Foreign Policy Essay

Oliver Atkins / Janet Lindenmuth (background)

In this feature, Brookings senior fellow and terrorism expert Daniel Byman and deputy foreign policy editor Dana Stuster curate a weekly essay on foreign and military affairs of interest to national security legal practitioners and scholars. Although not specifically dealing with legal matters, the feature offers context and perspective to many of the debates that go on at the site regularly. Lawfare has always conceived of national security law broadly, because to practice it well, one needs to draw on a diversity of expertise in technical fields like communications technologies, robotics and economics. With The Foreign Policy Essay, Dan and Dana provide us with a window into the worlds of strategy, military operations, geopolitics, and whatever else grabs their interest on any given week.

Latest in Foreign Policy Essay

Foreign Policy Essay

Russia Might Regret the U.S. Drawdown in Syria

Editor’s Note: The Syrian conflict, while hardly over, is diminishing. The Syrian people clearly lost, but who—other than the barbarous Assad regime—won? One candidate is Russia, whose military intervention helped save the regime and which has re-emerged as a power broker in the Middle East. Carol Saivetz of MIT, however, argues this may be a mixed blessing for Moscow. Although the regime has accomplished many things in Syria, these accomplishments have created new problems that will be tricky for Moscow to solve.

Daniel Byman

Foreign Policy Essay

Understanding the Houthi Faction in Yemen

Editor’s Note: Yemen’s war, the world’s deadliest active conflict, has no end in sight. Many of its chief protagonists—including the Houthis, whose ties to Iran and hostility to U.S. allies put them at the center of the conflict—are not well understood. Sama’a al-Hamdani, the director of the Yemen Cultural Institute for Heritage and the Arts, does a deep dive on the Houthis. She details their goals and divisions, as well as how they might be induced to join Yemen’s nascent peace process.

Daniel Byman

***

Foreign Policy Essay

The Limits of British Citizenship

Editor’s Note: What to do with captured foreign volunteers for terrorist organizations is one of the toughest issues facing Western governments today. (See my views on a current U.S. case here.) Human rights organizations are particularly critical of governments that revoke citizenship or otherwise try to prevent their citizens from returning. Robin Simcox of the Heritage Foundation believes this opposition is simplistic.

Foreign Policy Essay

Fitna, a Failed Coup and a Squandered Opportunity to Undermine the Islamic State’s ‘Intangible Power’

Editor’s Note: The Islamic State seeks to project an image of strength, and that image has attracted many followers. In the past few years, the above-ground caliphate has collapsed and infighting is growing, but the group still stresses its prowess and leadership in its propaganda. Michael Smith II, a terrorism analyst who specializes in jihadist influence operations, calls for the United States to exploit the Islamic State’s internal dissent in its own counter-propaganda, playing up these divisions to further weaken the group.

***

Foreign Policy Essay

Is the Islamic State Defeated?

Editor’s Note: Whether the Islamic State is out as well as down is hotly debated in the terrorism world. President Trump believes the group is defeated, but most analysts argue that it remains a major threat. How to measure defeat, though, is not given much consideration. Jacob Olidort of American University argues that the president basically has it right: If you look at a broad range of measures, the Islamic State is defeated and U.S. policy should reflect this win.

Daniel Byman

***

Foreign Policy Essay

Trump’s Domestic Countering Violent Extremism Policies Look a Lot Like Obama’s

Editor’s Note: Programs to counter violent extremism seemed under siege in the early days of the Trump administration, with officials questioning their focus and very purpose. Seamus Hughes and Haroro J. Ingram, of the Program on Extremism at George Washington University, argue that far less has changed than most people recognize. Despite a lot of rhetoric, U.S. government CVE programs have a similar orientation as they did under Obama but remain underfunded and inadequate.

Daniel Byman

***

Foreign Policy Essay

How Diaspora Communities Influence Terrorist Groups

Editor’s Note: Terrorist groups often draw on ethnic or religious brethren in other countries. These communities raise money, provide arms, offer volunteers, lobby host governments and otherwise try to advance the terrorist cause. James Piazza of The Pennsylvania State University goes deep on diasporas. He identifies the ways in which they make a terrorism problem worse and why fighting terrorism requires countering the influence of militant diasporas.

Daniel Byman

***

Foreign Policy Essay

Pakistan’s Proxies: The Kashmir Attack and U.S. Policy Response

At least 40 Indian soldiers and local officials were killed in a suicide attack on Feb. 14 that targeted a large military convoy traversing Indian-controlled Kashmir. Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), a State Department-designated Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO), claimed responsibility for the attack, but there are reasons to doubt its credibility.

Foreign Policy Essay

Setting the Standard for CVE

Editor’s Note: Few people disagree with the goal of Countering Violent Extremism (CVE), but in practice the programs have faced many problems. A big one is that it is hard to know if they are working, as existing metrics do a poor job of measuring success and failure. Evanna Hu of Omelas proposes a set of fixes to CVE programs that would make them more rigorous and more effective.

Daniel Byman

***

Foreign Policy Essay

Dignity and the Needs of Young Syrian Refugees in the Middle East

Editor’s Note: Programs to counter violent extremism (CVE) are often focused on established communities in the United States, Europe, and the Muslim world. However, refugees are among the most at-risk communities, often trapped in a world of violence and despair. Maira Seeley of Princeton University examines the risk of radicalization for refugee populations and finds that they have different needs for CVE programs than their host communities. She lays out a series of recommendations on how to design CVE better for the millions of refugees from the Syrian civil war.

Subscribe to Lawfare

EmailRSSKindle