Analysis + Opinion | 2018

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un

Analysis + Opinion

December 24, 2018

Diplomacy without denuclearization: North Korea in 2018

Ankit Panda and Vipin NarangWar on the Rocks

After having attained what he saw as the necessary capabilities to deter the United States with nuclear weapons in 2017, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un turned the tables this year.

U.S. Army soldiers are welcomed in Zagan, Poland, Thursday, Jan. 12, 2017.

Analysis + Opinion

December 18, 2018

Want NATO allies to boost defense spending? Don’t build Fort Trump

Barry R. PosenDefense One

Basing an American division in Poland will reduce allies’ incentive to build up their own forces.

General Mattis

Analysis + Opinion

November 18, 2018

Time for General Mattis to move on

Harvey M. SapolskyThe National Interest

There is word that President Trump is thinking about pushing General Mattis out as his secretary of defense, the president is tired apparently of Mattis’s slow rolling or blocking his defense initiatives.

Trump Europe WWI remembrance

Analysis + Opinion

November 15, 2018

As Europe revisits wartorn times, Trump lays a minefield

Una HajdariBoston Globe

World War I is considered to be the first European war to see major US involvement. That’s why it’s ironic that at last weekend’s ceremony marking the end of that war, Donald Trump made it clear that his administration has no interest in maintaining a constructive relationship with European countries.

Reid Pauly

Analysis + Opinion

November 9, 2018

Would US leaders push the button? Wargames and the sources of nuclear restraint

Reid PaulyMIT Press

Why since 1945 have nuclear weapons not been used? Political scientists have cited five basic reasons: deterrence, practicality, precedent, reputation, and ethics, writes Reid Pauly in International Security

Stephen Van Evera, Ford International Professor of Political Science

Analysis + Opinion

November 1, 2018

Stephen Van Evera revisits World War I, one century after its bitter end

Interview with Michelle English

One hundred years ago on November 11, 1918, the Allied Powers and Germany signed an armistice bringing to an end World War I. Stephen Van Evera, Ford International Professor of Political Science and an expert on the causes of war, revisits the Great War and discusses key insights for today one century after its bitter end. 

John Tirman

Analysis + Opinion

October 31, 2018

Election insights: on reducing gun violence

John Tirman

"A social movement to challenge America's reslient gun culture has rocked politics for the first time in a generation, and might shake up congressional complacency in the midterm elections."

Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman is welcomed by MIT president Rafael Reif in Boston, Massachusetts on 25 March. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Analysis + Opinion

October 25, 2018

President Reif, cut MIT’s ties to Saudi Arabia now!

Lukas Wolters and Nicolas DumasThe Tech

The Saudi regime targets and kills civilians in Yemen, oppresses and executes women and LGBTQ people, and assassinates journalists. MIT must not collaborate with them.


Analysis + Opinion

October 23, 2018

The price paid by journalists who break the cycle of repression

Una HajdariBoston Globe

There is a special circle of hell reserved for journalists who “shame” their countries in the foreign press, writes Una Hajdari in an opinion piece in the Boston Globe.

Milorad Dodik, who won the presidency of Republika Srpska on October 7, at a 2016 rally supporting a national holiday that would discriminate against non-Serbs. (AP Photo / Radivoje Pavicic)

Analysis + Opinion

October 12, 2018

Why ethnic nationalism still rules Bosnia, and why it could get worse

Una Hajdari and Michael ColborneThe Nation

From Donald Trump to Hungary’s Viktor Orbán to Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro, nationalism seems to have become the mainstay of political rhetoric everywhere these days.

Robert Atanasovski/AFP/Getty Images

Analysis + Opinion

October 3, 2018

Renaming Macedonia in the age of nationalism

Una HajdariThe New Republic

At the heart of this issue lies the question of nationhood, specifically, the difficulties faced by nations formed at the latter end of modern European history, writes Una Hajdari.

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May sits in the audience at the start of the Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham, Britain September 30, 2018. REUTERS/Toby Melville

Analysis + Opinion

October 1, 2018

Déjà vu? 'Global Britain' versus the continental commitment

William JamesThe National Interest

Overstretch and European obligations suggest it is time to rethink a return “East of Suez.”

