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Strategic Studies Institute

United States Army War College

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Era of Persistent Conflict - Recent


Grand strategy represents an application of the general principles of modern military and strategic theory to the particular conditions facing the United States today. SSI has recently published a monograph that provides such an application for the Global War on Terrorism American Grand Strategy After 9/11: An Assessment the analysis of grand strategy is an ongoing theme of SSI research effort, with Dr. Steven Metz being especially engaged.

New References from the Military Education Research Library Network

Evolution of Terrorism Threats in the Decade Since 9/11

(6/24/11) A Senate hearing examining how the threat of terrorism has evolved in the ten years since 9/11, and a Washington Quarterly article assessing the intersection between the Arab Spring and al Qaeda's concept of "reform-by-jihad." (View it at NDU)

Global War on Terrorism

(3/7/08) The Terrorism MiPAL has been updated with a report from the Defense Department Inspector General on supplemental funds used for medical support for the War on Terror, an article in partnerships in countering terrorism financing from the Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Joint Force Quarterly articles on the role of targeted killing in the War on Terror, on fighting narcoterrorism, and on attacking al-Qaeda's operational center of gravity, and a Policy Review article on executive power in the War on Terror. Please see the Recently Added Documents section for the latest on this topic - the newest updates are in bold. (View it at NDU)

Global War on Terrorism

(3/3/08) The Terrorism MiPAL has been updated with a report from the EastWest Institute on strategies to combat narcoterrorism, remarks by a Treasury Department official on terrorist financing, articles from the Jamestown Foundation on al-Qaeda's use of Iraq as a base for attacks on Israel and on Yemen's role in al-Qaeda's strategy, an article on fighting terrorism financing from the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, and a report assessing the Global War on Terrorism from the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. Please see the Recently Added Documents section for the latest on this country - the newest updates are in bold. (View it at NDU)

Global War on Terrorism

(2/19/08) The Terrorism MiPAL has been updated with a Congressional hearing on innovative approaches to combating terrorists, a profile of Imad Mughniyeh from the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a Defense Department news briefing on military commissions, and an article on terrorist use of the internet from the Heritage Foundation. Please see the Recently Added Documents section for the latest on this topic - the newest updates are in bold. (View it at NDU)

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    Added September 26, 2013

    The Effectiveness of Drone Strikes in Counterinsurgency and Counterterrorism Campaigns

    Authored by Dr. James Igoe Walsh.
    View the Executive Summary

    Drones have become an important part of the U.S. counterinsurgency and counterterrorism arsenal. But the available evidence shows that they are not always effective, and their use can have unpredictable consequences.

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    Added September 24, 2013

    The Real "Long War": The Illicit Drug Trade and the Role of the Military

    Authored by Professor Geoffrey Till.
    View the Executive Summary

    With a shift in focus and priority from likely involvement in large-scale counterinsurgency operations, the limited likelihood of continental traditional warfighting operations, together with the onset of an era of budgetary austerity, the U.S. Army may need to give greater attention to its role in responding to the many nontraditional threats to the peace and security of the United States. Of these, the illicit trade in drugs ranks highly because of its massive effects on human, national, and international security.

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    Added August 21, 2013

    2013-14 Key Strategic Issues List

    Edited by Professor John F. Troxell.
    For several years, the Strategic Studies Institute has annually published the Key Strategic Issues List (KSIL). The overall purpose of this document is to make students and other researchers aware of strategic topics that are of special interest to the U.S. Army. Part I of KSIL is entitled "Army Priorities for Strategic Analysis" (APSA) and is a list of high-priority topics submitted by Headquarters, Department of the Army. Part II is entitled "Command Sponsored Topics" and represents the high-priority command-specific topics submitted by MACOMs and ASCCs. This KSIL provides military and civilian researchers worldwide a listing of the Army's most critical national security issues.

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    Added June 21, 2013

    The Struggle for Yemen and the Challenge of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula

    Authored by Dr. W. Andrew Terrill.
    View the Executive Summary

    How does al-Qaeda's regional and international terrorist acts compare with those of the al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), particularly in Yemen? Although Yemen's new reform government defeated AQAP and recaptured areas lost to AQAP in 2012, the terrorists remain an extremely dangerous force seeking to reassert themselves at this time of transition in Yemen.

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    Added December 31, 2012

    The Impact of President Felipe Calderón’s War on Drugs on the Armed Forces: The Prospects for Mexico’s “Militarization” and Bilateral Relations

    Authored by Dr. George W. Grayson.
    View the Executive Summary

    The ever wider involvement of the armed forces in Mexican life is examined by addressing the question: “Is Mexican society being ‘militarized’?” If the answer is “yes,” what will be the probable impact on relations between the United States and its southern neighbor?

