US-Soldaten in Afghanistan

War on the Rocks


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"(W)Archives: Another Munich or Another Cuban Missile Crisis?"

Tom Wein empfiehlt die Lektüre der Vorträge des einflussreichen US-Diplomaten George F. Kennan, der sich bereits 1957 Gedanken über die Logik militärischer Konfrontationen im Atomzeitalter gemacht habe. Kennans Überlegungen könnten auf die aktuelle Ukraine-Krise angewendet werden. "(...) Kennan made two realizations of considerable contemporary relevance. The first is that it is essential for the continental European powers to defend themselves, without the assistance of nuclear-armed states. The second is that this is best done by the formation of militias designed to provide resistance to a Soviet occupying force, since the prospect of stopping their divisions at a rigidly defended border is remote."

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"How Many Fighters Does the Islamic State Really Have?"

Daveed Gartenstein-Ross von der Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) hat die weit auseinandergehenden Schätzungen zur tatsächlichen Truppenstärke des Islamischen Staates im Kontext der vom IS eroberten Gebiete analysiert. Sein Fazit: "It still isn’t clear precisely how many fighters ISIL has, but its total force is likely to be closer to 100,000 than to 30,000 (although, unlike the martyrdom-seeking fanatics in its ranks, ISIL’s conscripts are more likely to turn tail and run in a tough situation). The low-end estimates are simply too low to be realistic, while the high-end estimates — of which many observers are intuitively skeptical — are far more plausible than they first appear once one attempts to break them down more systematically."

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"The Escalation Advocates are Wrong on Ukraine"

Sean Kay, Politikwissenschaftler an der Ohio Wesleyan University, empfiehlt der US-Regierung, auf die erneute Eskalation der Kämpfe in der Ostukraine geduldig zu reagieren und auf Waffenlieferungen an die Regierung in Kiew zu verzichten. "Taktische" Reaktionen des Westens auf Russlands Vorgehen in der Ukraine seien politisch riskant. "Advocates of escalation in Ukraine are sustaining a respectable and logical extension of a worldview that governed the last two decades of American policy towards Europe, which culminated in the false promises of NATO’s 2008 declaration that Ukraine and Georgia would one day join NATO. That worldview, however, ran into the ditch in eastern Ukraine last March. Military escalation at this time would entangle America in a conflict adjacent to a declining, paranoid, and nuclear-armed Russia. What Russia has done in eastern Ukraine is unacceptable and the Russian people will eventually look back and wonder what their 'leadership' was thinking. Now, however, is not the time to risk making a bad situation even worse by launching America onto a slippery slope of dangerous military escalation."

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"Can You Handle the Truth? The Case for Returning Guantánamo Bay to Cuban Sovereignty"

Bei den ersten amerikanisch-kubanischen Gesprächen seit der Ankündigung des diplomatischen Neustarts hat Kuba u.a. die Rückgabe Guantanamos gefordert. James Lockhart erinnert an die Geschichte der US-Enklave und empfiehlt der US-Regierung, der kubanischen Forderung nachzukommen. "Returning Guantánamo then, to Cuban sovereignty as part of the ongoing U.S.-Cuban normalization process would liquidate an obsolete naval position, deny a useful trial exhibit to prosecutorial critics who characterize the United States as an empire of bases, and also make meaningful progress in changing our relationship with Havana. (...) This, of course, leaves the issue of what exactly to do with the terrorist Khalid Sheik Mohammad and the other detainees who remain there unresolved. This represents an intractable issue the Obama administration or its successors would have to resolve before returning Guantánamo."

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"After Peshawar, Expect Business as Usual in Pakistan"

C. Christine Fair ist sicher, dass das Schulmassaker in Peschawar den "Tiefen Staat" in Pakistan nicht dazu bewegen wird, die jahrzehntelange Strategie der Kooperation mit extremistischen Gruppen aufzugeben. "After all, Pakistan has used Islamist militants as tools of foreign policy since 1947. With the acquisition of an existential nuclear deterrent as early as 1980, Pakistan became ever more bolder in its reliance upon these proxies. (...) LeT [Lashkar-e-Taiba] is an important ally of the Pakistani deep state. Unlike other militant groups that fractured and gave way to the TTP [Tehreek-e-Taliban-e-Pakistan or 'Pakistani Taliban'], LeT has never attacked within Pakistan. It has remained a loyal proxy, restricting its operations to Afghanistan (...) and to India, in and beyond Kashmir. LeT remains loath to upset Pakistan’s military and intelligence agency, the ISI. (...) LeT’s very existence in Pakistan and the unfettered active support it enjoys across the Pakistani state belies Pakistan’s assertion that it will not distinguish between good and bad terrorists."

