In the April–May 2017 issue, François Heisbourg presents an analogy between Donald Trump and Kaiser Wilhelm II and argues that personality matters; Ash Carter examines why the United States continues its engagement in the Middle East; Mark Fitzpatrick sets out priorities for tackling the Iranian nuclear threat; Alexey Arbatov analyses the differences between the US and Russia in thinking on nuclear weapons; Hans Mouritzen defends the strategy of Finlandisation; Robert Ayson and Manjeet S. Pardesi examine the changes in the Asia-Pacific region as a result of military coercion; Nina Kollars explores the difference between genius and mastery in military innovation;...

In the April–May 2017 issue, François Heisbourg presents an analogy between Donald Trump and Kaiser Wilhelm II and argues that personality matters; Ash Carter examines why the United States continues its engagement in the Middle East; Mark Fitzpatrick sets out priorities for tackling the Iranian nuclear threat; Alexey Arbatov analyses the differences between the US and Russia in thinking on nuclear weapons; Hans Mouritzen defends the strategy of Finlandisation; Robert Ayson and Manjeet S. Pardesi examine the changes in the Asia-Pacific region as a result of military coercion; Nina Kollars explores the difference between genius and mastery in military innovation; Wolfram Lacher asks if Libya’s collapse was predictable; David Hannay and Thomas R. Pickering outline the wider significance of the Iran nuclear agreement; Naysan Rafati contributes a review essay; H.R. McMaster, Ray Takeyh, Gilles Andréani and David C. Unger review new books; and Jonathan Stevenson suggests H.R. McMaster’s effectiveness as US national security advisor will be determined by Trump’s whim.

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  • The Emperor vs the Adults: Donald Trump and Wilhelm II

    [He had] a taste for the modern – technology, industry, science – but at the same time [was] superficial, hasty, restless, without any deeper level of seriousness, without any desire for hard work … without any sense of sobriety, or balance and boundaries, or even for reality or real problems, uncontrollable and scarcely capable of learning from experience, desperate for applause and success … He wanted every day to be...
  • The Logic of American Strategy in the Middle East

    At the IISS Manama Dialogue in December 2016, I spoke about the enduring logic of American strategy in the Middle East. With stops in Iraq, the United Arab Emirates and Israel as well as Bahrain, it was my seventh visit to the region since my confirmation as secretary of defense in February 2015. My frequent travels to the Middle East were a manifestation of the US Defense Department’s (DOD’s) principled and...
  • An Order of Priorities in Confronting Iran

    Iran’s behaviour is problematic in many ways, including missile tests, abetting regional strife and taking US citizens hostage. Challenges in the nuclear field that used to top the list, however, are no longer an issue – at least not so long as the terms of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), signed in July 2015, remain fulfilled. And so far, they are. According to the International Atomic Energy Agency...
  • Noteworthy

    In the April–May 2017 issue, François Heisbourg presents an analogy between Donald Trump and Kaiser Wilhelm II and argues that personality matters; Ash Carter examines why the United States continues its engagement in the Middle East; Mark Fitzpatrick sets out priorities for tackling the Iranian nuclear threat; Alexey Arbatov analyses the differences between the US and Russia in thinking on nuclear weapons; Hans Mouritzen defends the strategy of Finlandisation; Robert...
  • Understanding the US–Russia Nuclear Schism

    After more than two decades in obscurity, nuclear strategy and the threat of Armageddon have returned to the forefront of US–Russia and NATO–Russia relations, reviving old fears and mutual suspicions. In August 2014, at the height of the Ukraine crisis, Russian President Vladimir Putin declared: Our partners, regardless of the situations in their countries or their foreign policies, should always keep in mind that Russia is not to be messed with...
  • Small States and Finlandisation in the Age of Trump

