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Friday, December 27, 2019

Issue 62

Is the Mediterranean Still Geo-strategically Essential?
Background Essay
Background Essay

Is The Mediterranean Still Geo-Strategically Essential?

by Barry Strauss via Strategika
Friday, December 27, 2019

The Mediterranean Sea is today, as it has always been, a crossroads. The name itself testifies to that, as it means “the sea in the middle of the earth,” a Latin term reflecting an earlier Greek belief. We know better, or do we? From Syria to Libya and on the high seas, and with outside players including China, Iran, Russia, and the United States, the Mediterranean has re-emerged of late as a cockpit of conflict. 

Featured Commentary
Featured Commentary

The Wrong Side Of The Pillars Of Hercules: The Mediterranean Just Doesn’t Matter Much Anymore

by Ralph Petersvia Strategika
Friday, December 27, 2019

The United States is an Atlantic and Pacific power by virtue of geography, strategic necessity, and economic opportunity. A forward defense of the far littorals—Europe and the East-Asian barrier states facing China—is the essential requirement for our security. All else is not only secondary or tertiary, but often an ill-advised and grossly costly drain on our resources.

Featured Commentary

Europe’s Mediterranean Frontier

by Angelo M. Codevillavia Strategika
Friday, December 27, 2019

The Mediterranean abruptly separates Europe’s civilization from those of Africa and the Middle East. On one side, reaching North to Scandinavia and East to the Bering Strait, some seven hundred million mostly prosperous people live according to principles derived from Judeo-Christianity, Greek philosophy, and Roman law. Their number is shrinking. 

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Related Commentary

The Growing Temptation to Threaten America

by Thomas Donnellyvia Strategika
Friday, April 29, 2016

For the foreseeable future, no single power, nor even axis or alliance of rival powers, can hope to match the range of financial power or technological expertise—either expertise measured in narrowly military terms or more broadly—of the United States. The world still waits with baited breath for the Federal Reserve to set what are, in effect, global interest rates. 

Featured Commentary

Readiness Writ Large

by Admiral James O. Ellis Jr.via Strategika
Friday, April 29, 2016

In the years immediately following the (first) end of the Cold War, the search for elusive readiness metrics in the Department of Defense was all-consuming. As the pressures mounted, first to write and then to cash the “peace dividend” check, policy pronouncements were made and working groups and war rooms were established, all asserting the existence of and searching for the Holy Grail: a suite of detailed readiness metrics that could precisely detail the impact of every procurement dollar cut and every training event curtailed. 

Background Essay

The Readiness Vortex

by Thomas Donnellyvia Strategika
Friday, April 29, 2016

For the past several years, members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff have been painting a bleak portrait of the state of the armed services. Testifying to the senate Armed Services Committee in January 2015, recently retired Army chief Gen. Ray Odierno admitted that Army readiness “has been degraded to its lowest level in 20 years.” This year, Odierno’s successor, Gen. Mark Milley, went farther: the Army is not well prepared to engage a major power. “If we got into a conflict with Russia then I think it would place our soldiers’ lives at risk,” he said. 

Related Commentary

Uneasy Allies: America, Turkey, And The Kurds

by Barry Strauss via Military History in the News
Friday, April 22, 2016

A small news item about Turkish-American relations and the latest stage of the Syrian civil war recalls the wisdom of Lord Palmerston, a mid-19th-century British prime minister. He said that England had no eternal allies or perpetual enemies but only eternal and perpetual interests. The same could be said of Turkey, the U.S. or any state.

Related Commentary

Iran's War Against America

by Bruce Thorntonvia Defining Ideas
Wednesday, March 16, 2016

For thirty years, we have misread the beliefs that motivate the mullahs. 

Featured Commentary

America Entered Into A Raw Deal With Iran

by Angelo M. Codevillavia Strategika
Monday, March 14, 2016

On January 16, 2016, governments in Europe and America ended the sanctions they had imposed on Iran (the U.S. since 1979, Europe since 2007 and increasingly since 2012) for reasons internal to themselves. Iran had not changed the behavior that had led to the imposition of sanctions—neither its nuclear program nor its leadership of the Shia side in the current round of the Sunni-Shia war. 

Featured Commentary

U.S. Elections And The Future Of The Iran Nuclear Deal

by Max Bootvia Strategika
Monday, March 14, 2016

January 16, 2016, was a milestone in the history of the Islamic Republic of Iran. It was the day that the nuclear deal with the United States was implemented and most sanctions on Iran were lifted. Iran immediately received access to more than $100 billion in frozen oil funds, and that’s only the beginning of the bonanza. 

Background Essay

Legitimacy Rests In Iranian Hands

by Kori Schakevia Strategika
Monday, March 14, 2016

Whether Iran succeeds in gaining legitimacy with Europe and the United States after the end of sanctions by the West may have less to do with choices by the Western countries and more to do with internal Iranian politics. All of the parties to the Iranian nuclear deal want to provide that legitimacy; but Iran’s opaque internecine politics may get in the way.

Featured Commentary

Why ISIS Is Different—And Why It Matters

by Peter R. Mansoorvia Strategika
Monday, February 1, 2016

The Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) is the modern face of terror. Unlike al-Qaeda, the Irish Republican Army, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Maoists in India, the Shining Path, and other traditional terrorist organizations, ISIS refuses to lurk in the shadows. Unlike Hezbollah, Hamas, the Tamil Tigers, or the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia, ISIS is not content with controlling a limited amount of territory confined to a single nation-state. 

Background Essay

Typologies Of Terrorism

by Mark Moyarvia Strategika
Monday, February 1, 2016

The term “terrorism” is commonly understood as political violence outside the norms of conflicts between states. Terrorism’s victims can be innocent civilians, or they can be political officials or even soldiers. More controversial is the term “terrorist.” 

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The Working Group on the Role of Military History in Contemporary Conflict strives to reaffirm the Hoover Institution's dedication to historical research in light of contemporary challenges, and in particular, reinvigorating the national study of military history as an asset to foster and enhance our national security. Read more.

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Strategika is an online journal that analyzes ongoing issues of national security in light of conflicts of the past—the efforts of the Military History Working Group of historians, analysts, and military personnel focusing on military history and contemporary conflict.

Our board of scholars shares no ideological consensus other than a general acknowledgment that human nature is largely unchanging. Consequently, the study of past wars can offer us tragic guidance about present conflicts—a preferable approach to the more popular therapeutic assumption that contemporary efforts to ensure the perfectibility of mankind eventually will lead to eternal peace. New technologies, methodologies, and protocols come and go; the larger tactical and strategic assumptions that guide them remain mostly the same—a fact discernable only through the study of history.

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The opinions expressed in Strategika are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Hoover Institution or Stanford University.