- Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School Belfer Center Newsletter

International Security Journal Highlights

Winter 2005-06

International Security is America's leading journal of security affairs. It provides sophisticated analyses of contemporary security issues and discusses their conceptual and historical foundations. The journal is edited at the Belfer Center and published quarterly by the MIT Press. Questions may be directed to: IS@harvard.edu

Success Matters: Casualty Sensitivity and the War in Iraq

Since the Vietnam War, U.S. policymakers have worried that the American public will support military operations only if the human costs of the war, as measured in combat casualties, are minimal. Christopher Gelpi and former Belfer Center Fellow Peter D. Feaver of Duke University, together with Jason Reifler of Loyola University Chicago, challenge this notion. Although the public is rightly averse to suffering casualties, the level of popular sensitivity to U.S. military casualties depends critically on the context in which those losses occur. The public's tolerance for the human costs of war is primarily shaped by the intersection of two crucial factors: beliefs about the rightness or wrongness of the war, and beliefs about the war's likely success. The impact of each depends on the other. Ultimately, however, beliefs about the likelihood of success matter most in determining the public's willingness to tolerate U.S. military deaths in combat.

 

Who "Won" Libya? The Force- Diplomacy Debate and Its Implications For Theory and Policy Bruce W. Jentleson and Christopher A. Whytock of Duke University examine therole of U.S. coercive diplomacy in Libya's decisionsto settle the Pan Am 103 Lockerbie terrorismcase and to abandon its weapons ofmass destruction programs. In addition, theyconsider the implications of the Libya case fortheories of force and diplomacy-particularlycoercive diplomacy-and U.S. policy toward Iranand North Korea.

Deterring Terrorism: It Can Be Done Robert F.Trager of Oxford University and Dessislava P. Zagorcheva of Columbia Universityexamine the role of deterrence in counterterrorismstrategies. Their analysis of thestructure of terrorist networks and theprocesses that produce attacks, as well as the

multiple objectives of terrorist organizations, suggests that many terrorist groups and elements of terrorist support networks can be deterred from cooperating with the some of the world's most threatening terrorist groups, including al Qaeda. The authors offer an analysis of U.S. and Philippine policy toward the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the Abu Sayyaf Group to illustrate both the potential of this approach and the risks of using force.

 

Winning with Allies: The Strategic Value of the Afghan Model

When the war in Afghanistan ended in 2002, the country was largely governed by Afghans. Richard B. Andres and Thomas Griffith Jr., both of the School of Advanced Air and Space Studies, and Craig Wills of U.S. Air Force Strategy Flight, South Korea, attribute this result to the U.S. decision to engage in a different type of military operation. Rather than inserting thousands of troops into Afghanistan, the United States chose to rely on special forces, airpower, and Afghan allies. In the operation, approximately fifty U.S. special forces personnel accomplished what planners had believed would require 50,000 U.S. ground troops. In the wake of the war, military planners largely dismissed the Afghan model as unworkable

elsewhere. The performance of the model in Afghanistan and later in Iraq, however, demonstrates that the traditional military's pessimism toward this method is unwarranted. Indeed, the model vastly improves U.S. leverage in coercive diplomacy and war because it requires few U.S. ground troops and facilitates the transition to stability and democracy by empowering indigenous allies.

 

Allies, Airpower, and Modern Warfare: The Afghan Model in Afghanistan and Iraq

Unlike Andres, Griffith, and Wills, Stephen D. Biddle of the U.S. Army War College findsthe applicability of the Afghan model to bemore limited. Where U.S. allies have had skillsand motivation comparable to their enemies,'the model has proven extremely lethal evenwithout U.S. conventional ground forces. Butwhere U.S. allies have lacked these skills, theyhave proven unable to exploit the potential ofAmerican airpower. The Afghan model canthus be a powerful tool, but one with importantpreconditions for its use-and these preconditionslimit its potential to transform U.S.force structure or defense policy.

 

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For Academic Citation: International Security Journal Highlights.” Belfer Center Newsletter (Winter 2005-06).