Center for Preventive Action Publications

Op-Ed

Kill > Capture

Author: Micah Zenko
ForeignPolicy.com

The Obama administration's stated policy since 2011 has been to capture suspected terrorists—such as U.S. citizen Mohanad Mahmoud Al Farekh in Pakistan—rather than target them with drone strikes. However,  as Micah Zenko points out, Al Farekh’s case is the rare exception and, since 2011,  the United States has conducted an estimated 215 drone strikes, killing 1,271 individuals.

See more in United States; Presidents and Chiefs of State; Drones

Op-Ed

Make No Mistake — the United States Is at War in Yemen

Author: Micah Zenko
ForeignPolicy.com

The United States is now engaged in yet another military intervention in the Middle East—this time in Yemen. Micah Zenko argues that what has become the standard operating procedure for how the United States goes to war should be alarming, particularly when the latest intervention “lacks clear courses of action, coherent objectives, or an intended end state.”

See more in Yemen; United States; Conflict Assessment

Op-Ed

Obama's Bay of Pigs

Author: Micah Zenko
Foreign Policy

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.

See more in Syria; Defense Strategy; Conflict Assessment

Op-Ed

The Great Drone Contradiction

Author: Micah Zenko
Foreign Policy

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.

See more in United States; Drones

Other Report Mitigating the Risks of Synthetic Biology

Mitigating the Risks of Synthetic Biology

Author: Gigi K. Gronvall

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.

See more in Global; Health

Article

The A Word:An Accomodationist Strategy for US-China Relations

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.

See more in United States; China; Conflict Prevention

Op-Ed

The Myth of the Terrorist Safe Haven

Authors: Micah Zenko and Amelia Wolf
ForeignPolicy.com

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.

See more in United States; Havens for Terrorism

Op-Ed

The Best Worst Quotes of 2014

Author: Micah Zenko
ForeignPolicy.com

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.

See more in United States; Presidents and Chiefs of State; Congresses, Parliaments, National Legislatures

Op-Ed

Sorry, But North Korea Isn’t a State Sponsor of Terrorism

Author: Micah Zenko
ForeignPolicy.com

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.”

See more in United States; North Korea; State Sponsors of Terrorism

Op-Ed

The Problem With the Torture Report

Author: Micah Zenko
ForeignPolicy.com

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.

See more in United States; Intelligence

Research Links

Conflict Prevention Resources

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.

See more in Global; Conflict Prevention

Council Special Report No. 70 U.S. Policy to Counter Nigeria's Boko Haram

U.S. Policy to Counter Nigeria's Boko Haram

Author: John Campbell

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. 

See more in Nigeria; Terrorist Organizations and Networks; Radicalization and Extremism

Op-Ed

Obama's Armed Drones in Iraq Reek of Mission Creep

Author: Micah Zenko
Foreign Policy

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.

See more in Pakistan; Iraq; Drones; Counterterrorism

Council Special Report No. 69 Limiting Armed Drone Proliferation

Limiting Armed Drone Proliferation

Authors: Micah Zenko and Sarah E. Kreps

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.

See more in Global; Drones; Nonproliferation, Arms Control, and Disarmament