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Preview: - Defense/Homeland Security - Defense and Security

A nonpartisan resource for information and analysis

Published: Tue, 16 May 2017 09:00:03 -0400

Last Build Date: Tue, 16 May 2017 09:00:03 -0400

Copyright: Copyright 2017 by the Council on Foreign Relations. All Rights Reserved.

Trump's Bluff on North Korea Will Not Work

Tue, 16 May 2017 15:03:27 -0400

Writing in the Nikkei Asian Review, Philip Gordon argues that Trump’s approach to North Korea is unlikely to work—and could come back to haunt him.


Will FBI Sacking Affect National Security?

Wed, 10 May 2017 13:29:02 -0400

The dismissal of FBI Director James Comey raises concerns about the government’s ability to investigate Russian meddling in U.S. elections, and the broader national security role of the agency, says CFR’s Matthew Waxman.


Russiagate: Trump Is Trying to Put Out a Fire With More Smoke

Mon, 08 May 2017 12:55:19 -0400

There’s a lot we know—and even more we don’t know—regarding the Kremlin interference in the U.S. election last year. The most important thing we know is that there was interference. This is the consensus, “high confidence” assessment of the U.S. intelligence community, which further concluded that Russian President Vladimir Putin was trying to hurt Hillary Clinton and help Donald Trump. That in and of itself is scandalous enough. What we don’t know—and need to find out—is whether the Trump campaign actively colluded with this Russian operation and, more broadly, what links if any exist between the U.S. president and the dictator in the Kremlin.


Uncertainty Among U.S. Allies in Northeast Asia

Mon, 08 May 2017 11:44:01 -0400

As tensions in Northeast Asia grow over Pyongyang’s nuclear pursuits, collective action is the only way to bring stability to the region, writes CFR’s Sheila A. Smith. 


Adrift in Afghanistan

Wed, 03 May 2017 15:50:54 -0400

As the war in Afghanistan drifts back into the public spotlight, Senior Fellow Gayle Tzemach Lemmon argues that five “urgent questions must be answered about the near- and long-term future of the fight.” The United States must clarify its definition of stability and success in Afghanistan, determine whether the Taliban, ISIS, or both is the enemy, discuss how many troops are needed on the ground, and create plans for stemming the loss of life among Afghan forces and for bringing an end to the war. 


The World’s Hotspots

Tue, 25 Apr 2017 15:39:53 -0400

Experts discuss the most important flashpoints in international affairs for the current administration.


The Future of the Middle East

Thu, 20 Apr 2017 18:00:47 -0400

Philip H. Gordon, Farah Pandith, and James M. Lindsay discuss the future of the Middle East.


Governing Cyberspace

Thu, 20 Apr 2017 15:00:30 -0400

Adam Segal discusses the increasingly contentious geopolitics of cyberspace and cybersecurity policies.


Media Files:

"Mother of All Bombs" Reminds Us That America Is Still at War in Afghanistan

Fri, 14 Apr 2017 13:48:35 -0400

In the wake of the “mother of all bombs,” Gayle Tzemach Lemmon argues that the war in Afghanistan requires greater national attention, discussion, understanding, and strategy. 


Sound and Fury

Fri, 14 Apr 2017 11:49:20 -0400

The dropping of the Mother of All Bombs in Afghanistan shouldn’t be cause for unseemly celebration; instead it should be taken as a sign that the war in Afghanistan isn't going well.


Four Good Reasons to Care About Ukraine

Thu, 13 Apr 2017 08:21:44 -0400

It is important that President Vladimir Putin not conclude that continued use of force is a viable path to make Russia great again, writes CFR's Richard N. Haass.


Small Footprint, Small Payoff

Wed, 12 Apr 2017 14:38:15 -0400

Stephen Biddle, Julia McDonald, and Ryan Baker argue that training, equipping, and advising partner militaries is an increasingly popular alternative to large U.S. ground force deployments in places like Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Ukraine, and many other places where the United States has real but limited interests at stake. Yet SFA has often yielded disappointing results in actual practice. The authors explain this pattern as the result of systematic interest misalignment between the United States and the partners it must work with in these kinds of missions—and argue that these problems are only partly remediable. The authors present ways to do better at the margin, but also argue that underlying interest misalignment will limit this tool's likely utility in the future, and that U.S. decision makers must take this into account when deciding when, where, and how to use it. 


North Korea's Nuclear Weapons Program

Tue, 11 Apr 2017 14:36:29 -0400

George Perkovich, Vice President for Studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, joins CFR's James M. Lindsay and Robert McMahon in examining President Donald J. Trump's options on North Korea's nuclear weapons program.


Media Files:

The Impact of the Iran Nuclear Agreement

Tue, 11 Apr 2017 11:14:57 -0400

Iran has restricted its nuclear program and given international inspectors unprecedented access, but it has not seen the economy recovery expected in the aftermath of the agreement with international powers.


