Publications

July 31, 2019

Five Conundrums: The United States and the Conflict in Syria

For the past 8 years, two U.S. administrations, the United Nations (UN), and numerous foreign governments have sought to end the catastrophic war in Syria and reach a negotiated political settlement to the conflict. Their efforts have repeatedly been complicated, even thwarted, by the highly contested and violent politics underlying the conflict, the sheer number of conflict actors inside and outside of Syria, and those actors’ diverse and often irreconcilable objectives.

July 17, 2019

The Enduring Relevance of the U.S.-Japan Alliance

For over six decades, the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security Between the United States and Japan and the U.S. forward-deployed military presence in Japan have served as the foundation of stability, prosperity, and security in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond. It is the basis of the U.S. Asia-Pacific strategy and is a central pillar of its global strategy. The ability to project power halfway around the world from Japan was critical to the allies’ success in the 1991 Persian Gulf War—the USS Independence was then homeported in Japan. The deployment of the Kitty Hawk from Japan to the Persian Gulf in support of Operations Southern Watch and Iraqi Freedom underscored the global significance of the U.S. presence in Japan and the U.S.-Japan alliance.

June 4, 2019

Thucydides’ Other “Traps”: The United States, China, and the Prospect of “Inevitable” War

The notion of a “Thucydides Trap” that will ensnare China and the United States in a 21st century conflict—much as the rising power of Athens alarmed Sparta and made war “inevitable” between the Aegean superpowers of the 5th century BCE—has received global attention since entering the international relations lexicon 6 years ago. Scholars, journalists, bloggers, and politicians in many countries, notably China, have embraced this beguiling metaphor, coined by Harvard political science professor Graham Allison, as a framework for examining the likelihood of a Sino-American war.

May 30, 2019

The Mueller Report: The Missed Accelerants to Putin’s Interference

The March 2019 Mueller Report – discussed by Mueller himself in a brief, televised press conference on May 29, 2019 - provides enormous detail on the patterns and impacts of Russian interference in America’s 2016 election that were authorized by the very top leadership in Moscow.  However, the report does not explore the context behind Moscow’s choice for this brazen course of action.  Combining Mueller’s insights and my past research and writing about President Vladimir Putin’s increasing appetite for foreign policy risk taking, this Strategic Insight contends that three main accelerants and one huge contextual factor encouraged Putin’s fateful early 2014 choice to meddle in and manipulate the US electoral process. 

May 20, 2019

Finding Ender: Exploring the Intersections of Creativity, Innovation, and Talent Management in the U.S. Armed Forces

Current national-level strategic documents exhort the need for creativity and innovation as a precondition of America’s continued competitive edge in the international arena. But what does that really mean in terms of personnel, processes, and culture? This paper argues that an overlooked aspect of talent management, that of cognitive diversity, must be considered when retooling military talent management systems. Going one step further, talent management models must incorporate diversity of both skill set and mindset into their calculus. Specifically, the Department of Defense (DOD) needs to recruit, retain, and utilize Servicemembers and civilians with higher than average levels of creativity and a propensity for innovative thinking. It needs “enders.”

April 25, 2019

Europe's Responses to the Migration Crisis: Implications for European Integration

Is Europe under siege?  Maybe not.  But the ongoing European migration crisis has reinforced pre-existing centripetal forces generated by serious economic imbalances in the European Union (EU), especially in the financially fragile states at the EU’s external borders.  Unless all twenty-eight states of the EU agree to harmonize their approach and resource commitments to border security, asylum laws, and equitable distribution of the migration burden, fragmentation and growing disunity will cause serious damage to European integration. 

April 16, 2019

China's Other Army: The People's Armed Police in an Era of Reform

China’s premier paramilitary force—the People’s Armed Police (PAP)—is undergoing its most profound restructuring since its establishment in 1982. Politically, the reforms reaffirm Chinese Communist Party (and Xi Jinping’s) control over the PAP and may reduce the scope for local abuse of power. Operationally, the reforms narrow the PAP’s responsibilities to three key areas: domestic stability, wartime support, and maritime rights protection. PAP activities beyond China’s borders are likely to increase and could have implications for the United States and other Indo-Pacific states.

March 25, 2019

Russian Challenges from Now into the Next Generation: A Geostrategic Primer

U.S. and Western relations with Russia remain challenged as Russia increasingly reasserts itself on the global stage. Russia remains driven by a worldview based on existential threats—real, perceived, and contrived. As a vast, 11-time zone Eurasian nation with major demographic and economic challenges, Russia faces multiple security dilemmas internally and along its vulnerable and expansive borders. Exhibiting a reactive xenophobia stemming from a long history of destructive war and invasion along most of its borders, the collapse of the Soviet Union, the enlargement of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and perceived Western slights, Russia increasingly threatens others and lashes outward. However, time is not on Russia’s side, as it has entered into a debilitating status quo that includes unnecessary confrontation with the West, multiple unresolved military commitments, a sanctions-strained and only partially diversified economy, looming domestic tensions, and a rising China directly along its periphery. Washington still has an opportunity to carefully improve U.S.-Russia relations and regain a more stable relationship in the near term, but only if activities and initiatives are based on a firm and frank appreciation of each other’s core interests, including those of their allies and partners.

March 13, 2019

El Salvador's Recognition of the People's Republic of China: A Regional Context

In January 2016, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) abandoned an 8-year truce in its war with the Republic of China (ROC) over diplomatic recognition around the world and subsequently moved to aggressively woo traditional Taipei allies. This paper centers on the PRC’s recent successful push into Latin America, and particularly in Central America—historically a primary area of influence for the United States. Through a concerted effort—and often in exchange for promises of mega investments and financial aid—the PRC increasingly receives a warm welcome across the Latin American continent. This paper analyzes recent decisions by several countries in the Western Hemisphere in recognizing PRC and offers an in-depth assessment of El Salvador’s recent decision to break historic ties to Taiwan and embrace Beijing—a move that presents a significant strategic challenge to U.S. regional interests.

March 13, 2019

El Salvador's Recognition of the People's Republic of China: A Regional Context

In January 2016, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) abandoned an 8-year truce in its war with the Republic of China (ROC) over diplomatic recognition around the world and subsequently moved to aggressively woo traditional Taipei allies. This paper centers on the PRC’s recent successful push into Latin America, and particularly in Central America—historically a primary area of influence for the United States. Through a concerted effort—and often in exchange for promises of mega investments and financial aid—the PRC increasingly receives a warm welcome across the Latin American continent. This paper analyzes recent decisions by several countries in the Western Hemisphere in recognizing PRC and offers an in-depth assessment of El Salvador’s recent decision to break historic ties to Taiwan and embrace Beijing—a move that presents a significant strategic challenge to U.S. regional interests.