Jonathan Spyer: Is Erdoğan's Turkey Aiding in a Jihadist Takeover of Northwest Syria?
by Marilyn Stern
Middle East Forum Webinar
November 4, 2022
The Marine Corps Is Facing a Crisis That Will Shape Its Future Identity
By Steve Balestrieri, Sandboxx News: "The face of war is changing rapidly, and the Marine Corps is facing a crisis regarding where it fits in the U.S.’s future national defense strategy . . ."
Biden’s Nuclear Posture Review Is Too Timid for 2022
By Rod Lyon, The Strategist (ASPI): “Nuclear weapons are serious capabilities, and declaratory policies are serious commitments."
Big Defense Is The Closest Thing We Have To A Real Industrial Policy
By Loren Thompson, Forbes: "The question U.S. policymakers may need to face in the years ahead is how to preserve a robust rate of innovation . . ."
The Return of Cartography, by Nicholas Danforth
The Path Ahead in Turkey’s Upcoming Electoral Campaign, by James Ryan
Debating the National Defense Strategy, with Christopher Preble, Zack Cooper, and Melanie Marlowe
How China Views It: Sino-American Technology Competition
Dan Blumenthal, Gregory Graff, and Christian Curriden | American Enterprise Institute
China May Never Become a Superpower
By Doug Bandow, 1945: “The CCP overestimates its position vis-à-vis the West, which could bring China grief."
How Do You Actually Measure the Success of a Fighter Program?
By Alex Hollings, Sandboxx News: "Right now, the United States has at least two next-generation fighter programs in development . . ."
After the Next War
By Seth Cropsey, RealClearDefense: "The U.S. must Grasp the Reality of Sustained Competition"
Russia’s Defense Industry Is in Serious Trouble Due to Sanctions
By Robert Farley, 1945: “Despite claims of self-sufficiency, it turns out that Russian industry needs Western components and Western support."
If You Think the Deficit Is Bad Now, It Will Soon Get Worse
Mark J. Warshawsky | Hill
In July, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projected that the federal government budget deficit would be 3.7 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2023. The author's rough calculation is that the 2023 deficit will come in at 6.4 percent of GDP, or nearly 70 percent higher than the CBO projection.
How China Views It: Sino-American Technology Competition
Dan Blumenthal, Gregory Graff, and Christian Curriden | October 2022
Dan Blumenthal and Nicholas Eberstadt | American Enterprise Institute | February 16, 2021
Redefining Irregular Warfare:
Legitimacy, Coercion, and Power
By David H. Ucko & Thomas A. Marks, Modern War Institute: "The Department of Defense is working on a new definition of irregular warfare, and the stakes are surprisingly high."
Deterrence Via Mutual Vulnerability? Why Not Now
By Keith B. Payne, National Institute for Public Policy: “The Defense Department’s top procurement official is taking aim at watchdog-type laws that are put in place to discourage corruption in government.”
China: Xi, the Party, and the Endless Struggle
By Jennifer Hsu, the interpreter: "China’s growth model, one funded by debt, is unsustainable."
The Pentagon Gets the Better Part of a Trillion Dollars a Year. Why Isn’t That Enough?
Mackenzie Eaglen | Defense One
Despite an annual budget over three-quarters of a trillion dollars, money is always tight at the Defense Department. Mackenzie Eaglen points out that about three-quarters of the defense budget is preordained: spending that is essentially on autopilot. This leaves little flexibility for any meaningful change or truly strategic choices. The only branch with the power to break up this calcified system is one that has long been complicit in its sedimentation: Congress must take the reins and steer the Defense Department into immediately advancing the National Defense Strategy by recognizing that the military needs procurement the most. Read More >>
Is the Pentagon at Risk of Running Out of Weapons?
John G. Ferrari | Dispatch
The General Accountability Office (GAO) recently released a report concluding that the Department of Defense lacks the direction and insight to mitigate industrial-base risk. In other words, the Pentagon will likely run out of bullets and weapons in a protracted, multifront war. John G. Ferrari argues that the answer to rebuilding our arsenal is not consolidating policies, as the GAO report suggests. Rather, we should fund procurement, stop “contracting-to-monopoly,” eliminate red tape, focus on eliminating China from our supply chains, and invest in the American workforce. Learn more here >>
The Secret to Understanding Irregular Warfare
By Douglas A. Borer & Shannon C. Houck, Small Wars Journal: “Irregular warfare is how the Taliban drove the Western Alliance out of Afghanistan, and it is how Ukraine is presently checking Russia’s invasion of its territory."
Taiwan's Message for China: We Have a Nuke-Like Weapon by Gordon G. Chang
Deterrence is Not Rocket Science:
It is More Difficult
By Keith B. Payne, National Institute for Public Policy: “In a recent published article, two physicists offered remarks that illustrate a fundamental basis for the stark differences reflected in the public debate about deterrence.”
The Fed’s past complacency undermines its present effort to fight inflation.
Erdoğan Purges Turkish Intel to Hide Corrupt Tehran Ties by Abdullah Bozkurt
August 15, 2022
Defending Taiwan offers a road map for US policy to deter and defend against Chinese aggression toward Taiwan.
Is Trump’s acquittal compared to Nixon’s forced resignation merely the result of the different media environment?
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Battle of the Dirigistes
In France, the far Left and far Right are divided by their attitudes on immigration and national identity, but on economic matters they are not terribly far apart.
