Defense and Security

Event

Syria: Are There Any Steps Forward?

Speaker: Kimberly Kagan
Speaker: Paul R. Pillar
Speaker: Mona Yacoubian
Presider: Douglas A. Ollivant

Experts discuss U.S. policy options toward Syria including military intervention, prioritizing the fight against ISIS, cooperation with Russia, and responding to chemical attacks from the Assad government.

See more in Syria; Wars and Warfare

Op-Ed

Russiagate: Trump Is Trying to Put Out a Fire With More Smoke

Author: Max Boot
ForeignPolicy.com

There’s a lot we know—and even more we don’t know—regarding the Kremlin interference in the U.S. election last year. The most important thing we know is that there was interference. This is the consensus, “high confidence” assessment of the U.S. intelligence community, which further concluded that Russian President Vladimir Putin was trying to hurt Hillary Clinton and help Donald Trump. That in and of itself is scandalous enough. What we don’t know—and need to find out—is whether the Trump campaign actively colluded with this Russian operation and, more broadly, what links if any exist between the U.S. president and the dictator in the Kremlin.

See more in Russian Federation; Elections; Cybersecurity

Foreign Affairs Article

Adrift in Afghanistan

Author: Gayle Tzemach Lemmon

As the war in Afghanistan drifts back into the public spotlight, Senior Fellow Gayle Tzemach Lemmon argues that five “urgent questions must be answered about the near- and long-term future of the fight.” The United States must clarify its definition of stability and success in Afghanistan, determine whether the Taliban, ISIS, or both is the enemy, discuss how many troops are needed on the ground, and create plans for stemming the loss of life among Afghan forces and for bringing an end to the war. 

See more in Afghanistan; Defense and Security; Conflict Assessment

Article

Small Footprint, Small Payoff

Authors: Stephen D. Biddle, Julia Macdonald, and Ryan Baker
Journal of Strategic Studies

Stephen Biddle, Julia McDonald, and Ryan Baker argue that training, equipping, and advising partner militaries is an increasingly popular alternative to large U.S. ground force deployments in places like Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Ukraine, and many other places where the United States has real but limited interests at stake. Yet SFA has often yielded disappointing results in actual practice. The authors explain this pattern as the result of systematic interest misalignment between the United States and the partners it must work with in these kinds of missions—and argue that these problems are only partly remediable. The authors present ways to do better at the margin, but also argue that underlying interest misalignment will limit this tool's likely utility in the future, and that U.S. decision makers must take this into account when deciding when, where, and how to use it. 

See more in Iraq; Afghanistan; Defense and Security; Conflict Assessment

Op-Ed

The Trump Doctrine Was Written By CNN

Author: Max Boot
ForeignPolicy.com

Far from decisive, Trump’s decision to fire cruise missiles against a single air base in Syria was reminiscent of the kind of low-risk cruise missile attacks that Republicans have mocked in the past for their symbolic, ineffectual nature. While it is a good thing Trump did act, it is hard to know what larger lessons about U.S. policy in the world or in Syria itself one can draw from this decision. The Trump doctrine appears to be: The United States reserves the right to use force whenever the president is upset by something he sees on TV.

See more in Syria; Defense and Security; Media and Foreign Policy