Commentary

The Eroding Foundation of National Security

Norman R. Augustine

As the United States today faces a major debt crisis, its leaders need to understand the difference between spending for investment and spending for consumption. While the nation will need to do a lot less of the latter, it will need to do a lot more of the former. US national defense depends on maintaining a strong economy, and a strong economy in this age demands prowess in science and engineering which depends on an educated citizenry and investment in research. In both of these foundational areas, the United States is failing.

Feature Article

Limits of the Chinese Antisatellite Threat to the United States

Jaganath Sankaran

The argument that US armed forces are critically dependent on satellites and therefore extremely vulnerable to disruption from Chinese antisatellite (ASAT) attacks is not rooted in evidence. It rests on untested assumptions—primarily, that China would find attacking US military satellites operationally feasible and desirable. This article rejects those assumptions by critically examining the challenges involved in executing an ASAT attack versus the limited potential benefits such action would yield for China. While some US satellites are vulnerable, the limited reach of China’s ballistic missiles and inadequate infrastructure make it infeasible for China to mount extensive ASAT operations necessary to substantially affect US capabilities. Even if China could execute a very complex, difficult ASAT operation, the benefits do not confer decisive military advantage. To dissuade China and demonstrate US resilience against ASAT attacks, the United States must employ technical innovations including space situational awareness, shielding, avoidance, and redundancies. Any coherent plan to dissuade and deter China from employing an ASAT attack must also include negotiations and arms control agreements. While it may not be politically possible to address all Chinese concerns, engaging and addressing some of them is the sensible way to build a stable and cooperative regime in space.

Perspectives

Sino-Russian Relations in a Changing World Order

Paul J. Bolt

The US-Russian-Chinese triangle in Eurasia and the Asia-Pacific Theater is a complicated game which Washington must take into account when formulating policy. While the Chinese-Russian strategic partnership is based on dissatisfaction with a US-led world order and very practical considerations, it is not grounded in a shared long-term positive vision of world order. This may limit it and perhaps even erode it in the long term, as seen in disagreements over energy, weapons sales, and Russia’s annexation of Crimea. This article examines the Chinese-Russian strategic partnership, focusing on the drivers of this relationship as well as its points of friction. It then examines Chinese-Russian interactions in the realms of economics, security, and Central Asia and considers the implications of the Chinese-Russian partnership for the United States. How can the United States best manage this foreign policy triangle? First, it needs to understand the dynamics of this triangle. When the United States supports policies Russia and China oppose, it drives those two states closer together. Second, the United States should, in the long run, encourage better relations between Japan and Russia and between South Korea and Russia. This means encouraging energy exports from Russia to South Korea and Japan and encouraging a resolution of the dispute between Japan and Russia over the Kurile Islands. Third, the time may soon come to press for three-way nuclear negotiations.

Motivated Reasoning in US-China Deterrence and Reassurance: Past, Present, and Future

Erik D French

This article discusses the application of motivated reasoning theory to deterrence and reassurance, explores the role of motivated bias in early US–People’s Republic of China relations, and discusses the implications of motivated bias for contemporary US strategy and the future of the bilateral relationship. In doing so, it highlights the significance of psychological tendencies in sculpting Chinese responses to US diplomatic and military signals and demonstrates how confirming-goals unconsciously determine how Chinese leaders process new information. In light of these tendencies, it advocates a tailored approach to both deterrence and reassurance designed to exploit the vulnerabilities presented by motivated receptivity while circumventing the challenges created by motivated skepticism.

Cold War and Ayatollah Residues: Syria as a Chessboard for Russia, Iran, and the United States

Matthew D. Crosston

Many Western accounts conflate Russian and Iranian support for the Assad regime as purposeful recalcitrance against US policy and interests. More nuanced analysis, however, reveals two agendas not really concerned with the United States: Russia’s support of Syria is motivated by global positioning, while Iran’s support is influenced by concerns for regional hegemony vis-ŕ-vis Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). In both these scenarios, sentiment against US policy is not the engine driving Russian and Iranian strategies. This is indicative of a somewhat myopic Western tendency to lens the agendas of other states through their relative positioning with the United States. In this case, the habit undermines properly understanding two important players in the Syrian crisis and beyond in the Middle East region. The tendency to make itself the sun in a Copernican foreign policy universe handicaps the United States by impairing its diplomatic vision and retarding options for real interaction. This analysis dissects the Russian and Iranian positions from their own perspectives, highlighting the consequences they may have not only on the Assad regime into the future, but on relations between Iran, Russia, and the United States.

Structural Causes and Cyber Effects: Why International Order is Inevitable in Cyberspace

James Wood Forsyth Jr.
Maj Billy E. Pope, USAF

As the distribution of power in the world changes, the structure of international politics will change from unipolarity to multipolarity. This will usher in a period of intense oligopolistic competition, particularly in cyberspace, where the actions of one great power will have a noticeable effect on all the rest. To soften the harsh effects of multipolarity and oligopolistic competition upon cyberspace, the great powers will have no good choice but to cooperate and create rules, norms, and standards of behavior to buttress what will essentially be a new political order—one where its “members willingly participate and agree with the overall orientation of the system.” Since cyberspace is part and parcel of that system, order within it is inevitable. Unhinging the mysteries of cyberspace is merely contingent upon analysts’ abilities to conceptualize the domain in the language of international politics. Should they choose to do so, they might come to realize that the extraordinary problem of cyberspace is but an ordinary one in the life of states.

Book Essay

Europe’s Twentieth Century Wars

Edwina S. Campbell

Five years after V-E Day, there were certainly new ends, including those arising from the Soviet threat, that European statesmen pursued by creating both Atlantic and European institutions. Rapprochement between Bonn and Paris developed in the climate of the Cold War, which determined, not the pursuit of their détente, but many of the specific paths it followed. The initial impetus to reconciliation had been the threat posed to European civilization by a new Franco-German war. As the threat from the Soviet Union began to overshadow that fear, the cultivation of a dialogue between Bonn and Paris took on a new urgency in those capitals, in Washington and in London. But, the Soviet threat alone, although important, was clearly not enough to encourage the kind of lasting rapprochement sought by the two ‘hereditary enemies.

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Why Nations Fight: Past and Future Motives for War
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