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Category: INSS Strategic Perspectives

June 14, 2021

Russia and Saudi Arabia: Old Disenchantments, New Challenges

The Joseph Biden administration can manage its recalibration of relations with Saudi Arabia without unwarranted fear that Riyadh will view Russia as a safe-harbor alternative to the United States on a myriad of state-to-state interactions that are most important to the Kingdom. While Russia’s transactional approach to foreign partners has at times given it advantages in some areas over the more value-based framework of U.S. foreign relations, there clearly have been limits to the Russian style of dealing with Saudi Arabia in this century.

June 2, 2021

Iran in Latin America: Malign Alliances, “Super Spreaders,” and Alternative Narratives

Iran's ongoing and multifaceted campaigns of disinformation and carefully curated messages—coordinated with Russian and Venezuelan state media companies and thousands of allied Internet and social media accounts—pose a strategic challenge to U.S. interests and regional efforts to promote stability, democratic values, and the rule of law.

Aug. 12, 2020

The Micromanagement Myth and Mission Command: Making the Case for Oversight of Military Operations

This paper argues that leaders, historians, and pundits have grossly exaggerated civilian micromanagement of the U.S. military, resulting in less effective civilian and military oversight of military operations and a reduced likelihood that military operations will achieve strategic results.

July 31, 2019

Five Conundrums: The United States and the Conflict in Syria

For the past 8 years, two U.S. administrations, the United Nations (UN), and numerous foreign governments have sought to end the catastrophic war in Syria and reach a negotiated political settlement to the conflict. Their efforts have repeatedly been complicated, even thwarted, by the highly contested and violent politics underlying the conflict, the sheer number of conflict actors inside and outside of Syria, and those actors’ diverse and often irreconcilable objectives.

May 20, 2019

Finding Ender: Exploring the Intersections of Creativity, Innovation, and Talent Management in the U.S. Armed Forces

Current national-level strategic documents exhort the need for creativity and innovation as a precondition of America’s continued competitive edge in the international arena. But what does that really mean in terms of personnel, processes, and culture? This paper argues that an overlooked aspect of talent management, that of cognitive diversity, must be considered when retooling military talent management systems. Going one step further, talent management models must incorporate diversity of both skill set and mindset into their calculus. Specifically, the Department of Defense (DOD) needs to recruit, retain, and utilize Servicemembers and civilians with higher than average levels of creativity and a propensity for innovative thinking. It needs “enders.”

March 25, 2019

Russian Challenges from Now into the Next Generation: A Geostrategic Primer

U.S. and Western relations with Russia remain challenged as Russia increasingly reasserts itself on the global stage. Russia remains driven by a worldview based on existential threats—real, perceived, and contrived. As a vast, 11-time zone Eurasian nation with major demographic and economic challenges, Russia faces multiple security dilemmas internally and along its vulnerable and expansive borders. Exhibiting a reactive xenophobia stemming from a long history of destructive war and invasion along most of its borders, the collapse of the Soviet Union, the enlargement of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and perceived Western slights, Russia increasingly threatens others and lashes outward. However, time is not on Russia’s side, as it has entered into a debilitating status quo that includes unnecessary confrontation with the West, multiple unresolved military commitments, a sanctions-strained and only partially diversified economy, looming domestic tensions, and a rising China directly along its periphery. Washington still has an opportunity to carefully improve U.S.-Russia relations and regain a more stable relationship in the near term, but only if activities and initiatives are based on a firm and frank appreciation of each other’s core interests, including those of their allies and partners.

March 13, 2019

El Salvador's Recognition of the People's Republic of China: A Regional Context

In January 2016, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) abandoned an 8-year truce in its war with the Republic of China (ROC) over diplomatic recognition around the world and subsequently moved to aggressively woo traditional Taipei allies. This paper centers on the PRC’s recent successful push into Latin America, and particularly in Central America—historically a primary area of influence for the United States. Through a concerted effort—and often in exchange for promises of mega investments and financial aid—the PRC increasingly receives a warm welcome across the Latin American continent. This paper analyzes recent decisions by several countries in the Western Hemisphere in recognizing PRC and offers an in-depth assessment of El Salvador’s recent decision to break historic ties to Taiwan and embrace Beijing—a move that presents a significant strategic challenge to U.S. regional interests.

Jan. 30, 2019

A Strategic Overview of Latin America: Identifying New Convergence Centers, Forgotten Territories, and Vital Hubs for Transnational Organized Crime

This paper outlines a number of critical strategic challenges in Latin America for U.S. policymakers, which were directly identified in the December 2017 National Security Strategy. However, despite this recognition, these issues are seldom featured in policy discussions about the region.

Jan. 2, 2019

Between Russia and Iran: Room to Pursue American Interests in Syria

President Donald Trump has underscored containing Iran’s sway as a key element in establishing a “strong and lasting footprint” in Syria as the United States moves toward bringing its Soldiers home. In pursuing this key American objective, this paper recommends that Washington take advantage of the “daylight” between Russia and Iran, and that it be American policy at all levels to work to expand it. This long-existing “daylight” was underscored in 2018 by calls in Moscow for Iran to withdraw its forces from some or all of Syria, and by Putin’s positive regard at the summit in Helsinki with President Trump for Israel’s security requirements.

Aug. 8, 2017

Asia and the Trump Administration: Challenges, Opportunities, and a Road Ahead

The Asia-Pacific region is of exponentially increasing importance to the United States. Developments there affect vital U.S. economic, security, and political interests. Unfettered access to the region is a strategic imperative to allow the United States to protect and advance its wide-ranging national interests.