Donald Trump is officially the president elect of the United States. This is significant for a number of reasons, and it will impact people both in the U.S. and abroad. It will also lead to a number of Obama policies being altered or, in some cases, completely reversed. Obama’s recent rapprochement with Cuba might be one such case. Though, to be clear, it is still far too early for specific prognostications about Trump’s foreign policy agenda. As I wrote in another piece, “[N]obody – including Donald Trump – knows what kind of foreign policy the Trump administration will pursue. Trump seems to have very few fixed views, and his stated foreign policy goals stand in sharp contrast with the more hawkish views of traditional Republican politicians.” Thus, a discussion of Trump’s impact on Cuba is, in reality, two discussions: one about the impact of his policies, and another about whether or not he will change policies at all.
In 2015, President Barack Obama announced an easing of sanctions on Cuba. This was a historic shift in U.S. policy toward Cuba, which had called for complete isolation of the communist state since 1960, when the Cuban government nationalized all foreign firms operating on the island. In December of 2014, Obama and Cuban President Raúl Castro agreed to restore full diplomatic ties, leading to the reopening of the American embassy in Cuba. Obama further eased tensions between the two countries by conducting a prisoner swap and easing restrictions on travel and remittances (1). Nevertheless, large parts of the embargo remain in places because the Helms-Burton Act, which is the current legal basis for Cuba sanctions, grants only Congress the ability to lift the embargo. Given that Congress has been dominated by the Republican Party in recent years, Obama has been unable to get Congressional cooperation on Cuba.
This leaves the door open for President Trump to walk back Obama’s initiatives and impose new restrictions on U.S. diplomatic and economic ties with Cuba. Given that he leads a united Republican-controlled government, there is little stopping Trump from rolling back all of Obama’s policy changes toward Cuba and the Castro regime. For example, Trump might break off diplomatic ties and reclose the embassy. He might also impose new restrictions on capital flows between the two countries, blocking tourism and further regulating remittances. At the most extreme, Trump might engage in limited military actions against the communist regime, although this scenario would be highly unlikely. Nevertheless, recent reporting suggests that the Cuban military has engaged in a number of large-scale military drills to prepare for potential disputes with the United States (2).
This raises the question, then: What are the potential side effects of a more antagonistic policy toward Cuba? The good news is that Cuba policy is unlikely to be that significant. Cuba is a very small country that has minimal economic and political linkages with the United States. Furthermore, while Cuba has a considerable amount of clout within Latin America, many of its ideological allies – for example, Venezuela – are preoccupied with internal crises, and it lacks the influence to diplomatically challenge the United States in the Western Hemisphere. Thus, the negative repercussions of a more hostile and aggressive foreign policy toward Cuba would be constrained by structural forces and the limits of Cuban power.
Nevertheless, a reversal of Obama-era reforms toward Cuba could still generate significant repercussions for the United States. For one, it would weaken America’s global image, and tarnish America’s reputation in its own backyard. Every year, the United Nations holds a symbolic vote against the Cuban Embargo, and every year, every country besides the United States and Israel vote against the embargo (3). In Latin America, nearly every country overwhelming views the embargo as a negative and counterproductive policy, and they continuously call for the United States to restore full diplomatic and economic ties with Cuba. By moving to reestablish normal relations with the communist regime, Obama created goodwill both regionally and globally. Many countries viewed his policy changes to be progressive and forward-looking, as they consider the Cuban Embargo to be a relic of the Cold War (4). Were Trump to reverse course, he would significantly harm America’s global standing, making it more difficult for the United States to negotiate agreements with regional powers. Cooperation on trade, counter-narcotics, and counter-terrorism in Latin America would, therefore, become far more difficult.
A reversal of Obama’s policies toward Cuba might also retard Cuba’s transition from a completely state-controlled communist economy to a more market-based economy. By increasing diplomatic and economic linkages, Obama has created conditions likely to accelerate Cuba’s transition to a more capitalist system. Student and diplomatic exchanges expose Cuban intellectuals to alternative systems of economic governance, and increased economic linkages through tourism and remittances grant the U.S. greater economic leverage over the island. Indeed, the more interconnected the two countries become, the more influence the U.S. will possess over Cuba, allowing it to help guide reforms needed for economic growth and political changes (5). By reneging on commitments made by Obama, Trump provides an easy and convincing scapegoat for the Cuban government. They can argue that they sought to strengthen relations with the U.S., but instead of receiving earnest cooperation, they were subjected to a bait and switch. Furthermore, by limiting American diplomatic and economic influence on the island, the U.S. risks prolonging the economic stagnation and political repression on the island (6). While the material impacts of this on the U.S. are relatively insignificant, they are not zero. U.S. companies will continue to lack access to a potentially profitable of market, and the U.S. government will be forced to deal with an uncooperative and closed-off country 90 miles off the coast of Florida.
Clearly, then, it would be better if Trump chose to simply continue Obama’s Cuba policies, and it would be better still if Trump pressured his congressional allies to fully lift the embargo. This raises the question of whether Trump actually will choose to reverse Obama’s policy changes. At a superficial level, it seems obvious that he would. After all, Republicans have generally been vehemently opposed to Obama’s improving of relations, and the Florida-based Cuba Lobby would try to exploit their leverage to pressure Trump into restoring the diplomatic isolation of Cuba.
However, there are certain reasons to believe that Trump actually might choose to leave most of Obama’s changes in place. First, as explained previously, Cuba is a relatively insignificant foreign policy problem. Thus, it would be easy for Cuba to be overlooked as Trump focuses his attention on ISIS, North Korea, China, and Russia. As long as Castro does not intentionally provoke Trump or sabotage relations, it is entirely conceivable that Cuba gets lost in the craziness of a presidential transition. Second, Trump also might intentionally elect not to restore punitive diplomatic and economic restrictions on Cuba because of his private business interests. Indeed, Trump has already taken a number of actions that suggest that he is primarily focused on using the presidency to further his business interests and expand further into the international market. He used his position as president elect to pressure Argentine President Mauricio Macri for a hotel permit, for example, and his daughter Ivanka – a private businesswoman with no position in the government – attended a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (7). Given Trump’s frequent mixing of government duties with private business deals, it would actually be quite shocking if he were to restrict access to Cuban markets, as they represent a largely untapped and potentially lucrative tourism zone. As Trump is primarily a hotel and casino developer, it would make a lot of business since for him to actually further open to Cuba so as to allow his company greater access to a potentially very profitable market. In fact, one of the smaller scandals of the 2016 campaign was that Trump violated parts of Helms-Burton in 1998 by doing business in Cuba and then using loopholes to make it look like a charitable donation (8). It is not inconceivable, therefore, that Trump decides to keep his options open in Cuba.
Trump’s Cuba policy is far from clear at this point. Unlike many other issues – the TPP, ISIS, Russia, etc. – Trump has spoken very little on Cuba beyond token criticism of Obama’s rapprochement. Thus, has a relatively flexible set of options from which to choose. Of course, he will receive strong pressure from the more hawkish elements of the GOP to restore full diplomatic isolation, but it isn’t clear how much influence more establishment GOP figures will have in a Trump administration, especially when their counsel directly cuts into Trump’s potential bottom line. Fortunately, Cuba is such a small player that regardless of which actions Trump chooses to pursue, there will likely be any major impact on the United States. Nevertheless, the way in which Trump chooses to deal with Cuba will be incredibly revealing, as it will reveal both the power of GOP hawks within his administration as well as the degree to which Trump cares about private earnings when negotiating as the president. It will also reveal how ideological Trump is and provide greater insights into whether all of Trump’s campaign rhetoric against the “bad deals” of Obama was simply crafted out of political expediency or if it accurately reflects Trump’s worldview. With Trump, the future is uncertain. Whatever he chooses to do, though, will be highly revealing about his broader set of policy preferences.
(1) Renwick, Danielle. “U.S.-Cuba Relations.” Council on Foreign Relations. September 7, 2016. Web.
(2) Chang, Joshua. “Cuba Holds National Military Drills.” The Caravel. November 16, 2016. Web.
(3) Borger, Julian. “US abstains from UN vote to condemn Cuba embargo for the first time.” The Guardian. October 26, 2016. Web.
(4) Forero, Juan. “U.S.-Cuba Deal Welcomed in Latin America.” The Wall Street Journal. December 17, 2014. Web.
(5) Whiting, Ashley. “Policy Recommendation to Lift the Cuban Embargo.” LEEHG Institute for Foreign Policy. January 30, 2013. Web.
(6) Rodriguez, Andrea. “Lack of customers dooms many Cuban businesses.” U.S. News and World Report. December 27, 2014. Web.
(7) Halper, Daniel. “Trump accused of talking personal business with Argentine president.” The New York Post. November 21, 2016. Web; Lima, Cristiano. “Ivanka Trump sits in on meeting with Japanese prime minister.” Politico. November 17, 2016. Web.
(8) Oppmann, Patrick. “Report: Trump violated law by doing business in Cuba.” CNN. September 29, 2016. Web.
Image: © Erwin F. | Dreamstime.com - Capitolio, Cuba
Earlier this fall, the Chinese Air Force publicly unveiled its newest fighter, the J-20. Although spectators were only given a relatively brief glimpse of the plane undertaking simple maneuvers, the development of an indigenous 5th generation Chinese stealth fighter has made waves in the China-watcher community. Many questions still remain such as the quality of the fighter’s engines, the effectiveness of the fighter’s stealth features, and the number of planes expected to be built. Despite these questions, the significance of the J-20 cannot be overstated. China is well on its way to becoming a major military player, and this development is just one of many illustrating China’s rising power.
