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The Story of the Tunisian Revolution

by Samuel Tadrosvia Analysis
Monday, December 19, 2016

The simple narrative of a frustrated Tunisian street vendor's desperate act igniting the flames of Arab revolutions has captured the world’s imagination. Yet no serious examination has been undertaken to understand what actually took place in the halls of power that led to Tunisia’s strongman, Zein El Abedine Ben Ali, fleeing his country. In this essay, Samuel Tadros examines an important book written by two Tunisian journalists investigating the revolution. The story offers us important insights into the nature of Arab regimes, their inherent weaknesses, the culture of mistrust they sow, and how the powerful house Ben Ali had constructed was figuratively built on sand. The story of what transpired in Tunisia during its revolution stands as a cautionary tale regarding the narratives that have come to dominate the way the Arab revolutions and events in the broader region have been reported and understood.

World Puzzle
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Strategic Planning for the New Administration

by Colin Dueckvia Analysis
Thursday, December 15, 2016

The next administration will face urgent, practical questions of how to organize its National Security Council decision-making process while developing a strong foreign policy strategy.  Strategic planning can help to make international success more likely, in part by providing the president with clear, well-informed policy options.  Yet no process can work if it does not fit the individual president.  To that end, the following essay examines the new president-elect's decision-making style, and then outlines six specific NSC recommendations: 1. Learn from private sector experience, 2. Develop and execute a meaningful national security strategy early on, 3. Restore a proper balance of responsibilities between the NSC and line departments and agencies, 4. Encourage the president's national security adviser to play the roles of honest broker, policy entrepreneur, and presidential agent, 5. Appoint and empower a strategic planning directorate on the NSC staff, and 6. Consider creating an effective strategic planning board.  In the end, the case is made that strategy is possible; bureaucratic consensus overrated; and defeatism unhelpful.

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International Spillover Effects

by Jennifer Daskalvia Aegis Paper Series
Monday, December 12, 2016

As the encryption debate continues, proponents on both sides decry the negative international side effects of the policies they oppose.  This essay analyzes the claims, examining the potential effects of the specific policies being pursued.  It ultimately concludes that even the “no new regulation” approach has potentially significant spillover effects.  These effects are bidirectional and dynamic: US policies and practices have a spillover effect internationally; but the policies and practices of foreign actors also influence the effectiveness of any decryption policy, and thus the scope and distribution of any such effect.  This highlights the need for centralized, executive-level review of sought-after decryption orders, so as to better account for the potential effects.

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A Future For NATO And The European Union

by Paul Rahevia Analysis
Wednesday, December 7, 2016

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the European Union are in disarray. The former has fulfilled its mission. Were it not for Russia’s seizure of the Crimea and invasion of Ukraine and the refugee crisis in Europe spawned by the sectarian Muslim conflict raging in Iraq and Syria, it would be an empty shell without any obvious function. The latter has overreached. A great success as a customs union, it is a disaster as a currency union; and the attempt to turn it into a federation—oligarchic in governance and equipped with an intrusive administrative apparatus—will end in tears.

Blank Section (Placeholder)Analysis and Commentary

Preventing Operational Atrophy In The Long War

by Vince Gouldingvia Analysis
Saturday, December 10, 2016

Bad or nonexistent national strategy manifests itself in suboptimal military responses.  The 2011 withdrawal of U.S. ground forces from Iraq is a classic example.  It threw away success garnered by the 2007 “surge” on the premise that Iraqi forces, aided by airstrikes and special operators, could stabilize the post-hostilities phase of Operation Iraqi Freedom.  Counterinsurgency operations must address their center of gravity: a secure living environment.  General purpose ground formations have historically been essential to achieving that end. Military forces should never be applied absent clear strategy; when they are, all the tools in the operational commander’s kit must be on the table.

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Why NATO Matters And How to Revive It After Brexit

by Robert G. Kaufmanvia Analysis
Tuesday, December 6, 2016

A robust NATO remains a vital interest of the United States.  The greatest threat to its credibility comes not from Brexit, but the dangerous erosion of American power and purpose eight years of President Obama's Dangerous Doctrine has wrought. The restoration of American military power is the single most important measure the United States can take to ensure that NATO serves its essential purpose of keeping Putin out of Central Europe, keeping Germany pro-Western, and keeping the United States engaged as the default power in Europe and globally.  Paradoxically, Donald Trump's Presidency may spell the revival of NATO if he follows through on his commitment to increase defense spending substantially and sheds his illusions about Putin.

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China, Encryption Policy, and International Influence

by Adam Segalvia Aegis Paper Series
Monday, November 28, 2016

It is difficult to disentangle the influence of U.S. encryption policy on the development of Chinese regulations and laws. Independent of what happens in Washington, Beijing has a long history of using encryption policy to foster national and domestic security as well as to promote economic growth and indigenous innovation. 

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The Destruction Of ISIS

by Peter R. Mansoorvia Analysis
Friday, December 9, 2016

The goal of the United States and its allies must be the total eradication of the Islamic State. Destroying ISIS begins with eliminating its self-styled caliphate in Iraq and Syria. This can be accomplished by arming local actors and assisting them with advisers, forward air control teams, and airpower. More importantly, the United States must work with regional partners to knit together a political solution to provide Iraqi and Syrian Sunni Arabs a measure of autonomy to prevent the reemergence of ISIS or its ideological successor. The United States must also wage a holistic campaign to combat ISIS elsewhere in the world. Means include pressuring ISIS affiliates through drone strikes and by strengthening partner states, using financial and legal means to impede terrorist financing, combating radicalization in cyberspace and on social media platforms, and focusing intelligence capabilities to uncover ISIS operatives seeking to conduct terror attacks in Europe and the United States.

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Implementing Stability In Iraq And Syria

by Max Bootvia Analysis
Thursday, December 8, 2016

The campaign against ISIS is making significant progress. The end is in sight for the Islamic State. But its demise will not necessarily produce a lasting victory over terrorism. Unless the U.S. takes the lead in stabilizing Iraq and Syria, the territory that ISIS loses may simply be taken by other extremist groups, both Shiite and Sunni. To prevent continued violence and instability, the U.S. should push to oust Bashar Assad in Syria and to recognize the rights of Sunnis in Iraq. Otherwise we may well see ISIS 2.0 emerging out of the ruins of the Islamic State.

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NATO, Brexit, And America’s Security

by Bruce Thorntonvia Analysis
Monday, October 31, 2016

The Brexit, along with Donald Trump’s criticisms of NATO, have raised questions about what a dissolution of these two multinational institutions might mean for the security and interests of the U.S. Despite justified criticisms of European NATO members’ failure to meet their financial obligations, NATO is unlikely to unravel. The British departure from the EU is more portentous. Longstanding problems with the EU reflect structural deficiencies that may not be amenable to further policy adjustments. A breakdown of the EU, however, could free up European nations to craft defense pacts and increase defense spending that would benefit America’s security.

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