The Trump Doctrine Was Written By CNN

Mon, 10 Apr 2017 16:44:06 -0400

Far from decisive, Trump’s decision to fire cruise missiles against a single air base in Syria was reminiscent of the kind of low-risk cruise missile attacks that Republicans have mocked in the past for their symbolic, ineffectual nature. While it is a good thing Trump did act, it is hard to know what larger lessons about U.S. policy in the world or in Syria itself one can draw from this decision. The Trump doctrine appears to be: The United States reserves the right to use force whenever the president is upset by something he sees on TV.


Trump’s Humanitarian Intervention in Syria Is Just Getting Started

Sun, 09 Apr 2017 16:23:32 -0400

But the president might be the last to know it.


Reducing Tensions Between Russia and NATO

Fri, 07 Apr 2017 16:33:49 -0400

Tensions between Russia and NATO are high, making escalatory rhetoric, dangerous military encounters, and conflict frighteningly real. Please join us for a discussion on a new approach to U.S. policy toward Russia, with speakers Kimberly Marten, Ann Whitney Olin professor of political science at Barnard College, and Ambassador Alexander R. Vershbow, distinguished fellow at the Atlantic Council.


Will Syria Yield to the Chemical Weapons Ban?

Fri, 07 Apr 2017 16:28:57 -0400

Syria's breach of its treaty obligations has led to broad international support for U.S. military action, says CFR's Lori Esposito Murray.


Is Trump Wagging the Dog in Syria?

Fri, 07 Apr 2017 16:06:12 -0400

Writing in Politico, Philip Gordon asks whether Donald Trump has really changed his mind about Syria, or if he is just looking to distract attention from controversies at home.


Trump’s Appetite for Risk Spells Trouble for U.S. National Security

Fri, 07 Apr 2017 16:00:00 -0400

Thursday night’s cruise missile attack on a Syrian airbase will be much debated in coming weeks. Critics will cite the danger of escalation or of ensnarement in a quagmire.


The Strike At Syria

Fri, 07 Apr 2017 11:42:58 -0400

The American strike on Syria shows President Trump in two new roles: as Commander in Chief, and far more surprisingly as Leader of the Free World. Elliott Abrams explains why in the Weekly Standard.


'It Was High Time'

Fri, 07 Apr 2017 11:05:54 -0400

The right move, if the wrong president, for Obama's internal critics who wanted air strikes in Syria for three years.


Welcome to Syria, President Trump: Years of Rational Policy Led to This Horror, and There’s No Easy Way Out

Fri, 07 Apr 2017 09:24:38 -0400

If the war Obama and the Pentagon struggled to avoid is now upon us, it's likely to make a bad situation worse


Forget the Subs: What Taipei Can Learn From Tehran About Asymmetric Defense

Thu, 06 Apr 2017 12:59:33 -0400

Ahead of the Donald Trump-Xi Jinping summit this week at Mar-a-Lago, Taiwan is understandably anxious. Trump’s ascendance to the American presidency has injected uncertainty into the U.S. approach to China and Taiwan — an element of foreign policy that is traditionally carefully calibrated to avoid upsetting the precarious cross-strait arrangement.


Syria’s Assad Must Pay a Price for Using Chemical Weapons

Thu, 06 Apr 2017 12:44:30 -0400

The United States and its allies have a rare second chance to punish Syria for attacking civilians with chemical weapons or else risk the further weakening of global norms against the use of weapons of mass destruction, writes CFR President Richard N. Haass.


What Was the Legal Basis for the U.S. Air Strikes Against Syria?

Thu, 06 Apr 2017 09:28:07 -0400

The United States has just launched a missile attack against Syrian air bases, apparently in response to the Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons against Syrian civilians.  (The attack apparently was launched in the middle of President Trump's dinner with Chinese President Xi, and is not likely to make the Chinese very happy.) 


Don’t Let the Pentagon Monopolize Nuclear Policy

Mon, 03 Apr 2017 12:10:29 -0400

The Trump administration has commenced its Nuclear Posture Review with the Department of Defense taking the lead. Experts from the Departments of State and Energy must be included in this process, argues CFR’s Rebecca Lissner.


A Cyberattack on the U.S. Power Grid

Mon, 03 Apr 2017 10:00:53 -0400

Carrying out a cyberattack that successfully disrupts grid operations would be extremely difficult but not impossible. The United States should take measures to prevent a cyberattack on its power grid and mitigate the potential harm should preventive efforts fail.


Hard Power’s Essential Soft Side

Thu, 30 Mar 2017 16:03:07 -0400

President Trump’s proposal to build up the military while slashing funds for diplomacy and foreign assistance misses how “soft power” can advance the national interest, says Joseph S. Nye, who coined the term.


Why Didn’t the U.S. React More Forcefully to the DNC Hacking?

Wed, 29 Mar 2017 11:09:53 -0400

In an election decided by just 70,000 votes in three states, it is hard to dismiss the possibility that the Russian intervention could, in fact, have tilted the outcome. That would make this the most consequential computer hack in history, but was it an act of war?