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Presenting the Winter 2013 Issue of Orbis

Presenting the Winter 2013 Issue of Orbis

December 20, 2012

by Mackubin T. Owens


Mackubin “Mac” Owens is Editor of Orbis, FPRI’s quarterly journal of international affairs, and Senior Fellow at its Program on National Security. He is also Professor of National Security Affairs at the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island. He served as a Marine infantry platoon commander in Vietnam (1968-69), where he was twice wounded and awarded the Silver Star medal. He retired from the Marine Corps Reserve as a Colonel in 1994. Dr. Owens earned his Ph.D. from the University of Dallas. He is co-editor of the textbook Strategy and Force Planning, now in its fourth edition, and author of  Abraham Lincoln: Leadership and Democratic Statesmanship in Wartime (FPRI E-Book, 2009) and U.S. Civil-Military Relations After 9/11 (2011). The report below is taken from his introduction to the current issue of Orbis. To access articles from Orbis, visit: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/journal/00304387

In These Pages:

This past October marked the 50th anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis. Arthur Cyr offers a retrospective on this event, detailing the way that the crisis led to changes in strategic policies on the part of the United States and the Soviet Union, critiquing earlier analyses, and discussing the lessons that bear on international relations.

Our first article cluster focuses on U.S. strategy. Kicking things off, Frank Hoffman argues on behalf of a “hybrid” U.S. grand strategy he calls “forward partnering.” This strategic approach, he contends, addresses key shortfalls in strategic priorities and creates synergy among the components of American power. James Cook then examines President Obama’s 2012 Strategy Review as a case study in attempting to balance strategic goals, resources, and risk. Finally, Lani Kass and “Jack” London take a close look at the strategic imperatives of surprise, deception, denial, and warning, arguing that decision superiority—the fusion of information dominance and decisive action—is a key to strategic success.

Next, June Teufel Dreyer discusses the implications of China’s rapid rise in economic and military power for the United States and its closest ally in the post-World War II era— Japan. She predicts that in the absence of marked changes in the current distribution of power, Washington will have to deal with China as an equal while Japan will try to placate both sides even as it remains closer to the United States.

Turning to Europe, Leslie Lebl argues that the European Union’s self-image as a successful model of “post-national” politics and fact, undermined Europe and made it vulnerable to attack by Islamist organizations both within Europe—the Muslim Brotherhood—and without—the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). She contends that these organizations do not speak for all Muslims and should not be allowed to usurp that role; neither the EU nor the United States should defer to them.

Our second article cluster offers three interesting perspectives on the Middle East. Boaz Ganor examines the relationship between Israel and Hamas, concluding that Israel must prepare for the possibility of being dragged, against its will, into a ground operation against Hamas in Gaza, which in turn may lead to a regional war of some magnitude. Next, Yoel Guzansky and Benedetta Berti shed new light on the various uprisings that have been termed the “Arab Spring,” arguing that an unintended outcome of these uprisings has been to unleash preexisting sectarian identities. Despite the hopes of optimists, the release of these identities may well lead to renewed socio-political instability, especially to the extent that they are subsumed into the larger geostrategic and political struggle between Iran and its “Resistance Axis,” on the one hand, and Saudi Arabia and its Sunni allies, on the other.

In the last article of the cluster, Mehran Karmrava examines the way in which Saudi Arabia has positioned itself as one of the primary mediators in some of the Middle East’s most intractable conflicts. Although those efforts have seldom been successful, they have enabled the Kingdom to advance its twin objectives of ensuring and furthering state and regime security, while also playing a central coordinating role in regional affairs.

Finally, as the United States has begun discussions with the Taliban in Afghanistan, Dominic Tierney looks for lessons from the American experience of simultaneously fighting and negotiating in the Korean and Vietnam Wars.

In our review essay, J. Furman Daniel, III, examines three recent books about the outbreak of World War I, which, he argues, illustrate how much there is to learn from new scholarship on that conflict and why theorists and policymakers alike would be wise to take note.