Defense and Security Articles

Safeguarding Cultural Heritage in Times of War

By Craig Forrest
, , Feature

How far have we come in protecting cultural heritage from the devastating effects of war? Over the past century, surprisingly far, and at the same time not quite far enough. International law to protect cultural heritage has developed reactively, responding to conflict and destruction after the fact in the hope that it will not be repeated. An understanding of this law, its strengths and its shortcomings, requires its contextualization within the conflicts of the past century. more

Global Insights

China Advances on Missile Defense, With Eye on Dissuading Rivals

By Richard Weitz
, , Column

On July 23, China conducted its third declared ballistic missile defense test in the past four years, with the Ministry of Defense announcing afterward that the test “achieved the desired objectives.” But it would be premature to conclude that Beijing now embraces BMD. Instead, the recent tests are designed primarily to overcome adversary missile defenses as well as to develop China’s anti-satellite systems. more

An Integrated Approach to Conflict and the Environment

By Talia Hagerty, Jurgen Brauer
, , Feature

For the better part of their existence, the global anti-war and the environmentalist movements have typically lived side by side, each pursuing noble but separate aims. Today, however, a new trend has become apparent: the mutually reinforcing interaction between human violence and planetary change. No longer can peace and the environment be seen as separate issues. Consequently, no longer can the two movements merely work side by side; they must work as one. more

The Challenge of Protecting Civilian Health in War

By David P. Fidler
, , Feature

For human health, war is hell. Armed conflicts kill, injure and traumatize people; wreck health infrastructure and services; and expose populations to diseases. Powerful ideas and beliefs inform the responses to health crises spawned by war, but they are challenged by the realities in armed conflict. These challenges do not negate the imperative to protect health during armed conflict, but they reveal complexities in the war-health relationship that deserve exploration.

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Diplomatic Fallout

Lacking Security Strategy, EU Counts on Nearby Crises to Absorb Threats

By Richard Gowan
, , Column

The EU’s security may actually benefit from ongoing crises in cases such as Ukraine, Mali and even Syria. The longer these conflicts absorb the efforts of potential foes, the less likely they are to menace the EU directly. EU members have no appetite to get involved in these wars, leading critics to grumble that it refuses to fight for its interests. But it may be in its interests to let others keep fighting. more

U.S. Aims to Boost India, Asia Ties with Malabar Naval Exercise

By Eric Auner
, , Trend Lines

Yesterday India and the U.S. kicked off the 2014 Malabar naval exercise, the latest in a series of joint exercises going back over two decades, with Japan participating as well. This serves as an opportunity for the U.S. to demonstrate its commitment to naval engagement in the region, to reassure nervous allies in the face of an expansionist China and to refocus the U.S.-India relationship, which is widely seen as off track. more

International Law Solutions Fall Short for Israelis, Palestinians in Gaza Conflict

By Lolita Brayman
, , Briefing

As the death toll in Gaza rises, legal definitions of what is permissible in war have been bitterly contested. International law defines war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Geneva Conventions and the Rome Statute, but in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the classifications are difficult to apply. Through the grey areas of international law, both sides have found new ways to blame each other. more

The Realist Prism

On Iran and Russia, Obama Gambling for More Time

By Nikolas Gvosdev
, , Column

Though it is axiomatic that almost any foreign policy action taken by President Barack Obama will be reflexively criticized by the Republican opposition, in recent months congressional Democrats have been more willing to publicly voice critiques of the president’s performance. But Obama appears to be willing to swallow his pride and suffer domestic political attacks if it buys him time and maneuvering room.

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World Citizen

In Israel, Pragmatism Could Trump Ideology After the Fighting

By Frida Ghitis
, , Column

The domestic political repercussions of a military conflict don’t become clear until the fighting stops. But political tremors don’t wait for a cease-fire. In Israel, the current confrontation with Hamas has fractured a major political alliance and caused one high-level personnel change. But so far there is no indication that Israel’s political landscape will be dramatically transformed by the conflict. more

Strategic Horizons

U.S. Must Rethink Unsustainable Counterterrorism Strategy

By Steven Metz
, , Column

While the world's attention this week was focused on Gaza and Ukraine, security remained precarious in Iraq and Afghanistan, the two lynchpins of America's conflict with transnational terrorism. Iraq and Afghanistan remain stark reminders that America's counterterrorism strategy, developed by the Bush administration and largely adopted by the Obama administration, is increasingly ineffective and unsustainable. more

