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  • Author: Terry Terriff, James Keeley, John Ferris
  • Publication Date: 03-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of Military and Strategic Studies
  • Institution: Centre for Military, Security and Strategic Studies
  • Abstract: The US and a coalition of allies are once again intervening in the Middle East. This time it is in response to the rapid military advancement of Daesh, the acronym Arabic speakers use for the Arabic name of ISIS, Al-Dawla al-Islamiya fi al-Iraq wa al-Sham. Some ten weeks into the start of military operations a common view is that the coalition's aerial campaign has only had limited success at best. On the plus side, coalition air power coupled with local forces on the ground were able to save a great many Iraqi Yazidis who were being threatened by Daesh, but equally a great many of this sectarian minority were massacred and, in the case of women and girls, raped or sold into sexual slavery. The Kurds subsequent to the initial retreat of their much vaunted Peshmerga forces have been able to stabilize their fighting lines against Daesh and regain control of the important Mosul dam. This particular success is in part due to the Kurds themselves and in part due to the support of coalition air strikes and delivery of supplies, but it also appears to be due in part to Daesh turning its focus to Anbar and northern Syria. On the negative side, Daesh not only continues to hold Mosul, among many other Iraqi cities and towns, but it has also expanded its control of territory in Anbar province from where it now poses a potential threat to Baghdad and areas in and around the Iraqi capital city. Daesh also made significant advances in northern Syria where it threatened to overrun the Kurdish city of Kobane on the Syria-Turkey border, creating the looming prospect of the massacre of the fighters and civilians still there. Over the past few days the intensification of coalition air strikes in and around this city appears to have halted and at least partially pushed back the Daesh assault, but the city and its inhabitants are far from being safe as it could still fall in the days and weeks to come.
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Kurdistan
  • Author: Martin Samuels
  • Publication Date: 03-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of Military and Strategic Studies
  • Institution: Centre for Military, Security and Strategic Studies
  • Abstract: A former writer of British military doctrine, Jim Storr, recently lamented that, although many books explore what happens in war (history) or why wars happen (international relations), very few focus on how wars should be fought (warfare). He concluded this reflects warfare's status as 'a poorly developed discipline'. Consequently, 'It is incoherent, contains a range of poorly described phenomena and is pervaded by paradox.' The underdeveloped discourse concerning warfare, and within it the limited consideration of different approaches to command, may be considered an important contributor to the longstanding gulf between the doctrine of Mission Command espoused by the United States and British armies and actual operational practice, such that the doctrine is 'realized only in some places some of the time'.
  • Political Geography: Britain, United States
  • Publication Date: 03-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of Military and Strategic Studies
  • Institution: Centre for Military, Security and Strategic Studies
  • Abstract: In America and the Rogue States, Thomas Henriksen lays out the relationships that exist, and have existed, between America and the states that made up George W. Bush's 'Axis of Evil.' Henriksen outlines the history of the interactions between the United States and North Korea, pre-invasion Iraq, and Iran, and through this draws out a number of themes. He also shows that the ways the relationships have played out are highly situational and there is no one-size-fits-all solution. In the last chapter, Henriksen explores American relationships with a number of states that were either once considered rogue or could become rogue, like Libya, Syria, and Cuba, referring to them as either “lesser rogues” or “troublesome states.” These states have remained “a puzzle for US foreign policy” (1) and are characterized by three things: autocratic governance, sponsorship of terrorism, and pursuit of weapons of mass destruction (WMD). There is no clear definition provided by Henriksen for what can be considered a rogue state, making it difficult to judge what other states, if any, could be considered rogue. Henriksen seems to arbitrarily decide who is rogue and who is not: Cuba is a rogue state, while Myanmar is merely troublesome. Instead of synthesizing a clear definition of the term, something that could then be applied to other states in order to judge their 'rogueness,' Henriksen uses the Bush administration's criteria (the term itself was coined by President Bill Clinton in a 1994 speech in Brussels), which was outlined in the National Security Strategy of 2002 (NSS-2002). These were “brutality toward their own people; contempt for international law; determination to acquire weapons of mass destruction (WMD); advanced military technology; sponsorship of terrorism; rejection of human rights values; and hatred for the United States and 'everything it stands for'”. The use of the NSS-2002 definition allows for the 'Axis of Evil' to fit neatly into the term, which constitutes a problem of tautology, at least for the Bush administration. Further compounding this was that, according to Henriksen at least, the administration was set on going to war in Iraq prior to assuming office. This creates a situation in which it is hard to determine whether the idea of rogue states was created to justify this desire, or it informed the desire prior to the administration taking office.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: United States, America, North Korea, Libya