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A nation must think before it acts.
Our Summer 2013 edition of Orbis offers articles covering a broad array of issues related to national security. We begin with a cluster of three pieces on the important topic of civil-military relations. In the first article, Heidi Urben examines the attitudes of Army officers in the wake of the long wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. She finds that while officers’ views of civilian leaders and the role of senior military leadership during wartime are generally consistent with findings from a watershed survey by the Triangle Institute for Security Studies (TISS) a decade ago, there have been some nuanced changes. A majority of officers still feel the active duty military should not criticize civilian leaders publicly, but fewer today than was the case in the mid-1990s. She contends that this is a somewhat surprising finding given the poisoned state of civil-military relations that prevailed towards the end of the Clinton Administration, concluding that the findings are indicative of the Army’s experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan.
In the second article of the cluster, Risa Brooks argues that despite the seeming appeal of engaging in public dissent and advocacy, the costs to the most professional military in United States history would be very high. She maintains that retaining an apolitical ethos is fundamental to the American military, not just due to tradition but because public dissent can cause real damage to the military institution and to the country it serves. In the third cluster article, Richard H. Kohn seconds Brooks, contending that it is time for the armed forces to make a concerted effort at all levels of command to increase the level of awareness and the teaching of professional norms.
In this edition, Christopher McKnight Nichols addresses the issue of alleged American “isolationism.” He notes that isolationist sentiments seem to be on the rise in the United States. This could have serious ramifications for U.S. national security.
Thomas Juneau examines the future of Yemen in the context of the “Arab Awakening.” In his view, the most likely outcome for Yemen is a period of prolonged instability, the implications of which for regional and international security include providing al Qaeda’s local franchise with an attractive safe haven.
In his article, Martin Murphy writes that piracy in West Africa is the most profitable in the world. Well-organized gangs steal refined oil in contrast to Somali pirates who hold crews and ships for ransom. Like piracy elsewhere, the origins and potential solutions to West African piracy are found ashore—largely in Nigeria. He argues that oil states in the developing world are shielded from the domestic and international pressures that can bring down their non-oil neighbors.
Kent Calder examines the evolution of Japanese energy policy before and after the recent Fukushima disaster. He argues that prevailing beliefs in Japan in conjunction with the underlying political economy of nuclear power is likely to render the process of transformation a turbulent and extended one.
Harsh Pant discusses the emergence of India as a serious player in the Asian strategic landscape as smaller states in East Asia reach out to it for trade, diplomacy and, potentially, as a key regional balancer. The “Look East” policy, initiated by Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao, he contends, is now the cornerstone of India’s engagement with the world’s most economically dynamic region.
Jessica Huckabey looks at several aspects of the internal dynamics of al Qaeda-linked groups that are often overlooked in discussions. Using defections related to the al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) offshoot group, the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO), in Mali as a case study, her article considers the issues of race and legitimacy connected to the group and the threat and policy implications that flow from this analysis.
In our review essay, Theodore Friend assesses the legacy of former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.