The J-20 possesses a relatively novel design that seems to borrow elements of Russian and American fighter designs. Indeed, it is highly likely that the J-20 incorporates many Russian and American innovations, as China has a history of illegally reverse engineering Russian technology and launching cyber-attacks against U.S. defense firms so as to acquire American designs. Incorporating features from the F-22 and the Mig 1.42 technology demonstrator, the J-20 features small canards near the front of the aircraft and a number of stealth features designed to reduce its radar cross-section (1). The aircraft features a twin-engine design and also incorporates vertical stabilizers near the rear of the plane. The J-20 is also suspected to have advanced avionics and senior capabilities such as an active electronically-scanned radar system that prevents other aircraft from using radar emissions to detect its location. The J-20 is also said to have infrared search and track sensors, and some analysts suspect that it might possess a distributed aperture system like the F-35, allowing pilots to use cameras around the plane to see through the aircraft (2).
Clearly, these capabilities represent a massive leap forward, and they represent the cutting edge of Chinese military industrial capability. Because of the plethora of new technology in this aircraft, there are serious questions regarding China’s ability to produce the J-20. After all, the highly experienced American defense giant Lockheed-Martin has struggled to produce and build the F-35, its 5th generation stealth fighter. Russia, another country with experience building complex fighters, has also struggled with its advanced 5th generation fighter, the PAK-FA (3). Given that both Russia and the U.S. are struggling, it is highly unlikely that China – a country lacking experience in aircraft production – will be able to quickly perfect and mass-produce the J-20. This is particularly true given China’s historical struggles with indigenous engine production (4).
In spite of the likely shortcomings of the J-20, it still poses a clear threat to American aircraft in the Asia-Pacific. This raises the question, though: What is the J-20 going to be used for? It is still far too early to know with any certainty how Beijing will try to utilize its new fighter. However, one can speculate based on the design characteristics of the aircraft. As Kyle Mizokami recently pointed out at Foreign Policy, it is plausible, and even likely, that the J-20 serves as a long-range interceptor for the PLAAF (5). As the fighter appears to be designed for range and speed, it’s possible that the J-20 will serve as China’s primary aircraft in the South and East China Seas. The placement of stealth features also suggests that the J-20 might be tasked with interception. This is due to the fact that the plane is stealthiest from the front, indicating that it might be designed to remain a stealthy profile during interception, fire from a distance, and then leave. Though as Chinese military analyst Yin Zhuo points out, the J-20’s emphasis on maneuverability and speed also suggests that it could be a potent dogfighter (6). Others have argued that it might act as fighter-bomber, as the size of the aircraft and its three weapons bays might also mean that the J-20 could be used to carry heavy ordinance, dropping bombs in contested airspace.
Obviously it is far too soon to evaluate the full potential of the J-20. Much is still unknown, and mass-production has likely not yet begun. However, it is probably safe to assume that the J-20 will not be as capable as comparable American or Russian fighters like the F-35 or PAK-FA. Nevertheless, the plane represents an enormous leap forward for China both militarily and industrially. Even if the fighter is not as effective as some American analysts fear, it will provide the Chinese aircraft industry with valuable experience, improving the Chinese military industrial complex and making China an even larger competitor on the international arms market.
(1) Mizokami, Kyle. “China has Big Plans for Its Deadly New Stealth Fighter.” Foreign Policy. November 4, 2016. Web.
(3) Seitz, Sam. “PAK-FA: An Impressive Plane Plagued with Issues.” Global Intelligence Trust. July 21, 2016. Web.
(4) Govindasamy, Siva. “Not Top Gun yet: China struggles with warplane engine technology.” Reuters. January 28, 2016. Web.
(5) Mizokami, Kyle. “China has Big Plans for Its Deadly New Stealth Fighter.” Foreign Policy. November 4, 2016. Web.
(6) Mouquan, Xu. “China's J-20 Stealth Fighter to debut.” News China. October 31, 2016. Web.
Image: © Maccj | Dreamstime.com - China Fighter Jets On Display At LIMA Langkawi Exhibition Photo
With the end of the Obama administration fast approaching, American adversaries are looking to provoke confrontations and stir up trouble. Domestic power transitions are an ideal time to test opponents: The incumbent is largely a lame duck, and the incoming leader will require time to adapt and adjust. Therefore, it is not at all surprising that Putin is looking to test the United States. With an upcoming election that is particularly acrimonious, the Kremlin is doing everything it can to destabilize the U.S. both domestically and internationally. The provocative tactics being used by Moscow cannot be ignored, as doing so would only encourage further aggression and undermine America’s position in the world. Thus, a measured but firm response is necessary to remind Putin that Russia is still just a second-rate power that cannot afford to take on the West.
Russian revanchism is not a new phenomenon. Over the past few years, Putin has ordered troops to seize Crimea and destabilize Eastern Ukraine, escalated the conflict in Syria, and constantly harassed NATO countries, especially those in the Baltics (1). However, recent months have witnessed an escalation in hostility from the Kremlin. The most obvious and concerning part of Putin’s strategy has been the targeted release of damaging information against U.S. Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton (2). Whether one agrees with Clinton or not, it is clear that foreign hacking and meddling in American domestic politics is entirely unacceptable. The rancor and vitriol in this year’s presidential election is reaching unprecedented levels, and this worrying trend is only being exacerbated by Russian-backed conspiracy theories. Beyond the clear and measurable damage that the Kremlin is causing in U.S. presidential politics, there is also a philosophical reason for opposing Putin’s meddling. Namely, the President of the United States should be determined by the American people, not Russian plutocrats. Allowing an adversary to launch a targeted and clear misinformation campaign risks domestic instability and is anathema to American democratic values.
Unfortunately, Russia is not just testing the United States domestically. It is also engaging in deliberately provocative actions in the realm of arms control. Indeed, just last week, Putin announced that Russia is suspending a plutonium disposition agreement with the United States (3). Negotiated at the end of the Cold War, this agreement was designed to safely dispose of weapons grade plutonium in a transparent and verifiable way. Agreements like this are important because they offer an effective way to decrease the number of nuclear weapons in the United States and the Russian Federation, thus leading to verifiable reductions in nuclear weapons stockpiles and easing nuclear tensions. As Jeffrey Lewis, a non-proliferation expert at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, argues, “Putin’s decree states that Russia isn’t planning on turning the plutonium back into weapons just yet. But there is no reason it couldn’t” (4). In other words, while there is no immediate threat in Russia’s withdrawal from the agreement, it presents potential problems in the future and severely undermines cooperation over nuclear security.
And Russian withdrawal from the plutonium disposition agreement is not the only nuclear-related provocation Putin has conducted. Russia has also deployed Iskander-M short-range missiles to the Kaliningrad Oblast. Kaliningrad, formerly East Prussia, is a small Russian exclave between Poland and Lithuania. From this position, Russian missiles could potentially hit all three Baltic republics as well as Eastern and Central Poland. Beyond its immediate threat to NATO countries, this deployment also has symbolic significance because the Iskander-M is likely in violation of the Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty between the U.S. and Russia. Thus, the deployment is not just a destabilizing and provocative move, but it also represents another attempt by Russia to ostentatiously violate and ignore arms control agreements designed to limit nuclear brinksmanship (5).
Of course, none of these actions alone are likely to start a conflict or justify a serious response from the U.S. and NATO. However, when they are viewed together, it becomes clear that they are not simply accidental and meaningless encroachments against international norms. They are components of a deliberate strategy designed to undermine Western stability and increase Russian influence through eroding the American-led liberal order.
It’s important to note that some analysts believe Russian actions are not intended to be provocative but instead are a consequence of Western incitement (6). However, this view ignores significant historical facts that suggest that Putin, not system-level dynamics, is to blame for the recent chill in relations. NATO expansion occurred largely in the 90s and early 2000s. Thus, the idea that NATO's move east is the cause of Putin’s paranoia is ahistorical and deeply misleading. If Russia was actually concerned about NATO, it would have reacted far sooner. Moreover, it is hard to see how NATO poses any significant threat to the Russian Federation. NATO defense spending has plummeted, NATO has no military units permanently stationed near the Russian border, and American and European leadership have deliberately tried to engage with Russia and support its integration into the broader European security and economic system. Efforts at trust-building and cooperation were quite fruitful for many years, especially during the presidency of Dmitry Medvedev. Putin’s election, however, changed everything and can be directly linked to the collapse in NATO-Russian relations. The problem is clear. It isn’t NATO or Russia, it is Putin (7).
The U.S. response to Putin’s aggressive and provocative action must be clear and costly, though limited enough to prevent a damaging escalation that spirals out of control. First, the U.S. should engage in a proportional response to Russian cyber-attacks. As recently outlined by James Stavridis, Dean of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and former Supreme Allied Commander of NATO, the U.S. could easily hack into the private networks of Putin and his cronies, releasing sensitive information to the Russian public. Other responses could be to weaken Russian internet censorship capabilities or even to attack Russia hackers directly, destroying their hardware through America cyber-attacks (8). Putin has been able to largely control Russia due to his clientelistic networks and massive public support. Were the U.S. to damage the image of Putin and his elite, oligarchic friends, this support would likely suffer, forcing Putin to focus on shoring up the domestic front. It would also remind Putin that American power still greatly exceeds that of the Russian Federation. Putin has been able to get away with a number of provocative actions due to tepid Western response, not because Russia is particularly capable. A tit for tat response would remind Putin that a war of small but constant escalations will always favor the U.S.
