A Eulogy for the Two-War Construct

by Jim Mitre
The Executive Director of the 2018 U.S. National Defense Strategy contends that the concept that has guided the U.S. military for a generation–the two-war construct, or the ability to fight two simultaneous wars against regional powers–is no longer the central basis to evaluate the potential performance of the U.S. military.

The Lost Art of Long-Term Competition

by Hal Brands
Deeply versed in the challenges of long-term competition during the Cold War, the United States has had the luxury of neglecting this competency for more than a generation. Washington must reacquaint itself with 12 bedrock principles of long-term competition if it hopes to succeed in the geopolitical rivalries playing out today.

The World According to Germany: Reassessing 1989

by Thomas Bagger
A career diplomat argues that Germany is more fundamentally challenged than others by the recent turn in international affairs because of its optimism since 1989. Now, a wide-ranging debate on future German foreign policy is only just beginning with Berlin’s answer potentially determining the fate of the European project.

Should the United States Fear China’s Rise?

by Joshua Shifrinson
In the grand scheme of power shifts, concerns over China’s rise are overblown. China is far from issuing an outright challenge to the United States and is likely to continue avoiding one for some time. U.S. strategists need to recognize that an overly assertive response to China’s rise is counterproductive.

Alliances and Nuclear Proliferation in the Trump Era

by Alexander Lanoszka
Donald Trump appears to have intensified the danger of U.S. allies wanting their own nuclear weapons, but such concerns are exaggerated. U.S. alliances are more resilient than commonly presumed with actual force deployments, which don’t appear to be changing any time soon, mattering more than rhetoric to make security guarantees adequate for the foreseeable future.

The Long-Term Basis for a U.S.-Korea Alliance

by Michael O’Hanlon
Are U.S. alliances permanent elements of the global security architecture or temporary phenomena? Although there are reasons to question U.S. alliances’ indefinite continuation, the U.S.-Korea alliance remains desirable for four reasons, with two possible future force structures.

The Future of International Order(s)

by Shiping Tang
When it comes to the future of the international order, we are now in a new Age of Anxiety. The international order will persist, but it will be less West-centric and fragmented. Although the rules will be more contested, that will not necessarily be politically violent or morally bad, but it will be more bottom-up–increasingly built upon regionalization and coordination.


Moon with Pakistan flag

WINTER 2019  |  Volume 41  |  Number 4

Nuclear Emulation: Pakistan’s Nuclear Trajectory

by Sadia Tasleem and Toby Dalton
Pakistan’s nuclear policy is heavily influenced by 1960s NATO flexible response strategy, and has essentially imported its contradictions into Islamabad’s own. The consequences are apparent: emulation has raised serious questions about Pakistan’s “full-spectrum deterrence” credibility, deterrence stability and future measures to manage regional security competition.

Nuclear Ethics? Why Pakistan Has Not Used Nuclear Weapons... Yet

by Sannia Abdullah
The Pakistan Army’s prior reluctance to use nuclear weapons has been neither because of deterrence nor a nuclear taboo, but the absence of military utility so far. Those conditions when Pakistan might determine that a nuclear first-strike has military utility and would be ethically justified, however, are constantly being considered today.

Behind the Headlines

Modi’s Strategic Choice: How to Respond to Terrorism from Pakistan

by George Perkovich and Toby Dalton
How will Indian decision makers deter and/or respond to the next terrorist attack emanating from Pakistan? The odds-on favorite among defense analysts in Delhi is air power. Unfortunately, the attraction of limited, precise air-borne strikes is offset significantly by inadequacies and risks that could even make them counterproductive.

How Strong Is the Nuclear Taboo Today?

by Nina Tannenwald
The author who wrote the classic book revisits the state of the nuclear taboo over ten years later. In a new nuclear era and with the global normative order at risk of unraveling, she asks and answers: How strong is the taboo against the use of nuclear weapons today? How can it be strengthened?

The Day After Trump: American Strategy for a New International Order

by Rebecca Friedman Lissner and Mira Rapp-Hooper
Defending the liberal international order as an end unto itself today is a mistake. Instead, foreign policy strategists must begin to craft a new U.S. grand strategy now. Thoughtful plans for rebuilding new and needed forms of order will require advanced preparation, beginning with reassessing three fundamental assumptions of the extant international order, diagnosing threats from without and within, and designing and defining the limits of a new system.

The Road to Recovery: How Once Great Powers Became Great Again

by Paul K. MacDonald & Joseph M. Parent
After a decade studying transitions over the last century and a half in which a great power loses its economic rank to another, the authors discovered that declining great powers actually recover their former position around 40 percent of the time, but only if policymakers make difficult decisions about foreign policy commitments, military investments and domestic reforms, requiring a fundamental rethinking of American power and priorities today.

Perils of Polarization for U.S. Foreign Policy

by Kenneth A. Schultz
A source of the decline of U.S. standing in the world comes from within: a long-term trend of partisan polarization in American politics which has made it harder for the United States to conduct foreign policy and to wield its diplomatic and military power in the world in four ways. Recognizing these problems may help mitigate their worst effects.

Beijing’s Bismarckian Ghosts: How Great Powers Compete Economically

by Markus Brunnermeier, Rush Doshi and Harold James
Much focus on great power competition is military, but the central battlefield may now be economics. Yet, the twenty-first century United States-China rivalry holds an uncanny resemblance to the nineteenth century Anglo-German one, yielding a useful guide for policymakers to understand four areas of subtle and sophisticated economic competition likely to be employed, beyond the blunt levying of tariffs, and the risks likely to be incurred.

Whither ISIS? Insights from Insurgent Responses to Decline

by Paul Staniland
How will ISIS respond to recent setbacks? By examining fifteen other major insurgent organizations that faced decline, this study suggests that ISIS will likely survive even devastating territorial losses, and identifies three potential trajectories for the organization, and the conditions likely to lead to each.