Columbia International Affairs Online: Journals

CIAO DATE: 05/2010

Editor's Corner

The Journal of International Security Affairs

A publication of:
Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs

Volume: 0, Issue: 17 (Fall 2009)

Ilan Berman


Full Text

Eight years after September 11th, the focus in the War on Terror is unmistakably shifting. Iraq remains important, and mounting instability in Afghanistan has emerged as a source of serious concern for the Obama Administration and its international partners. More and more, however, policymakers in Washington are beginning to think deeply about "smart power"-the various non-military tools the United States has at its disposal, and how to properly harness them.

Of these, none is more important than public diplomacy. So it is fitting that this issue of The Journal leads off with a series of articles on that subject from preeminent scholars and respected practitioners. Former Voice of America Director Robert Reilly, now with the American Foreign Policy Council, kicks off our coverage with an insightful look at the contest of ideas between the United States and its radical religious adversaries-a competition which, he argues, America is losing. Next, J. Michael Waller of the Institute of World Politics weighs in on the need for a more serious approach to "strategic influence," combining public diplomacy with political warfare and serious campaign-style efforts to win hearts and minds. For her part, Helle Dale of the Heritage Foundation takes the Obama Administration to task for the peculiar way it has attempted to build rapport with foreign audiences: by vilifying the United States. Then, yours truly lays out his humble thoughts about what (and how) we should communicate to the Muslim world. Subsequently, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Colleen Graffy explains how the State Department can better exploit innovations in the Internet and World Wide Web. We round out the section with Mark Dubowitz of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, who makes a compelling case for waging war on the means by which terrorists communicate and organize.

Then, it is on to the "post-Soviet space," and the changing politics of Eurasia. STRATFOR chief George Friedman provides a prescient look into the dynamics that have governed conflict between Europe and Russia throughout history-and which are likely to again. Nicholas Eberstadt and Apoorva Shah of the American Enterprise Institute tackle Russia's grim demographic future, and what it portends for the West. The Hudson Institute's Richard Weitz explores the nature and aspirations of the Russia- and China-led Shanghai Cooperation Organization, Eurasia's most formidable security bloc. From Stephen Blank of the U.S. Army War College we then have an explanation of the role that Central Asia plays in the politics and economics of China, one of the newer players in what has been called the "Great Game." And the American Foreign Policy Council's Jeff Smith closes us out with an insightful look at the new contours of that geopolitical contest, a tug-of-war over basing and energy that will figure prominently in future relations between the United States and Russia.

For our "Perspective" this issue, we are honored to have our first foreign statesperson: Meera Shankar, India's Ambassador to the United States. We also have "Dispatches" from Hong Kong, Spain and Thailand, as well as reviews of important new books dealing with counterinsurgency strategy, Hamas' politics of martyrdom, the internal struggle for the soul of the Palestinian Authority, and the clandestine war between the West and Iran.

In other words, more than enough fodder for the curious mind. As always, we aim to please.