However, the U.S. should be careful to limit its military buildup in Europe. As Michael Kofman of the CNA Corporation has pointed out, Russia will always be able to achieve a tactical victory over NATO forces in Eastern Europe (9). Thus, marginal increases in troop levels only risk provoking Putin and furthering his narrative of NATO provocations. Nevertheless, the U.S. should continue to leverage European fears to catalyze European defense spending, shifting the balance of power ever further toward NATO. Although this wouldn’t directly deter a Russian fait accompli, it would significantly raise the costs of a drawn-out conflict between NATO and Russia, thus deterring at the strategic level.
Finally, the U.S. should look to continue mutually-beneficial cooperation in anti-terrorism and nuclear security. Success in these fields would be positive sum, as both countries have much to gain from degrading terror networks and limiting the risks of “loose nukes” and proliferation. Furthermore, it would contribute to confidence building and undercut the perception that the U.S. is attempting to exclude Russia from the international system, thus weakening some of the more aggressive conspiracy theories peddled by the Kremlin. In short, a successful response to Russia requires carefully calibrated and proportioned responses to Russian violations of international norms as well as a renewed commitment to cooperation and trust-building in mutually beneficial areas. The U.S. cannot afford to ignore Russia’s egregious violations of international sovereignty, but it also cannot afford to overreact and precipitate a second Cold War.
(1) Russian behavior has become so egregious that even the traditionally cautious Germany is calling for even greater sanctions. See, for example, Wehner, Markus. “Merkel will für weitere Sanktionen gegen Russland werben.” Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. October 15, 2016. Web. October 16, 2016.
(2) Sanger, David E. “U.S. Says Russia Directed Hacks to Influence Elections.” New York Times. October 7, 2016. Web. October 15, 2016.
(3) “Going Nuclear.” The Economist. October 8, 2016. Web. October 15, 2016.
(4) Lewis, Jeffrey. “The U.S. and Russia are Prepping for Doomsday.” Foreign Policy. October 7, 2016. Web. October 15, 2016.
(5) Marcus, Jonathan. Russia's missile deployment in Kaliningrad ups the stakes for Nato.” BBC. October 9, 2016. Web. October 16, 2016.
(6) Mearsheimer, John J. “Why the Ukraine Crisis Is the West’s Fault.” Foreign Affairs. September 2014. Web. October 15, 2016.
(7) Stoner, Kathryn and Michael McFaul. “Who Lost Russia (This Time)? Vladimir Putin.” The Washington Quarterly 38(2) (Summer 2015): pp. 167–187.
(8) Stavridis, James. “How to Win the Cyberwar Against Russia.” Foreign Policy. October 12, 2016. Web. October 14, 2016.
(9) Kofman, Michael. “FIXING NATO DETERRENCE IN THE EAST OR: HOW I LEARNED TO STOP WORRYING AND LOVE NATO’S CRUSHING DEFEAT BY RUSSIA.” War on the Rocks. May 12, 2016. Web.
Image: © Alexandr Anastasin | Dreamstime.com - Grand Kremlin Palace.
Many analysts and scholars see the Asia-Pacific as the central region shaping the early 21st century. With the rise of China as both an economic and military power, the increased tension on the Korean Peninsula, and the expansion of trade flows through the Straits of Malacca and the South China Sea, it is simply impossible to develop an effective grand strategy without accounting for developments in East Asia and the Western Pacific (1). The debate over how best to address growing challenges in Asia is complex and multifaceted (2). It requires deep knowledge of U.S. military capabilities, regional economic trends, and sociological forces shaping inter-state relations. Therefore, it is frustrating to see such a dearth of novel theorizing on how best to engage with the region (3). Of course, think tanks and academics have developed “new” theories, but in reality, these novel approaches are usually nothing more than old concepts with a new name. This lacuna is troubling because it allows deeply misguided strategies to gain support simply on account of them being radical or new. Unfortunately, we are already witnessing this dynamic in the debate over offshore balancing.
Offshore balancing has been advocated by a number of prominent realist scholars for decades, but it has never received much support from policymakers. Advocates of offshore balancing like Stephen Walt, John Mearsheimer, and Christopher Layne contend that the U.S. can safely retrench, minimizing its global military presence and intervening only when a regional power threatens to rise to the status of regional hegemon (4). To use Walt and Mearsheimer’s words, “Instead of policing the world, the United States would encourage other countries to take the lead in checking rising powers, intervening itself only when necessary” (5). At first glance, this strategy certainly seems persuasive. With Trump supporters questioning the role of NATO and Sanders supporters arguing that the U.S. should end its frequent and often-unproductive interventions in the Middle East, there does appear to be somewhat of a domestic consensus that the U.S. should reduce its global commitments.
However, a strategy of offshore balancing comes with a number of severe risks that are often under-appreciated by academics and voters alike. It is very clear that the United States military – despite all of its aging equipment and readiness gaps – is significantly more powerful than even its closest rivals (6). However, this does not mean that the U.S. can win any and all wars it faces, and this is the biggest weakness in offshore balancing as a theory. International relations scholars in academia measure power in very abstract terms. For example, they use measurements like GDP, population size, steel production, etc. (7). While this does a fairly good job of describing the global military balance in general terms, it is insufficient for analyzing specific contingencies and scenarios. However, because neither academics nor voters are, as a general rule, experts in military strategy, they often commit the error of assuming that abstract military power means guaranteed military success.
The problem with this view is that it ignores the role that geography and individual weapons systems play in determining the outcome of a battle. Although it would be nice if the U.S. were able to station all of its soldiers at home, surging them overseas only when a regional challenge emerged, this ignores the logistical and tactical problems of deployments. Were the U.S. to withdraw its forward deployed units, it would no longer possess prepared bases in potential hotspots, thus complicating logistics. Furthermore, the U.S. would have to deploy while contending with harassment from enemy aircraft, naval units, and A2AD (anti-access area denial) weapons systems like the Chinese DF-21D (8). In other words, the U.S. would face a much more challenging deployment to hostile regions of the world were it to abandon its global presence.
It is also unclear that the U.S. would be able to maintain its fruitful security relationships with ideologically aligned states. For example, NATO forces and command networks are deeply integrated, using common designations, command structures, and aircraft control hand gestures. This may seem superficial, but it is not. The commonality found in NATO is what makes the alliance so effective: Italian helicopters can land on American destroyers in a fleet commanded by a French admiral all because NATO forces use the same organizational principles. To maintain this high level of cooperation, however, the U.S. drills constantly with NATO allies. A U.S. withdrawal from Europe would weaken inter-military ties and thus make future cooperation exceedingly difficult. Moreover, as Frank Hoffman points out in a piece for the Foreign Policy Research Institute, “[offshore balancing] assumes that regional powers share our interests and have the will and capacity to stabilize the region,” but this may not be the case (9). It is not at all clear that a U.S. withdrawal from Asia would catalyze a renaissance in Japanese and South Korean defense capabilities. It is also not clear that their interests would entirely align with those of the United States. South Korea, for example, is far more sanguine about China’s rise than the U.S. and Japan are, and it would therefore be unlikely to adopt the kind of counterbalancing posture vis-à-vis China favored by the United States.
Furthermore, a withdrawal from East Asia would likely encourage nuclear weapons proliferation. U.S. security commitments to Japan, for example, have been crucial in containing Japanese leaders’ nuclear aspirations (10). Korea, too, has relied on credible U.S. security guarantees to undergird its defense posture against the North (11). With North Korea’s nuclear weapons program rapidly advancing, South Korea would be faced with tough choices were the U.S. to end its security guarantee (12). Proliferation is not guaranteed, of course. Japanese and Korean policymakers might view the repercussions of nuclear acquisition, such as sanctions or diplomatic isolation, as too severe. However, the empirical record suggests that absent external security guarantees, strong states facing acute security challenges will take extreme actions to guarantee their safety (13). Were rapid proliferation to occur, it would massively increase regional instability and raise the odds of a major conflict breaking out that pulls the United States back into the region, thus undermining the entire justification for pursuing offshore balancing. This is because new nuclear states lack the experience necessary to safely manage and organize their arsenals. Early command and control networks are often underdeveloped, and rival states are more likely to misread the intentions of new nuclear states because they lack established norms for dealing with nuclear neighbors (14).
Clearly, offshore balancing contains severe risks that vastly increase the risk of conflict breaking out in the Asia-Pacific. Why, then, does offshore balancing receive such support? The primary argument for retrenchment is that it reduces U.S. defense spending, thus yielding significant gains. With allies forced to defend themselves, the logic goes, the U.S. will be able to reduce the amount it spends. Or, as Donald Trump would put it, our allies are ripping us off and they need to pay their fair share. However, this kind of reasoning is simplistic and inaccurate because it only considers the costs of a global presence and fails to account for the economic gains. Of course maintaining a global military presence is incredibly expensive (15). However, the cost of forward deploying soldiers, ships and planes to allied territory pales in comparison to the cost of fighting a major war caused by U.S. retrenchment. In other words, U.S. forward basing is an insurance policy. It comes with a pricey premium, but that premium is more than justified given the grave consequences of a major war in East Asia. It’s also unclear whether troops stationed abroad are a net cost for the U.S. After all, allies like Japan and Korea pay for a significant amount of the costs associated with forward deployed soldiers and materiel, and a recent report by the nonpartisan RAND Corp. suggests that “The direct budgetary savings [of retrenchment] may be substantial, but the indirect trade costs are likely to be far larger” (16). The report goes on to say that “Policymakers who reduce [alliance] commitments would face… the future problems of a poorer United States” (17).
