Israeli involvement in recent attacks on Iran would not be surprising, and more such attacks might be coming. However, Israel's bet that the Iranians will not respond is risky. It's hard to control escalation when things are so volatile, especially as hardline Iranian leaders may increase pressure to retaliate.
While autonomous weapons systems are still in their early development stages, it is worth the time of policymakers to carefully consider whether their putative operational advantages are worth the potential risks of instability and escalation they may raise.
The Libyan conflict, now entering its ninth year, could well be a testing ground for how wars will be fought in the future. External nation-states have long interfered in other countries' civil wars, so what is new, exactly, about what is happening in Libya?
Even before the pandemic, the United States faced a growing strategic predicament: U.S. challenges are mounting, and America's international commitments increasingly outstrip its means to fulfill them.
Russia's hostile information operations are continuous and extend to a broad range of domestic issues. First Amendment concerns are important, but they do not protect hostile information campaigns by foreign actors, nor are they a legal excuse for inaction by the United States.
Captures and strikes are important accomplishments and the countless nameless professionals who carry them out deserve the credit for executing them. But leaders are charged with something larger and should be judged by a higher standard: namely, seeing beyond the illusion and producing actual strategic victories.
China sparked a major maritime confrontation with Indonesia near the South China Sea in December when dozens of Chinese fishing vessels, along with a coast guard escort, entered waters off the Natuna Islands. What drove Beijing to stake out its sovereignty claims against Indonesia at this particular time? And what can Indonesia and other regional neighbors expect of Chinese behavior going forward?
Iranian Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani's death will reverberate in the Middle East region for a long time. The United States must know its end game and be able to respond to this changing landscape of its own making, without stumbling into another full-fledged conflict that the Trump administration itself, Congress, and the American people have said they do not want.
Vietnam's latest defense white paper is full of warnings to China and opportunities for the United States. Washington needs to reassure Vietnam that the United States is committed to the relationship by deepening existing military exchanges, which will give Vietnam greater confidence to stand up to China when the time comes.
While many issues warrant attention in 2020, two that should be near the top of Asia-watchers' lists are Taiwan and Vietnam. Both are on the front lines of Chinese coercion, and their ability to respond, either with or without American support, will set the tone in the Indo-Pacific well beyond 2020.
The national security community doesn't need to deny the potential for future great power conflict—or neglect to prepare for it—in order to acknowledge the enduring reality of asymmetric threats. Containing, resolving, and even preventing smaller conflicts is essential to avoiding bigger ones.
With the standoff between China and Vietnam at the disputed Vanguard Bank ended, it makes sense to take stock of how Hanoi's security strategy fared in countering Chinese coercion. It may be time for Vietnam to consider a careful recalibration to allow for more “struggle” and less “cooperation.”
How will artificial intelligence change the way wars are fought? The answer, of course, depends. And it mainly depends on what type of wars are being fought. And how will AI affect the type of wars that the United States is most likely to fight?
Moscow's form of information warfare targeting the West has attracted significant international attention since 2014, especially through its reinvigorated military intelligence branch. Nonetheless, little research has focused on these campaigns' apparent shortcomings. Most notable among operational errors are the confusing translation mistakes that undermine attempts at covert influence efforts.
What can Vietnam do now to make Chinese assertiveness against it less likely going forward? Although deepening the U.S.-Vietnam defense partnership in the short-term may be contributing to trouble with China, closer cooperation in the long-run could serve to deter China. Enhancing cooperation with Vietnam's other defense partners—namely Australia, Japan, and India—could help to deter Beijing as well.
The United States National Security Strategy describes a return of great power rivalry with China as the leading challenger, and the National Defense Strategy prioritizes strategic competition. What are the implications for U.S.-China military-to-military relations?
They've been called political warfare, measures short of war, gray zone warfare, and a host of other terms. Russia has used a wide range of hostile measures to expand its influence and undermine governments across the European continent. These tactics should be appreciated for what they are: part of a larger, coherent Russian effort, but ultimately not an insurmountable one.
Political polarization in the United States potentially carries significant implications for America's strategic competition with China. Leaders in Washington will need to work to mitigate the effects of polarization and manage competition with China in a stable, effective manner.
The United States' principal adversaries are fighting and gaining ground by employing a host of tactics short of all-out war. This form of warfare, once called political warfare, is back with a vengeance, empowered by new tools and techniques.
The rise of hardline Salafism is a worrisome trend in Gaza, where Salafists could surpass Hamas as the most dangerous threat to other Palestinians and the state of Israel. Such a result could signal the sabotage of yet another chance for progress in one of the world's longest-running conflicts.
As Washington policymakers seek a new strategic course, U.S. national security strategy should not neglect the importance of competition short of armed conflict. A U.S. strategy that incorporates this perspective from the beginning could manage chaos at a reasonable cost.
After a decade of operating against Hamas in Gaza, the Israel Defense Force has learned many lessons about urban warfare against hybrid adversaries. The last confrontation teaches five basic lessons that apply well beyond Gaza.
Today, more than 90 percent of Israelis and Palestinians were born after 1948 and have known nothing other than some version of the impasse. Both sides could be better off with a stable two-state solution. Prolonging the impasse for another generation would have real costs.
President Obama observed in June that the world is less violent than it has ever been. While his proposition may seem incongruous with the present crises across Eurasia, the evidence suggests that the world is indeed becoming more secure.
The history of “small-footprint approaches” should be sobering. It suggests that such approaches are good at preventing allied governments from losing against rebels, but are not very good at actually winning wars.
When a country is threatened by an insurgency, what efforts give its government the best chance of prevailing? A new update to a RAND 2010 study expands the data set of 30 insurgencies to 71 and compares all 71 of them begun and completed worldwide since World War II.