The Pentagon Is in Desperate Need of an Intervention from the Top by Dustin Walker
Putin's No Chess Master // Eliot A. Cohen, The Atlantic: Some believe Putin has not only Ukraine, but the whole West, exactly where he wants it. A more balanced consideration is in order.
Iran to remain a key partner for Ethiopia in the Tigray conflict
Ethiopia is Iran’s gateway to the Horn of Africa and the broader East Africa region. By helping Ethiopia in its ongoing conflict with the rebel Tigray Defense Forces, Iran is preserving its so-called strategic depth in the region to bolster its influence.
Autumn 2021 Issue
Hoover Institution Publishes New Papers About China's "Sharp Power" On The Continent Of Africa
Administration Urges Congress to Fund Semiconductor Production Amid New Data on Shortage
We Mustn’t Cede the Middle East to China
By Harry Halem & Daniel J. Samet, RealClearDefense: “The Biden administration's emphasis on the Sino-American rivalry in general and the Asian theater, in particular, is correct. However, his administration has especially foundered in the Middle East, which will damage America’s China strategy more than any other mistake."
Beijing’s grand strategy: A Sino-centric order
Dan Blumenthal | Jewish Policy Center
While China poses a formidable challenge to US global leadership, the Chinese Communist Party’s near-constant political purges, darker economic prospects, and demographic problems mean the US still has a chance to deny the hegemony over Asia sought by Xi Jinping and build an affirmative alternative to Sino-centrality.
Pacific Century: What's In Store For Asia In 2022?
interview with Michael R. Auslin, Derek Mitchell, Dan Twining via The Pacific Century
Predictions for the Indo-Pacific by the heads of the International Republic Institute and the National Democratic Institute.
As China Pursues Nuclear Arms Buildup, Biden Opts for Debate at United NationsBy BENNY AVNI, Special to the Sun | January 3, 2022
The most important number for China policy
Derek Scissors | AEIdeas
The $780 billion increase in American spending on Chinese stocks and bonds since 2016 represents a miserable policy failure that dwarfs the impact of the US-China trade war.
Beijing's top arms controller insists China is not "dramatically expanding" its nuclear capabilities, despite recent reporting that suggests otherwise, including from the Pentagon in November (PDF). The remarks come from China's Fu Cong, who is in charge of the Foreign Ministry's arms control department.
Iran’s reserve of last resort: Uncovering the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Ground Forces order of battle
The empires strike back
America is threatened by neo-imperialists
A Strategy to Counter Chinese Influence Operations
By Connor Fiddler, RealClearDefense: “Only recently has the U.S. government started to dedicate more resources to countering FIO. However, the response has been insufficient.”
Here Are the Hypersonic Weapons Russia and China Have in Service
By Jane Doe, The Diplomat: “Currently, only two nations possess operational hypersonic weapons, China and Russia.”
Guelzo’s biography of Lee is ultimately a defense of the modern nation-state that emerged in the nineteenth century and replaced the federal union.
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Explainer: The Islamic State In 2021
by Cole Bunzel via Wilson Center
What is the status of ISIS in the Middle East and North Africa at the end of 2021? Which branches or affiliates were the most active? Which the least active? What kind of attacks or activities has ISIS been carrying out? How have trendlines changed? And why?
What To Expect When You’re Expecting A National Defense Strategy
Thomas Spoehr, Bradley Bowman, Bryan Clark and Mackenzie Eaglen — War on the Rocks
In July, Rear Adm. Mike Studeman, director of intelligence for U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, warned that “it’s only a matter of time” until China resorts to military force and suggested that U.S. forces are not ready for that “very bad day.” Meanwhile, Russia continues to maneuver its forces aggressively on NATO’s eastern flank, Iran inches toward a nuclear weapons capability, North Korea builds its missile arsenal, and the Taliban has taken control of Afghanistan. The new National Defense Strategy that the Biden administration is writing should reckon with these challenges and the ramifications of rapidly expanding global threats. Read more
The Taliban Is Using the Doha Accord to Protect Al-Qaeda
That's one of many problems with ‘over the horizon’ counterterrorism operations in Afghanistan
Will Sistani be the Last Legend? The Challenge of Succession and the Future of the Marj’aiyyah Summer 2021 Issue
Since the 2003 invasion of Iraq, Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Sistani in Najaf has become a focal point not only for Shi’a in Iraq, but for the entire region. Sistani is now 91 years old and the question of succession is a central one — one that concerns not only Shi’a Muslims, but the wider Middle East as well. This paper aims to shed light on the future of the religious authority in the Shi’a world based on the unavoidable change after Sistani.
Beyond AUKUS: 5 practical recommendation
Zack Cooper | AEIdeas
Since the Australia–United Kingdom–United States (AUKUS) trilateral security pact was announced, much attention has focused on French frustration with the deal, rather than on the next steps to build on the agreement. Zack Cooper provides five practical recommendations to capitalize on AUKUS's momentum: The US and Australia should move expeditiously to set up a trilateral forum with Indonesia, they should speed up the delivery of new capabilities, and the US should consider sharing B-21 bombers with Australia. The partners should codevelop ground-based missiles with Japan. Lastly, the Joe Biden administration should bring the US back to the trade table. Read More >>
10 years after ‘the pivot’: Still America’s Pacific century?
Zack Cooper and Adam P. Liff | October 2021
American Development of UAP Technology: A Fait Accompli?