Offshore balancing is a sucker’s bet. It might lead to short-term savings, but when one extends the time horizons out from years to decades, it becomes clear that a policy of offshoring balancing would increase the likelihood of a great power war, while also shrinking the U.S. economy by reducing bilateral trade flows. Like a lot of radical and novel approaches to public policy being thrown around this year, offshore balancing seems intuitively smart: It allows the U.S. to focus on the home front and stop bankrolling lazy European and Asian partners. However, this view is faulty and misguided, and it belies a fundamental lack of knowledge about America’s role in the world. The common perception of the United States as being aloof and sheltered from world events has never been accurate. Even before its rise to superpower status, the U.S. played a major role on the world stage (18). To abandon the system that has served U.S. interests so well and helped undergird one of the most stable and peaceful periods in human history is foolish and naïve (19). We certainly need new and innovative strategies for dealing with friends and foes alike, but rejecting America’s position as the global liberal hegemon would only make the U.S. weaker and the world less safe.
(1) Maliniak, Daniel, Susan Peterson, Ryan Powers, and Michael J. Tierney. “Notes From the Ivory Tower.” Foreign Policy. February 3, 2015. Web. October 7, 2015.
(2) For example, see Friedberg, Aaron L. Beyond Air-Sea Battle: The Debate Over US Military Strategy in Asia. London: Routledge, 2014. Print.
(3) Mazarr, Michael J. “The World Has Passed The Old Grand Strategies By.” War on the Rocks. October 5, 2016. Web. October 7, 2016.
(4) Mearsheimer, John J. and Stephen Walt. “The Case for Offshore Balancing.” Foreign Affairs. July/August 2016. Web. October 7, 2016; Layne, Christopher. “From Preponderance to Offshore Balancing: America’s Future Grand Strategy.” International Security 22(1) (1997): 86–124.
(5) Walt and Mearsheimer, 71.
(6) O’Hanlon, Michael E. and David Petraeus. “America’s Awesome Military.” Brookings Institution. September 30, 2016. Web. October 7, 2016.
(7) Braumoeller, Bear F. “Has The American Military Fallen Behind?” The Monkey Cage. May 4, 2016. Web. October 7, 2016.
(8) Jackson, Van. Interview with Deny Roy. Pacific Pundit. August 8, 2016. Podcast Audio.
(9) Hoffman, Frank G. “Retreating Ashore: The Flaws of Offshore Balancing.” Geopoliticus. July 5, 2016. Web. October 7, 2016.
(10) Hoey, Fintan. “Japan and Extended Nuclear Deterrence: Security and Non-proliferation.” Journal of Strategic Studies 39(4) (2016): 484-501.
(11) Jang, Se Young. “The Evolution of US Extended Deterrence and South Korea’s Nuclear Ambitions.” Journal of Strategic Studies 39(4) (2016): 502-520.
(12) Lewis, Jeffrey. “North Korea’s Nuke Program Is Way More Sophisticated Than You Think.” Foreign Policy. September 9, 2016. Web. October 7, 2016.
(13) Monteiro, Nuno P. and Alexandre Debs. “The Strategic Logic of Nuclear Proliferation.” International Security 39(2) (Fall 2014): 7–51.
(14) Sagan, Scott D. The Limits of Safety: Organizations, Accidents, and Nuclear Weapons. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1993. Print.
(15) All data is from Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). “Military Expenditure Database.” Stockholm: SIPRI, 2015. http://www.sipri.org/research/armaments/milex.
(16) Egel, Daniel, Adam R. Grissom, John P. Godges, Jennifer Kavanagh and Howard J. Shatz. Estimating the Value of Overseas Security Commitments. Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation, 2016. Web.
(18) Herring, George C. From Colony to Superpower: U.S. Foreign Relations Since 1776. New York: Oxford University Press, 2008. Print.
(19) Ikenberry, G J. Liberal Leviathan: The Origins, Crisis, and Transformation of the American World Order. Princeton, N.J: Princeton University Press, 2011. Print.
Image: © 1000words | Dreamstime.com - US President Barack Obama
This past summer, Turkey experienced a large-scale, though poorly organized, military coup. The causes and consequences of this are of immense importance not just because they impact a NATO member who controls the vitally important Bosporus Strait, but also because the subsequent repression that has followed is extremely alarming, and it threatens Turkish democracy. However, there is one other issue that has been both overlooked and overly exaggerated by a vast number of commentators and pundits: American nuclear weapons housed at Turkey’s Incirlik Air Base.
Fortunately, the American nuclear weapons at Turkey’s Incirlik Air Base were never at risk. This is because all facilities that store nuclear weapons are highly secured, and it is virtually impossible for nefarious forces to access them. Weapons are housed in a separate, fenced-off area, guarded by well-trained and highly qualified personnel. Inside the fencing, there are vaults sitting under aircraft shelters, and inside these vaults are the nuclear weapons. Thus, it would be exceedingly difficult for outside forces to gain control of American nuclear systems. This is particularly true given the $160 million that the U.S. and its NATO allies recently invested in modernizing and upgrading nuclear security systems (1). Yet all of this security might not have even been necessary during the coup, as history demonstrates that coup plotters rarely seem to target nuclear weapons (2). Instead, they tend to focus on eliminating the sitting government’s senior leadership, closing down transportation networks, and seizing communications networks because these are key to disrupting the government and controlling the narrative (3). Wasting precious resources and personnel on seizing nuclear sites is, therefore, a sub-optimal strategy.
Despite the plethora of evidence suggesting American nuclear assets in Turkey were secure, strange rumors began to emerge that the U.S. government – spooked by the coup – rebased its nuclear weapons in Romania. Originally reported by an obscure website, these uncorroborated speculations were quickly spread by fringe media outlets. However, they have been denied by Romanian officials, and American officials have called the claims preposterous. It also makes no sense from a technical standpoint, as Romania lacks the facilities necessary to house U.S. nuclear weapons (4). In short, there is absolutely no evidence that U.S. nuclear weapons have been moved to Romania.
These concerns and bizarre conspiracy theories about nukes in Romania do raise an important point, though. Why does the United States house nuclear weapons in foreign countries? The policy of storing nuclear weapons in foreign countries dates back to the Cold War. During the first few years of the decades long struggle between East and West, the United States lacked the ability to launch weapons capable of striking the Soviet Union from the U.S. homeland. Missile technology was still maturing, and thus the U.S. was forced to base nuclear weapons in Europe to hold Soviet facilities at risk. Eventually, the U.S. was able to develop intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) capable of striking the U.S.S.R. from the U.S. However, the U.S. continued to deploy nuclear weapons to Western Europe in order to deter a large-scale Soviet invasion. Faced with overwhelming Soviet superiority in conventional forces, NATO was forced to rely on forward deployed tactical nuclear weapons as their asymmetric response. This strategy was officially formalized during the Kennedy administration as the “flexible response” doctrine (5).
Decades later, the U.S. continues to maintain a small number of nuclear weapons in Europe through NATO’s “nuclear sharing” policy. Officially, this is done to maintain deterrence in Europe. However, the relevance of U.S. nuclear forces in Europe is highly questionable. Despite their official mission statement, American nuclear weapons in Europe are objectively little more than vestiges of the Cold War supported only by self-serving bureaucracies looking to justify a greater share of the budget. Their mission of deterring Russian aggression is largely superfluous, as the likelihood of a large-scale Soviet-style invasion is exceedingly small, and the kind of irregular warfare currently used by Russia is far too limited to justify a nuclear response (6). There is also no reason that nukes couldn’t be redeployed to Europe were a major crisis to break out. Of course, there is a risk that the elimination of U.S. nuclear weapons in Europe might spook allies, encouraging them to potentially acquire nuclear weapons of their own. However, this seems like an unlikely scenario for two reasons. First, conventional forces play a far greater role than nuclear forces in signaling America’s commitment to allies’ defense (7). Second, the U.S. withdrew its nuclear weapons forward deployed to Asia years ago, and neither Japan nor South Korea responded by seeking to acquire nuclear weapons themselves (8). The presence of U.S. nuclear weapons in Europe is likely not a threat to peace – there are too few to frighten Russia, and they are too well guarded to be stolen by terrorists or rogue military elements. However, there is also no real strategic reason for the U.S. to continue to base nuclear weapons in Europe, as they are nothing more than an expensive anachronism.
The coup in Turkey generated all kinds of discussion about a range of issues. It also led to the promulgation of some seriously comical conspiracy theories. Nevertheless, beneath all of this paranoia and confusion lies an important and serious issue: the basing of U.S. nuclear weapons abroad. Sure, there are probably no meaningful risks generated by the stationing of U.S. nuclear weapons in Turkey, but there are also no meaningful strategic advantages to be gained. The United States must seriously evaluate its current nuclear strategy because continuing to do things simply because it’s the way they have been done is not strategy, it’s intellectual laziness.
(1) Lewis, Jeffrey. “America’s Nukes Aren’t Safe in Turkey Anymore.” Foreign Policy. July 18, 2016. Web. September 27, 2016.
(2) Tertrais, Bruno. “A “Nuclear Coup”? France, the Algerian War and the April 1961 Nuclear Test.” Working Paper: Fondation pour la Recherche Stratégique. October 2, 2011. Web. September 27, 2016.
(3) Luttwak, Edward N. Coup d'État: A Practical Handbook, Revised Edition. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2016. Print.
(4) De Luce, Dan. “No, the U.S. Is Not Moving Its Nukes From Turkey to Romania.” Foreign Policy. August 19, 2016. Web. September 27, 2016.
(5) Sagan, Scott Douglas. Moving Targets: Nuclear Strategy and National Security. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1989. Print. pp. 37.
