The annual worldwide threat briefings of the intelligence community began with Director of National Intelligence James Clapper's briefing to the U.S. Senate, during which he discussed the top threats facing the United States in 2014. In his article, Micah Zenko discusses the one thing that will remain shrouded from the American public—exactly who the United States is at war with.
Advanced technologies have altered the relevancy of the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF), however a repeal of the AUMF is unlikely, argues Micah Zenko. "These technologies greatly change the calculus for civilian officials, and they have lowered the threshold for when presidents authorize the use of force."
"This habit of policymakers exalting the military as exemplars of accomplishment—in effect, asking generals and admirals to "save us from ourselves"—should be brought to a dignified end," writes Micah Zenko.
The past year was filled with unusual, hypocritical, depressing, and inspiring quotes from U.S. policymakers. Micah Zenko has sifted through congressional hearings, press conferences, news articles, and reports to bring you 2014's top 20 notable foreign policy comments from U.S. government.
To help U.S. officials and policymakers focus on the most important conflict prevention demands, CFR's Center for Preventive Action produced its sixth annual Preventive Priorities Survey (PPS), which evaluates ongoing and potential conflicts based on their likelihood of occurring in the coming year and their impact on U.S. interests. Micah Zenko discusses the process, findings, and utility of the PPS.
"Conflict prevention's placement as a policy goal deep within the National Security Strategy (NSS), and the lack of specificity about how this is pursued, says a lot about how the U.S. government thinks about preventing future wars," Micah Zenko writes. Heprovides a series of recommendations to address under-prioritization and under-development of conflict prevention in U.S. policies and strategies.
The United States maintains important interests in Afghanistan, even as most U.S. and allied troops are withdrawn in 2014. Seth G. Jones and Keith Crane assess the political, security, and economic challenges facing U.S. policymakers in Afghanistan and evaluate a range of policy options.
There is a "total omission of Israel's nuclear weapons in U.S. policy debates about confronting Iran," writes Micah Zenko. In his latest article, Micah discusses the unspoken threat of Israel's nuclear arsenal, which the country has long refused to acknowledge.
In the debut issue of PoliticoMagazine, Micah Zenko discusses the current drone market and implications of inevitable proliferation of armed drones. Citing the White House's lack of reform and transparency, Micah writes, "When Chinese officials authorize their first drone strike against a drug kingpin in Myanmar or against Japanese citizens occupying a disputed East China Sea island, what will the White House say then?"
Senior defense leaders frequently repeat five particular assumptions about the future of the military, which are rarely questioned by Congress, the media, or defense analysts. Micah Zenko highlights these assumptions and their contradictions.
Micah Zenko reviews 'Covert Capital': U.S. Empire in the Suburbs of Northern Virginia, which he says "provides an original and entertaining narrative showing how Cold War planning and operations permanently changed the suburbs of Washington."
The NSA revelations have already resulted in policy changes, but this will not be Edward Snowden's most meaningful impact. Rather, "The default appeal to 9/11 and vague warnings of terrorism that Bush and Obama administration officials relied upon to shape opinions and silence critics is no longer sufficient or acceptable," writes Micah Zenko.
Compared to previous years, the Obama administration has wisely reduced the number of drone strikes that it conducts. Micah Zenko discusses why the United States' restraint in conducting strikes and rejection of demands for U.S. drone strikes on behalf of other countries are wise policy choices.
Although the government shutdown was costly for both the economy and U.S. foreign policy, Micah Zenko points out that the United States will remain above-average and the ultimate impact was the "opportunity cost of applying finite time and resources to political theater rather than tangible policy accomplishments."
Following the Navy SEAL operations in Somalia and Libya, Micah Zenko reflects on reactions to the raids, which "remind us that perceptions of success, failure, and trends in preventing terrorism swing wildly based upon public events."
Tension between senior civilian and military officials over where and how U.S. armed forces should be used has been visible in recent debates on intervention in Syria. Micah Zenko discusses reasons for and consequences of the civilian-military split.
The interventions that U.S. policymakers have proposed to address Syria are based on a "deep misunderstandings of how U.S. force was used on behalf of humanitarian missions in the past, and have almost nothing to do with how Syrian non-combatants are actually being killed," Micah Zenko writes in his latest article. Micah discusses the "misleading characterization" that policymakers have repeated throughout the Syrian civil war.
Micah Zenko provides a translation of U.S. foreign policy "gibberish" by deciphering the true meaning of ambiguous statements frequently used by White House, Department of State, and Department of Defense officials.
In a new Council Special Report, Enhancing U.S. Support for Peace Operations in Africa, Paul D. Williams argues that greater U.S. involvement is necessary to enhance the quality and success of peacekeeping missions. More
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. More