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Category: Defense Strategy & Policy

Jan. 25, 2023

The Realist Case for Ukraine

Despite US support and Ukrainian valor, the war is now approaching a second year, and several observers in the United States and in Europe have become increasingly alarmed at the consequence of a longer war. None of these concerns should be dismissed out of hand. Each, however, rests on problematic assumptions. The realist case for aiding Ukraine accepts Mearsheimer’s insight about the tragic structural nature of international politics, particularly the danger of a sustained period of great-power competition with both Russia and China—as well as the continued threat that Vladimir Putin’s Russia poses to peace and stability in Europe. It acknowledges that Ukraine’s resilience and ingenuity provide an opportunity to, as Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin put it “weaken Russia” and reshape the global balance of power in favor of the United States and its allies.

Jan. 9, 2023

Let's Make a Deal? Ukraine and the Poor Prospects for Negotiations with Putin

Ukraine has defied expectations and admirably defended its sovereignty. It still has quite a way to go to eject Vladimir Putin’s armed forces and hirelings. A bitter frozen conflict could last for some time despite the tenacious and creative defense of Ukraine’s determined military. But it is time to start thinking about the end game. Sketching out the compromises and hard choices for Russia’s termination of its “Special Military Operation” is not an exercise in optimism or wishful thinking. Understanding what the West desires out of this conflict and what is the objective in terms of relations with a defeated Russia is a clear strategic question for US policymakers at this point in time.

Jan. 3, 2023

American Defense Priorities After Ukraine

Even though the war will continue into next year, and perhaps beyond, it is time to begin assessing longer-term implications for modern warfare, especially in Europe. It is not too early in this age to draw inferences about how the character of warfare is changing. How can NATO and the United States adapt to best ensure Europe’s stability and advance U.S. interests?

Dec. 12, 2022

America's Great-Power Challenge: Managing Russia's Decline and China's Rise

Russia is in strategic trouble. Vladimir Putin’s war of choice in Ukraine has weakened Russia’s global posture and eroded the carefully honed image of great-power prowess Putin cultivated for two decades. But Russia’s loss of relative power is not necessarily America’s gain. Modern geopolitics has returned to the framework of past multipolar, great-power competitions, the last of which was contested prior to World War II. American policymakers must help manage Moscow’s strategic malpractice in a manner that does not harm Washington’s prospects for success in the long-term Sino-American rivalry.

Dec. 4, 2022

Europe Has to Step Up on Ukraine to Keep the U.S. from Stepping Back

Tensions over the war in Ukraine have relaxed since the U.S. midterm congressional elections but could ramp up again if Europe continues to fall behind the U.S. when it comes to providing financial and military support for Kyiv.

Dec. 4, 2022

Virtual and Physical Realities: Violent Extremists’ Recruitment of Individuals Associated with the US Military

INSS’s Kim Cragin’s new article, Virtual and Physical Realities, compares five case studies from the white power and militia movements to learn how violent extremists attempt to attract new members. The findings suggest that (1) recruitment occurs through iterative interactions in virtual and physical spaces; (2) these individuals shift between movements; and (3) little divergence exists between civilian and military recruits.

Sept. 19, 2022

Deconstructing the Collapse of Afghanistan National Security and Defense Forces

The rapid collapse of Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) in August 2021 was widely anticipated and due to its structural constraints and qualitative decline from 2018–21. This article provides a targeted analysis of ANDSF operational liabilities and qualitative limitations, referencing often overlooked statements by US and Afghan political and military officials, data from official US government reports, and prescient NGO field analyses. The painful ANDSF experience illuminates several principles that must be considered as US policymakers turn toward security force assistance for proxy and surrogate military forces in conflict with the partners of America’s emerging great-power geostrategic competitors—China and Russia.

Aug. 26, 2022

Deconstructing the Collapse of Afghanistan National Security and Defense Forces

The rapid collapse of Afghan National Security and Defense Forces (ANDSF) in August 2021 was widely anticipated and due to its structural constraints and qualitative decline from 2018–21. This article provides a targeted analysis of ANDSF operational liabilities and qualitative limitations, referencing often overlooked statements by US and Afghan political and military officials, data from official US government reports, and prescient NGO field analyses. The painful ANDSF experience illuminates several principles that must be considered as US policymakers turn toward security force assistance for proxy and surrogate military forces in conflict with the partners of America’s emerging Great Power geostrategic competitors— China and Russia.

Aug. 1, 2022

Chinese Perspectives on US Strategy in Asia, 2017-2021

The architects of US strategy in Asia have advanced a bold vision for a "free and open Indo-Pacific" but have paid less attention to China's views and responses. This article surveys perceptions of Chinese strategists toward the Trump administration's regional approach, arguing that China's analytic community came to see US strategy as largely focused on the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue.

June 15, 2022

What Next in Ukraine?

Five experts outline possible military, political, environmental, and socioeconomic scenarios