By Franc Milburn, March 10, 2021
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: The BESA Center’s recent detailed study on Unexplained Aerial Phenomena (UAP) described the post-quantum revolution in military affairs unfolding as a result of studying UAP “observables” and assessed the strategic implications in terms of potential threats emanating from UAP or adversaries. This paper delves further into “beyond next generation” technologies. It is based on recent comments by Luis Elizondo, former director of the Pentagon´s Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program, as well as analyses by scientists and former DoD insiders.
The questions to be addressed are: What are the capabilities of these technologies, what decisive advantages would they provide, and how likely are they to be developed and deployed?
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Dusty Drawers or Decisive Wars: Israel's New Victory Doctrine by Gregg Roman
March 14, 2021
Hits & Misses In Biden’s Interim National Security Guidance
“Seemingly gone is the naivety of the Obama era” about Russia and China, writes the Heritage Foundation’s Tom Spoehr in this op-ed. But the retired three-star general still sees some worrying woolly-mindedness.
Crisis, Resilience, and American Conservatism
By Peter Berkowitz via RealClearPolitics
Peter Berkowitz provides an analysis of the appeal of the American conservative movement since the end of the Second World War. He writes that its values of conserving individual freedom, limited government, and traditional morality are ones that large portions of ordinary voters have historically embraced. He argues that while conservatives need to meet the demands of the current moment, including the genuine concerns of working-class Americans hit hard by globalization, the movement should seek primarily to preserve the constitutional order, which is grounded in the principles of unalienable rights and limited government, and requires a citizenry that is educated in the rights and responsibilities of freedom.
The Iranian Nuclear Deal Needs to Be Fixed and Rewritten, Not Just Reviewed
By Russell Berman via The Hill
Policy Briefs: Moderate Islam
Featuring Fouad Ajami via PolicyEd
Although some say that there is no moderate form of Islam, Fouad Ajami believed in the potential to wrest Islam away from extremism. While radical Islamists have tried to hijack the faith, others, including Saudi jurists, are beginning to understand that the drift toward radicalism is a menace to Muslims around the world.
AFTER THE ARAB SPRING
Hero of the Month: M. Zuhdi Jasser by Grégoire Canlorbe
Is the U.S. Arming an Adversary, China, Intent on Overpowering Us? by Peter Schweizer
U.S. Policy Toward Asia
mentioning Michael R. Auslin via Foreign Policy Research Institute
How has U.S. Policy toward Asia come together one month into the Biden Administration? Will President Biden have success rebuilding relationships with the U.S.’s Asian partners, both economically and diplomatically? How will he respond to the recent coup in Myanmar? Join FPRI’s Jaques deLisle and Michael Auslin as they break down U.S. economic ties in Asia, recent events unfolding in the region, and the Biden administration’s attempts to rebuild relations across the Asia-Pacific.
Chinese Technology Platforms Operating In The United States
by Gary P. Corn, Jennifer Daskal, Jack Goldsmith, John C. "Chris" Inglis, Paul Rosenzweig, Samm Sacks, Bruce Schneier, Alex Stamos, Vincent Stewart via Hoover Institution Press
The Trump administration took various steps to effectively ban TikTok, WeChat, and other Chinese-owned apps from operating in the United States, at least in their current forms. The primary justification for doing so was national security. Yet the presence of these apps and related internet platforms presents a range of risks not traditionally associated with national security, including data privacy, freedom of speech, and economic competitiveness, and potential responses raise multiple considerations. This report offers a framework for both assessing and responding to the challenges of Chinese-owned platforms operating in the United States.
The World Goes On While America Sleeps
by Victor Davis Hanson via American Greatness
While we are busy devouring each other, China is smiling that once-feared American running-dog capitalists have become laughable Keystone Cops.
Why Are Al Qaeda Leaders In Iran?
by Cole Bunzel via Foreign Affairs
What a Prisoner Exchange Reveals About an Unlikely Relationship
Xi Jinping’s Rise Is No Historical Accident
How 'The Longer Telegram' misunderstands the Chinese Communist Party's quest for power
How to Bargain with the Taliban with Barnett Rubin
Defense Strategy and the Empire State of Mind: How Preparing for the Best Can Leave Washington Vulnerable to the Rest by Evan Montgomery
Russia: Putin Shoots Himself in the Foot
by Judith Bergman
Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi's Landmark Speech
By Maj. Gen. (res.) Gershon Hacohen, February 2, 2021
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: IDF Chief of General Staff Aviv Kochavi’s January 26 speech conveyed important messages to multiple audiences. The most notable was that the IDF is preparing for action against Iran’s nuclear program even if it has to do it on its own.
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Patricia Karam writes: Although Lebanon is unlikely a high priority for the Biden administration, only the US has the gravitas and resources to produce a plan that could help save Lebanon. And the Lebanese should solicit America for help based on shared democratic values. The continuing civil society engagement that spurred the revolution is pushing for a necessary overhaul to the entire political system. Without a reinvention of Lebanon—a new vision and strategy that allows for the emergence of a political alternative to the existing corrupt political class—the entire nation risks becoming a failed state. – The Hill
Renanah M. Joyce and Brian Blankenshipt write: To square its strategic needs with operational and political realities, the United States should adopt a new, hybrid approach to basing that combines elements of the Cold War model — large, concentrated bases in key allies — and the Global War on Terror model — small dispersed bases scattered across informal partners. The Biden administration should tailor its security cooperation and economic strategy to attract partners, balance its need for more options against resource constraints, and revisit global posture plans to achieve this approach. – War on the Rocks
The next steps for the Pentagon's AI Hub
(Defense One) Six ways the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center can accelerate the military’s use of AI.