(6) Kofman, Michael. “FIXING NATO DETERRENCE IN THE EAST OR: HOW I LEARNED TO STOP WORRYING AND LOVE NATO’S CRUSHING DEFEAT BY RUSSIA.” War on the Rocks. May 12, 2016. Web. September 27, 2016.
(7) Lanoszka, Alexander. “Better to dismay allies now than to infuriate them later.” The Washington Post. April 6, 2014. Web. September 28, 2016.
(8) Krepon, Michael. “Alliances and No First Use.” Arms Control Wonk. July 5, 2016. Web.
Image: © Petitfrere | Dreamstime.com - Nuclear Protest Photo
With proliferating asymmetric threats in the cyber realm, lackluster global economic growth, and the constant specter of terrorism, it’s easy to overlook the threat of war between nation-states. Although it is certainly true that inter-state war is on the decline and thus far less likely to occur than terrorism or non-kinetic attacks on U.S. information technology systems, it still represents the most dangerous threat to world peace (1). This is due to the simple fact that wars between well-armed states can lead to far higher casualties and much greater destruction than small-scale terror attacks. In other words, while the probability of an inter-state dispute escalating to open conflict is fairly low, the magnitude of the consequences demands that the risk be taken seriously. The region that is perhaps the most likely to experience high-intensity conflict between major powers is South Asia. With nuclear-armed India and Pakistan existing in an enduring rivalry, constantly taking provocative actions against the other, the risk of inadvertent conflict is relatively high. The nuclear status of both India and Pakistan – and, in particular, Pakistan’s highly aggressive nuclear posture – makes a conflict very risky indeed, as escalation dynamics might lead to the use of nuclear weapons.
Since 1998, when both India and Pakistan tested their nuclear weapons in quick succession, the subcontinent has come perilously close to witnessing a major war on a number of occasions. This was particularly true during the late 90s and early 2000s, when both countries were learning how to organize their arsenals and were developing their nuclear postures (2). Fortunately, with the possible exception of the Kargil Crisis, we have yet to witness a major military escalation in South Asia. While there have been a number of Pakistani provocations, such as the Mumbai terror attacks and insurgent violence in Kashmir, neither side has been willing to escalate tensions to the point of full-scale war. This lack of conflict is not a reason for optimism, however, as there are at least two dynamics of the Indo-Pak relationship that increase the likelihood of conflict: The stability-instability paradox and India’s adoption of an aggressive conventional military doctrine (3).
The stability-instability paradox describes the increase of small-scale conflict associated with the acquisition of nuclear weapons. States that possess nuclear weapons are effectively invulnerable, as their ability to launch a nuclear retaliatory attack makes the stakes too high for rivals to consider war. However, this invulnerability allows nuclear weapons states to risk low-level conflict because they know that no country is going to risk war with a nuclear-armed state over a minor transgression. In other words, nuclear states’ protection from major wars allows them to take greater risks lower down on the escalation ladder. This is certainly the case with Pakistan, which has exploited its nuclear arsenal to execute a number of asymmetrical attacks against its eastern neighbor, India. For example, Pakistan felt comfortable seizing territory in Indian-controlled Kashmir in 1999 in part because “[Pakistan] believed that their incipient nuclear capabilities had effectively neutralized whatever conventional military advantages India possessed” (4). There is also compelling evidence that suggests that Pakistan exploited the security offered by its nuclear arsenal to support the 2001 attack against the Indian Parliament by Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed. This attack quickly precipitated a major military crisis, as India responded by initiating Operation Parakram, mobilizing 500,000 troops along the border and threatening to strike Pakistani terror camps and invade parts of Pakistani Kashmir unless Pakistan turned over individuals connected with the attack and renounced terrorism. In response, Pakistan quickly deployed its own forces along the border, and soon over 1,000,000 troops were squaring off along the India-Pakistan border (5). Tensions were lowered due, in part, to Pakistani concessions and U.S. intervention. However, in 2002, Pakistani militants again crossed into India and killed 32 Indian military personnel. The U.S. was forced to intervene a second time to halt India’s planned invasion of Pakistan (6). These types of provocative and vicious attacks have become less frequent over time, but they have certainly not ceased. Indeed, just this past week, 18 Indian soldiers were killed in Kashmir, and evidence suggests that Pakistan was in some way involved (7).
In response to these Pakistani provocations, India adopted a highly aggressive conventional military doctrine in 2004 in an attempt to raise the costs for Pakistani action. Known as Cold Start, this new doctrine is designed to allow for the swift mobilization of Indian military personnel in order to execute rapid strikes against Pakistani positions in the event of a conflict (8). However, it is not at all clear that Cold Start will serve to decrease tensions on the subcontinent. Instead of deterring war, it might actually lead to conflict escalation due to its embrace of limited war. Cold Start was initially developed in response to the 2001 Parliament attack: Indian politicians and strategists were deeply frustrated with the relatively slow mobilization of Indian forces and sought to design a doctrine capable of rapidly responding to Pakistani provocations (9). Instead of organizing the Indian military into three Strike Corps designed to defeat Pakistani forces head on – the pre-2004 organization of the Indian military – Cold Start argued for a reorganization of the offensive component of the Indian Army into eight integrated battle groups designed to launch quick, shallow strikes into Pakistan. The central idea of Cold Start is to strike sufficiently deep into Pakistani territory to extract significant concession but not so deep as to spook Islamabad into deploying nuclear weapons (10).
Cold Start is advantageous for a number of reasons. It allows for relatively rapid mobilization and thus faster retaliation against Pakistan in the event of an attack. Furthermore, the smaller, more dispersed organization allows for greater Indian flexibility, making it harder for Pakistan to predict and defend against Indian attack vectors. Thus, India should be better able to hold Pakistani forces at risk. However, the smaller size of integrated battle groups makes it less likely that Pakistan would view Indian incursions into Pakistani territory as an existential threat, reducing the risk of nuclear conflict. At least that is the theory. In reality, there is good evidence to suggest that Cold Start might actually increase the risk of large-scale conventional war, even as it meaningfully decreases the risk of Pakistani-backed terror attacks. This is because Cold Start decreases the time in which external actors like the United States can intervene and deescalate the situation. As Ladwig writes, “the international community may find integrated battle groups on the road to Lahore before anyone in Washington, Brussels, or Beijing has the chance to act” (11).
Cold Start is also dangerous in that it increases the risk of deliberate or inadvertent escalation on the part of Pakistan. Cold Start is premised on the idea that limited war is possible. In other words, it relies on the belief that India is capable of launching targeted strikes on Pakistan without triggering a nuclear response. This is certainly plausible, but it is important not to underestimate the level of confusion and fear that exists during high-intensity military conflict. Pakistan might misread Indian intentions and view limited Indian strikes as an existential threat, thus prompting them to order the use of tactical nuclear weapons against Indian forces. Miscalculation is particularly likely in the case of an Indo-Pak conflict, as most major Pakistani population centers are located near the border. Thus, even limited Indian incursions into Pakistani territory might appear extremely threatening to Pakistani leadership (12). This could lead to an escalation up the nuclear ladder, as India might very well consider a nuclear response to a Pakistani tactical nuclear strike. It’s also important to remember that during a war, Pakistan will not sit idly by and allow Indian forces to strike with impunity. Thus, a conflict would be fast and highly unpredictable, increasing the risk of strategic miscalculations and limiting external mediator’s ability to deescalate the crisis. The aforementioned problems would only be compounded by India’s poor national security organization. During the 2008 Mumbai attacks, for example, there was no sign of any Indian integrated battle groups. Thus, it is far from clear that the clunky and cumbersome Indian military hierarchy is even capable of effectively executing Cold Start.
Finally, it is crucial to examine the nuclear capabilities and strategies of the two countries. As Vipin Narang convincingly argues, Pakistani doctrine is designed to permit maximum flexibility (13). This is due to India’s superior conventional military capabilities: Pakistan simply can’t afford to fight India on India’s terms. However, India is limited in its responses to a Pakistani nuclear strike because “its own arsenal is physically configured for a countervalue strike on Pakistani population centres” (14). In other words, Pakistan has a wider range of nuclear capabilities and is therefore able to control escalation dynamics. Because India lacks the ability to deploy tactical nuclear weapons, Pakistan is able to operate at the tactical nuclear level with virtual impunity because it is exceedingly unlikely that India would be willing to retaliate against a small-scale Pakistani nuclear strike with a full-scale strategic retaliatory strike against Pakistani cities. This further undermines the Cold Start doctrine, as it means that Pakistan might consider utilizing tactical nuclear weapons against Indian formations, destroying them before they can secure any strategic objectives. India’s hands are tied because its nuclear arsenal is only effective at the strategic level: It could either choose to withdraw or strike Pakistani population centers, but those are the only two options. Neither option is ideal, and thus India would be forced to make a number of difficult decisions while under severe pressure. In a situation like this, it is conceivable that an inadvertent escalation occurs, throwing the entire subcontinent into full-on nuclear conflict.
In conclusion, Indo-Pak deterrence is incredibly complex and, in many ways, is an ineffective system for limiting conflict escalation. Both countries have developed risky strategies in an effort to deter and coerce the other, so understanding the dynamics of Indo-Pak deterrent relationship at both the conventional and nuclear level is absolutely crucial to lowering the probability of a major conflict. Luckily, we have yet to witness a significant war between India and Pakistan since they have acquired nuclear arsenals. However, this is not a justification for complacency, as the costs of a war in one of the most populous areas of the globe would be unimaginably high.
(1) Pinker, Steven. The Better Angels of our Nature. New York: Viking Press, 2011. Print.