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"'Supporting the Troops' in Germany and the United States"

Der ehemalige Bundeswehroffizier Chris Dehn vergleicht die Unterstützung des Militärs in Deutschland und den USA. Sein Fazit: Die öffentliche Anerkennung der Soldaten sei in den USA um einiges größer, dafür erhielten Veteranen in Deutschland eine bessere Versorgung und staatliche Förderung. "For all the high regard America’s military receives in public, there are too many flaws in the programs meant to provide exiting soldiers with the support they deserve. Germany on the other hand, for all its shortcomings in publicly acknowledging the men and women who risk their lives abroad, has on some level understood that 'supporting the troops' requires more than stickers and concerts."

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"GOP? The NSA may actually be the biggest winner in the election"

Die Untersuchung von CIA-Spionage und NSA-Überwachung im US-Senat sei bisher vor allem von demokratischen Senatoren vorangetrieben worden, schreiben Sue Myrick und Andy Polk. Dies dürfte sich mit der Übernahme des Senats durch die Republikaner ändern. "Last week’s results will end much of this public combativeness in 2015 as Senator Feinstein loses her gavel and as one of the Senate’s most vocal opponent to the NSA’s surveillance program, Colorado Senator Mark Udall, lost his race for reelection. While there have been some outspoken critics of agency actions and policies on the right, Senate Republicans on the Intel Committee will take a very different rhetorical approach and investigative style than their counterparts. (...) There were a lot of cheers in Republican offices and homes across the country Tuesday night. But the loudest may have come from folks at Fort Meade, Langley, and the shadows across the globe."

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"Russia and Ukraine: Not the Military Balance You Think"

Dmitry Gorenburg stellt den Sammelband "Brothers Armed: Military Aspects of the Crisis in Ukraine" der Herausgeber Colby Howard und Ruslan Pukhov vor, die sich eingehend mit den militärischen Aspekten der Ukraine-Krise beschäftigt und dabei auch russische und ukrainische Perspektiven berücksichtigt hätten. Ein Thema der Beiträge sei der stetige Verfall des ukrainischen Militärs, das bei der Neugründung des Landes noch als viertstärkste konventionelle Streitmacht der Welt eingeschätzt worden sei. "Overall, the book describes the factors that resulted in Ukrainian inaction in the face of Russia’s takeover of Crimea, while also highlighting the tenuous nature of the operation, which depended on Ukraine’s initial inaction for its success. While Ukraine’s military was undoubtedly much weaker than that of Russia, political factors such as the collapse of the government and Ukrainian soldiers’ initial reluctance to attack Russians, who in many cases lived and served nearby, were more important than the military balance in Russia’s victory. The implication is that the lessons of Crimea are not necessarily easily transferable to other places where Russia might seek to acquire territory, such as the Baltic states."

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"What Does the Recent Spate of Lone Wolf Terrorist Attacks Mean?"

Nach zwei kurz aufeinander folgenden Angriffen durch Einzeltäter in Kanada fragt Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, ob die Gefahr durch "Lone Wolf"-Terroristen in Nordamerika gestiegen sei. Er verweist auf das Buch "Understanding Lone Wolf Terrorism: Global Patterns, Motivations and Prevention", dessen Autor Ramon Spaaij sich eingehend mit dem Phänomen beschäftigt hat. "The biggest virtue of Spaaij’s work is that it provides a quantitative look at lone wolf terrorism across fifteen Western countries. This empirical approach can assist anyone concerned about the most recent incidents to assess them in light of historical patterns. (...) What does Spaaij’s data reveal? A few points that he makes can put the most recent incidents into some perspective. Lone wolf terrorism is increasing. (...) Lone wolf attacks are harder to stop, but tend to be less deadly, than those planned and executed by groups. (...) Lone wolf attackers are inspired by diverse ideologies, but jihadist motivations are increasing. (...) Lone wolves are more likely than other terrorists to be mentally ill."

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"Destroy ISIL’s Heavy Weapons and Vehicles: Level the Playing Field"

Der Luftkrieg der internationalen Koalition gegen den Islamischen Staat werde am effektivsten sein, wenn sich die Angriffe gegen die schweren Waffen der Extremisten richten, sind David Shlapak und David R. Frelinger überzeugt. "Tanks and artillery pieces can remain hidden in cities or caves, but by and large they must emerge and expose themselves if they are to support an attack. At the very least, they reveal themselves when fired to the array of sensors that the coalition has available. The persistent presence of coalition surveillance and combat aircraft overhead would make using these weapons — the weapons that have provided ISIL with much of its advantage over its adversaries — very risky. Experience in Iraq indicates that insurgents tend to lie low in the presence of lethal air power, which would be a victory in itself. An idle ISIL is one not expanding its territory, nor consolidating that which it already dominates."