Defending forward to confront China’s military aims
(RealClear Defense ) The passage of the fiscal year 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) marked the moment the budget finally caught up to a grim geostrategic reality: The capabilities gap between the U.S. and Chinese militaries is shrinking, and fast.
Deciphering Erdogan's seeming pro-West shift in foreign policy
(Al-Monitor) Ankara’s abrupt desire to mend fences with the West appears driven by domestic calculations, but even if its intentions are genuine, it lacks the institutional capacity to pull off such a U-turn.
China may seek to close nuclear gap after US and Russia agree to extend New START treaty
(South China Morning Post) The extension of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) between the United States and Russia to 2026 may not only prevent an out-of-control arms race but also gives China an additional five-year buffer period.
US admiral calls China’s anti-ship ballistic missiles a ‘destabilising effort’ that may not win a war
(South China Morning Post) A senior US military official said China was “pouring a lot of money” into anti-ship ballistic missiles but it may not help the People’s Liberation Army win a conflict between the two nations.
JADC2 May Be Built To Fight The Wrong War
To compete with China, DoD needs to focus on spoiling Chinese military and paramilitary success at lower levels on the escalation ladder. This is more closely aligned with maneuver warfare concepts like DARPA’s Mosaic Warfare.
Congress, It’s Time For Two-Year Budget Deal: Eaglen At AEI
It will take time for the Biden administration to build its national security and defense strategies. In the absence of a new defense strategy, the most logical route for Congress would be to plan a two-year budget deal that buys back readiness and investment lost to the Budget Control Act.
Biden's Approach to the Indo-Pacific
By Emil Avdaliani, January 13, 2021
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: While the new US president is likely to reverse many of Donald Trump’s foreign policy decisions, one area likely to remain untouched is the US approach to the Indo-Pacific region. Joe Biden will push for a reinvigorated set of alliances and building of confidence in US power among China’s neighbors. The nascent Trumpian Indo-Pacific strategy will take final shape under Biden.
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Sudanese-Ethiopian relations are deteriorating. Sudanese armed forces have clashed with Ethiopian soldiers and armed Ethiopian farmers, known as shifta, along the Sudanese-Ethiopian border since December. Sudanese forces took advantage of the distraction created by the Tigray conflict in northern Ethiopia to seize disputed territory in the Fashqa triangle in early December.
READ THE LATEST EDITION HERE
Civil war is breaking out in Africa’s second largest country
Claiming to Counter Russia and Iran, Turkey Partners with Both by Seth Frantzman
The Jerusalem Post
January 3, 2021
Anticipating the 2021 Missile Defense Review
By Brad Roberts, RealClearDefense: “On the incoming Biden administration's to-do list is a review of missile defense policy and posture.”
Stable Nuclear Deterrence Requires a Modern Nuclear Arsenal
By Steve Cimbala & Adam Lowther, RealClearDefense: “President-elect Joe Biden recently indicated that he would review the nation’s nuclear deterrence strategy and weapons modernization program, focusing on reducing their role in national strategy. The review will also look to reduce funding for nuclear modernization. Depending on the administration's actions, there is a real risk of compromising the credibility of American deterrence when both China and Russia see the United States as a weakened great power.”
Some reasons for faster 2020s productivity growth
James Pethokoukis | AEIdeas
We Need a Goldwater-Nichols Act for Emerging Technology / John Shanahan,Laura Junor: The 1986 law made joint experience a prerequisite for high rank. We must do the same for technological facility.
The World's Most Important Body of Water / Daniel Yergin: More than most, four men shaped the oft-cited "strategic tensions" over the South China Sea.
China's global power tops the US? New measures say no
Hal Brands | Bloomberg Opinion
Gross domestic product and military spending matter, but so do networks of allies and “resilience.”
The Renewed Western Sahara Conflict and the Abraham Accords
By Col (Res.) Dr. Raphael G. Bouchnik-Chen, December 10, 2020
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: The timing of the unanticipated provocation by the Polisario Front against Morocco could be related to the ongoing diplomatic initiative sponsored by the US for the establishment of full diplomatic relations between Morocco and Israel. Several foreign powers have an interest in disrupting the next stages of the Abraham Accords.
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ETHIOPIAN CIVIL WAR READ THE LATEST EDITION HERE
Sudan Accuses Ethiopian Troops of Ambush Attack. The Sudanese Army says its troops were ambushed by Ethiopian forces during a patrol of the country’s borderlands. ABC News Al Jazeera
Meir Litvak on Iran's Use of Armed Proxies by Marilyn Stern
Middle East Forum Webinar
November 20, 2020
Greatest threats to Netanyahu come from right
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has succeeded in eroding the Israeli political left, but in doing so alienated his own right wing as well.
Biden embraces the military-industrial complex over civilian control
Timothy P. Carney | Washington Examiner
Joe Biden’s pick for defense secretary embodies two problems with our governance: the revolving door between industry and government and the subtle erosion of civilian control of the military.
Putin is winning Russia’s hybrid war against America
Ivana Stradner and David R. Shedd | NationalReview.com
Remedies for China’s role in the pandemic
John Yoo | Strategika
Hezbollah's Great Diversion by Khaled Abu Toameh
China Deliberately Spread The Coronavirus: What Are The Strategic Consequences?
by Gordon G. Chang via Strategika
“It comes from the lab, the lab in Wuhan, and the lab is controlled by the China government,” claimed Dr. Li-Meng Yan, the virologist who fled Hong Kong, in a “Loose Women” interview in September. “This virus is not from nature.”
