Foreign Policy Research Institute A Nation Must Think Before it Acts Editor’s Corner Winter 2019
Editor’s Corner Winter 2019

Editor’s Corner Winter 2019

We begin the winter issue of Orbis with an intriguing essay by Arthur Waldron, who argues that because of its history and culture, China is not able to fully integrate into the current “world order,” based on a Westphalian system of sovereignty and commerce among traditional nation states.  Instead, he contends that China’s internal state architecture requires the establishment of a Chinese World Order, something that will be impossible to achieve.  But China’s attempt to create this Chinese World Order will continue to roil international politics.

The first cluster of articles for this issue focuses on South Asia.  First, Harsh Pant and Kriti M. Shah examine the changing geopolitics of the region, especially the way India and Pakistan interact with other major powers and how the United States and Russia have responded to the rise of an assertive China, growing extremism and terrorism in the larger subcontinent, and a stronger India.

Next, Tricia Bacon explores the evolution of Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, the organization whose attack a decade ago paralyzed the Indian megacity of Mumbai for days. She argues that the operation in Mumbai was actually a product of Lashkar’s long-standing ties with the Pakistani military, a relationship that has been further solidified.  The great danger for the stability of the region is that policy options available to counter the group have been reduced, increasing the possibility that it will conduct an attack that precipitates a war between India and Pakistan—two nuclear powers.

Frank Hoffman examines how the “second machine age,” characterized by the introduction of cyber weapons, robots, and artificial intelligence, has affected the teachings of Carl von Clausewitz on war.  He contends that these changes will affect not only the character, but also the nature of war by introducing a new source of rationalism that will influence Clausewitz’s trinity—the interactions of policy, populations, and their military forces—in ways we are only beginning to consider. 

Joshua S. Krasna calls for a greater diversity among U.S. policymakers regarding the Middle East.  In the formulation of the philosopher, Isaiah Berlin, U.S. Middle East policy would be better served by “foxes” who “know many little things,” based on an eclectic array of perspectives and disciplines, rather than by “hedgehogs” who “know one big thing.”  Such “foxes” might, among other things, help to mitigate the expectations that any specific policy or bundle of policies will have a decisive effect, and recognize the probability of unexpected consequences, which will likely lead to a more realistic policy in this confused and confusing part of the world.

Alexander Ohlers examines the often-controversial topic of post-conflict state-building projects, post-war stabilization, and reconstruction, arguing that such efforts remain an essential function of foreign policy. His contention is that the character of war in these times requires that stabilization operations be seen not as sequential phases but as an integral part of a long-term strategy.

Our second article cluster addresses NATO and Russia.  First, John Deni considers the strengths and weaknesses of NATO’s Enhanced Forward Presence (EFP) initiative.  He argues that while the EFP initiative improves NATO’s deterrent posture, it suffers from many of the same challenges that other NATO operations have confronted in recent years.

Next, Joe Kyle looks at Russia and the Baltic States.  After summarizing the history of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, he discusses their perceptions of the current security situations, addressing the possibility of a Russian invasion and whether such an invasion would be successful.

In our penultimate article of this issue, Robert Singh focuses on the U.S. system of nuclear launch authority, asking if it should be revised to allow greater collective input to decision making.  Recent proposals have called for greater congressional authority and/or the co-participation of additional actors within the executive branch in order to initiate the use of nuclear weapons.  Advocates of such steps argue that strengthening such safeguards would leave presidential command intact to respond to an attack on the United States, but guard against  an out-of-control Commander-in-Chief ini- tiating an irrational or illegal nuclear war.

In our last article, your humble editor examines the emergence of the United States as a global military power at the end of the nineteenth century.  What factors caused such a remarkable transformation? Technology and changing geopolitical conditions played a role, but so did intellectual trends that helped to create the modern conception of military professionalism.  Contrary to the old conventional wisdom of such scholars as Samuel Huntington, this modern military professionalism was not the result of the military’s isolation from civilian society, but was part and parcel of a larger intellectual trend.

In our book review section, Jeremy Black considers several books on geopolitics and strategies.  And, finally, Chris Miller writes about a new work in which Russian academics offer a window into Russian-U.S. relations.

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