Janine Davidson

Defense in Depth

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

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Weekend Reader: USA Advances (in Soccer), Syrian Refugee Crisis Worsens, and U.S. Drone Debate Gets Louder

by Janine Davidson
usa-world-cup-drones Germany's Mesut Ozil (L) fights for the ball with Omar Gonzalez of the U.S. during their 2014 World Cup Group G soccer match at the Pernambuco arena in Recife, June 26, 2014. (Laszlo Balogh/Courtesy Reuters)

If you were in the United States yesterday, chances are you heard about the gameYou might also have found a way to take a very long lunch. (CFR’s Defense Policy Team did make time for a mid-day pause to “assess” U.S.-German relations) Germany’s hard-won victory made the bout much less of a snooze than the foreign policy/game theory crowd might have expected.

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Drones: Three Misconceptions, Concerns, and Ways to Make Things Better—a Report from the Stimson Center Task Force

by Janine Davidson
drone-stimson-task-force Demonstrators deploy a model of a U.S. drone aircraft at the "Stop Watching Us: A Rally Against Mass Surveillance" near the U.S. Capitol in Washington, October 26, 2013. (Jonathan Ernst/Courtesy Reuters)

A new report is out today from the Stimson Center’s Task Force on U.S. Drone Policy, co-chaired by General John Abizaid, U.S. Army (ret.) and Rosa Brooks, of which I was also a member. Our study took place over the course of a year, examining three key issue sets in the UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) debate: 1) defense utility, national security, and economics; 2) ethics and law; and 3) export controls and regulatory challenges. Our examination identified UAV misconceptions, areas of concern,  and—significantly—a few concrete ways to make things better.

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Appearance on Defense News TV: the ISIS Coalition and the Challenge of Leverage

by Janine Davidson
iraq-isis-shiite-maliki Mehdi Army fighters loyal to Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr march during a military-style training in the holy city of Najaf, June 18, 2014. (Ahmad Mousa/Courtesy Reuters)

I appeared on a Defense News TV panel alongside Michael O’Hanlon of the Brookings Institution and General Chuck Wald, U.S. Air Force (retired), to assess the military options available to the United States in wake of continuing gains by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) against the Iraqi government.  This comes on the heels of President Obama’s June 19 announcement that he will send up to the 300 military advisers to Iraq. As we discuss, there are several important considerations to bear in mind: Read more »

Weekend Reader: Elsewhere in the World…Ukraine, the A-10, and That Future Battleground No One’s Talking About

by Janine Davidson
ukraine-rebel-crisis-separatist-crimea An armed pro-Russian separatist stands guard in Seversk (Siversk), located near the town of Krasny Liman, Donetsk region, June 19, 2014. (Shamil Zhumatov/ Courtesy Reuters)

Ukraine is quickly becoming “the foggiest of wars.” Julia Ioffe, embedding for a week with pro-Russian separatists, reports on the confused dynamics, motivations, and even basic facts behind the “foggy” war. More broadly, direct evidence emerges that the Russian government has provided the separatists with tanks and other military hardware. In light of recent events and with no clear message from NATO, some Ukrainians argue an invasion is yet to come.

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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 »