US-Soldaten in Afghanistan

War on the Rocks


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"The Taliban Can't Take on the Islamic State Alone"

Die Taliban könnten den sogenannten "Islamischen Staat" (IS) in Afghanistan nicht alleine besiegen, analysieren Amira Jadoon und Andrew Mines. "Instead of waiting for the Taliban to defeat the Islamic State in Afghanistan on its own, Washington should engage more proactively in an inclusive, regional strategy. This would involve bringing together countries like China, Russia, Pakistan, and even Iran which have stakes in Afghanistan's sociopolitical stability and in preventing the Islamic State in Afghanistan's growth. A primary objective around which these countries could converge would be stemming cross-border militant movement, recruitment, alliances, and funding sources."

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"Making Sense of SADAT, Turkey's Private Military Company"

Matt Powers beleuchtet das türkische private Sicherheits- und Militärunternehmen SADAT International Defense Consultancy: "SADAT is a facilitator between Ankara and Syrian proxy fighters, complementing the efforts of the Turkish military and security services while affording it opacity and seemingly limitless protections. This dependency on the state and Erdoğan's favor, however, constrains the company's autonomy and entrepreneurialism. (…) A number of Turkey watchers have been warning about SADAT and its controversial founder, Adnan Tanrıverdi, for years. Some have compared the company to state-sponsored irregular revolutionary armies, like Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, while others believe Turkey's use of mercenaries harkens back to the Ottoman Empire's Janissaries."

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"The American Deconfliction Disadvantage: Ankara's Drone Campaign in Syria and Iraq"

Die Zahl der türkischen Drohnenangriffe gegen die Arbeiterpartei Kurdistans (PKK) in Syrien und im Irak sei seit 2019 angestiegen, stellt Aaron Stein fest. "Ankara is using low-cost, persistent airpower to strike PKK leaders and lower-ranking cadres in areas that it could not previously reach. Following a series of Turkish military offensives, the strikes have further intensified pressure on the PKK and its affiliates and have pushed them further from Turkey's southeast border. In the coming years, these drone strikes are likely to remain a persistent feature of Turkey's counter-terrorism campaign."

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"The Sorry State of Czech-Russian Relations"

Ondrey Ditrych beleuchtet die bilateralen Beziehungen zwischen Russland und Tschechien: "Moscow has been reluctant to shed its imperial posture toward Prague, a former Cold War satellite. At the same time, the Czech Republic has not been blind to Russian interference elsewhere. But this alone cannot explain away the sour state of mutual relations. An underappreciated-yet-undoubtedly-relevant factor is that, since the 1990s, Russia has prominently featured in several emotionally charged 'geopolitical melodramas' that played out in Czech foreign policy. Specifically, the narratives surrounding Prague's desire to join Western institutions like the European Union and NATO after the Cold War; the deployment of U.S. missile defense assets in the Czech Republic; and Russia's embrace of hybrid warfare to project power in the region."

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"Adapting Intelligence to the new Afghanistan"

Nach dem Abzug der US-Truppen hätten Terrororganisationen in Afghanistan mehr Handlungsfreiheit, warnt Thomas Spahr. "To monitor this threat, Washington should re-posture its intelligence assets in the region. Otherwise, its ability to mitigate the terrorist threat through over-the-horizon strikes or other means will be substantially degraded. (…) Americans should remember that Afghanistan is where terrorists planned their attacks on U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, the USS Cole in Yemen, and New York and Washington on Sept. 11. Preventing future attacks requires good intelligence. And good intelligence requires re-posturing."

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"The Biden Administration Needs to Act Fast to Reset Relations With France"

Die Biden-Administration sollte schnell versuchen, die in Folge des U-Boot-Abkommens mit Australien angespannten Beziehungen mit Frankreich zu verbessern, argumentiert Max Bergmann. "In the short term, Washington should invite French President Emmanuel Macron to Washington with the expressed purpose of building a new Franco-American partnership. As part of the outreach, and the key enticement for France, the Biden administration should agree to support one of Macron's top foreign policy priorities: the development of E.U. defense capabilities."

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"What Tigray Portends: The Future of Peace and Security in Africa"

Der Konflikt in der äthiopischen Region Tigray veranschauliche zwei systemische Trends, erläutert Sam Wilkins. "[T]he failure of the African Union to manage problems emanating from Africa's largest states and the rise of Chinese interests on the continent, which renders collective action at the United Nations impossible. Neither the African Union (the headquarters of which sit in Ethiopia's capital) nor leading international powers at the United Nations prevented Ethiopia's tragic descent into civil war and the war crimes that followed. This collapse of collective action portends a dismal future trajectory for peace and security on the continent."

