and, in the end, fleeting."

See more in Afghanistan; Defense and Security

Primary Sources

UN Invitation to Geneva II

The National Coalition of Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces leaked this United Nations invitation sent to opposition President Ahmad Jarba requesting his attendence at the Geneva II meetings on January 22 to 24, 2014. The letter explains the priniciples and rules of the conference for officials addressing the conflict in Syria.

See more in Syria; Treaties and Agreements; Wars and Warfare

Primary Sources

Northern Ireland Executive Proposed Agreement

Between July 2013 and December 2013, Dr. Richard Haass led peace process negotiations on how five political parties in Northern Ireland commemorate historical events related to regional conflict. The conflict, sometimes called The Troubles, began in the 1960s regarding the constitutional status of Northern Ireland and its two main communities; the Good Friday Agreement in 1998 addressed some of these issues.

See more in Ireland; Territorial Disputes; Political Movements and Protests

News Release

CFR Conflict Prevention Survey Ranks Spillover from Syrian War, Instability in Afghanistan Among Top 2014 Priorities

Spillover from Syria's civil war and violence in Afghanistan as coalition forces draw down are among next year's top conflict prevention priorities for U.S. policymakers, finds the annual Preventive Priorities Survey from the Council on Foreign Relations. The most urgent concerns also include terror attacks or cyberattacks on the United States, military strikes against Iran, and a crisis in North Korea.

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Video

The Decline and Fall of Colonial Vietnam

Speaker: Fredrik Logevall
Presider: Gideon Rose

Fredrik Logevall, winner of the 2013 Arthur Ross Book Award, discusses his prize-winning book, Embers of War: The Fall of an Empire and the Making of America's Vietnam. Logevall traces the long decline of French colonial power in Indochina and links it to the increasing involvement of the United States in the region.

See more in Global; Wars and Warfare

Transcript

The Decline and Fall of Colonial Vietnam

Speaker: Fredrik Logevall
Presider: Gideon Rose

Fredrik Logevall, winner of the 2013 Arthur Ross Book Award, discusses his prize-winning book, Embers of War: The Fall of an Empire and the Making of America's Vietnam. Logevall traces the long decline of French colonial power in Indochina and links it to the increasing involvement of the United States in the region.

See more in Global; Wars and Warfare

Audio

The Decline and Fall of Colonial Vietnam

Speaker: Fredrik Logevall

Fredrik Logevall, winner of the 2013 Arthur Ross Book Award, discusses his prize-winning book, Embers of War: The Fall of an Empire and the Making of America's Vietnam. Logevall traces the long decline of French colonial power in Indochina and links it to the increasing involvement of the United States in the region.

See more in Global; Wars and Warfare

Primary Sources

President's Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies: Liberty and Security in a Changing World

The President's Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies released this report on December 18, 2013. The document details forty-six recommendations for protecting national security and foreign policy interests while continuing to value privacy, civil liberties, and the public's trust.



See more in United States; Privacy; Intelligence

Ask CFR Experts

Does North Korea pose a credible threat to the United States?

Asked by Jonathan Crouse, from Coastal Carolina University

North Korea's capability to threaten the United States comes in two forms:

The possibility that North Korean-origin fissile material could be sent to the United States, either through sale to terrorist groups or by delivering a nuclear device to a U.S. harbor by boat, or;

The ability to threaten U.S. interests abroad, including through renewed conflict on the Korean peninsula, where 28,000 U.S. forces are stationed with the mission of defending South Korea from North Korean aggression.

Read full answer

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Article

Political Parties at War: A Study of American War Finance, 1789–2010

Authors: Sarah Kreps and Gustavo A. Flores-Macias
The American Political Science Review

Sarah Kreps and Gustavo Flores-Macias study the history of war finance in the United States and show that politics does not stop at the water's edge and that instead, partisan politics is a key determinant for whether the United States has financed wars through taxes or alternatives such as borrowing.

See more in United States; Wars and Warfare; Economics