The CSS Blog Network

Clausewitz and the Crackhouse

Dangerous drugs

This article was originally published by War On The Rocks on 5 May 2016.

In 1834, the British Government could not have sent a worse person with the worst set of instructions to China.  The British Parliament chose William Napier, a Scottish lord, to be the Chief Superintendent of Trade in East Asia.  Lord Napier had no experience with Chinese culture or traditions, but was nonetheless sent to Canton to take-up residence as the King’s representative and to ensure unfettered access to the Chinese market.  However, setting up residence on Chinese soil without first visiting the Chinese Imperial court and kowtowing to the emperor was a violation of the Middle Kingdom’s laws. The importation of opium, something the British had been smuggling into China well before the arrival of Napier, was also illegal, and he ensured that it continued. » More

Interview – A Window into the Life and Mind of Mary Kaldor

A member of the Spanish contingent of peacekeepers in a devastated street in Mostar. Image: legio09/Flickr

This interview was originally published by Strife.

Mary Kaldor is Professor of Global Governance at the London School of Economics and Political Science. She is best known for her seminal work ‘New and Old Wars: Organised Violence in a Global Era’, now in its third edition. Professor Kaldor was interviewed for Strife by Melanie Daugherty. » More

Artillery Returns to the Battlefield in the War against ISIL

152-mm howitzer 2A65 «Msta-B» in Saint-Petersburg Artillery museum

This article was originally published by War on the Rocks on 11 January 2016.

Amid Russian air and cruise missile strikes, civilian casualties, proposed no-fly zones, air-to-air shoot-downs, and new surface-to-air missiles in Syria, relatively few news stories have discussed the introduction of Russian artillery into the theater. Though the introduction of artillery may seem less significant than aerial attacks, remember that Napoleon observed: “With artillery, war is made.” By reintroducing artillery to Syria to support combined arms operations, the Russians may have revealed something about the war they and the Syrians envision. Together with increased air attacks, the Syrians and their Russian advisors seek to revitalize combined arms forces, and artillery is critical to their vision of such forces. Artillery is particularly important for offensive operations, providing a continuous presence that current Russian air deployments cannot sustain. The Syrian ground forces are now taking and holding ground, fighting urban and village battles where they must, but posing a threat of encirclement and maneuver where they can.

The Syrian military was once a large, well-equipped, Soviet-model Arab army capable of executing combined arms operations. While not often victorious, it was usually competent. The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) was not then the principal internal guarantor of Bashar al-Assad’s regime — that was the responsibility of other military and security organizations. Primarily oriented against Israel, the conscript-based SAA drew on all sects and functioned as a key secular institution of a largely secular state.

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International Law and the Changing Face of Conflict

Global Justice and International Law. Image: geralt/Pixabay

On 20 May 2015, the ISN hosted an Evening Talk on “International Law and the Changing Face of Conflict,” which featured the University of Notre Dame’s Dr. Tanisha Fazal, who is an Associate Professor of Political Science and Peace Studies there. Today, we feature 1) her presentation on the proliferation of international humanitarian law (IHL) and its unintended consequences, and 2) highlights from the subsequent questions and answers session, which was moderated by the ISN’s Peter Faber. » More

Deciphering Sun Tzu: How to Read “The Art of War”

Sun Tzu. Frank Williams /Wikimedia Commons

This article was originally published by LSE Review of Books on 10 January 2015.

“As yin and yang are at once interconnected, interpenetrating, and interdependent in an uninterrupted manner, the polarity of the situation essentially rests in them (or the yin-yang continuum).” (p. 16)

Whenever an individual undergoes a new experience there is a point that is known as the light bulb moment. This occurs when the individual moves from participating in an experience to understanding the experience. In other words, a richer and deeper involvement is gained post-light bulb moment. It is likely that reading Deciphering Sun Tzu: How to Read the Art of War by Derek Yuen is very much a light bulb moment for commentators on Western strategic thought, as the quote at the start of this review highlights the secret of the Chinese dialectical system and why it is predisposed to strategic thinking. » More

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