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"What China Should Learn from Russia’s Ukraine Adventure"

Ali Wyne schreibt, dass Russlands Vorgehen in der Ukraine die nationalen Interessen des Landes insgesamt erheblich geschädigt habe. Die Risiken einer militärischen Durchsetzung von Territorialansprüchen seien dadurch auch China bewusst geworden. "(...) the consequences Russia has suffered this year have surely made China more sensitive to the risks it would take were it to attempt to assert its claims through force. Even if the United States were unwilling to intervene militarily should China seize, say, the Senkakus, the Spratlys, or the Scarborough Shoal, it has proven it can marshal a broad-based international sanctions regime, one that could do serious harm to China’s trade-based economy. China would also be more vulnerable than Russia to trade and energy disruptions."

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"Don’t Engage Russia on the INF Treaty Yet"

Bilyana Lilly erläutert die Hintergründe der russischen Verletzung des INF-Vertrages über nukleare Mittelstreckensysteme und empfiehlt der US-Regierung, auf eine direkte Konfrontation Russlands in dieser Frage vorerst zu verzichten. "The best option for the U.S. government is to continue to abide by the INF Treaty, be patient and wait for more favorable conditions, in which a dialogue with Russia on its treaty violations is possible. (...) If the United States withdraws from the treaty now because of Russia’s missile test, this would only play in Moscow’s favor. Free from its INF Treaty obligations, Russia may deploy cruise missiles along its borders with Europe and Asia, raising tensions in the region. A U.S. withdrawal would also serve as another arrow in Moscow’s quiver showing that the United States, not Russia, is the wrecker of international norms."

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"Visualizing ISIS Violence in Iraq and Syria"

William Kammerer und Corina Simonelli vom National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) haben die bekannten Angriffe der ISIS im Irak und in Syrien in mehreren Infografiken zusammengestellt.

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"ISIS: This Too Shall Pass"

Mark Stout ist sicher, dass die aktuellen Territorialgewinne der radikalislamischen ISIS im Irak nicht von Dauer sein werden. Er verweist auf die Überlegungen des einflussreichen radikalislamischen Strategen Abu Musab al-Suri: "He believed that 'open fronts,' such as the 1980s jihad against the Soviet Union, efforts intended to liberate and hold territory, are unlikely to succeed. The simple fact is that they cannot stand up to modern military power backed up by modern intelligence. Instead, he recommended a turn toward individual jihad because it avoided the enemies’ strengths. In other words, Al-Suri would say that the more cities ISIS captures, the more money it has to keep track of, the more armored vehicles it acquires, the more social services it has to organize and deliver, the more it is setting itself up for a fall."

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"Infographic: Where Terrorists Attacked in 2013"

"War on the Rocks" veröffentlicht in Zusammenarbeit mit dem National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) regelmäßig neue Infografiken zu aktuellen Trends im internationalen Terrorismus. "Terrorism’s footprint is truly global. In 2013, according to data collected by START, incidences of terrorism were recorded in 94 countries around the world. But the threat is far from uniform. The map below depicts the intensity and concentration of terrorist violence in 2013. We’ll follow up on this global picture with new infographic sets each week that examine some of the most interesting current and historical trends in terrorist activity."

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"State of Jihad: The Reality of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria"

Douglas A. Ollivant und Brian Fishman berichten, dass es der radikalislamischen Gruppe Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) gelungen sei, im syrisch-irakischen Grenzgebiet eine ganze Region unter ihre Kontrolle zu bringen. Es drohe die Entstehung eines neuen "sicheren Hafens" für internationale Terroristen. "Stretching in a long ellipse roughly from al-Raqqah in Syria to Fallujah in Iraq (with many other non-contiguous 'islands' of control in both Iraq and Syria), this former Al Qaeda affiliate holds territory, provides limited services, dispenses a form of justice (loosely defined), most definitely has an army, and flies its own flag. (...) ISIS presents a clear and present danger to American and European interests. The group does not have safe haven within a state. It is a de facto state that is a safe haven. Arguably, ISIS presents an even more vibrant incubator for international terrorism than did pre-9/11 Afghanistan. It would be the greatest of historical ironies if just at the moment when the operation in Afghanistan to banish Al Qaeda safe havens is concluded, an even more dangerous sanctuary emerges in the deserts between Baghdad and Damascus."

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"U.S. Drones are from Mars, Euro Drones are from Venus"

In den USA und in Europa gebe es sehr unterschiedliche Vorstellungen über den Zweck und die Einsatzziele von Kampfdrohnen, schreibt Ulrike Franke, Doktorandin an der University of Oxford. "I recently spoke to a UAV expert from the German Armed Forces who has been involved in the negotiations on the choice between importing foreign-built drones and developing a European system. He told me that many Europeans were not too fond of American unmanned systems as their armament was not appropriate for their purposes. In a nutshell: the American bombs were considered too big. If the German Armed Forces were to procure armed UAVs – which in itself is a separate discussion – my source said they would most likely prefer small and scalable armament: 'Ideally, we could have a UAV carrying a number of very small bombs – and only a few of them would be fitted with explosives. The other would have no explosive material but would produce only a loud bang or smoke without causing harm.'"

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