Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Strategic Insights, Winter 2009/2010

The new (Winter 2009/10) issue of Strategic Insights is out.

A special edition on Extended Deterrence, Security Guarantees and Nuclear Proliferation (with a focus on strategic stability in the Gulf region), this section begins with an introduction by guest editors Daniel J. Moran and James Russell, and five feature articles offering different takes on the subject, including Russell again on "Extended Deterrence, Security Guarantees and Nuclear Weapons: U.S. Strategic and Policy Conundrums in the Gulf," James Acton on "Extended Deterrence and Communicating Resolve" (in which he scrutinizes the received wisdom regarding, among other things, the role of nuclear-armed Tomahawks in American deterrence, and the reasons commonly given for why the U.S. could not make really deep cuts in its nuclear arsenal), Bruno Tertrais's "Security Guarantees and Extended Deterrence in the Gulf Region: A European Perspective" (which puts France's new relationship with Abu Dhabi in context), Shahram Chubin's "Extended Deterrence and Iran," and Lewis A. Dunn's "Strategic Reassurance if Iran 'Goes Nuclear': A Framework and Some Propositions."

There are also four articles in the Forum, in which Sergey Smolnikov discusses the revitalization of European foreign and security policy; Captain Russell J. Isaacs discusses Al-Qaida's North African "franchise," Al-Qaida of the Islamic Maghrib; Major Shon A. McCormick and David A. Anderson search for an empirical relationship between economic and political freedom (so often simplistically linked though the evidence they examine suggests a more complex picture); and James E. McGinley revisits the issue of whether the presence of oil resources can be correlated with armed conflict. (For me the biggest surprise here was McGinley's study, which "failed to confirm the propositions that abundant oil resources may attract armed conflict and that oil resource deficits may compel participation in armed conflict abroad," in contrast with the work of researchers like Paul Collier, whose work I cited in my own writing on the issue of energy and conflict. This seems to fly in the face of the evidence-personally, I remain sold on the view taken by writers like Collier and Michael Klare-but the author makes no claim that this means energy resources are irrelevant to the likelihood of warfare, suggesting, rather, that the mechanisms by which conflict turns into warfare of this type require more study.)

The two-article Viewpoint section shifts the emphasis to East Asia, Sico Van Der Meer discussing four scenarios for a post-Kim Jong Il North Korea, while Peter A. Coclanis examines the situation in Myanmar.

Finally, there is my review of Peter Singer's Wired for War, his book on the robotics revolution and warfare which attracted so much attention earlier this year, extending to an appearance on The Daily Show. (Those interested in the book can also check out the review that ran in the current edition of Parameters, which is available here.)

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