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.

China’s Resource Quest: A Conversation with Economy and Levi

by Micah Zenko Tuesday, March 11, 2014
By All Means Necessary: How China's Resource Quest is Changing the World, by Elizabeth Economy and Michael Levi By All Means Necessary: How China's Resource Quest is Changing the World, by Elizabeth Economy and Michael Levi

Elizabeth C. Economy, C.V. Starr senior fellow and director for Asia Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), and Michael A. Levi, David M. Rubenstein senior fellow for Energy and the Environment and Director of the Program on Energy Security and Climate Change at CFR, coauthored a book on the unrivaled expansion of the Chinese economy and the global effects of its meteoric growth, By All Means Necessary: How China’s Resource Quest is Changing the World (Oxford University Press, 2014). Read more »

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

by Micah Zenko Friday, March 7, 2014
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 »

Guest Post: Conflict Prevention Challenges in 2014

by Guest Blogger for Micah Zenko Thursday, March 6, 2014
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 Friday, February 28, 2014
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 »

You Might Have Missed: U.S.-China Relations, Olympics, and Intelligence Assessments

by Micah Zenko Friday, February 21, 2014
The Olympic and Russian flags are raised during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, on February 7, 2014. (Blinch/Courtesy Reuters) The Olympic and Russian flags are raised during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, on February 7, 2014. (Blinch/Courtesy Reuters)

Rear Admiral John Kirby, “Department of Defense Press Briefing with Rear Admiral Kirby in the Pentagon Briefing Room,” Department of Defense, February 20, 2014. Read more »

You Might Have Missed: Israeli Drones, Benghazi, and the NSA

by Micah Zenko Friday, February 14, 2014
Israel Aero Space Industries (IAI) Heron 1 unmanned aerial vehicle at the airbase in Switzerland on September 20, 2012 (Wiegmann/Courtesy Reuters). Israel Aero Space Industries (IAI) Heron 1 unmanned aerial vehicle at the airbase in Switzerland on September 20, 2012 (Wiegmann/Courtesy Reuters).

Jim Garamone, “Special Ops Forces in Transition, Pentagon Official Says,” U.S. Department of Defense, February 12, 2014.

Network threats present new challenges and require new ways of planning, the assistant secretary told the audience, and cyber operations come to mind first. “As we continue to work our doctrine for response in the cyber realm,” he said, “it is entirely possible that SOF units, or even individuals, would be called upon to act online or offline to address these threats.” Read more »

Tracking Civilian Deaths in Afghanistan

by Micah Zenko Monday, February 10, 2014

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

Since the Afghanistan war began twelve years and four months ago, the fate of innocent civilians has been a constant focus of Afghan and international audiences. Trying to understand and assign responsibility for harm to noncombatants in an insurgency/counterinsurgency conflict has been tremendously difficult, due to the obstacles faced by reporters and human rights investigators to obtain direct access to alleged victims, and the motivated biases of combatants to defend their targeting practices. Recently, the office of Afghan President Hamid Kharzai has taken to distributing demonstrably fake evidence to attempt to blame the United States for civilian deaths, and blamed the U.S. military for terrorist attacks overwhelmingly believed to have been committed by the Taliban. Read more »

You Might Have Missed: Global Threats Hearing, China’s ADZ, Drones in Pakistan

by Micah Zenko Friday, February 7, 2014

Hearing on Global Threats to the U.S., U.S. House Intelligence Committee, February 4, 2014.

REPRESENTATIVE JAN SCHAKOWSKY (D-IL): Director Clapper, do you have any concrete intelligence of a relationship between Snowden and the Russian government in regard to the stolen documents? Read more »

You Might Have Missed: Afghanistan, Targeted Killings, and U.S. Policy Priorities

by Micah Zenko Friday, January 31, 2014
A U.S. soldier at the site of a suicide attack on a NATO base in Zhari on January 20, 2014. (Nadeem/Courtesy Reuters) A U.S. soldier at the site of a suicide attack on a NATO base in Zhari on January 20, 2014. (Nadeem/Courtesy Reuters)

Alice K. Ross, “Leaked official document records 330 drone strikes in Pakistan,” Bureau of Investigative Journalism, January 29, 2014. Read more »

Why the U.S. and Russia Won’t Cooperate to Protect the Sochi Games

by Micah Zenko Sunday, January 26, 2014

With the XXII Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia scheduled to start in twelve days, U.S. officials and policymakers have repeatedly raised the possibility of a terrorist attack by Chechen militant groups. On Friday, the State Department issued a qualified travel alert for U.S. athletes and visitors to Sochi: “There is no indication of a specific threat to U.S. institutions or citizens, but U.S. citizens should be aware of their personal surroundings and follow good security practices.” That same day, secretary of defense Chuck Hagel declared: “If we need to extract our citizens, we will have appropriate arrangements with the Russians to do that.” Read more »