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"Zapad-2021: What to Expect From Russia's Strategic Military Exercise"

Michael Kofman gibt einen Überblick über die bevorstehende Militärübung "Zapad-2021": "Zapad, meaning 'west,' is Russia's Strategic Command's-Staff Exercise, scheduled for Sept. 10-16. This exercise focuses on Russia's Western Military District and Belarus and includes areas under the Northern Fleet's Joint Strategic Command. (…) Zapad intermingles military training for regional or large-scale war, demonstrations of capability, and political signaling. (…) Zapad-2021 will be larger than the 2017 iteration. (…) According to the Belarusian Ministry of Defense, Zapad-2021 will include a total of 12,800 Russian and Belarusian personnel, 2,500 of whom will participate on Belarusian soil, and an additional 50 soldiers from Kazakhstan."

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"Are We Asking the Right Questions?"

Der Frage, welche Lehren aus der Vergangenheit gezogen werden können, geht Francis J. Gavin nach. "Can we be sure that we are any better now at using the past to make sense of contemporary and future challenges? Today's conventional wisdom, for example, proclaims a return to the kinds of great-power rivalry and geopolitical competition that dominated world politics in earlier eras. Perhaps this is right. But should we have much confidence in this assessment, when less than a generation ago, many believed that great-power politics was a thing of the past (...). Can we do better? I am not sure how we can improve our ability to forecast."

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"Foreign Policy Should be Evidence-based"

Die Kriege in Afghanistan und Irak verdeutlichten, dass Außenpolitik künftig stärker fakten- und datenbasiert sein sollte, argumentieren Dan Spokojny und Thomas Scherer. "A 2012 study by Andrew McAfee and Erik Brynjolfsson showed that organizations can radically improve their performance if they seize the opportunities associated with quantitative data (of course, this is only one type of evidence among many).(…) The use of evidence in the public sector is growing. Evidence-based approaches are standard practice in public health, economic policy, education, and more. In the national security space, evidence-based methods are common in international development, in the intelligence community, and at the Department of Defense. Not all parts of government have embraced evidence-based methods, but the decision-making apparatus of the National Security Council and the Department of State stand out as particularly resistant to change."

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"Women, Peace, and Security: Moving Implementation Forward"

Joan Johnson-Freese erörtert, was geschehen muss, damit nationale Sicherheitsbehörden in Washington der sogenannten "Women, Peace, and Security" (WPS)-Agenda eine höhere Priorität einräumen: "U.N. Security Council Resolution 1325 was passed in 2000. It and nine other supplementary resolutions adopted subsequently have formed the basis for what is known as the WPS framework. That framework recognizes the key role that women play in the advancement of security governance and mandates the integration of women leaders and women's perspectives into security sectors, processes, and decision-making. (…) Education has been found to be a key venue for making broad inroads of awareness and appreciation of the WPS framework."

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"An Urgent NATO Priority: Preparing to Protect Civilians"

Die NATO müsse sich verstärkt auf den Schutz der Zivilbevölkerung vorbereiten, fordern Victoria Holt und Marla Keenan. "NATO should take urgent actions now to ensure that it emphasizes protection of civilians as a core capability for future alliance missions - not only 'out-of-area' ones, but also any conducted on NATO territory - and it should embrace protection of civilians as a cross-cutting requirement in NATO's new strategic concept. (…) By including the protection of civilians in its strategic concept, and by recognizing the broad importance of protecting civilians to the alliance, NATO will meet multiple goals. It will prepare for future missions that its allies and partners may face. It will establish NATO as committed to the security of civilians in conflict, a value that will help unite the alliance and distinguish it from many of its adversaries."

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"War is on the Rocks"

Die Zahl zwischenstaatlicher Kriege habe in den vergangenen Jahrzehnten abgenommen, konstatiert John Mueller. "If this condition continues to hold, it would be one of the most important developments in human history. All the more remarkable, the shift away from interstate war appears to be the result not of changing geopolitical circumstances but of changing attitudes toward war itself. It took two world wars, but aversion to interstate war eventually conquered Europe and now is on track to envelop the world. Civil wars may continue, and states may still grapple with each other at less lethal levels. But the time may have come for us to accept the fact that interstate war is merely an idea, an institution that is scarcely required by international society."