(2) Kapur, S. Paul. “Ten Years of Instability in Nuclear South Asia.” International Security, 33(2) (Fall 2008): pp. 71.
(3) Ibid, 72.
(4) Ganguly, Sumit. Conflict Unending: India-Pakistan Tensions since 1947. New York: Columbia University Press, 2001. Print. pp. 92.
(5) Kapur, 80.
(6) Ibid, 81.
(7) Ed. Board. “Rising Tensions in Kashmir.” New York Times. 23 Sept. 2016. Web. Accessed 24 Sept. 2016.
(8) Ladwig III, Walter C. “A Cold Start for Hot War?” International Security, 32(3) (Winter 2007/08): pp. 158.
(9) Ibid, 161.
(10) Ibid, 163-166.
(11) Ibid, 167.
(12) Joshi, Shashank. “India's Military Instrument: A Doctrine Stillborn.” Journal of Strategic Studies, 36(4) (2013): pp. 517.
(13) Narang, Vipin. Nuclear Strategy In The Modern Era. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2014. Print.
(14) Joshi, 522.
Image: © Smandy | Dreamstime.com - India Pakistan Waga Border
For over 11 years, Angela Merkel has held the position of German Chancellor. A member of the center right Christian Democratic Union (CDU), she has been an enduring player in German politics. However, her stance on refugees has led to dissent within the German conservative movement, and it has contributed to the rise of the AfD (Alternative for Germany) – a far-right, anti-immigrant party. Just recently, in fact, the AfD outperformed the CDU in local elections for the German state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, and the AfD now has some degree of influence in nine of the 16 German Bundesländer (federal states) (1). Thus, it’s not surprising that many conservative Germans are growing concerned. They are worried that their party’s long reign might be coming to an end, and they feel that Merkel must change course or risk being swept out of power by the AfD (2). However, it appears unlikely that the AfD presents any immediate threat to the center right in Germany. Despite their recent successes, they simply do not possess sufficient unity or organization to engender a meaningful political realignment.
The AfD has existed for some time. Originally, it was an anti-EU party associated with the Euroskeptic movement. Merkel’s Flüchtlingspolitik (refugee politics) has led to a recalibration within the AfD, and the far right party is now organized primarily in opposition to Germany’s generous refugee policies (3). To some degree, this empowers the fringe party by linking it with a major and controversial issue in contemporary Germany. In much the same way that Donald Trump has been able to gain traction in the U.S. by exploiting controversies and pushing divisive agendas, the AfD is exploiting new divisions in German politics created by the large influx of Syrian refugees. However, this strategy also comes with significant disadvantages. In particular, it means that the AfD lacks any real message or coherent policy platform beyond halting large refugee flows. In other words, they have yet to provide any compelling reasons to vote AfD; at this stage, voting AfD is just a protest vote against current policies. Therefore, it is hard to envision the AfD generating any significant political momentum going into the 2017 Bundestag elections. They will likely perform better than in previous years, but it is hard to imagine them drawing large amounts of support without any positive, unifying message.
The AfD is hampered not only by its inability to craft a central message but also by its internal conflict. For example, in the southern state of Baden-Württemberg, the AfD has been split over anti-Semitic comments made by local AfD politician Wolfgang Gedeon. Gedeon was asked to step down by the AfD’s party leader Frauke Petry, yet divisions linger. This controversy speaks to broader rifts within the party (4). In particular, it demonstrates that the AfD is not a unified coalition, but is instead a highly heterogeneous group with different policy preferences. As with all right-wing populist parties, the AfD has supporters from the center right as well as from the racist far right. Those in the middle are opposed to refugees for economic reasons, but those on the far right oppose them for far more pernicious reasons: They believe that refugees are racially inferior and represent a threat to German culture and society. This philosophical divide is only exacerbating internecine conflicts within the party’s base of support, and it portends future instability within the AfD.
The AfD also has a turnout problem. The Bundesländer in which it has witnessed the most success – Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and Saxony-Anhalt – have some of the lowest levels of turnout for federal elections in all of Germany (5). Thus, it is unclear whether the AfD’s regional successes will carry over to the national level. The problem of turnout is compounded by the fact that the AfD lacks a clear, unified base of support. As the Lowry Interpreter reveals, “While demonstrating a certain appeal to middle-aged male workers, it also receives high levels of support from the middle class, from women, from the young, and from the tertiary-educated.” Furthermore, “its vote was comprised in roughly equal thirds of previous right-leaning voters, previous centrist and left-leaning voters, and previous non-voters” (3). Given this highly diverse group of supporters, it will likely prove challenging for the AfD to develop a platform that successfully caters to such variegated preferences. These people are united in their frustration with the CDU and the center-left Social Democratic Party's (SPD) enduring hold on power, and they are concerned by refugee flows. Beyond that, however, there is very little that unites them. Therefore, it is far from clear that the AfD can craft a message that motivates its supporters to turn out en masse.
The AfD has a bigger problem, though: The CDU is deceptively strong. Despite what a number of commentators seem to believe, Merkel and her party are not nearly as weak as they might appear. For one, there simply aren’t any politicians in Germany as well-known and as powerful as Angela Merkel. No politician in the SPD – the only party with the numbers to threaten the CDU – is as influential as Merkel. Moreover, the CDU’s major political ally, the CSU, has very little political sway. Despite receiving sharp criticism from CSU party leader Horst Seehofer, Angela Merkel is not in any real danger (6). This is because the CSU is only a regional party and thus has a lot to lose from alienating its national patron. Finally, it is important to remember that Angela Merkel is still a very popular chancellor in spite of her controversial stance on refugees (7). Therefore, it is highly unlikely that she will see large defections from supporters. CDU supporters are frustrated with her, but they still support her and view her as the best person to lead Germany.
The rise of the AfD demonstrates that even Germany, a country renowned for its moderate and stable political system, is being forced to deal with the wave of populism now engulfing so many Western democracies. The AfD will continue to be a thorn in the side of Angela Merkel and the CDU, and if the refugee crisis is not resolved within the next year, the AfD may actually begin to pose a threat to the center-right in Germany. For now, however, they remain only a protest party that is unlikely to play any real role in the federal parliament. They are simply too divisive, too disorganized, and too weak to have an impact, and the AfD is too small to have any power over coalition formation. While they have made some impressive gains over the past year, the AfD still has a long way to go before becoming a serious player in the German Bundestag.
(1) Fischer, Sebastian. “AfD-Erfolg in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern: Merkels böse Geister.” Der Spiegel. 5 Sept. 2016. Web. 18 Sept. 2016.
(2) Stelzenmüller, Constanze. “Merkel’s election woes are a warning to Berlin.” Brookings Institution. 10 Sept. 2016. Web. 18 Sept. 2016.
(3) Colla, Marcus. “'Alternativlos'? The future of Angela Merkel’s chancellorship.” The Lowry Interpreter. 16 Sept. 2016. Web. 18 Sept. 2016.
(4) “Germany's right-wing AfD seeks to avert internal split.” Deutsche Welt. 5 July 2016. Web. 18 Sept. 2016.
(5) “Wahlbeteiligung bei den Bundestagswahlen nach Bundesländern bis 2013.” Statista. 2016. Web. 18 Sept. 2016.
(6) Fried, Nico. “Merkel hat nur noch zwei Optionen.” Süddeutsche Zeitung. 6 Sept. 2016. Web. 18 Sept. 2016.
(7) “Merkel gewinnt an Zustimmung, die Union stagniert.” Stern. 7 Sept. 2016. Web. 18 Sept. 2016.
Image: © Yakub88 | Dreamstime.com - Angela Merkel
North Korea recently tested its biggest nuclear warhead to date. While the precise size of the warhead is still being hotly debated, there is unanimous agreement that it was at least ten kilotons, or roughly the size of the Fat Man bomb dropped on Nagasaki (1). North Korea has been rapidly accelerating its nuclear program since Kim Jong-un, the young leader of North Korea, assumed power after the death of his father, Kim Jong-il. It now appears that North Korea is rapidly approaching the status of advanced nuclear state. To be sure, North Korea still possesses a relatively small and technologically unsophisticated arsenal. However, North Korea’s nuclear stockpile is rapidly expanding and evolving in deeply concerning ways. The world must come to terms with the fact that North Korea has become, for all intents and purposes, an effective nuclear weapons state. Unless radical new policies are implemented to halt the Hermit Kingdom’s march toward advanced nuclear systems, the world might be forced to contend with a newly aggressive Korea armed with a devastating and highly capable nuclear arsenal.
Jeffrey Lewis, a prominent nuclear analyst at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, argues that one of the more concerning aspects of this recent nuclear test is that North Korean officials claim that they have developed a standardized warhead. In other words, it seems likely that North Korean scientists have settled on a standard warhead configuration to be fitted on their missile systems. Lewis argues that this “test isn’t just a political statement. It has a technical purpose. And that purpose is demonstrating the reliability of that ‘standardized’ nuclear warhead to arm the missile force.” Lewis also contends that the language used by North Korea is meaningful: “The fact that the warheads are ‘standardized’ is… intended to convey that they are being produced in quantity” (1). In a sense, this is North Korea’s coming out moment. After over a decade of concerted effort, North Korea can now claim to be a nuclear weapons state capable of mass producing nuclear devices. It is, of course, still unclear that North Korea is in fact able to produce large quantities of nuclear weapons. We are relying on North Korean statements and propaganda after all. However, trends certainly seem to suggest that Kim’s regime has made great strides in nuclear warhead production.
