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"International Security Journal Highlights"

Newsletter Article, Belfer Center Newsletter, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

Winter 2005-06


International Security is America's leading journal of security affairs. It provides sophisticated analyses of contemporary security issues and discusses their conceptual and historical foundations. The journal is edited at the Belfer Center and published quarterly by the MIT Press. Questions may be directed to:

Success Matters: Casualty Sensitivity and the War in Iraq

Since the Vietnam War, U.S. policymakers have worried that the American public will support military operations only if the human costs of the war, as measured in combat casualties, are minimal. Christopher Gelpi and former Belfer Center Fellow Peter D. Feaver of Duke University, together with Jason Reifler of Loyola University Chicago, challenge this notion. Although the public is rightly averse to suffering casualties, the level of popular sensitivity to U.S. military casualties depends critically on the context in which those losses occur. The public's tolerance for the human costs of war is primarily shaped by the intersection of two crucial factors: beliefs about the rightness or wrongness of the war, and beliefs about the war's likely success. The impact of each depends on the other. Ultimately, however, beliefs about the likelihood of success matter most in determining the public's willingness to tolerate U.S. military deaths in combat.


Who "Won" Libya? The Force- Diplomacy Debate and Its Implications For Theory and Policy Bruce W. Jentleson and Christopher A. Whytock of Duke University examine the role of U.S. coercive diplomacy in Libya's decisions to settle the Pan Am 103 Lockerbie terrorism case and to abandon its weapons of mass destruction programs. In addition, they consider the implications of the Libya case for theories of force and diplomacy-particularly coercive diplomacy-and U.S. policy toward Iran and North Korea.

Deterring Terrorism: It Can Be Done Robert F.Trager of Oxford University and Dessislava P. Zagorcheva of Columbia University examine the role of deterrence in counterterrorism strategies. Their analysis of the structure of terrorist networks and the processes that produce attacks, as well as the

multiple objectives of terrorist organizations, suggests that many terrorist groups and elements of terrorist support networks can be deterred from cooperating with the some of the world's most threatening terrorist groups, including al Qaeda. The authors offer an analysis of U.S. and Philippine policy toward the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the Abu Sayyaf Group to illustrate both the potential of this approach and the risks of using force.


Winning with Allies: The Strategic Value of the Afghan Model

When the war in Afghanistan ended in 2002, the country was largely governed by Afghans. Richard B. Andres and Thomas Griffith Jr., both of the School of Advanced Air and Space Studies, and Craig Wills of U.S. Air Force Strategy Flight, South Korea, attribute this result to the U.S. decision to engage in a different type of military operation. Rather than inserting thousands of troops into Afghanistan, the United States chose to rely on special forces, airpower, and Afghan allies. In the operation, approximately fifty U.S. special forces personnel accomplished what planners had believed would require 50,000 U.S. ground troops. In the wake of the war, military planners largely dismissed the Afghan model as unworkable

elsewhere. The performance of the model in Afghanistan and later in Iraq, however, demonstrates that the traditional military's pessimism toward this method is unwarranted. Indeed, the model vastly improves U.S. leverage in coercive diplomacy and war because it requires few U.S. ground troops and facilitates the transition to stability and democracy by empowering indigenous allies.


Allies, Airpower, and Modern Warfare: The Afghan Model in Afghanistan and Iraq

Unlike Andres, Griffith, and Wills, Stephen D. Biddle of the U.S. Army War College finds the applicability of the Afghan model to be more limited. Where U.S. allies have had skills and motivation comparable to their enemies,' the model has proven extremely lethal even without U.S. conventional ground forces. But where U.S. allies have lacked these skills, they have proven unable to exploit the potential of American airpower. The Afghan model can thus be a powerful tool, but one with important preconditions for its use-and these preconditions limit its potential to transform U.S. force structure or defense policy.



For more information about this publication please contact the Belfer Center Communications Office at 617-495-9858.

For Academic Citation:

"International Security Journal Highlights." Belfer Center Newsletter, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Winter 2005-06.

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