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"NATO should finally take its values seriously"

Die Abkehr einzelner NATO-Mitgliedstaaten von der Demokratie stelle eine ernste Bedrohung für das transatlantische Verteidigungsbündnis dar, argumentieren Rachel Ellehuus und Pierre Morcos. "Left unaddressed, the erosion of democratic values will further accentuate divisions between allies and create vulnerabilities that can be exploited by NATO's rivals. (…) The trans-Atlantic alliance will only remain strong if members genuinely abide by its founding principles. (…) As such, NATO should link democratic progress with its existing resilience metrics and draw on joint NATO-European Union resilience response teams to assist struggling allies. This would enable NATO to take a graduated, collective, and dispassionate approach to addressing democratic decline and shoring up trans-Atlantic values while also preserving its political cohesion."

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"The Political Economy of Ransomware"

Erpressungen mit Hilfe sogenannter "Ransomware" - Schadsoftware, mit der Angreifer den Zugriff eines Nutzers auf dessen Daten verhindern können - könnten künftig auch für geopolitische Zwecke eingesetzt werden, prognostiziert Jenny Jun. "Cyber means provide a cheaper, lower barrier of entry for coercion than a conventional military buildup, even if it may be at a much smaller scale. (…) For example, Iran seized a South Korean tanker in January and demanded that South Korea release $7 billion of Iranian funds that its banks had frozen in 2019 to comply with U.S. sanctions. South Korea ended up unfreezing $1 billion in exchange for the crew's release and eventually paid $100,000 more for the ship's release as well. In the future, other states could use encryption of a factory, power plant, or a pipeline to create a similar hostage situation, even if they do not control the Strait of Hormuz."

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"Pacific Germany"

Die geplante Entsendung einer Fregatte der Bundeswehr in den Indopazifik demonstriere einen zunehmenden Realismus in Deutschlands Außenpolitik, analysiert Dominik Wullers. "The main catalyst has been the steadily decreasing U.S. interest in Europe since the end of the Cold War. (…) What is 'realist' about sending one measly frigate into the vastness of the Indo-Pacific? The move is only one element of the refreshingly realist strategy contained in Germany's Policy Guidelines for the Indo-Pacific (Leitlinien der Bundesregierung zum Indo-Pazifik) that the German government released last year. (…) Compared to previous white books and national defense guidelines, these guidelines are filled to the brim with realist interests. (…) If there is one thing to learn from the new policy guidelines, it is that there is no longer a pacific Germany but there is a Pacific Germany."

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"What Will Britain's new Cyber Force Actually do?"

Joe Devanny und Tim Stevens stellen die Aufgaben und Funktionsweise der 2020 gegründeten britischen "National Cyber Force" vor: "The new Cyber Force is the United Kingdom's single actor for offensive cyber operations. You want to thwart terrorist operations online? The National Cyber Force will do that. Take down a ransomware crime group? The National Cyber Force has you covered. Strike back in cyberspace against state threats like Russia or China? You get the drift. (…) Unlike Cyber Command, which is a unified command, or the National Security Agency, which is part of the sprawling bureaucratic empire of the U.S. Department of Defense, the U.K. National Cyber Force is a true hybrid of the country's armed services, civilian defense officials, and national intelligence agencies. (…) The benefit of this hybrid model is that the skills, capabilities, and legal authorizations of the constituent institutions are housed under one roof, all subject to unity of command within the National Cyber Force."

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"A Millennial Considers the new German Problem After 30 Years of Peace"

Ulrike Franke beleuchtet die Perspektive sogenannter "Millennials" - also jener, die im Zeitraum der frühen 1980er bis zu den späten 1990er Jahren geboren wurden - auf die deutsche Außenpolitik: "Namely, I believe that German millennials have a hard time adjusting to the world we are living in now. We struggle to think in terms of interests, we struggle with the concept of geopolitical power, and we struggle with military power being an element of geopolitical power. This is concerning given that a lot is riding on Germany as an actor in the international system. (…) We've intellectually - and practically - disarmed. As we never had to train our strategic muscle, it atrophied. Power politics is at odds with our understanding of how the world works. (…) Secretly, my generation hopes that all will go back to our normal soon and that we can move on from this unenlightened power politics to address real challenges like climate change. But the world is unlikely to do us that favor. To be up to this challenge, my generation will need to train its strategic muscle - and fast."

