As U.S. leadership of the international order fades, more countries are seeking to bolster their influence by meddling in foreign conflicts. In this new era of limit testing, Crisis Group’s President Robert Malley lists the Ten Conflicts to Watch in 2019.
Since the close of the Second World War the United States has retained a significant ground force presence in Europe to defend against Russian aggression. While laudable during the halcyon days of the Soviet Empire, it is past time for this anachronistic policy to end. Europe now has the unrealized economic and political capacity to overmatch a weakened Moscow that can only provoke with economic and informational warfare while accosting weak states along its borders. In the 21st century, the United States Army should accordingly adopt a more dynamic strategy for how it contributes to European security and would join a potential, though improbable, NATO war to defeat Russia.
On Wednesday, the White House announced that it will “fully” and “rapidly” withdraw the U.S. military presence in Syria, where approximately 2,000 U.S. troops have been stationed in the northeastern, Kurdish-controlled part of the country, near its border with Turkey. USIP’s Mona Yacoubian examines the implications of the troop withdrawal and its broader impact on the Syria conflict.
What will advances in artificial intelligence (AI) mean for national security? This year in War on the Rocks, technical and non-technical experts with academic, military, and industry perspectives grappled with the promise and peril of AI in the military and defense realms. War on the Rocks articles discussed issues ranging from the different ways international competitors and military services are pursuing AI to the challenges AI applications present to current systems of decision-making, trust, and military ethics. War on the Rocks contributors added to our understanding of the trajectory of military AI and drew attention to critical remaining questions. A key takeaway is that technical developments in AI probably represent less than half the battle in attempting to effectively integrate AI capabilities into militaries. The real challenge now, both in the United States and abroad, is going beyond the hype and getting the right people, organizations, processes, and safeguards in place.
Russia will present the expected withdrawal of the United States from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Elimination Treaty (INF) as a step forcing a military response from Moscow. Even if the Russian Federation were to violate the INF by deploying new cruise missiles with a range greater than 500 km, the U.S. withdrawal from the treaty creates opportunity to blur responsibility. In the event of divided opinions within NATO, Russia’s position in arms control might be stronger vis-à-vis Europe and, indirectly, the United States. Moreover, Russia will continue expansion of its arsenal of ground-launched missiles.