Managing The Relationship Between The U.S. And Saudi Arabia
by Bernard Haykel via The Caravan
The new Biden administration will encounter a Middle East that is very different from the one President Trump inherited from President Obama in 2017, and nowhere is the change more obvious than in Saudi Arabia. The kingdom is undergoing a dramatic process of transformation that includes the unprecedented consolidation of power in the hands of Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman (MBS), the adoption of policies of social liberalization focused primarily on youth and women, and the implementation of a plan for economic diversification to lessen dependence on oil revenue.
The Biden Administration Can And Should Rectify America's Failures In Syria
by Mohammed Alaa Ghanem via The Caravan
It has been almost a decade since the Syrian people rose up against the Assad regime, demanding their freedom. While the world was hesitant to support the protestors, malign powers gladly stepped in to help Assad, creating an unmitigated disaster that has devastated Syria and sent shockwaves around the world.
Russia and China team up on the Indian Ocean
Oriana Skylar Mastro | The Lowy Institute
With China and Russia presenting themselves as strong alternative powers, the United States and like-minded countries have to work that much harder to promote sustainable economic development, protect international rules and norms, and ensure peace and security in the region.
The Congressional Budget Office’s menu of defense cuts
Mackenzie Eaglen | AEIdeas
Putting Combatant Commanders on a Demand Signal Diet by Mackenzie Eaglen
Strategic Autonomy and U.S.-Indian Relations by Jeff M. Smith
Army Wants Smaller Brigades, Stronger Divisions & Lots of Robots
By Sydney Freedberg, Breaking Defense: "New technologies and organizations will give soldiers an edge, Maj. Gen. Patrick Donahoe said, but tanks and foot troops will still face brutal close combat."
Autonomy and Defense in the Twenty-First Century
By Steve Blank, Modern War Institute: “Over the last decade, DoD has adopted robotics and unmanned systems, but almost all are “dumb”—pre-programmed or remotely operated—rather than autonomous.”
Assessing the Role of Civil Government Agencies in Irregular Warfare
By Damimola Olawuyi, Divergent Options: "Responses to militant non-state actors will be ineffective without a whole of government effort that emphasizes military and nonmilitary interventions in appropriate measures to defeat violent threats, stabilize territories and restore the lives of affected populations."
Mission Impossible?’ Interoperability Across Arab States
Enhancing interoperability across Arab states’ defense systems remains a holy grail that even alliances such as NATO find hard to achieve.
Russia and the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict: Genuine Threat or Misconception?
By Jason E. Strakes, November 4, 2020
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: While government officials and others have alleged a strategy that involves Russian-sponsored security organizations in recent escalations in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, these claims are largely misconceptions. The conventional wisdom fails to recognize these structures as representing alternative security perceptions held by Russia and other participating states rather than traditional NATO-style military alliances.
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After our delay in modernizing the nuclear triad, the projected cost is significant and the timeline unyielding. Simultaneously, policymakers must contend with a myriad of complex factors forcing unprecedented integration between conventional and nuclear weapons, note Mackenzie Eaglen and Elaine McCusker in an AEIdeas blog. Hence, we must enable and equip the Nuclear Weapons Council to recommend and oversee the development of nuclear capabilities and security roles between federal departments and services. Continue here.
The US military walks a tricky line: preparing for war with other great powers while making peacetime efforts to prevent it. In a Bloomberg op-ed, Hal Brands points out that bracing for conflict with Russia or China is the key to deterrence. However, the Pentagon will not typically be the lead department when it comes to peacetime competition. Success will require contribution to long, indecisive struggles for position and planning for climactic battles if competition gives way to conflict. Read here.
Last week, the Swedish government decided to raise its defense budget by 40 percent over the next five years. Equally important is Sweden’s decision to invest in civil defense, the part of national security focused on ensuring that energy, health care, food provision, and other pillars of daily life function well during a crisis, notes Elisabeth Braw in an AEIdeas blog. Investing in civil defense makes societies stronger to keep themselves safe from subversive attacks on their way of life. Sweden’s decision to double funding civil defense is something that other countries should learn from. Continue here.
In 2021, Washington should take a long, hard look at its military spending and use a bipartisan process to push through the necessary changes. In a National Interest op-ed, John Ferrari argues that a reorientation of US national security priorities can be achieved alongside a modernized military — not at its expense. The solutions however must be the product of a bipartisan consensus that has to emerge quickly after this upcoming election. Learn more here.
If Trump is reelected, Washington will find that it faces a world without the institutions, alliances, and goodwill that have long bolstered US interests, notes Kori Schake in a Foreign Affairs article. However, Republicans have the chance to push for an alternative by strengthening US alliances, rethinking relationships with our adversaries, reconsidering our so-called forever wars, and creating a new trade policy. If Republicans do not wrench foreign policy out of the America First course, this country will find itself alone and facing an international order shielding itself from US influence. Learn more here.
An Inside Look at How Israel Trains for the Next War with Its Best Units by Seth Frantzman
The National Interest
October 7, 2020
HOOVER DIGEST: peruse the entire issue on the Hoover website.