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"How China views the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan"

Yun Sun erläutert Chinas Reaktion auf den Abzug der US-amerikanischen Truppen aus Afghanistan: "Broadly speaking, China's reaction to American troops withdrawal from Afghanistan is complicated. In the short term, Beijing is concerned that without the U.S. military, Afghanistan will soon descend into chaos and will inevitably serve as a haven for Islamic extremism. But in the long run, the Chinese policy community remains deeply skeptical of U.S. intentions, and it assumes the United States will retain and use its influence in Afghanistan to advance its interests. Moreover, Beijing fears that the United States - freed from its on-the-ground military commitment in Afghanistan - will now use the country to undermine China's regional position and key interests."

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"Autonomy, cacophony, or coherence? The future of European defense"

Europa könne die Rolle des US-amerikanischen Militärs bei der Abschreckung Russlands auf absehbare Zeit nicht ersetzen, argumentieren Robert Dalsjö und Michael Jonsson. "(…) Europe would still need America to balance out Russia militarily and politically, and to act as a backstop against the return of inter-European rivalry. True European strategic autonomy - i.e. the ability to hold its own against major powers, including Russia - will remain out of reach as long as Europe consists of separate and independent countries rather than of a single superstate. Indeed, there is a palpable risk that efforts to achieve strategic autonomy will instead result in 'strategic cacophony,' given the widely diverging threat perceptions on the continent."

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"China does not have to be America's enemy in the Middle East"

China und Iran hätten kürzlich ein Abkommen unterzeichnet, in dem Peking Investitionen in die iranische Infrastruktur zusichert, stellen Ashley Rhoades und Dalia Dassa Kaye fest. Dennoch müssten sich die USA keine Sorgen um die Entstehung einer "China-Iran-Achse" machen. "Indeed, the level of concern in the United States over this development is overblown and could even be unproductive should it spike U.S. animosity toward China in the region. While China threatens U.S. interests in the Indo-Pacific, the United States does not need to consider China an adversary in the Middle East. (…) China and Iran do not share enough interests to support an enduring partnership. (…) Ultimately, China needs the Middle East to remain stable to feed its oil dependence and reap any rewards from its investments. As a result, the United States might even find opportunities to cooperate with China in the region, even while competing elsewhere."

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"After the Islamic State: social media and armed groups"

Laura Courchesne und Brian McQuinn beleuchten den Einsatz sozialer Medien durch bewaffnete Organisationen: "According to our research with the Digital Traces of Conflict Project, there are over 1,456 armed groups operating in civil wars in Mali, Libya, and Syria. Almost all use social media to target regional and local audiences, but vary in their choice of platform. (…) Social media use varies significantly between armed groups within the same conflict, and also varies among different conflicts. (…) Of the 1,456 armed groups we track in Mali (38), Libya (695), and Syria (723), none have experienced the same success as Islamic State in building an international audience or brand through social media. So far, we don't have a single answer to explain why the Islamic State stands out in this area."

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"How Franco-Australian cooperation can help stabilize the Indo-Pacific"

Pierre Morcos skizziert die zunehmende Kooperation zwischen Australien und Frankreich im Bereich Sicherheit und Verteidigung und deren Implikationen für die Sicherheitssituation im Indopazifik: "(…) (T)he French-Australian partnership has grown much closer in recent years, as converging strategic visions for the Indo-Pacific drive greater defense and diplomatic cooperation. (…) Through their armament cooperation, enhanced information-sharing, and joint maritime exercises, Paris and Canberra have helped to level the playing field in the West's competition with Beijing. (…) Harnessing the full potential of this renewed strategic alignment will be pivotal to ensuring a stable, law-based, and multipolar order in the Indo-Pacific."

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"What to expect when you're expecting NATO in Iraq"

Im Februar einigten sich die NATO-Mitgliedstaaten darauf, ihre Irak-Mission auf bis zu 4.000 Soldatinnen und Soldaten auszuweiten. Paolo Napolitano beleuchtet die operativen Herausforderungen, die mit dieser Entscheidung potenziell einhergehen: "NATO's force-generation process, the formal and often lengthy procedure through which alliance nations provide the necessary personnel and equipment for missions and operations, will take time to reach the required operational capability. Any significant expansion of the mission will therefore have to deal with a protracted process before it is properly equipped. (…) The expanded NATO mission will likely see an increase in (…) civilian elements. Success will therefore rest on NATO allies providing high-quality civilian personnel capable of navigating the complex bureaucracies of the Ministry of Defense and possibly the Ministry of Interior."

