Micah Zenko

Politics, Power, and Preventive Action

Zenko covers the U.S. national security debate and offers insight on developments in international security and conflict prevention.

Preventive Force and U.S. Foreign Policy

by Micah Zenko Monday, June 27, 2011

USS Florida launches a Tomahawk cruise missile during Giant Shadow in the waters off the coast of the Bahamas in this file photograph taken in 2003 and released to Reuters on March 19, 2011. U.S. and British ships and submarines launched missile strikes against Libya on March 19, officials said, as the West began a first phase of its military operations to force Muammar Gaddafi from power. REUTERS/U.S. Navy photo/Handout

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Libya: “Justifications” for Intervention

by Micah Zenko Friday, June 24, 2011

Rebels fighters are reflected on a side mirror at the front line in Ajdabiyah June 22, 2011. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El-Ghany

As anyone who reads this blog probably knows, I have been a critic of the U.S. military involvement in Libya from the beginning (see some of my writings on the topic here, here, here, here, here, and here; and podcasts here, here, and here). As I’ve watched the Libyan adventure unfold, I’ve been particularly interested by the myriad justifications that proponents have offered for intervention. Read more »

Ten Whats With…Col. Gian Gentile

by Micah Zenko Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Colonel Gian Gentile. Courtesy of the Council on Foreign Relations.

This is the first installment of an occasional series for Politics, Power, and Preventive Action (3PA): “Ten Whats With….”  In each installment I will ask a standard set of questions to friends and colleagues who work on interesting topics.

Colonel Gian P. Gentile is a serving army officer and is currently a visiting fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). He teaches history at West Point.  He has had two combat tours in Iraq, most recently in command of a Cavalry Squadron in West Baghdad in 2006. He holds a PhD in history from Stanford University. Read more »

FP’s Twitterati 100

by Micah Zenko Monday, June 20, 2011

Twitter CEO Evan Williams speaks at a news conference as the the website Twitter.com is launched, in San Francisco, California September 14, 2010. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith

I woke up this morning to a deluge of new twitter followers. At first I panicked: what inflammatory tweet might have sparked so much interest so quickly? But soon I learned that my surge in popularity was courtesy of the folks at Foreign Policy, who named me to their list of the Foreign Policy Twitterati 100.   Read more »

Excessive Secrecy in National Security

by Micah Zenko Thursday, June 16, 2011

An MQ-1B Predator from the 46th Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron takes off from Balad Air Base in Iraq, in this file photograph taken on June 12, 2008. The MQ-1 Predator is a medium-altitude, long-endurance, remotely piloted aircraft. In the rugged mountains of western Pakistan, missiles launched by unmanned Predator or Reaper drones have become so commonplace that some U.S counterterrorism officials liken them to "cannon fire." REUTERS/U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Julianne Showalter/Handout/Files

There is needless and excessive classification of government material in the U.S. national security policymaking process. Read more »

Impressions of an Amateur China-Watcher

by Micah Zenko Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The chimney of Sihui heating plant is pictured within the four ring-road in Beijing August 29, 2010. China announced a 5 trillion yuan ($736 billion) investment plan on clean energy in the next decade, aiming to lift the non-fossil fuel component of its supply to 15 percent of its total primary energy demand by 2020, from under 8 percent last year. REUTERS/Jason Lee

I recently returned from several days at Peking University, where I was fortunate to listen and learn from academics and policy analysts from the United States, China, and East Asia, as well as one senior Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) official.  The opportunity was welcomed by this amateur China-watcher, who has puzzled over the middle kingdom throughout many years of college, graduate school, and my professional career. Read more »

Fazul Abdullah Mohammed’s Death: An Overdue Counterterror Victory in Somalia

by Micah Zenko Monday, June 13, 2011

Civilians look at the suspected body of Fazul Abdullah Mohammed (L), one of Africa's most wanted al Qaeda operatives, and an unidentified colleague killed at a police checkpoint in Somalia's capital Mogadishu in this picture taken June 8, 2011. Somali police said on Saturday that Abdullah Mohammed, one of Africa's most wanted al Qaeda operatives, was killed in the capital of the Horn of Africa country earlier this week. Picture taken June 8, 2011. REUTERS/Stringer

Reportedly, Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government killed the most-wanted terrorist in Africa, Al Qaeda operative Fazul Abdullah Mohammed, in a random gun fight in Mogadishu on Tuesday. However implausible that story may be, his death is a victory for the victims of terror attacks by Al Qaeda in East Africa (as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton acknowledged while visiting Tanzania this weekend). Read more »

Cyber Attacks and Military Responses

by Micah Zenko Friday, June 3, 2011

Today, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates is attending the tenth annual Asian Security Summit, also known as the Shangri-La Dialogue. On the sidelines of the sessions, Secretary Gates is scheduled to meet with the Chinese Defense Minister Liang Guanglie, the most senior Beijing official at the dialogue. Undoubtedly, as Gates and Guanglie discuss security threats and cooperation, cyberwarfare will feature prominently. Read more »