CIAO DATE: 05/05
International Security, Winter 2004/05 (Volume 29 Issue 3)
Mark Kramer of Harvard University provides a military overview of the latest Russian-Chechen war, which began in 1999. He examines the tactics used by Chechen guerrillas and the responses of Russian military and security forces. He explains why Russian troops have been unable to crush the separatist insurgency and why Chechen fighters have resorted to increasingly deadly acts of terrorism, including mass hostage-takings and suicide bombings in Moscow. These terrorist attacks have greatly reduced the prospect of a lasting political settlement. Although some of the problems that have dogged Russian forces in Chechnya are unique to that particular conflict, the prolonged war illustrates general difficulty of counterinsurgency operations.
International relations in Asia are undergoing fundamental change, and the emergence of China as a key regional player is a major cause. David Shambaugh of George Washington University chronicles China's recent diplomatic, economic, and military successes in enhancing its regional posture. Contrary to critics who view China's regional rise with deep suspicion, if not foreboding, Shambaugh offers evidence to suggest that most Asian nations regard China as "a good neighbor, a constructive partner…and a nonthreatening regional power." Indeed, asserts Shambaugh, "China's reputation in the world has never been better." Shambaugh lays out reasons why China's growing regional power and influence need not lead inexorably to the elimination of U.S. power and influence in Asia . The United States, he argues, will continue to play an influential role in the region, as will other Asian states—most notably, Japan and India.
In their efforts to make the goal of halting nuclear proliferation—particularly by so-called rogue regimes—a centerpiece of their new national security strategy, George W. Bush and his administration have rejected crucial lessons from the past. So argues Francis Gavin of the University of Texas. Four decades ago, the United States confronted "a far more terrifying" threat" than any posed by Saddam Hussein's Iraq or current "rogue" regime when China detonated its first atomic device in October 1964. Gavin explores the intense debate that took place within President Lyndon Johnson's administration over how to respond to the immediate threat posed by a nuclear-armed China as well as nuclear proliferation more generally. Gavin focuses on the work of the Gilpatric committee, a little-known but highly respected group of "wise men" chosen by Johnson to examine these issues. The committee's controversial recommendations would help to transform U.S. nonproliferation policy and pave the way for the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, negotiated in cooperation with the Soviet Union.
For decades, policymakers and scholars have speculated about the sources of credibility in international politics. According to the prevailing view, the credibility of states depends on their keeping their commitments; those that do not keep their commitments will lack credibility. Using evidence from German decisionmaking during the "appeasement" crises of the 1930s, Daryl Press of Dartmouth College argues that German leaders did not assess British and French credibility on the basis of their history of keeping (or breaking) commitments. Rather, German leaders believed British and French threats when the military balance favored the Allies and dismissed them when the balance shifted to favor Germany. More generally, Press argues that leaders assess credibility during crises by focusing on the stakes and military situation in the present, not on their adversary's past behavior.
In a review essay, Richard Falkenrath of the Brookings Institution provides a detailed assessment of The 9/11 Commission Report. Falkenrath, former Deputy Assistant to President George W. Bush and Deputy Homeland Security Adviser within the White House, praises the report's historical analysis. He writes that the report's first nine chapters "should become a basic text" that "will have lasting influence as a resource for generations of students and government practitioners." The report's discussion of the government's failures of imagination, policy, capabilities, and management neither explain how different policies could have prevented the September 11 attacks nor identifies which government officials were responsible. Falkenrath argues that the report's policy recommendations are not based on its analysis of the events leading up to the September 11 attacks.