The Legal Legacy of Light-Footprint Warfare

by Jack Goldsmith and Matthew Waxman
The expanded use of light-footprint warfare–including drones, cyber-operations, and Special Operations Forces–has established precedents constituting a remarkable legacy of presidential power to use military force, posing a distinctive challenge to U.S. democracy and military strategy ahead.

Ten Myths About the 2011 Intervention in Libya

by Jean-Baptiste Jeangène Vilmer
Libya is still undergoing a violent post-Gaddafi transition, with criticisms of the 2011 international military intervention becoming increasingly vocal. Some are justified, but a French policy planning adviser responds to ten other common criticisms, and the myths upon which they are based, to help reassess further Western assistance to Libya.

The Syrian Refugee Crisis: Bad and Worse Options

by Daniel Byman and Sloane Speakman
The Syrian refugee crisis has reached epic proportions and is not likely to abate on its own. These five flawed policy options, ranging from bad to worse, show there is no easy answer, but in the end, doing nothing is morally and strategically the worst option going forward.

Drawing the Line: Combating Atrocities in North Korea

by Jung-Hoon Lee and Joe Phillips
A 2014 UN report has given rise to a new strategy, reflected in the March 2016 sanctions: embracing human rights as an effective tool, not a distraction, in reducing North Korea’s security threat and, eventually, increasing the chances of Korean unification. The next step–enforcement–could follow one of at least four different channels.

Does Russian Propaganda Work?

by Theodore P. Gerber and Jane Zavisca
Since the onset of the Ukraine crisis, the Russian government has stepped up its propaganda demonizing the Euro-Atlantic alliance and challenging its key goals. But is it effective? A new survey conducted by the authors in four countries shows it is a force to be reckoned with, but has achieved mixed results, even in Russia itself.

The Elected but Neglected Security Council Members

by John Langmore and Ramesh Thakur
Most attention on UN reforms has focused on the Security Council’s five permanent members and failed. A potentially fruitful area might be to identify improvements in the numbers, terms, selection process, and roles of the ten elected members (E10).


SUMMER 2016  |  Volume 39  |  Number 2

Salman’s Succession: Challenges to Stability in Saudi Arabia

by Stig Stenslie
In January 2015, King Abdullah died and his half-brother, Salman, became king. Three months later, King Salman sparked an apparent succession crisis, reshuffling his own son, Muhammad bin Salman, to be deputy crown prince. In a country that does not follow primogeniture, is the battle among “third-generation princes” for the House of Saud’s future already on?

The Arab Shi‘a Nexus: Understanding Iran’s Influence in the Arab World

by Jill Ricotta
With Shia-Sunni tensions escalating and the official January 2016 breakdown of Iran-Saudi Arabia relations, Arab Shi‘a are left in a precarious state. Marginalized and disillusioned, they are often driven toward Iran by the self-fulfilling prophecies of the United States and others, fueling a deadly sectarian cycle.

Yemen: An Opportunity for Iran-Saudi Dialogue?

by Dina Esfandiary and Ariane Tabatabai
To begin to work to stabilize a region on the verge of collapse, Iran and Saudi Arabia need to find common ground: Yemen is the area of overlap. It is a high priority for Riyadh and low for Tehran, which can and is willing to compromise.

Behind the Headlines

After TPP: the Geopolitics of Asia and the Pacific

by Michael J. Green and Matthew P. Goodman
Trade has always defined order and power in the Asia-Pacific. The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), while not perfect, can help positively shape regional order, the balance of power, and a rising China, and ultimately help sustain the post-war US-led global order itself.

The Weaponization of Water in Syria and Iraq

by Marcus DuBois King
Original research shows that water scarcity has been a driver of conflict in Syria and Iraq. In fact, the use of water in warfare is likely to become an even greater factor unless countervailing strategies are designed and implemented by states committed to defeating the Islamic State and other extremists.

Has U.S. China Policy Failed?

by Harry Harding
The United States is immersed in its most intense China policy debate in decades, which will almost certainly get more heated and public in 2016. For a variety of reasons, reviewed here, dissatisfaction with China’s domestic and international evolution has become widespread as has pessimism about the future of U.S.–China relations, leading to a growing debate over three broad ways to revise U.S. policy.

Great Expectations: Iran after the Deal

by Mehdi Khalaji
Iran’s policy toward nuclear talks changed not because of Rouhani’s election in 2013, but because of Supreme Leader Khamenei in 2011. Yet the future of that agreement, whose significance in Iran is comparable to the 1987 ceasefire with Iraq, depends on continuing political will, which could be disrupted by at least three factors inside Iran.

Escaping the Civil War Trap in the Middle East

by Kenneth M. Pollack and Barbara F. Walter
U.S. strategy for the Middle East must start with its civil wars in Yemen, Libya, Iraq, and Syria. Thankfully, a well-developed body of historically-grounded scholarly work on civil wars tells us much about what causes them to break out, spread, and what helps end them. It is a widely assumed myth to argue that outside powers can’t help. Here’s how they can...

Who Lost Russia (This Time)? Vladimir Putin

by Kathryn Stoner and Michael McFaul
Neither a ‘‘too soft’’ nor ‘‘too hard’’ U.S. approach to Russia explains the recent return to a bilateral Cold War confrontation, nor was it an inevitable Russian policy. Instead, it is Vladimir Putin’s unique response to Russian domestic political and economic upheaval.

Nuclear Strategies of Emerging Nuclear Powers: North Korea and Iran

by Vipin Narang
Regional nuclear powers have made very different nuclear strategy choices than the Cold War superpowers did. Historically, these different strategies have been associated with distinct types of risk. Which nuclear strategies might North Korea and Iran adopt? The answer should affect the policy choices we make.