Janine Davidson

Defense in Depth

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

In Iraq/Syria Conflict, the Islamic State Leverages International Community’s Self-Imposed Boundaries

by Janine Davidson Tuesday, August 12, 2014
isis-iraq A member loyal to the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) waves an ISIL flag in Raqqa, June 29, 2014. (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters)

President Obama’s recent military action in northern Iraq to protect American personnel and provide humanitarian aid to civilians besieged by Islamic State (IS) forces has likely achieved its limited tactical effects.  Airstrikes have restricted IS’s freedom of maneuver on the ground, and provided a bit of space for Kurdish Peshmerga forces, who appear to be the last best hope to face IS on the ground.

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

by Janine Davidson Wednesday, June 4, 2014
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 »

The Obama Doctrine

by Janine Davidson Thursday, May 29, 2014
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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Interview with CTV News: More on Putin’s ‘Clever’ Strategy

by Janine Davidson Monday, April 21, 2014
armored pro-russian guards apcs An armed man, wearing black and orange ribbons of St. George - a symbol widely associated with pro-Russian protests in Ukraine, stands guard with armoured personnel carriers seen in the background, in Slaviansk, April 16, 2014. (Gleb Garanich/Courtesy Reuters)

I was recently interviewed by CTV News’ Kevin Newman Live to discuss the deteriorating situation in Ukraine and Putin’s pioneering form of warfare. My assessment should be familiar to readers of this blog: “Even though there are these suspiciously well-trained militants in Ukraine, Putin can still somehow claim plausible deniability.”

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Weekend Reader: Ukraine, Ukraine, Ukraine

by Janine Davidson Friday, April 18, 2014
A fighter jet flies above as Ukrainian soldiers sit on an armoured personnel carrier A fighter jet flies above as Ukrainian soldiers sit on an armoured personnel carrier in Kramatorsk, in eastern Ukraine, April 16, 2014. (Marko Djurica/Courtesy Reuters)

Introducing a new feature in which we highlight the best, the strangest, and anything else that might have fallen through the cracks. This week? It’s all about Ukraine.

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Putin’s Way of War and NATO’s Article Five

by Janine Davidson Wednesday, April 16, 2014
pro russia ukraine An armed man, who is wearing black and orange ribbons of St. George - a symbol widely associated with pro-Russian protests in Ukraine, stands guard with armoured personnel carriers in the background in Slaviansk April 16, 2014. Armoured personal carriers driven into the eastern Ukrainian city of Slaviansk had been under the control of Ukrainian armed forces earlier on Wednesday. (Gleb Glaranich/Courtesy Reuters)

The latest events in Ukraine raise more questions about the future of war and the future of NATO.  Previously, I wrote about how Vladimir Putin’s tactics reflect an uncomfortable trend around the world in which aggressors are actively exploiting the norms and laws we have traditionally held regarding crime and war.  Even the media have trouble labeling the suspiciously well-disciplined and well-armed “militants,” “rebels,” or “activists” who are seizing buildings in a coordinated fashion across Ukraine.

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Mind the Gap: Putin’s Actions and the Future of War

by Janine Davidson Tuesday, March 11, 2014
Masked members of a pro-Russian defense unit take an oath to the Crimean government in the city of Simferopol on March 10, 2014. Masked members of a pro-Russian defense unit take an oath to the Crimean government in the city of Simferopol on March 10, 2014 (Vasily Fedosenko/Courtesy Reuters).

Molly K. McKew and Gregory A. Maniatis’s recent op-ed in the Washington Post is worth a read. The authors wisely observe that Putin’s aggression in Crimea—like in Georgia in 2008—reflects the future of great power conflict. Putin is not playing some sort of 19th-century geopolitical game, they argue, but rather he is “redefining 21st-century warfare”: Read more »