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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You Might Have Missed: Cyberattacks, Asia Pivot, and the U.S. Military and Human Rights

by Micah Zenko
Pro-Russian men hold Russian flags in front of armed servicemen near Russian army vehicles outside a Ukrainian border guard post in the Crimean town of Balaclava March 1, 2014. (Ratner/Courtesy Reuters) Pro-Russian men hold Russian flags in front of armed servicemen near Russian army vehicles outside a Ukrainian border guard post in the Crimean town of Balaclava March 1, 2014. (Ratner/Courtesy Reuters)

Zachary Fryer-Biggs, “DoD Official: Asia Pivot ‘Can’t Happen’ Due to Budget Processes,” Defense News, March 4, 2014.

“Right now, the pivot is being looked at again, because candidly it can’t happen,” Katrina McFarland, assistant secretary of defense for acquisition, told Aviation Week’s Defense Technologies and Requirements conference in Arlington, Va… Read more »

You Might Have Missed: NSA Reforms, CIA Drone Strikes, and Benghazi

by Micah Zenko
President Barack Obama speaks about the National Security Agency from the Justice Department in Washington on January 17, 2014. (Lamarque/Courtesy Reuters) President Barack Obama speaks about the National Security Agency from the Justice Department in Washington on January 17, 2014. (Lamarque/Courtesy Reuters)

Presidential Policy Directive/PPD-28: Signals Intelligence Activities,” White House, January 17, 2014.

When the United States collects nonpublicly available signals intelligence in bulk, it shall use that data only for the purposes of detecting and countering: (1) espionage and other threats and activities directed by foreign powers or their intelligence services against the United States and its interests; (2) threats to the United States and its interests from terrorism; (3) threats to the United States and its interests from the development, possession, proliferation, or use of weapons of mass destruction; (4) cybersecurity threats; (5) threats to U.S. or allied Armed Forces or other U.S. or allied personnel; and (6) transnational criminal threats, including illicit finance and sanctions evasion related to the other purposes named in this section. (page 4) Read more »

Ten What’s With…Daniel Markey

by Micah Zenko
No Exit from Pakistan:America's Tortured Relationship with Islamabad by Daniel Markey No Exit from Pakistan:America's Tortured Relationship with Islamabad by Daniel Markey

Daniel Markey is Senior Fellow for India, Pakistan, and South Asia at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), where he specializes in security and governance issues in South Asia. He has published a book on the future of the U.S.-Pakistan relationship, No Exit from Pakistan: America’s Tortured Relationship with Islamabad (Cambridge University Press, October 2013). Read more »

You Might Have Missed: Afghanistan, Threat Deflation, and Signature Strikes

by Micah Zenko
Students gather at the site of a suspected U.S. drone strike on an Islamic seminary in Hangu district, bordering North Waziristan, November 21, 2013 (Syed Shah/Courtesy Reuters). Students gather at the site of a suspected U.S. drone strike on an Islamic seminary in Hangu district, bordering North Waziristan, November 21, 2013 (Syed Shah/Courtesy Reuters).

The Uses of Force,” Economist, November 23, 2013.

It’s too easy to use force,” says Admiral Mike Mullen, a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. “It’s almost the first choice.”


Security and Defense Cooperation Agreement Between the United States of America and the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan,” Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, November 20, 2013. Read more »

You Might Have Missed: Nuclear Iran, Drone Markets, and Terrorism

by Micah Zenko
John Kerry, U.S. secretary of state, Catherine Ashton, European Union high representative for foreign affairs, and Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran foreign minister, during the third day of nuclear talks in Geneva on November 9, 2013 (Jean-Christophe Bott/Courtesy Reuters). John Kerry, U.S. secretary of state, Catherine Ashton, European Union high representative for foreign affairs, and Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran foreign minister, during the third day of nuclear talks in Geneva on November 9, 2013 (Jean-Christophe Bott/Courtesy Reuters).

 

Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement and Relevant Provisions of Security Council Resolutions in the Islamic Republic of Iran,” International Atomic Energy Agency, November 14, 2013.

Since Iran began enriching uranium at its declared facilities, it has produced at those facilities: Read more »

You Might Have Missed: Benghazi, Syria, and China’s Aid

by Micah Zenko
Attack on U.S. Consulate in Benghazi The U.S. Consulate in Benghazi is seen in flames on September 11, 2012 following an attack on the compount that resulted in the death of U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens and three other staff members (Al-Fetori/Courtesy Reuters).

Art Swift, “For First Time, American’s Views of Russia Turn Negative,” Gallup, September 18, 2013. Read more »

You Might Have Missed: Drone Strikes in Yemen, AQAP, Kissinger on Africa

by Micah Zenko
A military police trooper checks a car at a checkpoint in Sanaa A military police trooper checks a car at a checkpoint in Sanaa, Yemen, on August 6, 2013. The United States told its citizens to leave the country and ordered the evacuation of non-essential government staff out of Sanaa because of a terror threat (Khaled Abdullah/Courtesy Reuters).

Maria Abi-Habib, Margaret Coker, and Siobhan Gorman, Yemen Steps Back From Terror-Plot Claims, Highlighting U.S.’s Challenge, The Wall Street Journal, August 7, 2013. Read more »

Recommended Reading For the Fall Semester

by Micah Zenko
A series of books in former South African president and anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela's office in Johannesburg (Sibeko/Courtesy Reuters). A series of books in former South African president and anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela's office in Johannesburg (Sibeko/Courtesy Reuters).

A friend who teaches U.S. foreign policy at a public policy school asked me for a few reading recommendations for the fall semester. Specifically, she requested books or reports written in the past academic year that she might have missed. Below you will find some works worth adding to your fall syllabus if you teach foreign policy or national security to undergraduate or graduate students. Read more »

You Might Have Missed: Drone Strikes, Armed Conflict Data, and Snowden’s Fate

by Micah Zenko

Hope Hodge, The Pentagon’s Hollywood Liaison, Army Times, July 8, 2013.

The U.S. military has played a supporting role in blockbuster films almost since the invention of the silver screen…

Since 1989, Philip Strub has headed up the Defense Department’s Film and Television Liaison Office, where filmmakers can ask the Pentagon for assistance on their projects, from consultation on uniforms and military procedures to use of real military aircraft and equipment. Not every production gets the green light; Strub vets scripts to ensure they portray the U.S. military accurately and positively… Read more »

Refining the Obama Administration’s Drone Strike Narrative

by Micah Zenko
Drone An X-47B pilot-less drone combat aircraft is launched for the first time off an aircraft carrier, the USS George H. W. Bush, off the coast of Virginia on May 14, 2013 (Reed/Courtesy Reuters).

Last night, NBC News ran an extremely rare story that aptly challenged the veracity of U.S. government claims about the precision of CIA drone strikes in Pakistan. Part of the title used by NBC was misleading: “Exclusive: CIA Didn’t Always Know Who it Was Killing in Drone Strikes, Classified Documents Show.” Read more »