President Donald J. Trump and Prime Minister Shinzō Abe of Japan at the United Nations General Assembly (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

Analysis + Opinion

September 20, 2018

How is Japan dealing with a volatile United States?

Mayumi FukushimaInternational Affairs

Managing its relationship with the United States is one of the core challenges facing Japan, as it will need to attempt to resolve the inherent tension between enhancing the alliance relationship as well as reducing its dependence on the US.

On the International Space Station June 14, 2015 the crew of Expedition 44 prepare to observe Flag Day in the USA in the Cupola, the 360 degree observation point.

Analysis + Opinion

September 18, 2018

Does America need a space force?

Harvey M. SapolskyTexas National Security Review

President Trump wants to create a space force, America’s sixth armed service, to assure US dominance in space. It doesn’t matter that America already has a sixth armed service … and is already dominant in space, writes Harvey Sapolsky. 

Protesters trample a portrait of Iran’s supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei during the storming and burning of the Iranian consulate in Basra, southeast of Baghdad, last week. (Nabil al-Jurani/AP)

Analysis + Opinion

September 14, 2018

Who to blame for the protests in Basra, Iraq?

Marsin Alshamary and Safwan Al-AminThe Washingon Post

Basra’s protests are more about economic grievances than political ones. Although many of these grievances are shared by other Iraqis, they are felt most keenly by Basrawis, says Marsin Alshamary and Safwan Al-Aminmin in a recent opinion piece.

After a Taliban attack in Ghazni, Afghanistan, on Aug.16, 2018.

Analysis + Opinion

September 10, 2018

This 9/11, end the Afghanistan War

Barry R. PosenUSA Today

“It is time for this war in Afghanistan to end,” Gen. John Nicholson said as he relinquished command of U.S. forces in Afghanistan. Seventeen years of war have shown no plausible theory of success to justify additional U.S. costs and more killing in Afghanistan.

Analysis + Opinion

September 5, 2018

An agenda for Japanese military reform

Eric Heginbotham, Richard SamuelsEast Asia Forum Quarterly

Japan’s military planners face a number of major challenges on the near horizon, write Eric Heginbotham and Richard Samuels in their essay in East Asia Forum Quarterly. A potential conflict on the Korean peninsula, skirmishes in the East China Sea, debilitating cyberattacks, and the forced repatriation of Taiwan by Beijing. 

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the Trump administration's Iran policy will be handled by the new Iran Action Group inside the State Department. (Reuters)

Analysis + Opinion

August 29, 2018

The Trump administration’s new ‘Iran Action Group’ won’t work

Nicholas MillerThe Washingon Post

The "Iran Action Group" announcement signaled again that the Trump administration intends to act more aggressively against Iran. So how likely is it that this pressure campaign will change Iranian behavior? MIT SSP affiliate Nicholas Miller says it won’t work.

The Ground Self-Defense Force's new Amphibious Rapid Deployment Brigade carries out a demonstration exercise April 7 in Sasebo, Nagasaki Prefecture. | KYODO

Analysis + Opinion

August 19, 2018

The GSDF is taking to the waves, but should it?

Mina PollmannThe Diplomat, The Japan Times

The approximately 2,100-member unit is based in southwest Japan and specializes in operations involving AAV-7 amphibious vehicles, MV-22 Ospreys and Chinook helicopters.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un inspects Chunghung farm in Samjiyon County, North Korea in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), July 2018.

Analysis + Opinion

August 13, 2018

North Korea's nuclear program isn't going anywhere

Ankit Panda and Vipin NarangForeign Affairs

Although Trump is desperate to continue claiming that he “solved” the North Korean nuclear threat at Singapore, as many predicted, North Korea continues to expand its nuclear and ballistic missile arsenals and has played its diplomatic hand brilliantly.

The frontier and the gun are deeply encoded in the nation’s DNA, writes John Tirman. (Diana Feil/Unsplash)

Analysis + Opinion

July 27, 2018

The origins of America's gun obsession

John TirmanWBUR

John Tirman writes in an opinion piece that Sacha Baron Cohen's Who Is America? “kinderguardian” ruse reveals the extent of America’s gun culture. It’s a wellspring from the earliest times of colonial America, nourishing the country’s entire history.