It is also important not to focus solely on Pyongyang’s nuclear warhead production. North Korea’s development of potent and reliable missile systems is sometimes ignored, but effective missile delivery systems represent an integral component of an effective nuclear deterrent. Thus, it is concerning to see North Korean missile technology developing so briskly (2). As rapidly as North Korea has been improving and refining its nuclear warhead technology, it seems to be improving its missile delivery systems at an even faster rate. Indeed, North Korea tested a successful submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) only a few weeks ago. This represents a significant improvement in North Korean missile technology and puts North Korea on the path toward developing a secure second strike capability. The development of a North Korean SLBM is also worrisome because it potentially gives Kim the ability to bypass missile defense systems designed to target weapons launched from land (3).
What is perhaps most fascinating and concerning about Kim Jong-un’s seemingly unrelenting quest to acquire a secure nuclear arsenal, however, is that it is occurring in spite of incredibly severe sanctions (4). Recently, even China – North Korea’s de facto patron – agreed to increase sanctions on the Hermit Kingdom, and Chinese officials and media organizations have become increasingly vocal in their denunciations of North Korean provocations. While there is some debate as to China’s willingness to enforce sanctions, the fact that China was even willing to publicly support measures aimed at constraining the Kim regime is still significant in and of itself. That North Korea has been willing and able to persevere through ever more stringent sanctions indicates that the regime is unlikely to halt nuclear weapons production regardless of the actions of outside powers (5).
Of course, the new, even harsher sanctions agreed upon by the P-5 might alter Pyongyang’s calculations. However, there are two compelling reasons to believe that punitive economic measures will continue to prove ineffective against the North Korean regime despite this recent multinational cooperation regarding North Korean sanctions. The primary reason is that sanctions have already reached maximum effectiveness, and thus further economic tightening will likely have no meaningful impact on North Korea’s economic situation. The Hermit Kingdom has been effectively bankrupt for a number of years now, but the regime simply doesn’t care. Because regime leaders are largely shielded from the impacts of North Korea’s dire economic situation and know that China will always backstop them in the event of a catastrophic economic calamity, sanctions possess only limited effectiveness (6). The second reason for Kim’s willingness to endure such severe sanctions is that he views nuclear weapons as the only way to guarantee North Korean security (7). Absent nuclear weapons, it becomes far easier for countries like South Korea or the United States to try to depose Kim or otherwise precipitate regime change. Thus, Pyongyang is willing to endure almost anything to acquire an effective nuclear arsenal and, by extension, a secure hold on power.
The ineffectiveness of sanctions is incredibly concerning because it means that there is very little the West can do to halt North Korean nuclear weapons production. The U.S. could attempt to launch targeted airstrikes against North Korean nuclear facilities, but this would risk massive escalation on the peninsula, placing Seoul and Tokyo in Pyongyang’s crosshairs and potentially leading to conflict with China. In other words, if the United States chooses to do nothing, it may end up with a North Korean arsenal that is “likely to keep growing. If [the U.S. does] nothing… it will grow in number, grow to threaten the continental United States, and eventually grow to include very powerful staged-thermonuclear weapons” (1). However, if the United States chooses to use military power to destroy North Korea’s arsenal, it risks sparking a major regional war that could draw in a number of great powers. There are no easy solutions, and the question of how best to deal with North Korea is only made more complex by the competing interests of external powers like China. However, the United States and its regional allies can no longer afford to simply wait out the Kim regime. More decisive action is required.
(1) Lewis, Jeffrey. “North Korea’s Nuke Program Is Way More Sophisticated Than You Think.” Foreign Policy. September 9, 2016. Web.
(2) “North Korea: Missile.” Nuclear Threat Initiative. September 2016. Web.
(3) Park, Ju-min and Jack Kim. “North Korea fires submarine-launched ballistic missile towards Japan.” Reuters. August 24, 2016. Web.
(4) Pollack, Jonathan D. “What makes this North Korean nuclear test different.” Brookings. September 9, 2016. Web.
(5) Hudson, John and David Francis. “Why Did Sanctions Fail Against North Korea?” Foreign Policy. September 9, 2016. Web.
(6) For a case study of regime shielding, see Ashford, Emma. “Not So Smart Sanctions: The Failure of Western Restrictions Against Russia.” Foreign Affairs. January/February 2016. Web; for China’s role in backstopping the North Korean economy, see Kuhn, Anthony. “Why China Wants To Squeeze North Korea A Little, But Not Too Much.” NPR. September 9, 2016. Web.
(7) Taewoo, Tim. “Combating North Korea’s Nuclear Blackmail: Proactive Deterrence and the Triad System.” Korean Institute for Defense Analysis. 2012. Web.
Image: © Gordeev20 | Dreamstime.com - North Korean soldier
The Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif recently travelled to Cuba to meet with Cuban President Raúl Castro and other Cuban dignitaries. This Iranian outreach to Cuba is raising eyebrows in the United States, as the two countries have historically acted as impediments to American foreign policy (1). The meeting between the two countries is further complicated by the Obama administration’s foreign policy of rapprochement. With the implementation of the JCPOA (otherwise known as the Iran Nuclear Deal) and the reopening of the U.S. embassy in Cuba, there is a lot riding on improved relations with both Iran and Cuba. Ultimately, though, it is unlikely that recent diplomatic actions between Iran and Cuba portend any significant changes in the current global order.
Foreign policy decision-making is a two-level game (2). In other words, policymakers have to consider two central questions when formulating foreign policy: how will the policy be viewed internationally and how will it be viewed domestically? While each have authoritarian elements, both Cuba and Iran have legislative bodies that hold some degree of influence over decision-making. Thus, Iranian and Cuban leaders need to design policies that both appease their legislative bodies and are effective on the international stage (3). Iran, in particular, has a powerful conservative bloc that has been staunchly opposed to Iran’s moves toward détente with the United States. Indeed, recent military actions like the testing of potent missile systems and the harassment of American warships in the Persian Gulf signal a growing willingness on the part of Iran to flex its geopolitical muscles (4). This, of course, is partly designed to pressure the U.S. and remind it that Iran has cards to play. However, provocative actions like these are likely more focused on signaling to Iranian hardliners that the Rouhani administration is not caving to American pressure and is still working to frustrate American foreign policy.
This is not the first time that Iranian emissaries have met with Cuban officials. Back in 2014, for example, Cuban and Iranian officials met to strengthen their resistance “against hegemonic powers” (5). Thus, the more recent meeting should hardly be viewed as a novel or particularly unprecedented event. It is unsurprising that rogue actors like Iran and Cuba seek to strengthen their ties to one another. As small, relatively isolated states, they are only to project strength through cooperation with like-minded regimes across the globe. Indeed, this dynamic of cooperation among states opposed to U.S. international policy can be seen in East Asia as well, with Russia, China, and North Korea cooperating in opposition to American interests. These Asian powers aren’t allied because they have particularly close bonds ideologically or culturally, but because they have a shared goal of limiting U.S. foreign policy successes and enhancing their power and influence outside of the U.S.-led liberal international order (6). So it is with Iran and Cuba as well.
It’s important to remember that despite these provocations from Iran and Cuba, the U.S. still possesses enormous leverage over both countries, as access to the lucrative American market is a powerful incentive with which Washington can shape Iranian and Cuban actions. Alarmist rhetoric about the creation of a new “axis of evil” is, therefore, entirely overblown. The Iranian hardliners that pushed for this diplomatic trip likely seek to provoke the U.S. into overreacting. In other words, this action might very well be designed to incite the United States into condemning or threatening Iran, giving hardliners the excuse they need to abrogate the JCPOA and sabotage U.S.-Iranian relations. Thus, it is important that the United States does not take any drastic actions in response to this Iranian overture toward Cuba: overreacting and engaging in inflammatory rhetoric will only provide hardliners ammunition needed to eliminate moderate voices within the Iranian government. It is imperative that the United States unilaterally refrains from engaging in confrontational actions because only through ignoring minor diplomatic insults can the U.S. break the enduring rivalry shaping Iranian-American relations (7).
Like everything with Iran and Cuba, the factors shaping this visit are complex, nuanced, and somewhat opaque. It is very easy to believe that Iran and Cuba are acting solely to anger and provoke the U.S., but it is just as likely that this recent diplomatic meeting was designed to appease hardliners in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corp (IRGC). The real reason for Zarif’s visit to Havana probably has to do with both factors, and possibly even other factors not immediately clear to Western observers. Understanding the foreign policy of American adversaries is always important, as it allows American policymakers to predict and impede hostile actions against the U.S. Nevertheless, it is also important not to exaggerate the significance of individual actions, as events are frequently not as significant as they might originally appear. A budding Cuban-Iranian alliance is certainly concerning. However, there is currently too little information to draw sweeping conclusions.
(1) O’Reily, Andrew. “Iranian minister's trip to Cuba, Latin America raises concern about its influence in region.” Fox News. August 25, 2016. Web.
(2) Putnam, Robert D. “Diplomacy and domestic politics: the logic of two-level games.” International Organizations 42(3) (Summer 1988): 427-460.
(3) For selectorate dynamics, see Bueno de Mesquita, Bruce et. al. The Logic of Political Survival. Boston, MA: MIT Press, 2003. Print.
(4) For example, see Dickstein, Corey. “Navy Fires Warning Shots At Iranian Ships In 3rd Close Call In 2 Days.” Task and Purpose. August 27, 2016. Web.
(5) “Envoy underscores Iran-Cuba growing relations.” The Iran Project. October 8, 2014. Web.
(6) Mead, Walter Russel. “The Return of Geopolitics.” Foreign Affairs. May/June 2014. Web.
