Steven Metz

Steven Metz is a research professor of national security affairs and director of research at the U.S. Army War College Strategic Studies Institute. He is the author of “Iraq and the Evolution of American Strategy,” and his work has appeared in many journals and magazines. You can follow him on Twitter @steven_metz.

Articles written by Steven Metz

Strategic Horizons: In Ukraine, Russia Reveals Its Mastery of Unrestricted Warfare

By Steven Metz
, on , Column

Russia is on the hunt again, determined to engulf another part of Ukraine. Moscow’s complex, multidimensional offensive uses intimidation, misinformation and any organization or group that can serve its interests. For a beleaguered Ukraine, pressure is coming in many ways and from many directions. And that is exactly what Vladimir Putin intends. Moscow has adopted, even mastered, a form of unrestricted warfare. more

Strategic Horizons: Amid Debate, U.S. Shares Drone Approach With Partners

By Steven Metz
, on , Briefing

While Americans debate when and where the U.S. should use drones to strike at insurgents and terrorists who cannot be reached by other means, they may be overlooking an important trend: the move to supply a targeted killing capability to allied nations. The decision to provide technology and advice to Colombia and Yemen is only the beginning, as more states will field drones with or without American help. more

Strategic Horizons: Saving America’s Strategic Visionaries

By Steven Metz
, on , Column

Everyone knows that the U.S. needs to shrink its defense budget; the challenge is doing so intelligently. Without attention to the long-term effects of the downsizing, the rush to cut could stifle creativity and fail to cultivate strategic visionaries. The net effect would be pawning America’s future security to make today’s budget. Yet there are many signs that such short-sighted cuts are already underway. more

Strategic Horizons: Planning the U.S. Military Response to Russian Revanchism

By Steven Metz
, on , Column

When the Cold War ended, the days of imperial expansion seemed to go with it. No one expected the revanchism of bygone empires to shape the 21st-century global security system. But that is exactly what is happening. Now that Russia seized a large chunk of Ukraine, policymakers, military strategists and security specialists are dusting off old ideas about imperial revanchism and reconsidering how to stop it. more

Strategic Horizons: How the U.S. Military Might Get Involved in a Megacity

By Steven Metz
, on , Column

Last week I wrote about the challenges that the future U.S. military might face if ordered to intervene in the type of sprawling, coastal megacities that are emerging around the world. Critics object that the resources to develop a force for megacities might be better spent elsewhere. But the important point is that the U.S. could find itself involved in these increasingly important places whether it wants to or not. more

Strategic Horizons: U.S. Military Is Not Ready for the Age of Megacities

By Steven Metz
, on , Column

Many security analysts agree that in the coming decades most conflict will take place in the massive, highly connected megacities that are already growing rapidly. But stabilizing conflicts in megacities will require forces very different from what the United States has now and plans to keep. Using today’s military force in this new type of conflict could be disastrous. Iraq was a preview of the costs. more

Strategic Horizons: Russia’s Ukraine Invasion Signifies a Changing Global Order

By Steven Metz
, on , Column

Russian troops pouring into Ukraine were one more wake-up call to America about the scale of Moscow’s ambition. But while previous such episodes led to U.S. military build-ups and strengthened resolve, this one may lead in a new direction. Another Cold War seems less likely than a revival of an old international system: a multipolar balance of power. Adjusting to the new order will be a challenge for the U.S. more

Strategic Horizons: For the New Autocrats, America Needs a New Strategy

By Steven Metz
, on , Column

Every day seems to bring news of another nation slipping into political crisis. It's hard to know what nation will next fall off the cliff, but it's a sure bet that some will. But instead of adjusting to what will be a decade or more of turbulence, the United States is clinging to an old mode of statecraft predicated on a relatively stable international system with a consistent cast of sovereign states. more

Strategic Horizons: All Options Bad If Mexico’s Drug Violence Expands to U.S.

