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Category: Occasional Papers

March 1, 2012

Russia and the Iranian Nuclear Program: Replay or Breakthrough?

Despite protests across Russia sparked by last December’s fraud-filled Duma (parliament) elections, Vladimir Putin is preparing to return to the presidency this May. Will Putin replay his 2004–2008 approach to Iran, during which Russia negotiated the S–300 air defense system contract with Tehran? Or will he continue Russia’s breakthrough in finding common ground with the United States on Iran seen under President Dmitriy Medvedev, who tore up the S–300 contract?

Jan. 1, 2012

Defining "Weapons of Mass Destruction" (Revised)

This revised Occasional Paper explores the issue of defining weapons of mass destruction with a focus on summarizing how the term has been used in disarmament negotiations, U.S. national security policy, Soviet and Russian military doctrine, and American political discourse. The paper identifies alternative definitions for WMD, addresses some of the key policy issues associated with different definitions, and proposes a definition appropriate for the Department of Defense.

Dec. 1, 2011

Buy, Build, or Steal: China’s Quest for Advanced Military Aviation Technologies

Although China continues to lag approximately two decades behind the world’s most sophisticated air forces in terms of its ability to develop and produce fighter aircraft and other complex aerospace systems, it has moved over time from absolute reliance on other countries for military aviation technology to a position where a more diverse array of strategies can be pursued. Steps taken in the late 1990s to reform China’s military aviation sector demonstrated an understanding of the problems inherent in high-technology acquisition, and an effort to move forward. However, a decade later it remains unclear how effective these reforms have been. Where are the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) and China’s military aviation industry headed? What obstacles must be overcome for China to join the exclusive ranks of those nations possessing sophisticated air forces and aviation industries capable of producing world-class aircraft?

Nov. 1, 2011

A Review of the 2001 Bonn Conference and Application to the Road Ahead in Afghanistan

Ten years ago in Bonn, Germany, the United Nations Envoy to Afghanistan, Ambassador Lakhdar Brahimi, and U.S. Envoy to the Afghan Opposition, Ambassador James Dobbins, led a diverse group of international diplomats and warriors to consensus and charted the political course for Afghanistan well into the decade. The process that led to the Bonn Agreement (Bonn 2001, or Bonn I) reflects the best of U.S. and United Nations statesmanship and was the result of the effective application of military and diplomatic power.

Sept. 1, 2011

The Ongoing Insurgency in Southern Thailand: Trends in Violence, Counterinsurgency Operations, and the Impact of National Politics

Since January 2004, a Malay-Muslim–based insurgency has engulfed the three southernmost provinces in Thailand. More than 4,500 people have been killed and over 9,000 wounded, making it the most lethal conflict in Southeast Asia. Now in its 8th year, the insurgency has settled into a low-level stalemate. Violence is down significantly from its mid-2007 peak, but it has been steadily climbing since 2008. On average, 32 people are being killed and 58 wounded every month. Most casualties are from drive-by shootings, but there are also about 12 improvised explosive device (IED) attacks a month.

Sept. 1, 2011

Korean Futures: Challenges to U.S. Diplomacy of North Korean Regime Collapse

There is no shortage of plausible scenarios describing North Korean regime collapse or how the United States and North Korea’s neighbors might respond to such a challenge. Yet comparatively little attention has been paid to the strategic considerations that may shape the responses of the United States, the Republic of Korea (ROK), Japan, China, and Russia to a North Korean crisis. These states are most likely to take action of some kind in the event the North Korean regime collapses. For the ROK (South Korea), North Korean regime collapse presents the opportunity for Korean reunification. For the other states, the outcome in North Korea will affect their influence on the peninsula and their relative weight in Asia. This study identifies the interests and objectives of these principal state actors with respect to the Korean Peninsula. Applying their interests and objectives to a generic scenario of North Korean regime collapse, the study considers possible policies that the principal state actors might use to cope with such a crisis.

June 1, 2011

Joint Interagency Task Force–South: The Best Known, Least Understood Interagency Success

Joint Interagency Task Force–South (JIATF–South) is well known within the U.S. Government as the “gold standard” for interagency cooperation and intelligence fusion, despite its preference for keeping a low profile and giving other agencies the credit for its successes. It is often cited as a model for whole-of-government problem-solving in the literature on interagency collaboration, and other national security organizations have tried to copy its approach and successes. Despite the plaudits and attention, the way that JIATF–South actually operates has only received superficial analysis. In fact, few people actually understand why JIATF–South works as well as it does or how its success might be replicated.

March 1, 2011

Secret Weapon: High-value Target Teams as an Organizational Innovation

This study argues that interagency teams were a major catalyst in turning around the Iraq War, and that they will disappear from America’s arsenal unless the knowledge base supporting the innovation can be secured. Most explanations credit the dramatic reduction in violence in Iraq between 2007 and 2008 to new U.S. leadership, the surge in U.S. forces, and/or U.S. financial support to Sunni tribal leaders. In contrast, we argue that the United States employed an underappreciated organizational innovation—interagency teams—to put insurgent clandestine organizations on the defensive and give population security measures a chance to take effect.

Jan. 1, 2011

China’s Out of Area Naval Operations: Case Studies, Trajectories, Obstacles, and Potential Solutions

This study seeks to understand the future direction of the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) with regard to out of area deployments and power projection. The assessment is based on the history of past PLAN out of area deployments and an analysis of out of area operations of other military forces. Both short- and long-term lenses are employed to understand the scope and direction of China’s defense planning and strategic decisions.

Jan. 1, 2011

Russia’s Revival: Ambitions, Limitations, and Opportunities for the United States

Independent Russia is approaching the start of its third decade of post-Soviet existence. After the economic chaos of the Boris Yeltsin decade and the recovery and stabilization of the Vladimir Putin decade, Russia’s leaders have high ambitions for a return to great power status in the years ahead. Their aspirations are tempered, however, by the realities of Russia’s social, economic, and military shortcomings and vulnerabilities, laid painfully bare by the stress test of the recent global financial crisis. Looking ahead, some also calculate that Russia will be increasingly challenged in the Far East by a rising China and in the Middle East by an Iran that aspires to regional hegemony.