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.

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Showing posts for "Conflict Prevention"

Guest Post: What’s in Store for Kashmir Under Modi?

by Guest Blogger for Micah Zenko
Boys peer through the gate of a police station to look at bodies of suspected militants in Lalpora, located north of Srinagar, on February 25, 2014. (Danish Ismail/Courtesy Reuters) Boys peer through the gate of a police station to look at bodies of suspected militants in Lalpora, located north of Srinagar, on February 25, 2014. (Danish Ismail/Courtesy Reuters)

Anna Feuer is a research associate in the Center for Preventive Action at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir, India’s only Muslim-majority state and a historical flashpoint for separatist violence, terrorism, and border tensions, has enjoyed relative peace since 2010. Read more »

Guest Post: Conflict Prevention Challenges in 2014

by Guest Blogger for Micah Zenko
A Free Syrian Army fighter carries his weapon as he peeks through a mat erected as protection from forces loyal to Syria's president Bashar al-Assad in Deir al-Zor July 25, 2013. (Khalil Ashawi/Courtesy Reuters) A Free Syrian Army fighter carries his weapon as he peeks through a mat erected as protection from forces loyal to Syria's president Bashar al-Assad in Deir al-Zor July 25, 2013. (Khalil Ashawi/Courtesy Reuters)

Anna Feuer and Helia Ighani are research associates in the Center for Preventive Action at the Council on Foreign Relations.

The Syrian civil war highlights some of the most challenging features of contemporary conflict that stymie prevention and mitigation efforts. Although the war has been fought primarily within Syria’s borders, the violence has spilled into neighboring states, aggravated longstanding sectarian tensions in the region, and magnified rivalries between major powers. As Middle East sources of instability and violence are increasingly interconnected, the means of “unlocking” this dense conflict complex become more obscure. Read more »

Guest Post: Diplomatic Pressure in Bosnia, But Nothing More

by Guest Blogger for Micah Zenko
Anti-government protesters hold a banner that reads "EU help" during protests in Sarajevo on February 11, 2014. (Ruvic/Courtesy Reuters) Anti-government protesters hold a banner that reads "EU help" during protests in Sarajevo on February 11, 2014. (Ruvic/Courtesy Reuters)

Amelia M. Wolf is a research associate for the Center for Preventive Action and the International Institutions and Global Governance Program at the Council on Foreign Relations. Read more »

What New Threats and Conflicts Will Emerge in 2014?

by Micah Zenko
Child with Mortar Shell in Aleppo Issa, 10 years old, carries a mortar shell in a weapons factory of the Free Syrian Army in Aleppo, Syria on September 7, 2013 (Khatib/Courtesy Reuters).

In August 2009, President Obama declared in a speech before the Veterans of Foreign Wars: “One of the best ways to lead our troops wisely is to prevent the conflicts that cost American blood and treasure tomorrow.” As I previously noted, the U.S. military has a terrible record of predicting the locations and types of conflicts that it will face. For the past five years, in an effort to assist policymakers in anticipating and planning for thirty contingencies that threaten U.S. national interests, we at the Center for Preventive Action have conducted a Preventive Priorities Survey (PPS). Each year the PPS evaluates ongoing and potential violent conflicts based on the impact they could have on U.S. interests and their likelihood of occurring in the coming year. Read more »

Don’t Gut the Foreign Operations Budget

by Micah Zenko
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry greets Syrian refugees U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry greets a group of Syrian refugees during a joint meeting with Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh at the Zaatari refugee camp near the Jordanian city of Mafraq on July 18, 2013 (Ngan/Courtesy Reuters).

This post was coauthored with my research associate, Amelia M. Wolf.