By Steven Metz
, on , Column

Over the past few decades, violence in Mexico has reached horrific levels as criminal organizations fight each other for control of the drug trade and wage war on the state. Americans must face the possibility that the conflict may expand northward into the U.S. If so, this will force Americans to undertake a fundamental reassessment of the threat as one possibly demanding the use of U.S. military power. more

Strategic Horizons: Planning the Long Game in Afghanistan

By Steven Metz
, on , Column

For years, the U.S. has poured blood and money into Afghanistan, hoping to turn it into a functioning democracy that could at least keep the Taliban at bay. Over time, Washington's definition of success became smaller and smaller. Now even this flawed and shrunken strategy is collapsing. It is time to admit that a stable, democratic, unitary Afghanistan is not forthcoming and begin planning the long game. more

Strategic Horizons: End of War Footing Leaves American Strategy at a Loss

By Steven Metz
, on , Column

U.S. leadership in the global security system is not what it used to be. Republicans blame a lack of political will in President Barack Obama. Democrats fault the legacy of militarism and unilateralism inherited from President George W. Bush. But what both sides are missing is the shift in the global security system away from war. Stuck in a wartime mentality, U.S. security policy meanders from crisis to crisis. more

Strategic Horizons: The Commercialization of Security is Only Beginning

By Steven Metz
, on , Column

It would be easy to dismiss the trajectory of Blackwater’s Erik Prince as a personal drama born from a set of particular historical conditions. But the professional evolution of Prince, Blackwater and its replacements are not simply side effects of American involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan or the global conflict with al-Qaida but are instead emblematic of the ongoing commercialization of security. more

Strategic Horizons: As Insurgency Mutates, U.S. Response Must Evolve

By Steven Metz
, on , Column

Insurgency is mutating. Today, there are two major forms, each needing a different response. One is the traditional type, a legacy of colonialism, that sought control over remote or peripheral areas. The other takes place in sprawling cities rather than remote areas and is more akin to gangs than traditional insurgents. These two types of insurgency now co-exist, and the U.S. response must evolve in kind. more

Strategic Horizons: To Make Its Case, U.S. Army Must Look to the Future

By Steven Metz
, on , Column

Given budget pressures and disillusionment with the outcome of the campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan, critics contend that the U.S. does not need a large, active-duty Army but should instead rely on other nations and reserve forces. As land power advocates and the Army’s leaders push back, debate rages. This is not simply a quibble over budget figures. Rather, it reflects a monumental strategic decision. more

Strategic Horizons: The Middle East Is Not Obama’s to Lose

By Steven Metz
, on , Column

President Barack Obama, according to pundits, is losing the Middle East. But the assertion, which recalls those leveled after Mao Zedong’s 1949 victory, is just as flawed and simplistic as the idea that Truman lost China. The old political and economic order in the Middle East had reached the end of its sustainable lifespan, rendering the American strategy of supporting friendly authoritarian regimes obsolete. more

Strategic Horizons: When North Korea Collapses, U.S. Must Be Ready

By Steven Metz
, on , Column

Last week’s execution of Jang Song Thaek, who was widely seen as offering a modicum of adult supervision to North Korea’s impetuous young ruler, Kim Jong Un, was an ominous turn. The execution could be a sign that the cohesion of the North Korean elite is crumbling. The prospect of a North Korean collapse is so disastrous that the United needs to start preparing now, even if a collapse is not imminent. more

Strategic Horizons: U.S. Will Draw Back From Middle East, But How Far?

By Steven Metz
, on , Column

The Middle East has played such a pivotal role in U.S. national security recently that it’s easy to forget it wasn’t until the mid-1970s that the region became a top-tier American security concern. Now, in a shift of potentially historic impact, that may be coming to an end. The coming years will certainly bring a lower U.S. profile in the Middle East and may see something approaching disengagement. more

Strategic Horizons: For U.S. in Afghanistan, Zero Option Not So Bad After All

By Steven Metz
, on , Column

Hamid Karzai is playing a dangerous game with the security of both Afghanistan and the United States. The Afghan president has said he will not sign a bilateral security agreement negotiated with Washington in the near future. And while the Obama administration has said it is not planning for the so-called zero option, the strategic benefits of keeping troops in Afghanistan no longer clearly outweigh the costs. more

Strategic Horizons: To Succeed, Iran Deal Needs a Dose of Realism

By Steven Metz
, on , Column

The ink was not dry on the agreement with Iran over the weekend before criticism exploded. The freshly signed deal is not intended to be permanent or final. At best it is a tentative first step toward diminishing the threat that Iran poses to its region. Even so, much of the criticism is uninformed by the history of strategy or chooses to distort it. What the Iran issue desperately needs is cold realism. more

Strategic Horizons: U.S.-Israel Divergence Goes Beyond Obama, Netanyahu

By Steven Metz
, on , Column

Today the U.S.-Israeli relationship, long a bedrock alliance for both nations, is rancorous and tense. More than just a clash of personalities at the top, the divergence between the two allies reflects deep changes in the way the U.S. sees its role in the world and a mounting sensitivity to the costs of national security. Because of this, the split between the United States and Israel is likely to grow. more