    The United States may still be first among the great powers, but unipolarity is well past its sell-by date. The emergence of strong regional powers in world politics, with their adjacent spheres of interest, suggests that Finlandisation – that is, making the best out of political and strategic dependence – will increasingly become the preferred policy for the smaller neighbours of those regional powers. Unlike bipolarity or unipolarity, today’s multipolarity...
  • Asia’s Diplomacy of Violence: China–US Coercion and Regional Order

    With so much attention being devoted to maritime security competition in Asia, including in the South China and East China seas, it is easy to forget how peaceful the region has been for several decades. In East Asia, no major power has been involved in so much as a limited inter-state war since China’s brief armed conflict with Vietnam in 1979. Peace among South Asian states has been broken more...
  • Genius and Mastery in Military Innovation

    In times of war, front-line practitioners are agents of innovation and change if only through necessity.1 Because there is no way to fully anticipate what a dynamic and evolving adversary will do in a conflict, the fog of war requires adaptation, from tinkering with weapons systems to writing entirely new TTPs (tactics, techniques and procedures). This task often falls to soldiers working at the tip of the spear.  But what of...
  • Was Libya’s Collapse Predictable?

    State collapse, never-ending conflicts between ever-changing alliances of armed groups, the expansion of the Islamic State: six years after the NATO-led intervention in Libya, some claim to have seen it all coming. It is a highly politicised debate, fuelled not least by the participation of Hillary Clinton, the leading proponent of intervention in 2011, in the 2016 US presidential election.1 Three arguments are common. Firstly, some say the decision to...
  • Building on the Iran Nuclear Agreement

    The new American administration arrives at a time of serious threats to the nuclear non-proliferation regime, particularly in East Asia and in the Middle East. The nuclear deal struck with Iran by the previous administration and its partners provides a way forward. The established pattern of constraints on, and monitoring of, Iran’s nuclear programme could be held as the gold standard for the rest of the international community, becoming the...
  • Iran’s Revolutionary Guards: Readying Strength

    Emblazoned on the emblem of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) is a verse from the Koran, stretching from the barrel to the stock of a Kalashnikov rifle gripped by an upstretched right hand. ‘Against them make ready your strength to the utmost of your power’, it exhorts, the opening words of a line in the chapter known as ‘The Spoils of War’, which continues: ‘to strike terror into (the...
  • Book Reviews

    War, Conflict and the Military H.R. McMaster A Rage for Order: The Middle East in Turmoil, from Tahrir Square to ISIS Robert F. Worth. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2016. $26.00. 272 pp. The situation across the greater Middle East is as confounding as it is wretched. How, in the years following the so-called Arab Spring in 2011, did security across the region deteriorate to the point of producing the greatest humanitarian catastrophe...
  • Brief Notices

    War, Conflict and the Military  A Great Place to Have a War: America in Laos and the Birth of a Military CIA  Joshua Kurlantzick. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2017. $28.00. 320 pp. Kurlantzick tells the story of Operation Momentum, a CIA operation in the 1960s and 1970s intended to create proxy army of ethnic Hmong to hold off what the agency feared would be a communist takeover of Laos. According to the...
  • Letter to the Editor

    War scare Sir, In ‘Able Archer 83: What Were the Soviets Thinking’ (Survival, vol. 58, no. 6, December 2016–January 2017, pp. 7–30), Gordon Barrass makes a compelling argument that Able Archer 83 provides ‘lessons on how to analyse and respond to situations of great tension, especially when the stakes are high’ (p. 24). The article, however, includes some factual inaccuracies that the recent declassification of documents can correct. Firstly, Able Archer 83...
  • General McMaster’s Sandwich

    In a typical American democratic transition, mild bipartisanship might set a tone of normalisation. But President Donald J. Trump’s agenda on taking office was reactionary disruption. Immediate mismanagement of national-security policy included the diplomatic alienation of Mexico, the abandonment of the One China policy, the implied scuppering of the Iran nuclear deal, periodic suggestions of distancing the United States from NATO, the debunking of a two-state solution to the Israeli–Palestinian...
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Survival: Global Politics and Strategy

April–May 2017

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