Strategic Posture Review: Israel

By Shai Feldman
, , Report

Israel’s threat environment has changed dramatically in recent years, especially when compared to that which Israel faced when its defense doctrine was first articulated and its force structure was first conceived. This report will discuss these changes, identify the new challenges Israel faces, characterize the domestic environment affecting defense allocations and attempt to ascertain the implications of these factors for Israeli strategy. The conclusion will elaborate on the debate now taking place within the country’s defense community about the future doctrine and force structure of the Israel Defense Forces. more

Without Chad, Central African Republic Peace Talks Unlikely to Succeed

By Celeste Hicks
, , Briefing

All sides in Central African Republic’s civil war are looking to a peace conference this week in neighboring Republic of Congo to yield a cease-fire agreement. But major questions linger about what the meeting can actually achieve. It’s unclear if the main rebel group Seleka will even attend, and Chad is not playing a leading role in talks. Any lasting peace in CAR is likely only to succeed with Chad’s support. more

As Talks Stall, South Sudan Conflict Grinds to Stalemate

By Lesley Anne Warner
, , Briefing

Seven months after fighting broke out between the government of South Sudan and anti-government forces, the civil war is at a stalemate. Unlike its early days, when cities changed hands multiple times, the status quo has largely held since May. Despite several agreements signed by both sides, negotiations in neighboring Ethiopia have not led to a resolution of the conflict or a way out of the crisis. more

Global Insights

Putin’s South American Trip Hides Russia’s Strategic Weaknesses

By Richard Weitz
, , Column

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to South America this month garnered considerable attention. In the U.S., some saw the trip as a tit-for-tat display of influence in Washington’s strategic backyard. However, it is best to keep Moscow’s machinations in perspective. Russia is presenting a number of challenges to important U.S. global interests, but its activities in South America are not among them. more

Diplomatic Fallout

West Needs New Rules to Contain Proxy Wars With Russia

By Richard Gowan
, , Column

The events of the past week in Ukraine have confirmed three painful facts about the state of international affairs. The first is that the West is trapped in a cycle of proxy wars with Russia, running from Libya through Syria to Ukraine. The second is that there is no real rulebook for managing these conflicts. The third is that these confrontations are liable to escalate with unnerving frequency. more

With Negotiations Extended, U.S. Ponders Future of Iran Sanctions

By Eric Auner
, , Trend Lines

The extension of nuclear negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 countries includes allowing Iran to access $2.8 billion of its restricted assets. That has many in Washington debating the effect of previous sanctions relief and whether threatening or imposing future sanctions would improve the U.S. hand in negotiations. But analysis is mixed over the extent to which this relief has boosted Iran’s economy. more

Despite U.S. Efforts, Root Causes of Migration Crisis Prevail in Central America

By Michael Allison
, , Briefing

The United States, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador are frantically trying to address the humanitarian crisis unfolding on both the U.S. border and in Central America. They have pursued several initiatives to combat violence, strengthen democracy and promote economic opportunity, to stem the sudden increase of young migrants heading north. But such efforts have not delivered their intended benefits. more

The Realist Prism

U.S. Watches From Sidelines as Global Leaders Gather in Brazil

By Nikolas Gvosdev
, , Column

The U.S. missed out on a rare geopolitical opportunity this past week. Vice President Joe Biden, who has emerged in Barack Obama’s second term as more of an alter ego for the president on the international stage, should have taken a short trip to Brazil for the World Cup final. Sure, the U.S. team had already been eliminated, but Biden still had good reasons to drop in at the close of the tournament. more

Downing of MH17 in Eastern Ukraine Underscores Risks of Arming Syrian Rebels

By David Klion
, , Trend Lines

In the downing of a Malaysian airliner over eastern Ukraine, all signs point to a surface-to-air missile launched by rebels who have been armed by Russia. There are sobering lessons here for the U.S. Part of the Obama administration’s hesitation to arm Syrian rebels was the fear that they would be unaccountable. If atrocities or accidents were committed with American weapons, the fallout could be disastrous. more

Global Insider

Diverse Shiite Militias Highlight Iraq Division

By The Editors
, , Trend Lines

Since the Sunni militant group the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) took control of Mosul last month, Iraq has also seen an increase in clashes between Shiite militias and Iraqi security forces. In an email interview, Phillip Smyth, a researcher at the University of Maryland, discussed the growing threat of Shiite militias in Iraq. more

World Citizen

As U.S. Pivot Stalls, Developments in East Asia Speed Ahead

By Frida Ghitis
, , Column

Washington’s famed “Asia pivot” was postponed or at least slowed by the rash of crises in the Middle East over the past few years. But East Asia is not waiting for the U.S. Major countries in the region are actively jockeying for influence, assertively reassessing relations with their neighbors and generally stirring for what could become a significant realignment of power in the world’s fastest-growing region.

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