Pentagon’s new plan to fight China and Russia in the gray zone
Hal Brands | Bloomberg Opinion
Navy plans Hammerhead mines to box in Chinese, Russian subs
(Breaking Defense) The Hammerhead mine would be delivered to sites by underwater drones, and “detect, classify, and defeat” manned or unmanned submarines, the Navy says.
The Russians have spent 40 years preparing for undersea slaughter—the US Navy built a submarine to stop it
(Forbes) In mid-October 2019, the Russian navy sortied every operational attack submarine in its Northern Fleet into the cold waters of the high North Atlantic.
Marines vs. China ― the Corps just put these tactics to the test
(Marine Corps Times) The Marine Corps just wrapped a combined exercise between III Marine Expeditionary Force, the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit and the U.S. 7th Fleet that put to the test the Corps' vision for its future fight against China.
The Chinese people want to send money somewhere Xi Jinping isn’t
Derek Scissors | AEIdeas
COVID-19 adds confusion to long-standing credibility problems in China's economic statistics.
The dangerous decline of US diplomacy
Michael Rubin | The National Interest
The dynamics of contemporary American partisanship are corrosive to diplomacy. Gone are the days of broad bipartisan foreign policy consensus and consistency.
We need to talk about nukes
Zack Cooper, Melanie Marlowe, and Christopher Preble | "Net Assessment"
Esper’s reforms: An interim report card
(Defense One) What progress has the defense secretary made on his ambitious goals to reorient the Defense Department?
Mackenzie Eaglen writes: Secretary Esper stayed committed to his ten targeted goals—each with subtasks—under these three broad objectives to begin achieving “irreversible implementation” of the National Defense Strategy. He has made laudable progress — while leaving plenty of work for next year. – Defense One
Global Business Brief
// Marcus Weisgerber: 500-ship Navy?; Lord's reforms; Interior's drone fleet; and more..
Chinese increasing nuclear submarine shipyard capacity
(USNI News) As China pushes to become a blue-water power, nuclear-powered submarines are critically important to Beijing’s plan.
What could Turkey’s latest S-400 missile tests mean?
(Al Jazeera) Last year, Turkey bought the Russian S-400 anti-aircraft defense system, in spite of fierce objections from the United States.
Grand Strategy Is Total: French Gen. André Beaufre on War in the Nuclear Age by Michael Shurkin
The Secret to the Northern Mozambique Insurgency’s Success by Emilia Columbo
Erdoğan and His Arab "Brothers"
By Burak Bekdil, October 8, 2020
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: After the infamous Mavi Marmara incident of May 2010, Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and then foreign policy tzar Ahmet Davutoğlu (later PM and now an Erdoğan opponent) pledged to internationally isolate Israel. This was intended to help them advance their Islamist agenda and augment an emerging unity in the umma, preferably under Turkish leadership. A decade later, pragmatic Arab states are lining up to normalize relations with Israel, leaving state actors Iran and Turkey as well as non-state actor Hamas in a punishing position of international isolation—exactly where Turkey wanted to push Israel.
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Battle Force 2045 Raises Important Questions
By Harlan Ullman, Proceedings: “This week, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper outlined his plan for the future Navy called Battle Force 2045. The plan calls for a Navy and Marine Corps of about 500 or more ships based on 8-11 nuclear-powered aircraft carriers and their associated air wings; an increase in nuclear submarines to between 70-80; six smaller aircraft carrier/amphibious warfare ships; a total of 355 manned ships; and between 140-240 unmanned or partially manned vehicles."
The War in Nagorno-Karabakh Actually Represents an Opportunity for Washington
By Stephen Blank, RealClearDefense: "Several Democratic Senators, in the wake of the war in Nagorno-Karabakh, are proposing that the U.S. impose sanctions or terminate all military assistance to Azerbaijan. Evidently, they blame Baku for the war. But while such resolutions may gratify the ubiquitous and deep-rooted moralism and desire to punish malefactors that affects the entire U.S. political class as well as interested domestic constituencies; this intemperate and misconceived move actually runs counter to U.S. interests."
The Azerbaijan-Armenia Conflict Hints at the Future of War
From The Economist: “Azerbaijan’s armed forces may be busy waging war over Nagorno-Karabakh, a disputed enclave run by Armenia. That did not stop them from setting aside scarce helicopters and tanks to star in a music video, complete with khaki-clad singers, guitarists and a drummer."
Some US-China economic and trade facts
The US remains well ahead of the People’s Republic of China across a range of important economic indicators, from domestic wealth to share of global foreign direct investment.
Little war in the Caucasus has big lessons for US and Russia
Hal Brands | Bloomberg Opinion
Turkey’s increasingly assertive foreign policy
Transforming battlefield geometry: What’s to come in Project Convergence 2021
(Defense News) The U.S. Army’s ambitious first Project Convergence, an exercise that measured the progress of the service’s modernization strategy within its future operational concept, concluded last month, but the service already has a sense of what it wants to accomplish in 2021.
3 questions with Bruce Jette, the US Army’s acquisition chief
(Defense News) The service's acquisition chief talks Project Convergence and the pursuit of new programs.
Army Modernization’s Day of Reckoning Is at Hand
By Dan Gouré, RealClearDefense: “Army modernization now faces a day of reckoning. Regardless of who wins the November election, the flow of resources which has undergirded modernization is almost certain to decline."
