International Security & Defense

640 Items

Ukrainian servicemen walk to their position at the frontline with with Russia-backed separatists outside Verkhnotoretske village in Yasynuvata district of Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine, Monday, Dec. 27, 2021.

AP/Andriy Andriyenko

Analysis & Opinions - The Hill

What are the best US military options for Ukraine?

| December 12, 2021

Since last April, Russia has been slowly and methodically building up military forces near Ukraine’s border. Those who recall the 1990 U.S. military buildup in advance of the January “Desert Storm” attack to free Kuwait and invade Iraq, will recognize that such a buildup is a serious threat. 

Modern weapons on the Battleship New Jersey

Wikimedia CC/Steven Fine

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

Distribution of Military Capabilities (rDMC) Dataset

| Oct. 05, 2021

The Distribution of Military Capabilities (rDMC) dataset is a catalog of over 18,000 types of military equipment spanning 173 countries from 1970–2014. This data is sourced from the IISS Military Balance and organized into a machine-readable format, which may be downloaded.

A member of the Afghan security forces walks in the sprawling Bagram air base after the American military departed, in Parwan province north of Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday, July 5, 2021.

AP Photo/Rahmat Gul


Easier to Get into War Than to Get Out: The Case of Afghanistan

| August 2021

The U.S. should accept with humility its inability to fully eliminate terrorism. Specifically, U.S. policy must balance “ends, ways, and means;” establish clear and achievable objectives; adopt efficient, effective, and resource-sustainable strategies; ensure synchronization of diplomatic and military efforts; build alliances to share the burden of countering terrorism; and leverage cooperative mechanisms and regional partnerships to increase the capacity and willingness of regional states to defend their sovereignty and contribute to multinational coalitions against terrorism.  A balanced, integrated, and synchronized strategy encompassing defense, diplomacy, economic, and humanitarian assistance lines of effort should be cornerstone of a revamped foreign policy in the coming decades.

The 1st Battalion of the world-famous Foreign Legion arrived in Paris on July 12, 1939.

AP Photo

Journal Article - Quarterly Journal: International Security

Leaning on Legionnaires: Why Modern States Recruit Foreign Soldiers

  • Elizabeth M.F. Grasmeder
| Summer 2021

Modern states recurrently buttress their militaries with legionnaires—soldiers who are neither citizens nor subjects of the governments for which they fight. Legionnaire recruitment is a function of political constraints on a government's ability to enlist citizens and its perceptions of external territorial threats.

3rd Marine Division in Vietnam in 1968

U.S. Military Photograph, DOD Media

Analysis & Opinions - PRI's The World

The Stuff of Life and Death: Part II

May 04, 2021

At one point in human history, water’s importance in war went beyond bearing convoys, hiding submarines, and slaking soldiers’ thirst. Water was often itself a weapon. In areas where it was scarce, armies took action to make it scarcer to force besieged enemy cities to capitulate, and in areas where it was abundant, combatants destroyed dams and watched the resulting floods carry their adversaries away. Today, however, most combatants recoil at the use of water as a weapon, and only the most depraved deploy it.

U.S. troops, part of a NATO mission to enhance Poland's defence, are getting ready for an official welcoming ceremony in Orzysz, northeastern Poland, Thursday, April 13, 2017.

AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski

Journal Article - Quarterly Journal: International Security

Illusions of Autonomy: Why Europe Cannot Provide for Its Security If the United States Pulls Back

| Spring 2021

If the United States were to withdraw from Europe, any European effort to develop an autonomous defense capacity would be fundamentally hampered by profoundly diverging threat perceptions and severe military capacity shortfalls that would be very costly and time-consuming to close.

French soldiers paddling from house to house in an inundated western front village searching for food in France on June 7, 1940. The French voluntarily flooded the village in an attempt to hold up the blitzkrieging German army.

AP Photo

Journal Article - Quarterly Journal: International Security

Water and Warfare: The Evolution and Operation of the Water Taboo

  • Charlotte Grech-Madin
| Spring 2021

Since the end of World War II, nation-states in international conflict have made concerted efforts to restrain the weaponization of water. Distinct from realist and rationalist explanations, the historical record reveals the rise of an international normative inhibition—a “water taboo”—on using water as a weapon.

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

Retired Lieutenant General Charles Hooper Named Senior Fellow at Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center

| Apr. 05, 2021

Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs has named Lieutenant General Charles Hooper (U.S. Army-Retired) a non-resident Senior Fellow with the Center’s Avoiding Great Power War Project.

 Chinese structures and an airstrip on the man-made Subi Reef

Francis Malasig/Pool Photo via AP, File

Analysis & Opinions - Project Syndicate

What Could Cause a US-China War?

| Mar. 02, 2021

Thucydides attributed the war that ripped apart the ancient Greek world to two causes: the rise of Athenian power—and the fear that this created in the established power, Sparta. Joseph Nye advises that in order to prevent a new cold or hot war, the United States and China must avoid exaggerated fears and misperceptions about changing power relations.

In this June 3, 2020 file photo members of the District of Columbia Army National Guard stand guard at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington securing the area as protests continue following the death of George Floyd, a who died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers. An Ohio National Guardsman was removed from policing protests in Washington D.C. after the FBI found he expressed white supremacist ideology online, Gov. Mike DeWine announced in a briefing Friday, June 5, 2020.

AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta

Magazine Article - Foreign Affairs

The Real Threat to Civilian Control of the Military: The Officer Corps Can No Longer Simply Ignore Politics

| Jan. 18, 2021

The dominant culture of professionalism in the military today maintains a strict separation between the military and civilian spheres and bars officers from thinking about politics. It consequently undercuts the military’s role in ensuring the United States wins its wars and absolves military leaders of responsibility when the country fails to do so. That culture also leads the military to resent when civilian leaders intervene in battlefield decisions, hindering civilians’ ability to scrutinize military activity and ensure it serves civilians’ goals. Simply put, the prevailing culture of military professionalism undermines U.S. national security.