Provocations

The Rise and Fall of the Unipolar Concert

by Thomas Wright
For a generation, U.S. strategic thinking has been shaped by a Unipolar Concert—the accumulation of U.S. power and remarkable absence of major power counter-balancing or revisionism. Unfortunately, many U.S. strategists have failed to recognize that the Unipolar Concert has ended, along with the return of geopolitical competition and a significant U.S. strategic challenge.

The German Moment in a Fragile World

by Thomas Bagger
As Germany undergoes an intense process of reflection about its own role in the world, its Foreign Ministry’s policy planning director identifies four elements explaining its recent success and explores four fundamental challenges it should address to sustain the ‘‘German moment.’’

Five Bad Options for Gaza

by Daniel Byman
The latest war in Gaza is over, but it will not be the last. The problem with current Israeli and international policy is there is no end state beyond repeated conflict. Now is a good time to consider alternatives, including these four, that could break the cycle of provocation, response, and war.

The Misunderstood Lessons of Bosnia for Syria

by Andrew Radin
Lessons from Bosnia have heavily influenced the thinking of a generation of analysts and policymakers, leading them to be applied in Kosovo, Iraq, Libya, and most recently Syria. Two of the three lessons commonly drawn from Bosnia, however, are wrong.

Mimicking Democracy to Prolong Autocracies

by Andrea Kendall-Taylor and Erica Frantz
Political dynamics in autocracies have shifted over the last generation, resulting in dictatorships that are simply more durable. Why? Ironically, authoritarian incumbents have learned to more effectively manipulate democratic institutions such as elections, political parties, and legislatures to prolong their own power.

Is the Pivot Doomed? The Resilience of America’s Strategic ‘Rebalance’

by Scott W. Harold
The demise of the U.S. rebalance toward Asia has been widely, albeit erroneously, predicted. The reality is that the strategy is very likely to survive not only for the remainder of the Obama administration, but for years and even decades to come.

India—Pakistan Relations: Does Modi Matter?

by Frederic Grare
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Sharif now has a diplomatic opportunity for substantial rapprochement with a new Indian government, but does he have the governing capacity to take it? Three key bilateral issues will provide a barometer whether Pakistan’s dysfunctional political-military relations, as well as India—Pakistan relations, can improve in the years to come.

HOW IS CHINA CHANGING?

Winter 2015 | Volume 37 | Number 4

China: The Post-Responsible Power

by Yong Deng
Something profound has occurred in Chinese foreign policy. For the last decade or so, Beijing has abandoned the global frame of reference of being a ‘‘responsible power.’’ And therein lies the challenge: if not as a responsible power, on what terms will China seek to engage the international community and redistribute global power and authority?

The Sources of Chinese Conduct: Explaining Beijing’s Assertiveness

by Aaron L. Friedberg
Why, starting around 2009, does Beijing seem to have shifted toward more forceful or ‘‘assertive’’ behavior? Far from being over, the era of Chinese assertiveness appears to be entering a new, more complex, and potentially more challenging phase.

Why Chinese Assertiveness is Here to Stay

by Oriana Skylar Mastro
China’s reliance on coercion over maritime disputes is here to stay for the foreseeable future because it is part of its anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) strategy, and Beijing believes it is working. To maintain stability, U.S. strategy needs to adjust in at least three conceptual ways.

Projecting Strategy: The Myth of Chinese Counter-intervention

by M. Taylor Fravel and Christopher P. Twomey
Increasingly, China is described as pursuing a ‘‘counterintervention’’ strategy to forestall the U.S. ability to operate in a regional conflict. Yet, China does not actually use the term to describe its own strategy. Doing so overstates the U.S. role in Chinese military planning and exacerbates the security dilemma.

 

Behind the Headlines

Afghanistan’s Legacy: Emerging Lessons of an Ongoing War

by Stephen Biddle
In an important sense, emerging debates on the war’s lessons are premature. The war in Afghanistan is not over; nor is it ending anytime soon. Nevertheless, before conventional wisdom consolidates, two observations on counterinsurgency are worth considering now: whether it can work and how to approach governance reform.

China’s Free Trade Agreement Strategies

by Guoyou Song and Wen Jin Yuan
Many in China fear that the United States’ Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) framework seeks to coopt or destroy regional economic cooperation, leading Beijing to devise strategies to respond, including constructing its own regional web of FTAs or even joining TPP itself.

Rebalancing to Asia with an Insecure China

Ely Ratner
The U.S. shift toward Asia should and will continue, but Washington must both account for an insecure China for rebalancing to achieve its intended aims and must sustain its commitment to intensive high-level engagement with Beijing to cope with inevitable crises.

Unlocking the Alawite Conundrum in Syria

by Jomana Qaddour
Alawites surely recognize that their long-term interests do not lie with the Assad regime, but they are frightened by the precedent set by de-Ba’athification in Iraq. The opposition and international community must acknowledge four major issues to help assuage their concerns and construct a post-Assad Syrian state.

Prague as the Nonproliferation Pivot

by C. Raja Mohan
The Prague Agenda was the last gasp of arms control theology from another era. Washington must recognize that the rest of the world does not view WMD proliferation in as dire terms as it does, while nonproliferation will have to come to terms with the new constraints on the exercise of U.S. power.

Sifting through Interdependence

by Thomas Wright
States have increasingly begun to hedge against the risks and volatility of interdependence. With these efforts likely to accelerate over the next decade, how should integration and interdependence be strategically managed--encouraging positive elements like trade ties while mitigating negative ones--to help produce a stronger and more sustainable international order?