War and Conflict Articles

Syrian rebels from the “Al-Qasas Brigade” or “Justice Brigade” run through an olive grove to avoid Syrian Army snipers, Oct. 20, 2012 (photo by Flickr user syriafreedom licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license).
Strategic Horizons

U.S. Support for Syrian Rebels Serves Political, not Military, Purposes

By Steven Metz
, , Column

Supporting the Syrian rebels is a key component of President Barack Obama’s strategy against the so-called Islamic State, but it entails many tradeoffs. Backing the rebels makes little sense from a purely military standpoint, but it does make sense from a broader policy perspective. more


Diplomatic Fallout

Frustrations Mount for Both the U.S. and Its Foes at the U.N.

By Richard Gowan
, , Column

Criticisms by Vladimir Putin and Samantha Power of the international system last week are illustrations of a well-established paradox: While many countries believe the U.S. wields too much influence, American policymakers are repeatedly frustrated by the system’s failure to deliver in major crises. more

Strategic Horizons

Updated Weinberger Principles Still a Guide for Use of U.S. Force

By Steven Metz
, , Column

In 1984, at the height of the post-Vietnam malaise, then-Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger suggested a set of principles to guide the use of the American military. Since then, the principles fell by the wayside, resulting in renewed malaise. It might be time to dust off the Weinberger principles. more

Strategic Horizons

The U.S. Army Makes Its Case for Post-COIN Relevance

By Steven Metz
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Since the end of the Iraq and Afghanistan counterinsurgencies, the U.S. Army has struggled to reinvent itself and preserve its force structure. This week it released a new roadmap intended to explain its value in the tumultuous and complex security environment that the U.S. faces. more

Global Insider

Turkey’s Regime Change Policy for Syria Finds Little Domestic Support

By The Editors
, , Trend Lines

Turkey recently announced that only Syrian refugees would be allowed to cross the border to fight against the so-called Islamic State in the besieged town of Kobani. In an email interview, Sinan Ülgen, a visiting scholar at Carnegie Europe, discussed domestic influences on Turkey’s Syria policy. more

The Realist Prism

For U.S., Middle East ‘Moderates’ a Fool’s Errand

By Nikolas Gvosdev
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The elusive unicorns wandering the forests of America’s Middle East policy are the so-called moderates who will battle the extremists on behalf of the West. There is a touching faith in the existence of these moderates. However, finding them has proved to be an impossible challenge. more

Global Insider

Iraq’s Limited Air Power Constrains Ability to Fight Islamic State

By The Editors
, , Trend Lines

In an email interview, Rick Brennan, a senior political scientist at the RAND Corporation and former senior adviser to the U.S. military in Iraq from 2006-2011, discussed the current air capabilities of the Iraqi military and its significance for both internal security and external defense. more