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10 Takeaways from the Fight against the Islamic State

Image courtesy of DMA Army -Soldiers/Flickr. (CC BY-NC 2.0)

This article was originally published by War on the Rocks on 12 March 2018.

Nearly three years on from the Islamic State’s high water mark in the summer of 2015, there are several lessons that the United States and its allies can discern from the terrorist group’s meteoric rise to control large parts of Iraq and Syria to the loss of its physical caliphate late last year. The steady decline in ISIL’s fortunes is striking given the palpable fear its rise in the summer of 2014 sparked across Washington, when a common question circulating within the policy community was whether Baghdad itself might fall. Many of these takeaways will be relevant to U.S. policymakers as they attempt to prevent the group from reconstituting itself in the coming months.
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Too Close for Comfort: European Geostrategy and the Transatlantic Alliance

Image courtesy of the European Council President/Flickr. (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

The question for Europe now is whether it needs to de-couple its strategy toward regional great powers from that of the United States.

Geopolitical competition has made a roaring come back in recent years. Russian President Vladimir Putin, always on the cutting edge of new fads, welcomed the new era with flair last week by introducing an entire new generation of nuclear weapons aimed at the United States.

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Salvaging Trump’s Legacy in Europe: Fixing NATO Burden-Sharing

Image courtesy of NATO North Atlantic Treaty Organization/Flickr. (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

This article was originally published by War on the Rocks on 26 February 2018.

Europe has been in the news plenty recently, with the NATO Defense Ministerial, the Munich Security Conference, and senior Trump administration officials fanning out across Europe to represent the president at these august gatherings. The unifying theme in most of these meetings was allied progress in reaching the NATO goal of spending 2 percent of GDP on defense — the Trump administration’s litmus test in gauging an ally’s commitment to NATO and determining America’s reciprocal commitment to that ally. The 2 percent goal was agreed to in 2014 at NATO’s Wales Summit. A Trumpian twist was delivered by Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis at his first NATO defense ministerial: “If your nations do not want to see America moderate its commitment to this alliance, each of your capitals needs to show support for our common defense.” In the words of the New York Times, “… NATO Allies to Spend More, or Else.”

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The 2018 Nuclear Posture Review: Signaling Restraint with Stipulations

Image courtesy of US Air Force.

This article was originally published by the Foreign Policy Research Institute (FPRI) on 1 February 2018.

The 2018 Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) is a thoughtful, deliberative report that captures the big strategic issues facing the United States in the area of nuclear force structure.[1] This is surprising and welcome in my view. The previous two NPRs, in 2002 and 2010 respectively, were ideological tracts with little policy analysis of the strategic issues facing the United States. This one is different.

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In Praise of NATO’s Dysfunctional, Bureaucratic Tedium

Image courtesy of Websubs/Pixabay.

This article was originally published by War on the Rocks on 7 November 2017.

A year after Donald Trump’s election to the presidency, the furor around his approach to transatlantic security has predictably calmed. Part of the reason is saturation. Like antibiotics, provocation of one’s allies loses its potency when used excessively. Part of the reason is that the president has found a more willing and compelling foil, in the form of Kim Jong Un, than those buttoned-up European leaders he accuses of freeloading. Certainly, part of the reason includes the administration’s Russia-related scandals and Robert Mueller’s investigation. The president’s hostility toward NATO has always felt more like a sop to Moscow than a matter of principle and thus not a good look with indictments swirling.

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