Multipolarity, Syria and a New Concert

Dan Trombly had, as he often does, an interesting blog post the other day on the possibility of a new concert. Not one with Bruce Springsteen, but rather a global concert of great powers akin to the 19th century Concert of Europe, where nation-states acted by a set of unwritten rules to maintain peace (this came in response to a previous post by Dan Nexon over at the Duck of Minerva). The shadows of Libya and Syria veritably loom over the text as the discussions of intervention and R2P (Responsibility to Protect) have stirred up an interesting debate on . . .
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Libya and the New New American Way of War

A meme is emerging in the aftermath of the death of Col. Moammar Qaddafi.  According to some, a new American paradigm for future conflicts has been established.  In the Wall Street Journal, Julian Barnes and Adam Entous describe Libya as “a new template for future military intervention” that “emphasizes quick planning, a small footprint and limited duration engagements, according to U.S. officials assessing the outcome.”  Barnes and Entous go on to quote Vice President Joe Biden lauding the operation:  “NATO got it right…This is more the prescription for how to deal with the world as we go forward.”  And, . . .
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Libya, Civilian Casualties, and NATO "Success"

A recent piece by McClatchy newspapers reports that NATO will not be undertaking any effort to determine how many civilian casualties have been caused by the Atlantic alliance’s bombing campaign.  According to NATO spokesman Col. Roland Lavoie, “NATO has no plans for further investigations.”  His justification, which was given in an email to McClatchy about an incident near Majar, Libya where civilians were supposedly killed by a NATO airstrike on suspected pro-Qaddafi forces, explains that “NATO does not have troops on the ground in Libya and consequently no reliable method to verify the civilian casualty allegations.” 

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Misunderstanding Offshore Balancing: Or How Not to Apply Lessons in International Relations

For aspiring academics the only thing worse than promoting a lame foreign policy idea is abusing international relations theory to do it. The former is relatively common (at least for us snarky Twitter/blogosphere-people), but it’s been a while since I saw someone misunderstand, or misrepresent, IR theory so blatantly as David Axe does in this recent piece in the Diplomat on U.S. policy in northern Africa (h/t to Dan Trombly for the link). Axe begins the article by calling victory in Libya “an apparent success for a new US military strategy.” Exactly what is this new strategy? Winter explains:

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Issues of Legitimacy with the Libyan National Transitional Council

A note on postings: Due to an unusual amount of work travel over the past few weeks I have not been able to post regularly, to which I sincerely apologize. We should be back to regular postings in a couple of weeks’ time.

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Messrs. Nicholas Sarkozy and David Cameron have been credited/blamed for the intervention in Libya, but as with other recent western interventions (e.g. Iraq and Afghanistan) local opposition has played a vital role in advocating intervention. The Libyan National Transitional Council (NTC) is doing just that now. Opposition members actively lobbied the . . .
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Thoughts on the Norwegian Defense Network Phishing Incident

There was a big news splash in Norway this week as word got out that the country had recently been the target of a significant cyber incident (from what I can tell, it was Norwegian news site VG Nett that broke the story). The day after Norwegian jetfighters started bombing targets in Libya, March 25th, official-looking emails were sent out to people in the Norwegian military. It was an attempt at phishing, tricking people to open the email attachment and thus exploiting holes in the network security (articles in Norwegian can be found here, here, here, here, here, and . . .
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WaPo Worries Unnecessarily about Necessary Choices

This post is a guest contribution from H.A. For professional reasons, the writer is using a pseudonym.

In yesterday’s Washington Post, the editors fret over the possibility that budget hawks will have their way with the Defense Department and thus restrain the United States’ global role:

What will then happen if the United States is forced into more conflicts like those of the past decade — if it must intervene to prevent Iran’s acquisition of a nuclear weapon or respond to aggression by North Korea, for example?

Note the passive voice. By making our foreign policy the subject of . . .
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On Libya, U.S. Must Send Signal to Europeans: Pay for Your Own Security

In my last post, I criticized the Washington Post’s editorial, “The Libya stalemate,” for mischaracterizing the Obama administration’s reasoning behind taking a supporting role in the Libya military operation. The calculation behind this policy is not ideological, but more likely a compromise within the administration and an acknowledgement by President Obama of the unintended consequences if the United States is the lead actor and responsible for the outcome in Libya.

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But regardless of how the White House reached this policy, there is a crucial strategic reason for the President to remain resolute in his decision. . . .
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Obama's Confused, Pragmatic Policy on Libya

The Washington Post published an editorial Saturday, April 16, “The Libya Stalemate,” lamenting President Obama’s hesitation to increase the U.S. role in Libya.  They also do not appreciate the President leaving our NATO allies, specifically Britain and France, high and dry when we have the military capabilities to do whatever it is they want us to help them do.

According to The Post, only the unique capabilities of the U.S. military can tip the balance in favor of the rebels or at least effectively protect civilians and enforce the UN resolution.  But The Post concludes Mr. Obama is stubborn . . .
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The Reading List: Cyberwar, American Exceptionalism and Libya, and Democratic Peace Theory

Keeping up with foreign policy news and international relations literature is a never-ending task. There is just too much good stuff being written. “The Reading List” is our semi-regular column featuring noteworthy articles and books we've read recently. Not everything on this list is new, but always worthy of your time.

Wow. It’s been over a month since last time. Apologies all around, though I guess the events in Egypt, Japan, and Libya are decent enough excuses for procrastination and distraction. We’ve also been keeping busy with other stuff, including write-ups and reviews of Robert D. Kaplan’s new book Monsoon . . .
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