Arba'een Pilgrimage - Iranian People- Shia Muslim. By Mostafameraji, from Wikimedia Commons

Analysis + Opinion

July 25, 2018

Authoritarian nostalgia among Iraqi youth

Marsin AlshamaryWar on the Rocks

PhD candidate Marsin Alshamary discusses the roots and repercussions.

Featured image credit: fuji mount pagoda japan mountain by oadtz. Public domain via Pixabay.

Analysis + Opinion

July 22, 2018

Japan’s pivot in Asia

Richard J. Samuels and Corey WallaceOUPblog

In Tokyo, apprehension regarding how the different trajectories of China and the US might affect Japan—muted somewhat by the Obama administration’s reassurances of a US “pivot” to Asia—is more apparent than ever.

 A Japanese destroyer at Sagami Bay, Japan, October 2015.

Analysis + Opinion

July 16, 2018

A new military strategy for Japan

Eric Heginbotham and Richard SamuelsForeign Affairs

Japan's current military strategy, which relies on forward defense, is outdated. An active denial strategy would improve deterrence and mitigate crisis instability, says Eric Heginbotham and Richard Samuels.

 An increasingly harsh approach to dissent has created a ‘climate of fear,’ says Audrey Li Photo: AFP/Wang Zhao

Analysis + Opinion

July 6, 2018

More and more, overseas Chinese fear the long arm of Beijing

Audrey Jiajia LiInkstone

When Audrey Jiajia Li was invited to host a panel at a conference in Singapore, she didn’t expect to be shouted at for being too negative on China. But it’s part of a disturbing trend of Chinese being unable to speak their mind overseas, she says.

President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un shake hands on June 12 following their summit in Singapore. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

Analysis + Opinion

June 30, 2018

There are signs North Korea is still working on its nuclear program. Here’s why ‘denuclearization’ is so problematic.

Jane Vaynman and Vipin NarangThe Washington Post

There are signs that North Korea is continuing to improve and expand infrastructure at key nuclear-weapons-related sites, including multiple suspected clandestine sites, and a strategy to deceive the United States about them. And it has yet to raze the Sohae missile test site, as Trump claimed Kim promised to do in Singapore.

Vipin Narang

Analysis + Opinion

June 12, 2018

North Korea is a nuclear power. Get used to it.

Vipin Narang and Ankit PandaThe New York Times

North Korea has arrived as a nuclear power, and there is no going back. Once the reality-show theatrics of the Singapore summit meeting subside, we are left with the reality that North Korea was just recognized as a de facto nuclear weapons power.

Analysis + Opinion

June 12, 2018

What just happened? Experts break it down


Vipin Narang tells CNN that the Singapore summit showed why Kim Jong Un pursued nuclear weapons in the first place. Although he might have declared his nuclear weapons force completed in November 2017, it only achieved political completion when he sat down with the President of the United States as an equal.

Sandia National Laboratory at Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M.

Analysis + Opinion

May 17, 2018

Calm down, folks: Enemies still fear US military tech innovation

Harvey M. Sapolsky and Eugene Gholz Defense One

Where most countries focus on one or two areas, America has a huge, well-funded R&D infrastructure that pushes the envelope everywhere. Panting warnings that the US is falling dangerously behind our opponents in the race for military innovation are commonplace.

Analysis + Opinion

May 11, 2018

Between two Caesars: The Christians of northern Iraq

Roger Petersen and Matthew CancianProvidence

A brief account describing the formation and fragmentation of self-defense forces (militias) within the Christian population of the Nineveh Plains. Traces the development of their post-2003 self-defense force, the crisis of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria’s (ISIS) attack, and the current fractured state of Christian forces in the area.

Legal Complex, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Photo by Pfc. Elizabeth Fournier Joint Task Force Guantanamo Public Affairs.

