In the August–September 2009 issue of Survival, Philipp Rotmann, David Tohn and Jaron Wharton analyse shifts in the Pentagon doctrine and culture; Hew Strachan examines the flaws in British defence policy; and Barak Mendelsohn discusses al-Qaeda’s relationship with Palestine. Also in the issue: David Calleo on President Obama’s first term, Lincoln Mitchell on competing narratives in Georgia and James M. Acton on technological restraint.

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  • Stopping Nuclear North Korea

    Following North Korean missile and nuclear tests and a series of other belligerent actions and threats, tensions on the peninsula have entered a dangerous phase. There is a heightened potential for regional conflict and global repercussions if the wrong precedents are set by, for example, acquiescing to the North’s nuclear rule-breaking. Demanding to be recognised as nuclear-armed and focused on leadership succession, Pyongyang seems no longer to be using brinksmanship...
  • Living with Nuclear North Korea

    North Korea’s October 2008 agreement to open all declared nuclear sites to inspection by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) as a quid pro quo for its removal from the list of state sponsors of terrorism marked a high point for President George W. Bush’s foreign policy. But even before Pyongyang began to abandon verification, Kim Jong Il had outmanoeuvred Bush by building and testing a nuclear device. By April...
  • Towards a New Strategy for NATO

    At its 60th anniversary summit in April 2009, NATO’s heads of state and government agreed to draft a new, contemporary strategy for the Atlantic Alliance. The current document, the so-called Strategic Concept, was approved in 1999 and does not reflect the dramatic political developments of the last decade, including the 11 September 2001 attacks, the war in Afghanistan, transatlantic disputes over the war in Iraq (which led to what then...
  • Noteworthy

    $0 Amount requested by the Pentagon for production of F-22A Raptors in the FY2010 budget $2.8 billion Estimated final cost of an additional 12 aircraft approved by the House Armed Services Committee 44 Number of states in which parts for the F-22A are manufactured +11.4 million Net population change in Russia during the last 16 years of the Communist era −12.4 million Net population change during the first 16 years of the post-Soviet era Iranian election ‘The chosen and respected president...
  • Learning Under Fire: Progress and Dissent in the US Military

    On 8 December 2004, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld took part in a town-hall style meeting with US troops preparing to deploy from Kuwait to Iraq. One of the soldiers in attendance, Specialist Thomas Wilson, ‘complained that he and his comrades were rooting through Kuwaiti junkyards to find improvised armor for their military vehicles to protect against bomb blasts and small-arms attacks’: A lot of us are getting ready to move...
  • The Strategic Gap in British Defence Policy

    British press attention to Afghanistan – for totally understandable and proper reasons – does not say much about the real priorities for UK defence policy. A campaign to target terrorists within ‘ungoverned enclaves’ has been transformed, especially after Britain agreed to take over responsibility for operations in Helmand in 2006, into a campaign to bring to Afghanistan good governance, aid and construction (not, significantly, reconstruction, given the country’s backwardness). Such...
  • Al-Qaeda’s Palestinian Problem

    Something bad is happening to al-Qaeda. Although it is achieving considerable successes, along with its local allies, on its current main fronts in Afghanistan and Pakistan, its campaign in the highly prized Iraqi arena, where it took the lead, is collapsing. Moreover, al-Qaeda has failed to carry out any high-profile attacks against ‘Western crusaders’ in the United States or Europe in four years. Limited in their ability to operate, al-Qaeda’s...
  • Georgia’s Story: Competing Narratives since the War

    The August 2008 conflict between Georgia and Russia was fought on the battlefield and in the newsroom. While the Georgians were defeated soundly on the battlefield, they were far more successful, particularly in the United States, in building upon a media narrative that was quite favourable to their country. Narratives are extremely important for small countries like Georgia. They function as cognitive shortcuts through which a few pieces of information are...
  • Nuclear Power, Disarmament and Technological Restraint

    After years outside the political mainstream, the goal of abolishing nuclear weapons is once again receiving significant attention. There is a growing consensus that if key non-nuclear-weapons states are to be persuaded to strengthen the non-proliferation regime, nuclear-weapons states must start to live up to their commitment – enshrined in Article VI of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and reaffirmed when the treaty was indefinitely extended in 1995 – to...
  • The Case for Peace before Disarmament

    Scholars and policymakers often argue that armed groups must first lay down their weapons before peace and democracy can be achieved. The existence of armed groups is considered antithetical to sustained peace, and to democracy, where the legitimate use of force belongs solely to the state. In some cases, critics also find the ideological positions and policy preferences of armed groups anathema, claiming that groups such as Hamas, Hizbullah, the...
  • Moving on in South Africa

    A Legacy of Liberation: Thabo Mbeki and the Future of the South African Dream Mark Gevisser. New York and Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009. $29.95/£18.99. 376 pp. South Africa’s Brave New World: The Beloved Country Since the End of Apartheid R.W. Johnson. London: Allen Lane, 2009. £25.00. 701 pp. After the Party: Corruption, the ANC and South Africa’s Uncertain Future Andrew Feinstein. London and New York: Verso, 2009. £14.99/$26.95. 301 pp. ...
  • Freedom and Honour

    The Least Worst Place: Guantanamo’s First 100 Days Karen J. Greenberg. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009. $27.95/£16.99. 288 pp. Honor Bound: Inside the Guantanamo Trials Kyndra Miller Rotunda. Durham, NC: Carolina Academic Press, 2008. $29.95. 282 pp. In her recent article ‘Closing Guantanamo: Is Europe Ready?’, Sibylle Scheipers urged Europeans to ‘rethink their own approach to detention’ so that ‘standards for security detention [can be] … clarified’. Her contention that Europe and the United...
  • Book Reviews

    Arms, Arms Control and Technology Bruno Tertrais Thinking About Nuclear Weapons: Principles, Problems, Prospects Michael Quinlan. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009. £25.00/$49.95. 194 pp. Thinking About Nuclear Weapons is Sir Michael Quinlan’s final contribution to the contemporary strategic debate. It is more a collection of short essays than a book defending a particular thesis or school of thought, and does not really break any new ground. But it is the best...
  • A Change We Can Believe In?

    For several months following the US presidential election in November 2008, most Americans took great pleasure in their charismatic new president. A series of soaring speeches, frank interviews and pragmatic initiatives made real changes for the better seem possible. Of course, other presidents have begun with high hopes, only to be ensnared in multiple dilemmas inherited from their predecessors, and by summer 2009 Barack Obama’s own prospects have begun to...
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