In what is becoming an annual practice, congressional appropriators are once again trying to reduce America’s $16.7 trillion gross federal debt by slashing President Obama’s $52 billion foreign operations budget request. The budget includes everything from embassy security to protect diplomats, vaccination programs to prevent new incidents of polio and measles, humanitarian aid for victims of war and natural disasters, and United Nations (UN) peacekeepers. All of this, and more, for an amount that is roughly a mere 8% of the $615 billion that the White House has requested for the Pentagon. Read more »

Report: U.S. Policies for Reducing Gun Violence in the Americas

by Guest Blogger for Micah Zenko
Colombia's Army general chief Gen. Alejandro Navas reviews grenades and weapons seized from Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC) guerrillas at an army base in Tame, Arauca province on July 21, 2013 (Gomez/Courtesy Reuters). Colombia's Army general chief Gen. Alejandro Navas reviews grenades and weapons seized from Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC) guerrillas at an army base in Tame, Arauca province on July 21, 2013 (Gomez/Courtesy Reuters).

Julia Sweig is the Nelson and David Rockefeller senior fellow for Latin America Studies and director for Latin America Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. Joel Hernandez is a research associate at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Sandy Hook, Aurora, Tucson, Virginia Tech, Columbine: massacres that punctuate the more than ten thousand gun homicides perpetrated every year in the United States. Yet what often goes missing from each subsequent debate in the United States about gun control is the international impact of lax American gun laws, especially in Latin America. Read more »

Illicit Networks, Political Instability, and Criminal Violence

by Micah Zenko
FARC The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) set up explosives on the Caldono-Toribio road on June 4, 2013 to prevent the approach of government troops trying to regain territory held by the FARC in Cauca province. This soldier patrols the street. (Saldarriaga/Courtesy Reuters)

Two weeks ago, CFR’s Center for Preventive Action and International Institutions and Global Governance program convened a workshop on “Illicit Networks, Political Instability, and Criminal Violence.” The workshop intended to analyze trends in transnational criminal networks, examine the latest developments in the field, and identify gaps and challenges in U.S. and multilateral responses to criminal violence. In an off-the-record setting, we brought together government, academic, nonprofit, and private sector experts in the field of transnational crime from across the United States. Read more »

Guest Post: Fighting Maritime Piracy: Mission Accomplished?

by Guest Blogger for Micah Zenko
German forces patrol after destroying two boats off the coast of Somalia (Handout/Courtesy Reuters). German forces patrol after destroying two boats off the coast of Somalia (Handout/Courtesy Reuters).

Emma Welch is a research associate in the Center for Preventive Action and the International Institutions and Global Governance program at the Council on Foreign Relations.

In early January, Mohamed Abdi Hassan—dubbed a “pirate kingpin” by the United Nations—announced his retirement from piracy. In his farewell press conference, Hassan explained: “After being in piracy for eight years, I have decided to renounce and quit, and from today on I will not be involved in this gang activity.” He added, “I have also been encouraging many of my colleagues to renounce piracy too.” Read more »

You Might Have Missed: Drones, Cyber, and Mythologies of Intervention

by Micah Zenko
A drone takes off from a U.S. base in Afghanistan (Handout/Courtesy Reuters). A drone takes off from a U.S. base in Afghanistan (Handout/Courtesy Reuters).

Jill Lepore, “How Much Military is Enough?” New Yorker, January 28, 2013.


Veit Medick, “Germany Plans to Deploy Armed Drones,” Spiegel Online International, January 25, 2013. Read more »

Ask the Experts: Social Media and Conflict Prevention

by Micah Zenko
An opposition supporter lifts a placard at the front line near Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt, in July 2011 (Yannis Behrakis/Courtesy Reuters). An opposition supporter lifts a placard at the front line near Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt, in July 2011 (Yannis Behrakis/Courtesy Reuters).

An increasing number of policymakers and think-tank residents are championing the power of social media and big data to pressure governments, empower civil society, deter human rights abuses through the power of witness, and semi-accurately forecast political instability and conflict without the false positives. In a column today, Thomas Friedman endorsed utilizing existing social networks “to our advantage to gain leverage in diplomacy” by speaking directly to Iranians, Israelis, and Palestinians, who will then somehow force their governments to finally do what they have not (because, of course, ordinary citizens are aligned with U.S. interests once they are addressed in Persian, Hebrew, or Arabic). Read more »