Beijing’s Bid for a Maritime “God View”:
Military-Civil Fusion Power Projection and Threats to Supply Chain Integrity
By Emily de La Bruyère & Nathan Picarsic, RealClearDefense: “On September 30, the White House issued its second critical mineral executive order since 2017. The Executive Order on Addressing the Threat to the Domestic Supply Chain from Reliance on Critical Minerals from Foreign Adversaries aims to reduce U.S. dependence on foreign sources of select critical minerals, including rare earth elements – for which 80 percent of U.S. imports come from China."
Irregular Warfare With China, Russia Is Already Here
By Sean McFate, The Hill: “Last week, amid the hubbub of the presidential debate, revelations about President Trump’s taxes, the “SCOTUS War” and the COVID-plagued White House, something important happened that almost everybody missed. The Defense Department released the unclassified summary of the Irregular Warfare Annex to the 2018 National Defense Strategy."
Russia’s Armed Forces:
More Capable by Far, but for How Long?
From IISS: "After a decade of modernisation and reform, Russia’s conventional military capabilities are at their highest since the country’s armed forces were formed in 1992. Can Moscow sustain the equipment-modernisation gains made as part of the 2020 State Armament Programme?"
The Power of Broken Promises: Wilson’s Fourteen Points and U.S.-Arab Relations
By Robert E. Schrader IV, Strategy Bridge: ". . . Following centuries of Ottoman subjugation, the Arab world eagerly clung to this idea of national sovereignty."
As China pushes to become a blue-water power, nuclear-powered submarines are critically important to Beijing’s plan. Historically the Chinese Navy’s (PLAN) nuclear-powered submarine fleet has been constrained by its limited construction capacity. There is only one shipyard in the country up to the task. But that yard has been undergoing a massive enlargement. And now, recent satellite imagery suggests an additional capacity expansion. – USNI News
Tate Nurkin and Evanna Hu write: The Chinese government has known and built, since the 1990s, its arsenals in indirect warfare. The only way to combat Chinese authoritarian values is to construct resiliency of norms, outcomes, and more importantly, vision of what democratic societies stand for. But the reconstruction will only work with U.S. leadership at the helm to enhance opportunities for security, freedom, and shared prosperity in a new international system. – The Hill
Tom Rogan writes: For all our flaws, the U.S. can respond to China’s aggression by offering a hand of friendship to those smaller nations it bullies. And while China might be able to bully one nation into retreat, confronted by a partnership of many nations, Xi’s ambitions can be restrained. – Washington Examiner
Mason Clark and Ezgi Yazici write: Azerbaijan therefore likely seeks to use the current conflict to deepen Turkish support outside the Minsk Group framework, introduce Azerbaijan’s capability to launch offensive operations into Armenia’s calculus in negotiations, and initiate a new diplomatic process – even if it is dominated by the Kremlin – that challenges Armenia’s control of Nagorno-Karabakh. Azerbaijan likely believes Armenia will blink first in a standoff due to Azerbaijan’s stronger economy and overt Turkish military support, such as the deployment of F-16s and SNA fighters, in the absence of similar Russian support to Armenia. – Institute for the Study of War
Luke Coffey writes: Far from being just a localized conflict in a place far from Washington, DC, the fighting between the Azerbaijani and Armenian militaries and Armenian-backed militias in Azerbaijan’s Nagorno-Karabakh region could destabilize an already fragile region even further. What happens in the South Caucasus usually does not stay in the South Caucasus. Because the region is so important for transit, trade, and energy reasons, geopolitical shocks in the South Caucasus often have second and third order effects across the broader region. – Middle East Institute
Sean McFate writes: China and Russia conquer through irregular-war strategies. That works because they disguise war as peace, until it’s too late. It’s a “boiling the frogs slowly” approach. Just ask the Crimeans or Sri Lankans. Irregular warfare manufactures the fog of war for victory, something that makes the conventional warrior’s head explode. […]Irregular warfare is the armed conflict of our lifetime, and the Pentagon’s strategy to confront it is long overdue. – The Hill
China’s aggressive tactics aim to bolster the Communist Party’s legitimacy
Dan Blumenthal and Jakob Urda | The National Interest
China has faced two disasters in 2020 — the coronavirus and historic floods — which exposed its fragilities and created internal unrest. Its response to both was the same: escalating aggression against its neighbors.
Flawed Assumptions and the Need for a
Radical Shift in the Next National Security Strategy
By Michael N. Gonzalez, Strategy Bridge: "If 2020 has taught the citizens of the United States anything, it is that the security we take for granted is not assured."
Thinking Strategically About Sino-American Crisis Management Mechanisms
by Jacob Stokes and Zack Cooper
Jude Blanchette writes: He has emphasized adhering to problem orientation, telling us to aim at the problem and proceed from it, regard the discovery of contradictions and understanding and resolving problems as the breakthrough points in our work, go to the root of Xinjiang’s social stability problems, and emphasize aligning problem-solving efforts with the actual situation by solving the problems that present themselves and focusing on solving prominent problems. These connotations of Xi Jinping’s thoughts on governing Xinjiang are very profound and provide us with important methodological guidance. – Center for Strategic and International Studies
Project Convergence: An Arena of Innovative Collaboration
By Matthew Van Wagenen & Arnel P. David, RealClearDefense: “The Army is converting ideas, prototypes, and various modes of operating (i.e., new ways of fighting) into new capabilities. This is a departure from the past, where a lion share of the budget and programming narrowly focused on incremental upgrades to existing platforms, adding armor, speed, reach, and lethality at exorbitant costs, over long periods of time."
