Foreign Policy Research Institute A Nation Must Think Before it Acts Presenting the Winter 2014 Issue of Orbis

Presenting the Winter 2014 Issue of Orbis

  • December 30, 2013

Presenting the Winter 2014 Issue of Orbis

  • December 30, 2013

Mackubin T. Owens, Editor

(Orbis is FPRI’s quarterly journal of world affairs, published for FPRI by Elsevier.)


We begin the winter issue of Orbis with an essay by Dov Zakheim, Vice Chairman of the Foreign Policy Research Institute, and a former senior defense department official in the Reagan and George W. Bush administrations, in the latter serving as Undersecretary of Defense (Comptroller). Based on a speech for the 2013 Current Strategy Forum at the Naval War College, Zakheim argues that U.S. strategy has become increasingly “budget driven” to the detriment of U.S. security. Colin Dueck examines the case of Stephen Hadley, George W. Bush’s second National Security Adviser, to test the validity of the contending models applied to the office—“honest broker” vs. “policy entrepreneur”—to explain the policy outcomes of the Bush Administration’s approach to Iraq. He contends that the two models are not incompatible; the most important factor is to ensure that the National Security Adviser is first and foremost an effective presidential agent.

Our first article cluster focuses on Europe. Both American policymakers and U.S. citizens at large recently have expressed the hope that Europe will be able to replace U.S. military leadership in the world. Raphael Cohen and Gabriel Scheinmann contend that such an expectation is a pipe dream: despite recent substantial force contributions in Iraq and Afghanistan and small-scale interventions in Africa, European military capabilities are limited, declining, and unlikely to rebound, regardless of whether the United States is in strategic retreat. Andrew Glencross analyzes the EU’s response to the Eurozone crisis in order to shed light on what legal and political changes to the EU system entail for the future of democracy and integration in Europe.

Jakub Grygiel demonstrates the importance of a classical education in his discussion of the career of Gnaeus Julius Agricola (40-93 AD), as recounted by the Roman historian, Tacitus. Agricola, a successful provincial governor, responded to the capriciousness of imperial powerby withdrawing from public administration. By protecting his family, Grygiel contends, Agricola did not shirk politics but instead retreated to the founding cell of any polity, the family, which buttresses and at the same time limitsthe state. His example, says Grygiel, has implications for our own times.[1]

Our second article cluster for this issue looks at the character of the recent American approach to war. In the first,Philip A. Brown and M.L.R. Smith argue that the 1991 Gulf War paradigm remains the preferred American approach to operational art. Far from re-orienting its organization and mindset to meet the challenges of counterinsurgency (COIN) campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan, the authors contend, the U.S. military actually resurrected and re-configured the Gulf War paradigm in its protracted encounters in Iraq and Afghanistan. They dub this preferred approach “Gulf War Paradigm 2.0.”

Chris McIntosh argues that as long as the United States government continues to treat its conflict with Al Qaeda as a “war,” it will remain unwinnable; the goal of “effective destruction” will remain out of reach.  Historically speaking, he argues, modern wars require negotiated conclusions or the complete eradication of present and future threats.  The former is politically impossible and the latter is historically unachievable.

Kevin P. Kelley and Joan Johnson-Freese follow up on the latter’s Professional Military Education (PME) article published in winter 2012 issue of Orbis.  They point out that PME has been under fire from a broad range of critics for a variety of reasons, including credibility, intellectual rigor and administrative mismanagement. But PME provides an invaluable learning and growth experience to those beyond the select few of America’s fighting forces who attend elite civilian graduate programs. Therefore, PME must be fixed, not abandoned as some have suggested. Kelley and Johnson-Freese offer a suggestion as to how achieve such a goal.[2]

David Kearn examines the emerging operational concept of Air-Sea Battle (ASB) as a response to the growing Chinese Anti-Access/Area Denial (A2/AD) challenge to the United States in the Western Pacific. He notes that the challenge presented by China’s military modernization seemingly has altered the conventional balance in the Western Pacific, which has significant implications for U.S. national security policy.

FPRI’s own Michael Noonan completes the winter issue with a timely review essay addressing two books that examine the strengths and weaknesses of America’s combatant commands. The commanders of the regional combat commands: European Command, Pacific Command (which includes the Indian Subcontinent), Africa Command, Southern Command (South and Central America and the Caribbean), Northern Command (the U.S. Homeland and the rest of North America) and Central Command (the Greater Middle East and Central Asia) have been called proconsuls… and for good reason.[3]



Individual and institutional subscriptions in both print and electronic versions are available here.

The tables of contents for current and past issues are available here.

A complimentary print subscription to Orbis is included with FPRI membership at the Associates Level ($125) or higher.  To become an FPRI member click here.



[1] See this abbreviated version of Grygiel’s essay, as published as an FPRI E-Note: /articles/2013/12/tacitus-agricola-and-lessons-today

[2] See this abbreviated version of the essay, as published in FPRI E-Notes: /articles/2013/10/rethinking-professional-military-education

[3] Noonan has a regular blog with the US News and World Report, which you can access here: