News

Here’s the dirty truth about China’s rare-earths threat

Author: Eugene Gholz

Hit by U.S. tariffs and the blacklisting of Chinese telecom supplier Huawei, Beijing recently found a way to send a threatening trade message: with a visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping to a rare-earths processing plant. An editorial in the official People’s Daily newspaper on the subject warned, “Don’t underestimate China’s ability to strike back.” The newspaper even used a phrase, translated as “don’t say we didn’t warn you,” previously employed just before border wars with India and Vietnam.

Cult of the Irrelevant: The Waning Influence of Social Science on National Security

Author: Michael Desch

How professionalization and scholarly “rigor” made social scientists increasingly irrelevant to US national security policy To mobilize America’s intellectual resources to meet the security challenges of the post–9/11 world, US Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates observed that “we must again embrace eggheads and ideas.” But the gap between national security policymakers and international relations scholars has become a chasm.…

Defense One: Calm Down, Folks: Enemies Still Fear US Military Tech Innovation

Author: Eugene Gholz

Panting warnings that the United States is falling dangerously behind our opponents in the race for military innovation are commonplace. The United States is a strange country in which outside critics and defense insiders, both in government and in private industry, are quick to attack the very innovation system that has produced the many incredible weapons that give the United States its global reputation for military-technological leadership...…

Commonweal: No More Nukes: An Exchange

Author: Michael Desch

Speaking to attendees of the Vatican’s November conference on “Perspectives for a World Free from Nuclear Weapons and for Integral Development,” Pope Francis “firmly condemned” even “the very possession” of nuclear weapons. In short, he judged not just nuclear war but also nuclear deterrence anathema. Supporters of his view hailed the pope’s statement as “historic” and a “big hit” to the efforts of nuclear powers such as the United States to stop the global momentum swelling behind last summer’s Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. With 122 votes in support of the treaty in the United Nations, and the pope’s imprimatur, are we at last on the eve of the postnuclear millennium?...…

“Restraint and Oil Security,” in U.S. Grand Strategy in the 21st Century: The Case for Restraint

Author: Eugene Gholz

Grand strategy, meaning a state’s theory about how it can achieve national security for itself, is elusive. That is particularly true in the United States, where the division of federal power and the lack of direct security threats limit consensus about how to manage danger. This book seeks to spur more vigorous debate on US grand strategy. To do so, the first half of the volume assembles the most recent academic critiques of primacy, the dominant strategic perspective in the United States today. The contributors challenge the notion that US national security requires a massive military, huge defense spending, and frequent military intervention around the world. The second half of the volume makes the positive case for a more restrained foreign policy by excavating the historical roots of restraint in the United States and illustrating how restraint might work in practice in the Middle East and elsewhere. The volume concludes with assessments of the political viability of foreign policy restraint in the United States today...…

"The Very Healthy US Defense Innovation System," in Leaders, Laggards, and Followers: The Global Competition for Defense Innovation, UC Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation Research Briefs

Author: Eugene Gholz

The US defense innovation system enjoys tremendous advantages that other countries cannot readily replicate. It has accumulated capabilities over decades of funding and experimentation that dwarf other countries’ efforts, and the incentives to innovate in the United States are not easily replicable elsewhere. The unique US political system favors substitution of technology for labor, openness to new ideas, and competition among decentralized organizations to solve national security challenges. The constant worrying that the United States is losing its defense innovation advantages is simply part of the politics that keep the United States far, far ahead of its potential rivals...…

The National Interest: From Hanoi to Kabul

Author: Michael Desch

America's foreign-policy difficulties are multiplying, from Asia to the Middle East. Faced with the prospect of losing in Afghanistan, the president on the recommendation of his military advisers (and reversing a previous stand) has announced a new, notably vague and apparently open-ended “strategy” that includes sending additional U.S. troops. And he promises to “win,” without really explaining how we will know if we have won...…

Big Think: Why the Real North Korea Threat Isn't Its Nuclear Weapons

Author: Michael Desch

Friendly neighbors and wide oceans. That, in a phrase, is America's fallback security plan. It happens to be a very effective security plan, says Michael Desch, although you wouldn't know it by listening to politicians. Their squawking about threats to America are more the result of what President Eisenhower called the military-industrial complex and America's history of interventionist foreign policy. Case in point: North Korea. The hermit kingdom's nuclear weapons are a defensive strategy, not an offensive one. Kim Jong-un is a rational actor who wants his family to stay in power, not risk the complete erasure of his country. …

ISSF: Forum on the Gender Gap in Political Science

Author: Michael Desch

Dawn Langan Teele and Kathleen Thelen raise challenging and important questions about the gender gap in publications in top political science journals. 2 At Security Studies we are grateful for the opportunity to reflect on our own history in representing women in the pages of our journal. Teele and Thelen are right—women have been underrepresented—but there is some cause for optimism. From its entirely male dominated founding nearly 30 years ago, the journal has made great strides, though there remains more to do, and we encourage ISSF readers with ideas on this issue to communicate with us or members of the editorial board and team...…