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A nation must think before it acts.
Mac Owens is Editor of Orbis: FPRI’s Journal of World Affairs, and Senior Fellow in our Program on National Security. Orbis is published for the Foreign Policy Research Institute by Elsevier. For subscription or other information, visit the Elsevier website. FPRI members at the $150 level or above receive a complimentary subscription (for individuals, not institutions). For membership information, please click here. To view this issue online, please click here.
Welcome to the spring 2017 issue of Orbis. In our first article in this edition, David T. Burbach reflects on why, in contrast to the experience of Vietnam, the American public’s confidence in the U.S. military did not decline during the recent unpopular wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
This issue then offers a cluster of four articles examining various aspects of the Islamic State. First, Leonard C. Robinson discusses what he calls “collective action frames,” employed by the Islamic State to advance its goals, and suggests ways in which the United States and its allies can counter them. Next, Carmel Davis addresses the limits that constrain the Islamic State in its quest to establish a caliphate. In the third article, C. Alexander Ohlers looks at the strengths and weaknesses of “aggressive containment,” an approach designed to defeat the Islamic State. Finally, R. Kim Cragin analyzes the role of foreign fighter returnees in Islamic State attacks in Western Europe.
Next, Brandon J. Weichert discusses the limitations of current U.S. space policy. He suggests that, given the importance of space to U.S. global power, the United States must shift from its traditional approach, based on space superiority, to a more aggressive posture of space dominance. In his article, Ren Xiao examines how China has responded to the Obama Administration’s “pivot” or rebalance to the Asia-Pacific region. He contends that while the response was measured, the election of President Donald Trump has created serious uncertainties.
Edward A. McLellan argues that a careful reading of evolving Russian military doctrine and strategic beliefs suggests that two NATO initiatives intended to provide a credible deterrent to Russian provocations in its eastern frontier—the Rapid Reaction Spearhead Force and the NATO Response Force—might not decrease the likelihood of conflict, but rather make unintentional war more likely. In our final article, James R. Holmes and Toshi Yoshihara trace the impressive rise of China’s surface navy, noting that it has only been a decade since China began com- missioning indigenously-built modern destroyers, frigates, and corvetts, an impressive feat by any standard.
In our book review section, Ian Johnson considers books about German and Russian power. And, in another essay, Beth Kerley reviews books on the future of civil society in Ukraine.