(7) Goertz, Gary. “Enduring Rivalries: Theoretical Constructs and Empirical Patterns.” International Studies Quarterly 37(2) (June 1993): 147-171.
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With the recent terrorist attacks in Europe and the Middle East, the threat of terrorism has reclaimed the headlines. Massive refugee flows and fear-mongering politicians have only further exacerbated concerns over the risk of terrorist attacks. Unfortunately, it seems likely that lone-wolf attacks and strikes from well-organized terror cells will continue to plague Western democracies. It is simply too challenging to find and stop every potential extremist from executing his or her plan. Fortunately, the risk of conventional terrorism in absolute terms is still quite low. There is a far more terrifying threat, however: the risk of WMD terrorism. Using nuclear, biological, and chemical (NBC) weapons, terrorist networks could execute mass-casualty attacks that devastate entire cities. At least that is what certain pundits would have you believe. This report is more sanguine, though. Thoroughly examining the risks of NBC attacks, this report finds the threat of WMD terrorism to be vanishingly small.
Of all the potential WMD terror attacks, nuclear attacks seem to generate the most fear among the public. This is not surprising. After all, nuclear weapons represent the pinnacle of humans’ destructive potential, and Hollywood frequently utilizes nuclear weapons to drive the plot in movies ranging from Dr. Strangelove to The Avengers. Fortunately, though, there is very little risk of terrorists acquiring or detonating nuclear weapons, particularly in large, Western metropolises. The reason for this is simple; it is exceedingly difficult for terrorists to acquire and transport nuclear weapons without being detected and stopped. First, terrorists would have to break into heavily guarded facilities, likely in Russia or the United States, and steal weapons weighing multiple tons. Then, after securing the weapons, these terrorists would need to escape while being pursued by elite security forces. Assuming the terrorists are able to escape, they would then need highly skilled technicians to assemble the nuclear device, as nuclear weapons held in storage are almost always broken down into their constituent parts so as to prevent unauthorized use. The terrorists would have to do this while being sought after by the most powerful and well-funded intelligence networks in the world, and would then need to transport the nuclear device into a major city without being detected. According to John Mueller, an expert on nuclear terrorism at Ohio State University, the risk of a successful nuclear terrorist attack occurring is, therefore, less than one in three billion (1).
Certain analysts contend that while the risk of terrorists stealing nuclear weapons is low, it is possible that terrorists might simply construct their own nuclear devices instead. This scenario is even less likely than nuclear theft, though, as the production of nuclear weapons is an exceedingly complicated task. Terrorists would need highly specific blueprints detailing how to construct a nuclear device, access to highly enriched uranium or plutonium, and a secure, well-equipped site to construct the weapon. As Mueller points out, the odds of all of these conditions being met are quite low. Moreover, the need for so many complex and uncommon materials – highly enriched uranium, heavy industrial equipment, etc. – would raise suspicion among intelligence analysts, increasing the chance of detection. Even if intelligence agencies missed these clues one of the many middle-men used to acquire these materials might inform on the terrorist network, either for profit or because of moral qualms (1).
Some still argue that, in spite of the challenges associated with the stealing and constructing nuclear weapons, terrorists could acquire nuclear weapons via rogue states. Essentially, the argument goes that fearing the repercussions of launching a nuclear attack, nefarious regimes like Iran or North Korea might give nuclear weapons to terrorist networks in order to target enemies while maintaining deniability. This is almost as unbelievable as the previous two scenarios, however, for a number of reasons. First, as John Mearsheimer argues, states likely wouldn’t hand over such expensive and complex weapons to unreliable terror organizations because it is entirely possible that those organizations would choose to use the weapon against a target not approved by the patron state. Furthermore, there are very large risks associated with abetting nuclear terrorism. If other countries were to ascertain which state provided the nuclear weapon, there would be severe consequences imposed on the patron state ranging from comprehensive economic sanctions to a nuclear strike (2). Indeed, a comprehensive study by Keir Lieber and Daryl Press suggests that the U.S. would almost certainly be able to trace the nuclear weapon back to where it was produced by utilizing isotope tracing. Thus, rogue states derive no benefits from providing terror networks with nuclear weapons because their culpability would be immediately clear, therefore eliminating the only advantage of using terrorist groups: deniability (3).
Of course, a nuclear warhead is not the only way in which radioactive material can be used to inflict casualties. Terrorists groups could also utilize a “dirty bomb,” a weapon that uses radioactive dust and debris to cause illness and suffering. Dirty bombs are far easier to construct, as there is no need to develop complex detonation mechanisms used to trigger a nuclear chain reaction. Terror groups would simply need to acquire a large conventional bomb and pack it with radioactive material so as to distribute radioactive particles during the explosion. While certainly simpler than nuclear warheads, the production of dirty bombs still requires access to radioactive material, presenting terrorist groups with many of the same problems associated with building a nuclear bomb. Dirty bombs are also far less lethal than nuclear weapons: The radioactive powder used to cause damage would likely only spread a few blocks at worst (4). The limited effects of dirty bombs thus make the high costs and hazards associated with their construction even more acute, as the high risks would only generate limited payoffs. In sum, it is simply not plausible that terrorists would be able to acquire high-yield nuclear weapons, and it’s unlikely that terrorists would take enormous risks simply to detonate a largely ineffective dirty bomb.
Of course, nuclear weapons are not the only WMD system. Chemical and biological weapons also seemingly pose serious threats to public safety, especially when they fall into the hands of terrorists. However, when one begins to examine the risks of chemical or biological weapons, one finds that chemical and biological weapons are far less concerning than they originally appear. Chemical weapons are unlikely to pose a serious threat for two reasons. First, they are banned under international law, thus making acquisition of potent compounds challenging. Second, there are no empirical examples of successful chemical attacks. Indeed, when the Aum Shinrikyo cult did initiate a large-scale chemical attack in Tokyo in 1995, it produced only minimal casualties (5). The problem with chemical attacks is that it is incredibly challenging to effectively engineer compounds in a way that maximizes lethality while also ensuring that the agent does not dissipate before affecting large numbers of victims (6). Therefore, it is unlikely that terrorist organizations would dedicate time and resources to the development of chemical weapons. They are simply too fickle.
Biological attacks are equally unlikely to occur for many of the same reasons. There simply aren’t many biological weapons programs because the use of these kinds of systems is prohibited by international law. Thus, few individuals have the requisite knowledge to engineer and produce effective bio-agents. Without proper expertise and infrastructure, it is unlikely that terrorist networks will ever possess the knowledge or means to produce weapons grade biological agents (7). Like chemical weapons, biological weapons also have a poor track record when it comes to inflicting serious damage. As Alan Dove explains, “Terrorist groups have… deployed biological weapons twice... The first was [in] 1984… [when] a cult in Oregon inoculated restaurant salad bars with Salmonella… 751 people got sick, but nobody died.” The second biological terrorist attack was conducted by another cult, the same one that launched the chemical attack in Tokyo; its bio-attack was even less effective than its chemical attack. Despite the cult being “well-financed, and [having] many highly educated members… Nobody got sick or died” (8). Finally, it’s important to remember that the United States and other Western countries have impressively modern and well-funded public health institutions. Thus, even if terrorists are able to execute a potent biological attack against metropolitan areas in North America or Europe, it is unlikely that casualties would be high, as well-stocked hospitals and emergency response units would be able to mitigate the impact and prevent worst case scenarios.
The risk of WMD terrorism is, of course, not zero. A NBC attack could occur despite the many mitigating factors, and even if it does not cause excessive casualties, the fear and paranoia it would generate could be extremely disruptive. Thus, this report is not suggesting that intelligence and public health measures designed to prevent and mitigate NBC attacks should be curtailed. Instead, this report simply seeks to remind people that the odds of an effective terrorist attack using weapons of mass destruction remain quite low. It is important to understand the relative risks of different threats in order to make informed policy decisions, and, thus, it is crucial that the threat of WMD terrorism not be overly inflated.
(1)- Mueller, John. “Calming Our Nuclear Jitters.” Issues 26(2) (Winter 2010).
(2)- Mearsheimer, John. “Conversations in International Relations: Interview with John J. Mearsheimer (Part II).” Sage 20(2): 231-243.
(3)- Lieber, Kier A. and Daryl Press. “Why States Won’t Give Nuclear Weapons to Terrorists.” International Security 38(1) (Summer 2013): 80-104.
(4)- Mauroni, Al. “Don’t Fear the Dirty Bomb.” War on the Rocks. October 16, 2015. Web.
(5)- Easterbrook, Gregg. “The Smart Way to be Scared.” Homeland Security. February 16, 2003. Web.
(6)- Smithson, Amy E. "Frequently Asked Questions: Likelihood of Terrorists Acquiring and Using Chemical or Biological Weapons." Stimson Center. 2002. Web.
(7)- Ben Ouagrham-Gormley, Sonia. “Barriers to Bioweapons: Intangible Obstacles to Proliferation.” International Security 36(4) (Spring 2012): 80-114.
(8)- Dove, Alan. “Who’s Afraid of the Big, Bad Bioterrorist?” Alan Dove. January 24, 2012. Web.
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Sam Seitz is a student at Georgetown University’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, where he studies International Politics, German, and European Studies. He has served as an analyst for the Roosevelt Institute at Georgetown University, specializing in defense and diplomacy, and runs the blog Politics in Theory and Practice. Sam’s areas of interest are, broadly speaking, security studies, alliance networks, European politics, and the intersection between comparative politics and international relations. Sam is also a devoted fan of the University of North Carolina’s men’s basketball team.