Reports & Papers

28 Items

A MQ-1 Predator and a MQ-9 Reaper assigned to the 432nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron remain ready for their next mission at Creech Air Force Base, Nevada, May 5, 2015.

USAF Photo / Staff Sgt. Vernon Young Jr.

Paper

Ethical Imperatives for Lethal Autonomous Weapons

| June 2020

The fields of automation and artificial intelligence are broad, having applications in diplomatic, informational, military, and economic activities. Within this realm, lethal autonomous weapon systems (LAWS) are a new enabler for achieving political ends through the application of the military instrument of power. As the world is past the point of considering whether robots should be used in war, the goal of the discussion herein is to examine how autonomous systems can be used ethically. This article seeks explicitly to demonstrate that fielding and employment of lethal autonomous weapons systems can be done effectively and ethically by maximizing the advantages and minimizing the shortfalls of both technology and the human mind. 

Report - International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence

Will ‘We Won’ Become ‘Mission Accomplished’? A US Withdrawal and The Scramble for Northeastern Syria

| Dec. 16, 2019

This report charts some of the major developments in northeastern Syria from the December 2018 withdrawal announcement up until the start of Operation Peace Spring on 9 October 2019. It describes and notes the significance of the bitter dispute between Ankara and Washington over a proposed "safe zone," analyses how the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have sought to navigate the crisis and gauges the strength of the so‑called Islamic State (IS) in Syria. Providing this context enables this report to selectively incorporate more limited analysis on the latest and most pertinent developments in northeastern Syria at the time of this writing.

Giles Clarke for UNOCHA

Giles Clarke for UNOCHA

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

Partnering to Protect: Reforming US Security Assistance to Reduce Civilian Harm

Security assistance has long been an important component of American statecraft. The foreign policies of successive administrations have focused on empowering US partners to confront their own security challenges, rather than solving them through American force alone. Today, US foreign and defense policy indicates an intent to work “by, with, and through” partner forces to achieve shared goals. However, the outsourcing of American security objectives comes with a host of potential risks to civilians living in conflict zones or fragile states. Fighting with or relying on local partners–whose interests, priorities, and capabilities may not necessarily align with those of the United States–can complicate or even degrade America’s ability to minimize civilian harm during military operations.

This Policy Analysis Exercise (PAE) examines the causes and consequences of civilian harm in security partnerships, and its implications for US foreign policy

A U.S. Marine carries cold weather equipment as he begins to march across the Icelandic terrain in preparation for NATO’s Trident Juncture 2018 exercise, October 19, 2018. 

NATO Photo

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

NATO at Seventy: An Alliance in Crisis

| February 2019

At 70, NATO remains the single most important contributor to security, stability and peace in Europe and North America. NATO allies, however, are confronting daunting and complex challenges that are testing both their purpose and unity. NATO’s leaders need to act decisively in 2019 to meet these tests and heal the widening divisions within the Alliance before it is too late.

Paper

The Culture of Strategic Thought Behind Russia’s Modern Approaches to Warfare

    Author:
  • Stephen R. Covington
| October 2016

In September of 1991, I met with Russian general officers in Minsk at a military reform seminar. Our discussions took place against the backdrop of the August coup attempt in Moscow, the subsequent collapse of Soviet power, and the so-called parade of sovereignty by former Soviet Republics. At the same time, President Yeltsin was signaling his intent to change dramatically the national security strategy, military doctrine, and military system the Soviet Union had developed since the 1940s.

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

The Meaning of Russia's Campaign in Syria

    Author:
  • Stephen R. Covington
| December 9, 2015

Stephen Covington explains the strategic and tactical reasons for Russia’s deployment to Syria and helps the reader see the world through the eyes of President Putin and his advisors. Together with his earlier paper, “Putin’s Choice for Russia,” published with the Belfer Center in August 2015, this paper provides the reader with the strategic threads that run through contemporary Russian geopolitics. His insights into Russian strategic thinking are based on years of study and practical experience with the Russian military and, his opinion matters as a person who advises NATO’s senior military leaders on Alliance security anddefense matters.

(From Foreword by BG Kevin Ryan (U.S. Army retired), Director, Defense and Intelligence Projects)

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

Disrupting the Chessboard

| October 2015

Various narratives explaining Russia’s recent decision haveemerged which portray Russia alternatively as attempting tore-establish its role as a world empire or as a power-balancerprotecting its interests in the Middle East. This publicationaims to present different scholarly perspectives and viewpointson Russian objectives in Syria and the implications it holds forworld politics. It does so by gathering the opinions of severalexperts with different backgrounds and analytic viewpointsfrom across the world.

Report - Danish Institute for International Studies

Great Power Politics and the Ukrainian Crisis: NATO, EU and Russia after 2014

| 2014

This report assesses the relationship between Europe and Russia as the sum of great power reactions to the Ukrainian crisis and Russia's annexation of Crimea. Despite agreement on a no business-as-usual principle, important national nuances have arisen stemming from different historical bonds to eastern Europe and Russia (Germany, Poland, United States) or different interests in the region (France, United Kingdom).

Report

Challenges to U.S. Global Leadership

In a Harvard Kennedy School IDEASpHERE session titled "Challenges to US Global Leadership," Graham Allison, Nicholas Burns, David Gergen, David Ignatius, and Meghan O’Sullivan discussed challenges as well as opportunities facing the United States. Burns moderated the session.

Challenges include the rise of China and the future of the U.S.-China relationship, the crises taking place around the world, and the reputation of the U.S. worldwide. An unexpected opportunity is the increase in available energy sources in the United States.

Soldiers quickly march to the ramp of the CH-47 Chinook helicopter that will return them to Kandahar Army Air Field on Sept. 4, 2003. The Soldiers were searching in Daychopan district, Afghanistan, for Taliban fighters and illegal weapons caches.

U.S. Army Photo

Report - New America Foundation

Strategic Empathy: The Afghanistan Intervention Shows Why the U.S. Must Empathize with its Adversaries

| April 2014

"...[H]ow did such vast and sustained investments not deliver a more favorable outcome? Conditions were undoubtedly challenging, but most observers — and indeed U.S. officials — agree that major mistakes were made....But the most egregious error of the United States was to pursue a strategy founded on a misreading of its enemy."