By exploiting pre-existing divisions in Western societies and attempting to sway elections toward candidates palatable to the Kremlin, the Russian Federation has had some success in eroding social cohesion and confidence in the institutions of democracy. But pulling the West down has not improved Russia's position in the world. Russia today is less well-regarded, less prosperous, and less secure than it was before it began its campaign of sowing disorder. Since the Kremlin sees its actions as justified responses to the West's alleged attempts to undermine Russia, this is a price it is willing to pay. Rather than trying to convince Russia to cease its malign activities, Western societies need to look inward. We need to eliminate the societal divisions that Russia exploits rather than try to convince Russia not to exploit them, denying it fertile ground on which to scatter its seeds of disinformation and propaganda. Only then will we solve the “Russia problem.”
Current conflicts reinforce, rather than undermine, the Clausewitzian paradigm. It is not the nature of war itself that is changing, but rather the dominant relationships between the components of its nature. Recognizing that the relationship between the interaction with passion, reason, and chance with the people, the state, and the military, which prevailed in Clausewitz's day, does not continue to prevail in our day deeply rests on ideas established in On War. Three shifts in the character of war have materialized: the collapse of warfare, the intersection of strategy and politics, and the atomization of political power. To act successfully in future conflicts, we must move beyond any simple Clausewitzian alchemy and understand the countless ways in which passion, chance, and rationality can be alloyed with the state, the people, and the military.
Two different forms of ambiguity have been hallmarks of several major conflicts over the past two decades: tactical and political. These two forms of ambiguity interact differently with strategy. The first interferes with the internal logic of strategy itself, whereas the second inhibits the political choice in favor of practicing strategy, but does not inhibit strategy itself. The strategic response to political ambiguity is military force, which still works in such contexts. Any inhibitions against strategy in a politically ambiguous context are political, rather than strategic. Yet, even political objections can be minimized by relying on the West's own ambiguous forces to respond to a Russian ambiguous invasion.
American economic statecraft rose to new geopolitical prominence with reevaluations of international trade agreements and tariffs. State-backed industrial espionage remains understudied in its relation to great power competition, despite its ongoing impact on the American economy and security. This article explores a controversial institutional strategy for countering state-backed industrial espionage in a manner that is compatible with the free-enterprise model of American business.
Eighty years ago, World War II broke out in Europe. Remembering this anniversary provides an opportunity to reflect on what we might learn from studying the history of that hideous era. Of the many accounts on the war's origins, Winston Churchill offered one of the most insightful interpretations about how a return of great-power competition shattered Europe's peace. His condemnation of Great Britain's leaders for seeking to appease the Nazi dictator offers a sobering lesson in the failure of the world's democracies to arm themselves and band together to preserve the peace. Churchill lamented that democracy had been weighed in the balance and found wanting. His lamentation still serves as a warning against the folly of military weakness and foreign policy isolation.
Today, the United States is susceptible to a “Space Pearl Harbor” more than at any other time. The United States depends on satellites more than any other country in the world for its most basic functions. Everything from military communications, to early missile warning systems, to civilian banking transactions is conducted, in part, through satellite constellations. The American way of war depends on instantaneous communication and coordination that satellite constellations provide. Take away these advantages and the United States military is made deaf, dumb, and blind. For a militarily weaker foe, like Russia, with grand geopolitical ambitions and a rapidly closing window of opportunity to accomplish its geostrategic ambitions, debilitating U.S. forces charged with defending Eastern Europe is essential. This essay assesses the threat that Russian co-orbital satellites—better known as Space Stalkers—pose to vital U.S. military satellite constellations in geosynchronous orbit, such as the Wideband Global Satcom constellation.
President Dwight D. Eisenhower oversaw an unprecedented period of U.S. peace and prosperity. These accomplishments were not all preordained or simply the result of favorable domestic and international conditions. When he became president in 1953, Ike inherited a contentious global and domestic environment. The challenges led many Americans to wonder if the sacrifices made during World War II had only garnered a fleeting peace. Eisenhower's achievements are notable because of this setting and should lead us to explore the methods that he used to navigate the ship of state. In particular, Ike's comprehensive and disciplined approach to policymaking stands out. It allowed Eisenhower to escape the worst aspects of America's partisan poli and enduring interests.
While there may be some ideological components at stake in the Russian Federation undermining democracy in the West, the Kremlin primarily views interference as a tool to accomplish its strategic interests. Russia is less concerned about regime type (authoritarian versus democratic) and more concerned with how a foreign power advances its strategic interests. While many governments that advance Russia's interests tend to be authoritarian, this is not always the case. Russia does not view non-Western democracies as a threat because the Kremlin considers them predictable and consistent. However, the use of “sharp power” to interfere in the internal affairs of Western democracies is coupled to an assessment of how such interference either promotes Russian interests or decreases Western capabilities to interfere in Russian foreign and domestic policy.
Christiaan Snouck Hurgronje (1858-1936), a Dutch scholar of Islam, served as a “military anthropologist” during the Aceh war in the Dutch East Indies. The Acehnese fighters viewed their anti-colonial struggle against the Dutch as a jihad, construing themselves religious martyrs fighting “infidel invaders,” and carrying out suicide attacks with a machete or dagger. To combat this insurgency Snouck Hurgronje, one of the first Westerners to visit Mecca and author of many books on Islam, developed the so-called “Aceh method,” which became the basis of modern Dutch counterinsurgency strategy. This article addresses the question: what can we learn from the life and times of Snouck Hurgronje?
The author contends that the Arab Spring has provided an opening for the Gulf Cooperation Council as a group and for Saudi Arabia as a long-time aspiring leader of the Arab world to try to expand their regional influence and global profile. An already weakened Arab state system, he argues, has been once again weakened by the sweeping wave of rebellion.
Sino-East African infrastructure investment and international trade have reached record levels and garnered global interest in recent years. Despite this attention, there is a lack of project-level analysis and documentation relating to China's overarching economic strategies in the East African region. By analyzing the Addis Ababa-Djibouti Railway and the Damerjog Port-Ogaden Basin gas pipeline projects, this article discusses project-level details and their roles in China's overarching economic development strategy. Through analysis on bilateral trade and infrastructure development connectivity, this article determines the derivatives and long-term strategic interests of Sino-African trade and infrastructure investment.
Grand strategy provides the strategic vision for a state in pursuit of its national interests. The current U.S. grand strategy straddles the line between isolationism and off-shore balancing. Based on the international relations theory of realism, these strategies view international actions as a zero-sum game. In other words, a country can only benefit at the expense of another. The zero-sum logic is clearly articulated in the “America First” strategic documents. It is also apparent in many of the president's speeches and policy actions. While the Trump administration's zero-sum approach has potential to rebalance burdens and level the playing field in such areas of trade, it is fraught with risks and jeopardizes the standing of the United States in the world.