Wednesday Reads

Does The US Need To Form New Alliances?
The relationship between the US and Israel is in a state of disarray. Once-solid allies in Europe now question American resolve, while they appear incapable of defining their own security goals. So, asks David Rothkopf of Foreign Policy magazine, does America need to form new alliances?

First, he notes, the majority of the nation’s alliances were forged in the post-World War II era and global events and geopolitics have dramatically changed the shape of international relations.

“The world is changing rapidly. New threats are emerging as are new ways of identifying, managing, and containing those threats. From next-generation technologies empowering cyber and drones and, soon, the autonomous robot armies and air forces that were once the province of science fiction, to new areas where security challenges are likely to involve the interests we share with our allies, from the Arctic to Africa to the human, political, and economic consequences of climate change, alliances require something else. They require reinvention,” suggests Rothkopf.

Meanwhile, Europe is struggling to come to terms with challenges on the continent at a time when chaos in Congress and the rising nations are not Western, but countries like China in the East.

Moving forward, the US should look that direction as an opportunity to build new alliances.

“There are two particularly important countries, with some cultural affinities and connections to the United States, that should be these anchors: Australia and India. One of these relationships — with India — will be much more challenging, but in terms of the potential benefits will be worth whatever effort it takes. India will soon be the world’s most populous nation, is the most important counterbalance to China in Asia and the Middle East, has the world’s fourth-largest navy, and shares many values and interests with the United States,” he writes.

The Limits Of Counterterrorism
After the attacks of September 11, 2001, the focus of the US government was primarily directed on defeating those groups which fostered and fomented terrorism. While the intense attention paid to combatting al Qaeda, Hamas and other groups certainly produced successes, it also blinded security and intelligence officials to “miss threats to broader U.S. interests and underestimate the overall impact of terrorism,” says Lawfare’s David Byman.

According to Byman, the decision by the Obama administration to step back in the Middle East allowed it to concentrated on other hot spots, such as Asia. The lesson to be learned, he believes, is that counterterrorism campaigns have their limits.

Rather than overemphasizing terrorism efforts, Byman reasons it is better to adopt an approach which favors defense institution building and also places conflict resolution above democracy building.

“The United States should devote particular attention to defense institution building (DIB). Too often counterterrorism assistance is seen as a technical capacity issue, when poor governance is usually the root of the problem,” argues Byman, who says Iraq is the best example how democracy-building failed because “a politicized political system quickly rotted out the senior military leadership and then spread to the military as a whole.”

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