Janine Davidson

Defense in Depth

Janine Davidson examines the art, politics, and business of American military power.

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Putin, Brzezinski, and Deterrence 101

by Janine Davidson
putin-ukraine-deterrence Russia's President Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting at the Novo-Ogaryovo state residence outside Moscow, June 11, 2014. (Alexei Druzhinin/Courtesy Reuters)

On June 16, I had the opportunity to hear former National Security Adviser (and sage professor) Zbigniew Brzezinski speak at the Wilson Center. He gave an outstanding speech regarding the ongoing turmoil in Ukraine and what the United States and NATO can and should do about it.

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Struggling to Wrap Your Head Around the Iraq Policy Debate? Read This, That, and These.

by Janine Davidson
iraq Members of the Iraqi Special Operations Forces stand guard during an intensive security deployment in Baghdad's Amiriya district, June 18, 2014. (Thaier Al-Sudani/Courtesy Reuters)

There’s little doubt that the security situation in Iraq is fast-moving; if you’re reading this even a few hours from now, the terrain will likely have shifted again. Amid the rhetoric about who to blame and what the United States should do next, it’s easy to lose sight of the broader picture—as well as the history that got us to this point.  Here are some of the best resources I’ve found to acquaint readers with some of the deeper issues at play:

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On Iraq, No Quick or Easy Solution

by Janine Davidson
iraq maliki A girl, who fled from the violence in Mosul, carries a case of water at a camp on the outskirts of Arbil in Iraq's Kurdistan region, June 12, 2014. Since Tuesday, black clad Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) fighters have seized Iraq's second biggest city Mosul and Tikrit, home town of former dictator Saddam Hussein, as well as other towns and cities north of Baghdad. (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters)

This week’s news from Iraq is nothing but tragic.  As forces of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) took Mosul and Tikrit before turning toward Baghdad, the bulk of Iraqi forces laid down their arms and fled, demonstrating the mess Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has made of the U.S.-trained and equipped Army that was left in his care just over two years ago.

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Weekend Reader: Iraq, Friendly Fire, and the Man Who Could Have Killed Hitler

by Janine Davidson
isis-iraq Fighters of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) stand guard at a checkpoint in the northern Iraq city of Mosul, June 11, 2014. Since Tuesday, black clad ISIL fighters have seized Iraq's second biggest city Mosul and Tikrit, home town of former dictator Saddam Hussein, as well as other towns and cities north of Baghdad. (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters)

Iraq: simply a mess. As the Maliki government deteriorates in the face of city-seizing assaults by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants, it has been difficult to keep up. Mosul has fallen; Baghdad is under threat; the Kurds have taken Kirkuk and Iran has deployed Revolutionary Guard forces to defend the Iraqi government. The United States and UN have responded with clear condemnation—but little else. At home, Tom Ricks shakes his head while Senator John McCain calls for the resignation of President Obama’s entire national security team. Meanwhile, as Dexter Filkins chillingly observes in the New Yorker, This is the real legacy of America’s War in Iraq.

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Weekend Reader: D-Day, Prisoners of War, and the Last Navajo Code Talker

by Janine Davidson
d day anniversary British World War II veteran Frederick Glover poses for a photograph as soldiers parachute down during a D-Day commemoration paratroopers launch event in Ranville, northern France, on June 5, 2014. Some 3,000 veterans are among those attending ceremonies across the northern French coastline where Allied forces landed in the largest seaborne invasion in history to help speed up the defeat of Nazi Germany in World War II. (Thomas Bregardis/Courtesy Reuters)

D-Day: Seventy Years Ago Today. Our own William J. Parker offers an excellent commemoration for today’s anniversary. Elsewhere, The National Interest reminds us that hindsight is 20/20: the success of the landings at Normandy was far from a sure thing, and even as General Eisenhower did all he could to ensure D-Day’s success, he also prepared for the worst. Elsewhere, Foreign Policy reports on a forgotten massacre at Oradour-sur-Glane—one of the worst committed in occupied France—in the midst of the hasty Nazi withdrawal.

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Interview with KQED Radio: the Afghanistan Drawdown and the Strength of Enduring Alliances

by Janine Davidson
us allies U.S. marines participate in a U.S.-South Korea joint landing operation drill in Pohang, March 31, 2014. (Kim Hong-Ji/Courtesy Reuters)

I was recently interviewed by KQED Radio’s “Forum with Michael Krasny,” alongside Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, and Barry Pavel, vice president and director of the Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security at the Atlantic Council. Regular readers of this blog will be familiar with many of the themes discussed. Among my observations: Read more »

Weekend Reader: Shinseki Leaves the VA; Ukraine Heats Up

by Janine Davidson
shinseki United States Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki arrives to address The National Coalition for Homeless Veterans conference in Washington May 30, 2014. (Gary Cameron/Courtesy Reuters)

Secretary Eric Shinseki formally submits his resignation as head of Veterans Affairs. Foreign Policy has the story. Even as the chorus of voices calling for his resignation grew, the tone remained often respectful: Shinseki was always “a good man.” As the Huffington Post’s David Wood recounts, Shinseki, who took the reins of the VA following a 38-year Army career—where he rose to become Army Chief of Staff—may simply have trusted too much given his organization’s complexity and inherent flaws.  Time will tell who can replace him.

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The Obama Doctrine

by Janine Davidson
obama doctrine U.S. President Barack Obama arrives for a commencement ceremony at the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, May 28, 2014. Obama's commencement address was the first in a series of speeches that he and top advisers will use to explain U.S. foreign policy in the aftermath of conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan and lay out a broad vision for the rest of his presidency. (Kevin Lamarque/Courtesy Reuters)

President Obama’s May 28 speech at West Point was long overdue. Chatter about America’s decline, the Pentagon’s budget crunch, deteriorating crises in Syria and Ukraine, and confusion over Obama’s signature foreign policy initiative—the Asia Rebalance—has left many questioning America’s ability or willingness to engage, much less lead, in the world.

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What Next for Afghanistan? Making Sense of President Obama’s Rose Garden Announcement

by Janine Davidson
afghanistan obama drawdown U.S. President Barack Obama delivers an announcement on the number of U.S. troops that will remain in Afghanistan after the formal troop drawdown at the end of this year, in the White House Rose Garden in Washington, May 27, 2014. (Larry Downing/Courtesy Reuters)

Today, President Obama announced his plan for winding down the thirteen-year intervention in Afghanistan.  On the military side, here is the summary on how many troops will remain and what they will be doing:

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Weekend Reader: In Memoriam, the Dogs of War, and Beyond the QDR

by Janine Davidson
memorial day weekend reader A member of the Third U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) carries flags during a "Flags-In" ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington May 22, 2014. The soldiers will place American flags in front of more than 220,000 graves for the Memorial Day. (Kevin Lamarque/Courtesy Reuters)

May 26 is Memorial Day. More than 8,000 coalition troops have given their lives in thirteen years of hard fighting. May 26 is a day to honor them, and the 843,000 fallen Americans  who have come before them.

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