Trump and His ‘America First’ Philosophy Face First Moral Quandary in Syria

President Trump has vowed to follow a radically new approach to foreign policy that jettisons the costly mantle of moral leadership in favor of America’s most immediate economic and security interests. But it’s unclear how the crises in Syria would produce a significant shift in policy. “They have not yet figured out what they are trying to do,” says political scientist Peter Feaver. “What looks like recalibration might be multiple voices.” 

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The U.S. Response to Syria and North Korea

Law professor Charlie Dunlap shares insights on Trump’s foreign policy challenges. “I think the jury is still out as to how exactly Trump’s ‘America first’ stance will influence foreign policy. My bet is that it will be very situation-specific, and in the case of North Korea, it won’t differ, initially anyway, too much from the Obama approach except to say that Trump may believe he can better motivate China to help with a solution than his predecessor was able to do,” he says.

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Civilians In Mosul Remain Trapped As ISIS Digs In

Law professor Charlie Dunlap, a retired major general in the U.S. Air Force, talks about U.S. military operations and urban warfare in Mosul, where some 400,000 civilians remain trapped. More than 100 civilians were reportedly killed in a recent U.S. air strike, and Dunlap and military officials have noted that ISIS is using civilians as human shields. “In the case of Mosul the enemy has had 2 1/2 years to prepare for this assault” and they have burrowed in, Dunlap says. He added that urban combat is always very dangerous for civilians. “Every civilian casualty is a tragedy and the military has to work very hard to avoid them.”

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Admiral: U.S. Relies Heavily On Allies in Latin America

The biggest security challenge facing the U.S. in in the Caribbean and Central and South America is monitoring the smuggling networks that operate there and have connections to other parts of the word, says Adm. Kurt Tidd, the U.S. Navy admiral in charge of the region. Also speaking at the event this week at Duke were U.S. Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, retired Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman and a Duke alum who’s now a researcher at the university. Political scientist Peter Feaver moderated the talk.

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Sadly, We Have To Expect More Civilian Casualties If ISIS is to be Defeated

“The truth is that even with the most precise weaponry, restrictive rules of engagement, and meticulous adherence to international law, it’s inevitable that more civilians are going to be killed if ISIS is going to be ousted from Mosul and put on the path of complete destruction,” writes law professor Charlie Dunlap. “It’s a grim reminder that there is no such thing as immaculate war if evil is going to be stopped.  Let’s have the fortitude to see the mission through even as we grieve the cost.”

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ISIS Is Winning The Cyber War; Here’s How To Stop It

“To defeat ISIS, we need an entirely new strategy, one that takes on ISIS where it is highly effective — in cyberspace. While ISIS continues to foment regional instability in the greater Middle East, its prowess online has made it a threat to Western nations as well. ISIS focuses significant resources on cyberspace, where it has a global presence, using sophisticated techniques to electronically communicate with its far-flung sympathizers, spread its propaganda and recruit operatives around the world,” writes historian Andrew Byers and a colleague.

 

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North Korea Crisis, Erdogan’s Power Grab, State Dept. Budget Cuts

This week on the podcast “On Security,” public policy professor David Schanzer discusses the growing threat of North Korea, the increasing authoritarianism of NATO ally Turkey, and the value and necessity of soft power and foreign aid for American security and influence abroad.

Listen at On Security

Preventing Peacekeeper Abuse Through Equal Opportunity Peacekeeping

” … If the UN is serious about change, it should consider adopting an equal opportunity peacekeeping model, a model that focuses on larger gender inequalities in missions as a way to ensure that the overall quality of peacekeeping missions improve,” writes political scientist Kyle Beardsley. “Only then might the reduction of sexual exploitation and abuse in peacekeeping missions be possible.”

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Military Brass Like What They Hear From White House, But …

Military commanders have welcomed President Trump’s moves to delegate decisions to commanders, but unfilled senior civilian positions and turmoil in the White House have led some officers to ask whether the latitude is a sign of trust or a product of chaos at the highest levels of government.  The military has been spared some of that tumult. “The Pentagon is a comparative oasis,” says political scientist Peter Feaver, a former Bush administration official.

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Future of Military Raids, Other Foreign Policy Insights

Public policy professor David Schanzer discusses the future of military raids under the Trump administration, the implications of Kim Jong Un’s assassination of his half-brother, and the need to anticipate future crises, such as the rapidly failing state of Venezuela.

Listen at On Security

Twitter and Facebook are Politicizing the Military

The military has polled high since the administration of President Ronald Reagan, following a low point in public perceptions after the Vietnam War, says Peter Feaver, a political science professor. “The Supreme Court used to rank high, too. What happened? The Supreme Court increasingly took on a partisan appearance and looked like a group of Republicans and Democrats arguing with each other.”

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Will Trump Take ‘Brutally Forthright’ Advice From McMaster?

Political scientist Peter Feaver, a specialist in civil-military issues and a national security aide to President George W. Bush, talks about the potential impact of a book written by new national security adviser, Gen. H.R McMaster, that highlighted the consequences of the military not giving candid advice to a president during the Vietnam War.

 

Read More in The New York Times