Message from the Editor


John Godges

Photo by Diane Baldwin

"This scourge must be stamped out," declared U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, referring to sexual assault in the military, during his commencement address at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, New York, on May 25, 2013. The recipient of two Purple Hearts for his service as an army officer in Vietnam, Hagel urged the army's newest officers to build "a culture of respect and dignity" in the armed forces. "We are all accountable and responsible for ensuring that this happens. We cannot fail the men and women that we lead."

The day before Hagel's address, President Barack Obama used his commencement address at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, to warn graduates that military sexual assaults could erode America's faith in the military itself, currently the nation's "most trusted institution." He urged the navy's newest officers to rise above the example set by servicemembers who have committed sexual assault. To help counteract the scourge of sexual assault in the military, Coreen Farris and her colleagues propose a research agenda that takes full account of the types of damage being done.

On June 5, 2013, Germany and Italy became the first nations to commit to joining the United States as "lead nations" that will oversee different regions of Afghanistan after 2014, when the NATO role in Afghanistan will transition to a noncombat mission. The scourge of Taliban and al Qaeda extremism will likely persist in Afghanistan to some degree, but NATO will shift its role toward helping Afghan security institutions stabilize their own insurgency-wracked nation. Stephen Watts and others draw on numerous cases of comparable "minimalist international interventions" on behalf of partner governments over the past six decades to extract lessons for the kinds of limited efforts that could offer the greatest promise for Afghanistan and other war-torn countries in the years ahead.

Throughout the first half of 2013, governments, corporations, and militaries around the world grew increasingly alarmed by the proliferation of costly crimes committed in cyberspace. Neil Robinson suggests that one balm for this 21st-century scourge could be international coordination of cybersecurity efforts. In contrast, cyberwar efforts could aggravate matters, warns Martin Libicki in his refreshingly grounded and illuminating narrative about a topic that often comes across as abstract and incomprehensible. At least in this case, Libicki stamps out the scourge of impenetrability.

—John Godges