The Real F-35 Problem We Need to Solve
By Scott Cooper, Defense One: "When Pentagon strategists game out potential near-peer conflicts, they tend to plug in sortie-generation rates for the F-35 Lightning II that reflect the program’s original vision, not the far lower numbers that represent the actual state of things. But if planners intend to count on the F-35 in a battle of any but the shortest duration, the Pentagon and industry must urgently improve their ability to maintain and sustain the most technologically complex (and capable) aircraft in history."
How to Safely Trim the Defense Budget
By Elbridge Colby, Mackenzie Eaglen & Roger Zakheim, Foreign Policy: “Although preparing for the next pandemic is crucial, there is no justification for trading off security abroad for safety at home when both are necessary."
Intelligence Community Not Prepared for China Threat
By Adam Schiff, Foreign Affairs: "Our nation’s intelligence agencies are not ready—not by a long shot. Absent a significant realignment in resources and organization, the United States will be ill prepared to compete with China on the global stage for decades to come."
China-India: Talk is cheap but never free
Oriana Skylar Mastro | The Interpreter
There are many reasons all parties should avoid a second Sino-Indian border war; the costs of conversation are only one of many factors that would delay conflict resolution.
The United States Has a Role to Play in the Nile by Yasir Zaidan
Net Assessment: Understanding America’s Declining Global Influence with Zack Cooper, Melanie Marlowe, and Christopher Preble
The Future of Chinese Power
By Michael Schuman The policies and practices of the country's dynasties offer insights into how modern Chinese leaders may wield their strength.
Gorbachev was right about German reunification
Elisabeth Braw | Foreign Policy
Margaret Thatcher and François Mitterrand nearly stopped it from happening, but 30 years on, reunification remains the world’s most successful geopolitical experiment.
The indications that Turkey activated the radars of its Russian-made S-400 anti-aircraft systems in order to detect US-made Greek F-16 fighter jets on their return from the Eunomia exercise on August 27 off Cyprus apparently sounded the alarm in Washington about the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean and reportedly prompted the visits by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to Cyprus on September 12 and Greece on September 27-29. – Kathimerini
Munqith Dagher writes: What may make matters worse is the possible response of the militias and their military supporters to the American attacks, which may compel the United States to send more troops, thus creating major complications for a potential incoming Democratic White House. Consequently, the prospects for fixing the situation with America after Biden’s victory (for which the Iranians and their proxies in Iraq hope) will be very complex and difficult in practice, which heralds the prospect of a long military and political confrontation between America and Iran on Iraqi soil; Iraq will enter a long, dark tunnel. – Washington Institute
Hamdi Malik: No other Iraqi militia has gained enough credits to be given these missions. Kata’ib Hizballah is Iran’s preferred militia and it is evolving as the main force belonging to the resistance in Iraq. Unlike Lebanon or Yemen, where one major militia facilitates Iran’s expansionist policies, several smaller militias function as the Islamic Republic’s proxies in Iraq. But one militant group more than others has the potential to dominate the scene, and that is Kata’ib Hizballah. – War on the Rocks
High-End Warfare in the Indo-Pacific Theater Will Require Distributed Sensing
By Dan Gouré, RealClearDefense: “The United States’ military is evolving towards a new way of warfare designed to counter adversaries’ efforts to develop a dominant anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) capability."
The National Defense Strategy’s Irregular Warfare Annex. Here’s Why It’s so Significant.
By Kevin Bilms, Modern War Institute: “Last week, the Defense Department released an unclassified summary of the Irregular Warfare (IW) Annex to the National Defense Strategy."
Towards an Epistemology of Grand Strategy:
Stereotype, Ideal Type, and the Dematerialization of the Concept
By Maurizio Recordati, Strategy Bridge: "Scholars from disparate disciplines have been agonizing over definitions of grand strategy with increasing frequency over the last decades."
How the Army Fits Into U.S. Indo-Pacific Strategy
By Francis P. Sempa, The Diplomat: “The United States’ Indo-Pacific strategy includes an important role for the ground forces of the U.S. Army."
A Brief Guide to Maritime Strategy
By Jeffrey Becker, Strategy Bridge: "This cultural aversion to strategic studies and thought has deep roots. While speaking to the incoming Naval War College class of 1911, war college founder Stephen B. Luce lamented how operational demands and a preoccupation with technology had drawn the U.S. Navy’s attention away from strategic education. “Very few [U.S. Navy line officers] are studying their profession—the art of war,” Luce observed."
After “the War that Never Was”—The Real Beginning
By H.E. Williams, Proceedings: “Beginning where Admiral A. James Winnefeld and Mr. Michael J. Morell’s “The War that Never Was: Part 1” finished, the following story offers what the end of the beginning could look like, considering their dire and unlikely ending."
American Sea Power at a Crossroads:
A Plan to Restore the U.S. Navy’s Maritime Advantage
By Bryan Clark, Timothy A. Walton & Seth Cropsey, Hudson Institute: "The U.S. fleet is at an important crossroads. Nearly twenty years after the drive for transformation led to costly and problematic programs such as the littoral combat ship (LCS), Gerald R. Ford-class aircraft carrier, and Zumwalt-class destroyer, the Navy is again starting work on new ships in every vessel category."
The Real F-35 Problem We Need to Solve
By Scott Cooper
Unless its logistics can be improved, the jet's contributions to a major fight will be far less than Pentagon wargamers are counting on.