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"Al-Qaeda Is Being Hollowed To Its Core"

Barak Mendelsohn und Colin Clarke geben einen Überblick über die Transformation der Terrororganisation Al-Qaida seit den Anschlägen vom 11. September 2001: "Prior to the 9/11 attacks, it was a small and hierarchical organization of no more than several hundred fighters. A few years later, group membership increased exponentially, and its operational gravity shifted from targeting the West to growing its strength in the Middle East and North Africa. But as the group became increasingly decentralized, its command and control weakened. (…) Al-Qaeda is here to stay, but it looks and acts differently than the organization it once was under Osama bin Laden."

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"How To Bargain With The Taliban"

Bis zum geplanten Abzug aller NATO-Truppen am 1. Mai werde sich die afghanische Regierung nicht auf eine politische Lösung mit den Taliban verständigen können, analysiert Barnett Rubin. Er schlägt vor: "Washington should propose a six-month extension of the Doha timetable, providing more time to negotiate both a political settlement and measures to remove sanctions and release detainees. (…) The United States should complete the withdrawal at the end of this period regardless of the outcome, but the added six months of negotiation would increase the chances for stability in Afghanistan."

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"Reconsidering Al-Qaeda-Iranian Cooperation"

Bryce Loidolt beleuchtet die Entwicklung der Beziehungen zwischen Al-Qaida und Iran: "The relationship's history suggests a remarkably resilient, if still thin, form of cooperation, even as al-Qaeda and Iran's strategic objectives have diverged and distrust and ideological tension have persisted. (…) Iranian tolerance for al-Qaeda operatives on its soil has certainly been helpful for the group. But, it is not nearly as important for the West as Iran's nuclear program, threats to maritime security, support to regional Shiite militia proxies, and development of ballistic missiles. Any escalation in lethal counterterrorism pressure on remaining Iran-based al-Qaeda cadres could needlessly antagonize Tehran and divert attention from these more pressing threats."

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"The Failure of Jihadi Conflict Resolution"

Tore Hamming beleuchtet die Folgen gewaltsamer Konflikte zwischen rivalisierenden dschihadistischen Gruppierungen im Nahen Osten und Nordafrika: "Since the outbreak of internal conflict in 2013, fratricide has led to the killing of, conservatively, more than 8,000 jihadis. Equally important, internal conflict has diverted jihadis' strategic focus away from their primary enemies. (…) Cohesion would have benefited not only the broader jihadi movement in reaching its objectives but also the individual groups that have expended valuable resources fighting a fratricide instead of combating their real enemy. (…) While jihadi infighting most likely will not lead to the movement's downfall, there is no doubt that it has weakened it".

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"Joe Biden And The Modest Return Of Self-Deprecation"

Präsident Joe Bidens Grundsatzrede zur Außenpolitik der USA habe gezeigt, dass Selbstironie und Demut ins Oval Office zurückgekehrt seien, analysiert Jeremy Shapiro. "The real question is whether Biden's personal self-deprecation can translate into a more self-aware U.S. approach to the world. (…) Humor from the president can help (…) with both foreign leaders and with the American public. It can convey more subtly that America has the self-confidence to recognize its flaws, understand its limitations, and ask for help from its allies."

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"The Islamic State Stopped Talking About China."

Elliot Stewart erinnert daran, dass der "Islamische Staat" China im Jahr 2014 wegen der Verfolgung der muslimischen Uiguren in seiner Propaganda an den Pranger gestellt habe. Drei Jahre später habe die Terrormiliz das Thema nicht mehr beachtet. "This apparent decision by the Islamic State to de-emphasize China’s repression of Uighurs, a mostly Muslim ethnic group of 11 million that China fears harbors extremist views and is attempting to 're-educate' in detention camps, is at first hard to square with the Islamic State’s self-appointed role as violent defender of Muslims everywhere. The Islamic State’s inattention carries significant risk to the organization. Much of the Islamic State’s success in attracting and maintaining support across the globe has been born from its willingness to take extreme action to match its extreme worldview. Growing anger in many Muslim-majority countries over the lack of support for the Uighurs from their religious and political leaders — many of whom have been cowed by Chinese investment — is a golden opportunity for the Islamic State to recruit. However, the Islamic State seems to have determined that a less provocative approach to China is more advantageous. Specifically, the group believes an unprovoked China can play a constructive role in achieving an overriding objective: ending the U.S. military presence in the Middle East and South Asia."

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