Analysis + Opinion

May 8, 2018

The future of the US military commissions: legal and policy issues

James E. Baker and Laura DickinsonJust Security

The ongoing operation of the US military commissions at Guantanamo Bay has posed significant challenges for multiple US administrations.  

President Trump told French President Emmanuel Macron last month that he would probably leave the Iran deal. (Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post)

Analysis + Opinion

May 4, 2018

Trump thinks his North Korea strategy will work on Iran. He’s wrong on both.

Colin H. Kahl and Vipin NarangThe Washington Post

On April 24, French president Emmanuel Macron walked into the Oval Office with one overriding mission: persuade President Trump not to ditch the Iran nuclear deal.

US Capital Building

Analysis + Opinion

March 27, 2018

Keep the Iran deal — 10 good reasons why

A bipartisan group of 118 American national security leaders, including CIS scholars, issued a statement outlining ten reasons why President Trump should keep the Iran nuclear deal. 

President Trump Image Credit: U.S. Department of Defense

Analysis + Opinion

March 15, 2018

The Trump-Kim Summit and the truth about North Korean denuclearization

Ankit Panda and Vipin NarangThe Diplomat

In a stunning and unexpected move, President Donald Trump announced last week that he will meet with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un — setting the stage for the first-ever presidential-level US-North Korea summit.

Map of Japan and ROK

Analysis + Opinion

March 1, 2018

With friends like these: Japan-ROK cooperation and US policy

Eric Heginbotham and Richard SamuelsThe ASAN Forum

Although they share a common ally, history and politics keep Japan and South Korea at arm’s length and severely limit their defense cooperation.​

 Jacob Zuma arrives to announce his resignation in Pretoria, February 2018.

Analysis + Opinion

February 20, 2018

South Africa's healthy Democracy: Why Zuma's resignation is a good sign

Daniel de Kadt, Evan Lieberman, and Philip MartinForeign Affairs

Democracy in South Africa is in tatters. Or at least that’s the widespread view following President Jacob Zuma’s forced resignation on February 14, which ended his almost-nine-year tenure in office.

Nuclear missiles

Analysis + Opinion

February 13, 2018

What can we learn from North Korea’s successful nuclearization?

Nicholas L. Miller and Vipin NarangThe Texas National Security Review

According to most theories of nuclear proliferation, North Korea did not stand much of a chance of successfully acquiring nuclear weapons. Yet here we are, staring down an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM)-sized barrel of the world’s 10th nuclear weapons power.

 Nobuhiro Kubo / Reuters - The Malabar exercises, Okinawa, June 2016

Analysis + Opinion

February 13, 2018

The rise of illiberal hegemony

Barry R. PosenForeign Affairs

Is US hegemony of any kind sustainable, and if not, what policy should replace it? Trump turns out to be as good at avoiding that question as those he has condemned.

Jim Walsh

Analysis + Opinion

February 12, 2018

Why North Korea and Iran get accused of nuclear collusion

Jim Walsh Bulletin of the Atomic Scientist

At first glance, it would seem that Iran-North Korea military or even nuclear cooperation makes “sense.” Both nations face the United States as an adversary, and both have been subject to US and international sanctions.

John Tirman

Analysis + Opinion

February 6, 2018

An adolescent's foreign policy

John TirmanHelsinki Times

If there’s one thing President Donald Trump demonstrated in his first year in the White House, it is a penchant for disruption. Not the disruption we hear so much about in the tech industry or as a tool of innovation, but just sheer destructiveness.

In this Nov. 9, 2017, file photo, President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping participated in a welcome ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.

Analysis + Opinion

January 19, 2018

‘Fire and Fury’ shows Trump’s shifts on China

Audrey Jiajia LiBoston Globe

It is clear that in the Trump Administration, neither hawks like Bannon nor doves like the Kushners are interested in challenging Beijing on value issues…

Chinese women, inspired by the #MeToo campaign that originated in the United States, come forward with their own stories. Photo: Handout

Analysis + Opinion

January 9, 2018

A #MeToo movement in China

Audrey Jiajia LiSouth China Morning Post

The #MeToo movement is starting to bring about real social change in much of the world, yet its impact in China has been limited even as pioneers try to make a difference.