Like many policy issues regarding North Korea, the U.S. has no good options regarding the question of whether or not to resume deliveries of food aid to the isolated country. Last year’s flooding and severe weather have combined with Pyongyang’s perverse policies and rising world food prices to produce major shortfalls in food supplies in many parts of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). The United States used to be one of North Korea’s major food donors until the deterioration in bilateral relations in 2008-2009 and the refusal by DPRK authorities to allow extensive monitoring of the aid flows […]

What future does the United States Army face? During eight years of operations in Iraq and 10 years in Afghanistan, the Army has shifted from being a force focused on high-intensity conventional operations to one more comfortable fighting a dispersed enemy intermingled with the population. However, operations are winding down in Iraq, and an endpoint seems to be nearing in Afghanistan. Armed with the collective experience developed in the War on Terror, how will the Army move forward to face new challenges and threats? The answers involve political and military considerations that may contradict each other. The fact that the […]

There is broad bipartisan agreement that few national security issues are as critical as how to deal with America’s crippling debt. Getting America’s fiscal house in order will require difficult budgetary choices. This means that we need to make smart decisions about what is most needed to safeguard U.S. national security in the 21st century. A close look at the Pentagon budget reveals numerous programs that are more suitable to defeating the Cold War-era Soviet Union than to addressing current security threats, such as weak and failing states, cyberattacks and nuclear terrorism. A particularly egregious example is the budget for […]

In an effort to defuse the short-term crisis generated by the Palestinian push for United Nations recognition of a Palestinian state this week, French President Nicolas Sarkozy has offered a compromise proposal: a “precise timetable” of negotiations under the aegis of the Quartet that would produce a final status agreement between Palestinians and Israelis in a year’s time. The proposal’s utility as a practical means of generating an actual solution is minimal, but it could represent a face-saving off-ramp way for the U.S. from the current confrontation. On paper, setting deadlines for negotiations makes sense. But in the real world, […]

Ten years ago, the concept of “network-centric warfare” dominated U.S. military thinking and deployment. An outgrowth of work associated with the Revolution in Military Affairs, network-centric warfare envisioned a battle space in which information dominance and standoff killing power gave the U.S. military supremacy across the combat spectrum. Influential in doctrine and acquisitions, network-centric warfare offered the tempting promise of eliminating Carl von Clausewitz’ fog of war, making the battlefield legible and, for well-prepared U.S. forces, malleable. Platforms such as the Navy’s Littoral Combat Ship and DDG-1000, the Army’s Future Combat System, and the F-35 multirole combat aircraft were envisioned […]

Thanks to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and the wars they spawned, many people around the world think they’re living through the most dangerous, violent and strategically uncertain period in human history. Well, that simply isn’t true, as the most recent Human Security Report from Canada’s Simon Fraser University makes clear. Entitled, “The Causes of Peace and the Shrinking Costs of War,” the 2009-2010 edition of the annual report marshals a ton of solid data that proves our world is less violent than ever and that it has “become far less insecure over the past 20 years.” The major failing […]

In the aftermath of the Libya operation, my Naval War College colleague Tom Nichols concluded bluntly, “Humanitarian interventions are here to stay and are going to be driven more by moral calculation and military opportunity than by ‘national interest.’” This, it seems, is the new American foreign policy consensus; despite the costly U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the anti-interventionist coalition has lost the policy debate. The current fiscal crisis may trim back the scale and scope of future interventions, but will not eliminate them altogether from the U.S. policy toolbox. Even with its fiscal constraints, the United States will […]

In February 2002, U.S. Special Forces arrived in southern Philippines, hot on the trail of various Islamic organizations that had taken sanctuary in Mindanao — including some that had allegedly relocated there from Afghanistan after the 2001 U.S. invasion. The 2002 deployment marked the opening of the so-called Second Front in the Global War on Terror, which would go on to include Indonesia. A decade later, assessing the results of America’s post-Sept. 11 involvement in the region depends on which perspective one examines it through. The U.S. response, though multifaceted, has been largely characterized by its support for the Philippine […]

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One thing I’d like add to my remarks from last Friday’s The World This Week program on France 24 has to do with the question, at the end of Part I, about the impact of Sept. 11 on America’s relationship to the world. To begin with, I usually find that particular discussion a bit reductionist. On one level, America’s collective reaction to Sept. 11 included a large dose of distrust and suspicion of a world that suddenly seemed very hostile and threatening. But on another level, I often find the portrayal of the barriers between America and the world to […]

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I had the pleasure of participating in France 24’s panel discussion program, The World This Week, on Friday. The program focused on the impact of Sept. 11 on America and the world over the past decade. The other guests were Ahmed Rashid, Newsweek’s Christopher Dickey, the IHT’s Eric Pfanner, Nooshabeh Amiri and France 24’s Loick Berrou. Part I can be found here. Part II can be found here. I was especially struck by Eric Pfanner’s observation that this is the first Sept. 11 anniversary where we can consider its impact from the perspective of historic closure. The anniversary has already […]

The 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks has garnered America almost as much schadenfreude from the world as the original events did. Back in 2001, the line was that we had it coming to us for lording it over the world since the Cold War’s end. Today, it takes the form of writing off our alleged “hegemony” in light of the shifts in global power over the intervening decade, a claim that is as absurd the previous one was insulting. Naturally, the Chinese are celebrated as our presumed replacement. So, as always throughout our history as a superpower, […]

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In thinking about the ways in which Sept. 11 and our responses to it changed America and the world, it’s important to remember that some of its impact, and perhaps the most historically significant aspects of that impact, may not have entirely emerged yet. In August 1945, for instance, while the advent of radar, jet technology and nuclear weapons were plainly evident, it would have been close to impossible to foresee the way in which the war effort, both domestically and in theater, would go on to inform the black civil rights movement and women’s liberation movement 20-25 years later. […]

Editor’s note: This is the second in a two-part series on the impact of Sept. 11 on U.S. foreign policy. Part I examined the militarization of U.S. foreign policy following Sept. 11. Part II examines ways to reverse this trend. After the debacles of Iraq and Afghanistan, the United States should be contemplating a future of military restraint and foreign policy modesty. Moreover, with potentially painful cuts on the horizon for the Defense Department, the time has come for the armed forces to do less and for other agencies to pick up the slack. But that doesn’t appear to be […]

Editor’s note: This is the first in a two-part series on the impact of Sept. 11 on U.S. foreign policy. Part I examines the militarization of U.S. foreign policy following Sept. 11. Part II will examine ways to reverse this trend. On Sept. 11, 2001, nearly 3,000 Americans were killed in the single deadliest terrorist attack in American history — the work, not of a foreign army, but of al-Qaida, a nonstate actor. The U.S. wasted little time in responding. The Taliban government in Afghanistan that had provided safe haven for the terrorist group was quickly deposed by a combination […]

In 1903, the novel “Riddle of the Sands” was published to great acclaim in the United Kingdom. Written by Erskine Childers, the novel told the story of a secret German invasion flotilla prepared to overrun Great Britain. The best of a large genre of “invasion literature” warning in dire terms of the threat that Kaiserine Germany posed to the British Empire, “Riddle of the Sands” apparently helped convince First Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill to reposition the Royal Navy to northern bases, safe from German attack. In a paper presented at the 2011 American Political Science Association conference, Dr. […]