In the June–July 2015 issue of Survival, James Fromson and Steven Simon describe ISIS as an army, sect, cult and state, and prescribe a strategy of aggressive containment; Ariel I. Ahram discusses ISIS’s use of sexual violence; Erik Jones compares scenarios of Greek exit from the euro and British exit from the EU; Aaron L. Friedberg outlines the American debate over strategy towards China; Michael Krepon argues that nuclear weapons are not stabilising; Pierre Hassner reviews four recent books on the crisis of human rights; Paul Cornish explores the dilemmas of state sovereignty in cyberspace; Alexander Lanoszka interrogates the concept of ‘free riding’; and Mark Fitzpatrick assesses the Lausanne accord on Iran’s nuclear programme.


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  • ISIS: The Dubious Paradise of Apocalypse Now

    The American-led coalition has reached a turning point in the battle against the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS). Where previously the campaign was framed in defensive terms – the need to protect Iraqi minorities and prevent the fall of Baghdad and Erbil – the emerging narrative in Washington now centres on a well-advertised ground offensive to retake the ISIS stronghold of Mosul and, implicitly, to break the organisation’s...
  • Sexual Violence and the Making of ISIS

    The protection of women, children and religious minorities was among the most prominent reasons US President Barack Obama offered for taking military action against the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS): ‘They kill children. They enslave, rape and force women into marriage. They threatened a religious minority with genocide.’ Obama attributed singular malevolence to ISIS, claiming that ‘in a region that has known so much bloodshed, these terrorists are...
  • Leaving Europe: British Process, Greek Event

    Two of the great risks facing the European economy are the exit of Greece from the single currency and the exit – or distancing – of the United Kingdom from the European Union (EU) It is easy to think of these threats as similar, even if only because they have similarly catchy names (‘Grexit’ and ‘Brexit’) for use in popular debate. But King’s College London professor Anand Menon reminded me...
  • Noteworthy

    Big deal  ‘Committed to start drafting the comprehensive nuclear deal immediately. All will be served by a serious agreement based on mutual respect.’  Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif endorses, via Twitter, the preliminary nuclear agreement reached with the United States and the P5+1 on 2 April 2015.  ‘What I would say to the Israeli people is ... that there is no formula, there is no option, to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear...
  • The Debate Over US China Strategy

    Since the end of the Cold War, the United States has pursued a two-pronged strategy towards China. On the one hand, Washington has sought to engage Beijing across a wide range of domains, including through bilateral diplomacy, participation in multilateral institutions, trade, investment, scientific cooperation, educational and cultural exchange, civil-society initiatives and military-to-military dialogues. While activity in most of these areas extends back to the initial Nixon–Kissinger ‘opening’ to China...
  • Can Deterrence Ever Be Stable?

    Stability has been the holy grail of deterrence strategists since the outset of the US–Soviet nuclear-arms competition. This prize has been elusive because nuclear weapons are not stabilising. The bomb has had limited, but important, utility in preventing large-scale conventional war, and by fostering cautious behaviour in severe crises. But the bomb also generates a greater sense of insecurity, magnifying contentious issues and crises. Deterrence stability eluded the nuclear superpowers...
  • Do Allies Really Free Ride?

    American decision-makers and security analysts often complain that allies ‘free ride’ on the United States. In 2011, then-secretary of defense Robert Gates spoke of how ‘nations [are] apparently willing and eager for American taxpayers to assume the growing security burden left by reductions in European defense budgets’, and warned of NATO’s ‘dismal future’ if European allies did not contribute their fair share. In 2014, the majority of European members of...
  • Governing Cyberspace through Constructive Ambiguity

    At its simplest, cyberspace is a global medium for communication and information exchange between computers and their human operators, an environment (of sorts) in which it is possible for digital signals to be sent, received and processed. Like other communications media, the operating conceit of cyberspace is that it should be indifferent to the quality and meaning of the traffic it carries. It comes as no surprise, then, that cyberspace...
  • The Crisis of Human Rights

    The Endtimes of Human Rights Stephen Hopgood. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2013. £17.50/$27.95. 255 pp.  The Heart of Human Rights Allen Buchanan. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014. £29.99/ $45.00. 320 pp.  The International Politics of Human Rights: Rallying to the R2P Cause? Mónica Serrano and Thomas G. Weiss, eds. Abingdon: Routledge, 2014. £85.00/$145.00. 286 pp. The Meanings of Rights: The Philosophy and Social Theory of Human Rights Costas Douzinas and Conor Gearty, eds. Cambridge: Cambridge University...
  • Geoengineering: Don’t Just Do Something, Stand There

    Climate Intervention: Carbon Dioxide Removal and Reliable Sequestration Committee on Geoengineering Climate, National Research Council. Washington DC: National Academies Press, 2015. $43.00. 142 pp. Climate Intervention: Reflecting Sunlight to Cool Earth Committee on Geoengineering Climate, National Research Council. Washington DC: National Academies Press, 2015. $55.00. 236 pp. American humorist Mark Twain used to quip that ‘everyone talks about the weather, but no one does anything about it.’ But even in his lifetime, serious scientists...
  • Book Reviews

    Politics and International Relations Gilles Andréani Liberalism: The Life of an Idea Edmund Fawcett. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2014. £24.95/$35.00. 468 pp. The term ‘liberalism’ has at least four possible meanings. One could be called temperamental: a propensity to distrust power and resist oppression, whether it emanates from the state, the church or, in some instances, the people itself. An ideological definition encompasses adherence to doctrines which have at their centre personal liberty...
  • Brief Notices

  • Letters to the Editor

    Patience and attrition Sir, Charles D. Freilich argues correctly (‘Why Can’t Israel Win Wars Any More?’, Survival, vol. 57, no. 2, April–May 2015) that the Arab states presently do not pose a threat to Israel, and that non-state entities with genocidal intentions toward the Jewish state cannot be defeated in a decisive way. He proposes ‘a more restrained and defensive approach’ (p. 89), and suggests ‘Israel should develop a greater ability to...
  • Relief

    I I joined the US diplomatic service in the summer of 1979. That autumn, Iranian students seized the embassy in Tehran and held 66 members of my new fraternity hostage for 444 days. Anger over that humiliation has animated the way most Americans regard Iran – a grievance more than reciprocated with anger over the United States turning a blind eye to Saddam Hussein’s use of chemical weapons against Iran, and...
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Survival: Global Politics and Strategy

June–July 2015

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