Michael E. O'Hanlonis the director of research and a senior fellow in the Foreign Policy program at the Brookings Institution, where he holds the Sydney Stein Jr. Chair. His books include The Science of War(Princeton University Press, 2009) and numerous Brookings books. Peter R. Orszag is director of the U.S. Office of Management and Budget under President Obama. His previous positions include director of the Congressional Budget Office and Joseph A. Pechman Senior Fellow in Economic Studies at the Brookings Institution. He is also a research professor at Georgetown University and a codirector of the Tax Policy Center. He served as special assistant to the president for economic policy during the Clinton administration.Ivo H. Daalder is U.S. Ambassador to NATO. Previously, he was a senior fellow in Foreign Policy Studies and the Sydney Stein Jr. Chair in International Security at the Brookings Institution. He is the coauthor, with James M. Lindsay, of America Unbound: The Bush Revolution in Foreign Policy(Brookings, 2003) and the coauthor of Winning Ugly: NATO's War to Save Kosovo(Brookings, 2001), written with Michael E. O'Hanlon.I. M. Destler is professor and director of the Program on International Security and Economic Policy at the School of Public Affairs, University of Maryland.David L. Gunter is a research assistant in the Economic Studies program at Brookings.Robert E. Litanis a senior fellow in Economic Studies at Brookings and vice president for research and policy at the Kauffman Foundation.James B. Steinbergis U.S. deputy secretary of state. Previously, he was dean of the LBJ School of Government at the University of TexasAustin. A former director of Foreign Policy Studies at the Brookings Institution, he was deputy national security adviser to President Clinton from 1996 to 2000. He previously served as director of the State Department's Policy Planning Staff and as deputy assistant secretary of state, with responsibility for the Bureau of Intelligence and Research. His books include Protecting the Homeland 2006/2007, written with Michael d'Arcy, Michael O'Hanlon, Peter Orszag, and Jeremy Shapiro (Brookings, 2006).
Fifteen years after September 11, the United States still faces terror threats—both domestic and foreign. After years of wars, ever more intensive and pervasive surveillance, enhanced security measures at major transportation centers, and many attempts to explain who we are fighting and why and how to fight them, the threats continue to multiply. So, too, do our attempts to understand just what terrorism is and how to counter it.
Two leaders in the field of terrorism studies, Martha Crenshaw and Gary LaFree, provide a critical look at how we have dealt with the terror threat over the years. They make clear why it is so difficult to create policy to counter terrorism. The foes are multiple and often amorphous, the study of the field dogged by disagreement on basic definitional and methodological issues, and the creation of policy hobbled by an exacting standard: the counterterrorist must succeed all the time; the terrorist only once. As Countering Terrorism shows, there are no simple solutions to this threat.
In today's U.S. defense policy debates, big land wars are out. Drones, cyber weapons, special forces, and space weapons are in. Accordingly, Pentagon budget cuts have honed in on the army and ground forces: this, after the long wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, seems like an appealing idea. No one really wants American boots on the ground in bloody conflicts abroad. But it is not so easy to simply declare an end to messy land wars. A survey of the world's trouble spots suggests that land warfare has more of a future than many now seem to believe.
In The Future of Land Warfare, Michael O'Hanlon offers an analysis of the future of the world's ground forces: Where are large-scale conflicts or other catastrophes most plausible? Which of these could be important enough to require the option of a U.S. military response? And which of these could in turn demand significant numbers of American ground forces in their resolution? O'Hanlon is not predicting or advocating big American roles in such operations—only cautioning against overconfidence that we can and will avoid them.
O'Hanlon considers a number of illustrative scenarios in which large conventional forces may be necessary: discouraging Russia from even contemplating attacks against the Baltic states; discouraging China from considering an unfriendly future role on the Korean peninsula; handling an asymmetric threat in the South China Sea with the construction and protection of a number of bases in the Philippines and elsewhere; managing the aftermath of a major and complex humanitarian disaster superimposed on a security crisis—perhaps in South Asia; coping with a severe Ebola outbreak not in the small states of West Africa but in Nigeria, at the same time that country falls further into violence; addressing a further meltdown in security conditions in Central America.
In this book, James Steinberg and Michael O'Hanlon stake out a third, less deterministic position. They argue that there are powerful domestic and international factors, especially in the military and security realms, that could well push the bilateral relationship toward an arms race and confrontation, even though both sides will be far worse off if such a future comes to pass. They contend that this pessimistic scenario can be confidently avoided only if China and the United States adopt deliberate policies designed to address the security dilemma that besets the relationship between a rising and an established power. The authors propose a set of policy proposals to achieve a sustainable, relatively cooperative relationship between the two nations, based on the concept of providing mutual strategic reassurance in such key areas as nuclear weapons and missile defense, space and cyber operations, and military basing and deployments, while also demonstrating strategic resolve to protect vital national interests, including, in the case of the United States, its commitments to regional allies.
In Bending History, Martin Indyk, Kenneth Lieberthal, and Michael O'Hanlon measure Obama not only against the record of his predecessors and the immediate challenges of the day, but also against his own soaring rhetoric and inspiring goals. Bending History assesses the considerable accomplishments as well as the failures and seeks to explain what has happened.
Obama's best work has been on major and pressing foreign policy challenges—counterterrorism policy, including the daring raid that eliminated Osama bin Laden; the "reset" with Russia; managing the increasingly significant relationship with China; and handling the rogue states of Iran and North Korea. Policy on resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, however, has reflected serious flaws in both strategy and execution. Afghanistan policy has been plagued by inconsistent messaging and teamwork. On important "softer" security issues—from energy and climate policy to problems in Africa and Mexico—the record is mixed. As for his early aspiration to reshape the international order, according greater roles and responsibilities to rising powers, Obama's efforts have been well-conceived but of limited effectiveness.
On issues of secondary importance, Obama has been disciplined in avoiding fruitless disputes (as with Chavez in Venezuela and Castro in Cuba) and insisting that others take the lead (as with Qaddafi in Libya). Notwithstanding several missteps, he has generally managed well the complex challenges of the Arab awakenings, striving to strike the right balance between U.S. values and interests.
The authors see Obama's foreign policy to date as a triumph of discipline and realism over ideology. He has been neither the transformative beacon his devotees have wanted, nor the weak apologist for America that his critics allege. They conclude that his grand strategy for promoting American interests in a tumultuous world may only now be emerging, and may yet be curtailed by conflict with Iran. Most of all, they argue that he or his successor will have to embrace U.S. economic renewal as the core foreign policy and national security challenge of the future.