The U.S. plan to arm Syrian rebels to fight the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria looks eerily similar to the infamous 1961 failed Bay of Pigs operation. Micah Zenko argues that a clarification of phase two—how the United States will support the armed rebels once they are trained and equipped—is needed before the United States proceeds.
The State Department released a new policy on military drone exports, opening the door to possible sales to countries other than close U.S. allies. Micah Zenko discusses implications of the policy for drone proliferation.
Gigi Kwik Gronvall examines the increased use of synthetic biology—a nascent field that engineers biology to improve manufacturing and the development of medicines—in order to highlight the need for oversight and better regulation.
The 2015 elections again may precipitate violence that could destabilize Nigeria, and Washington has even less leverage in Abuja than it did in 2011. CFR Senior Fellow for Africa Policy Studies John Campbell analyzes new concerns about Nigeria's fraught politics.
Author: Micah Zenko Australian National University, Strategic & Defence Studies Centre
Many predictions have been made that the United States and China will find themselves in competition or even direct conflict. Yet this is not preordained and both sides need to be careful not to talk themselves into a hostile relationship. In this bold new paper, Micah Zenko argues that by identifying clear ideas about acceptable conduct in the key domains (maritime, space, and cyber) the United States and China can avoid conflict without presuming away differences of interest or opinion.
Counterterrorism strategies of the past thirteen years have relied upon a myth of 9/11: terrorists require safe havens to conduct international terrorist attacks. Micah Zenko and Amelia M. Wolf argue that there is no evidence to support this assumption, which most recently served as the basis for launching a war against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.
The rise of purported threats such as Ebola and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, military intervention in Syria, and shifting military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq in 2014 resulted in numerous notable quotes—whether puzzling, hypocritical, factually incorrect, or revealing—from U.S. officials and policymakers. In his annual article, Micah highlighted the top twenty foreign policy quotes of the year.
Senior administration officials have discussed the possibility of placing North Korea on the State Sponsor of Terrorism list after the hack of Sony Pictures Entertainment. Micah Zenko argues that North Korea is not a state-sponsor of terrorism and “rather than misapplying this outdated punishment against countries that the United States has non-terrorism-related disagreements with, an entirely new designation is necessary.”
Though the release of the executive summary of the Senate’s report on the CIA’s post-9/11 detention and interrogation program is a worthwhile effort, this report will cover little new ground, Micah Zenko argues. Rather, a more public account, including interviews with torture victims and interrogation technique used by the Department of Defense, is needed. Zenko provides guidelines for and questions to think about while reading the report.
John Campbell, Ralph Bunche senior fellow for Africa policy studies, evaluates the implications of the Boko Haram insurgency and recommends that the United States support Nigerian efforts to address the drivers of Boko Haram, such as poverty and corruption, and to foster stronger ties with Nigerian civil society.
CPA's conflict prevention resources include the Preventive Priorities Survey series, the Global Conflict Tracker, and an index of publicly available watchlists and datasets. The index of watchlists is organized by dependent variable (conflict and instability; governance; respect for human rights; economic fragility) and like the Preventive Priorities Survey, will be updated periodically to reflect the recalibration of existing online lists, the release of new data, and the completion of future Preventive Priorities Surveys.
The pentagon last week acknowledged that the United States deployed armed drones to Iraq to provide surveillance and strike capabilities as the crisis with the Islamic State of Iraq and and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS) continues to deteriorate. However, Micah Zenko points out that while numerous U.S. officials have called for the deployment of drones, these demands have not been accompanied by justifications, and there is still no precise goals for the deployment.
In this Council Special Report, Douglas Dillon Fellow Micah Zenko and Stanton Nuclear Security Fellow Sarah Kreps argue that it is essential to begin working now to expand and establish rules and norms governing armed drones. By doing so, they predict, the United States will create standards of behavior that other countries will be more likely to follow.
U.S. policymakers are calling for airpower and bombings in Iraq, just two days after the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham captured territory in the north. Micah Zenko discusses why policymakers so quickly resort to bombing as a policy option, and the unfortunate consequences of this limited discourse.
This memo assesses the impact of spillover from the ongoing civil war in Syria on Lebanon's security and proposes several steps the United States should take to lessen the likelihood of sectarian violence and instability in Lebanon.
Orbit space debris threatens U.S. space assets and assured access to the domain. Micah Zenko argues that the United States has a unique obligation to prevent or mitigate the consequences of dangerous space incidents, which are the primary cause of space debris, because it relies heavily on space and has unmatched space situational awareness.
Dangerous incidents in outer space pose an increasing threat to U.S. assets and risk escalating into militarized crises. Douglas Dillon Fellow Micah Zenko details how the Obama administration could reduce the likelihood of such crises, or mitigate their consequences should they occur.
CFR Senior Fellow Steven A. Cook outlines the risk factors and warning signs of a solvency crisis in Egypt in this Contingency Planning Memorandum and offers policy options to prevent such a crisis or mitigate its consequences.
In this CSR, coauthored by Paul B. Stares and Micah Zenko sponsored by the Center for Preventive Action, evaluates the U.S. system for foreseeing and heading off crises and assesses in detail current U.S. practices with regard to different types of preventive action. More
This report, authored by Bronwyn E. Bruton and sponsored by the Center for Preventive Action, argues that the current U.S. policy of supporting the TFG is unlikely to succeed and ineffective foreign meddling threatens to prolong and worsen the conflict. Instead, the United States should pursue a strategy of "constructive disengagement" while still maintaining support for localized development initiatives and humanitarian assistance. More