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    Added November 14, 2012

    Jihadist Cells and "IED" Capabilities in Europe: Assessing the Present and Future Threat to the West

    Authored by Dr. Jeffrey M. Bale.
    The increasing diffusion and application of expertise acquired by jihadists in fabricating “improvised explosive devices” and the extent to which local jihadist cells in the West may or may not be connected to veteran terrorist groups and networks in other countries and regions are vital concerns for Western military forces and security and intelligence agencies as they relate to these veteran terrorist groups and networks in other countries and regions of the world.

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    Added September 25, 2012

    Lead Me, Follow Me, Or Get Out of My Way: Rethinking and Refining the Civil-Military Relationship

    Authored by Dr. Mark R. Shulman.
    Troubled relations between the armed forces and civil society sap the vitality of the republic and undermine the effectiveness of the military. This timely monograph launches a discussion about what kind of civil-military relationship we have and how to improve it.

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    Added August 01, 2012

    2012-13 Key Strategic Issues List

    Edited by Dr. Antulio J. Echevarria, II.
    The purpose of the Key Strategic Issues List is to provide military and civilian researchers a ready reference for issues of special interest to the Department of the Army and the Department of Defense.

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    Added March 14, 2012

    Delegitimizing Al-Qaeda: A Jihad-Realist Approach

    Authored by Dr. Paul Kamolnick.
    Preventing radicalization and recruitment to al-Qaeda’s terrorism is vital to U.S. national security. This monograph suggests a distinct “jihad-realist” approach for partially accomplishing this elusive strategic objective.

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    Added September 22, 2011

    Puncturing the Counterinsurgency Myth: Britain and Irregular Warfare in the Past, Present, and Future

    Authored by Dr. Andrew Mumford.
    Far from being the counterinsurgency exemplars that history has benevolently cast them, this monograph posits 10 myths of British counterinsurgency that debunk key elements of British performance in irregular warfare from Malaya to Iraq.

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    Added July 15, 2011

    The Changing Face of Afghanistan, 2001-08

    Authored by Colonel Deborah Hanagan.
    This paper reviews the broad dimensions of the George W. Bush administration policy and strategy regarding Afghanistan and the fact that it was multilateral, encompassing extensive political, economic, and military efforts, and multinational during the entire period of the administration. It provides broad documentation of the concrete progress made in the country between 2001 and 2008 and addresses the ongoing challenges.

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    Added June 17, 2011

    Resolving Insurgencies

    Authored by Dr. Thomas R. Mockaitis.
    How do insurgencies end? Through historical analysis of relevant case studies, the author tackles this challenging question, reaching the surprising conclusion that outright victory is seldom the answer.

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    Added May 06, 2011

    The Military's Role in Counterterrorism: Examples and Implications for Liberal Democracies

    Authored by Dr. Geraint Hughes.
    The Military’s Role in Counterterrorism examines the roles which armed forces have been required to perform by democratic governments involved in combating terrorism, and the problems which can occur as a consequence. It also describes the conditions necessary for successful military engagements against terrorist groups.

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    Added March 29, 2011

    Resolving Ethical Challenges in an Era of Persistent Conflict

    Authored by Colonel Tony Pfaff.
    In this provocative monograph, COL Tony Pfaff argues that the challenges of combating irregular threats have fundamentally challenged the traditional “ethics of war,” and he offers a number of measures and policies that the Army must adopt if it is to not only successfully, but ethically, respond to these challenges.

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    Added March 21, 2011

    An Evaluation of Counterinsurgency as a Strategy for Fighting the Long War

    Authored by LTC Baucum Fulk.
    Counterterrorism, support to insurgency, and antiterrorism are each both efficient and sustainable from a military and economic perspective, and each have inherent political concerns, hazards, or constraints. The author maintains that an overall strategy combining counterterrorism and antiterrorism is the best means of employing military forces to counter violent extremism.

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    Added October 26, 2010

    Some of the Best Weapons for Counterinsurgents Do Not Shoot

    Authored by Eric T. Olson.
    Reconstruction, defined in U.S. Army Field Manual 3-07 as “the process of rebuilding degraded, damaged, or destroyed political, socioeconomic, and physical infrastructure of a country or territory to create the foundation for long-term development” has leapt to the forefront of Army priorities, measured by the important role that it plays in today’s counterinsurgency operations and its prominence in the latest doctrine. This paper examines the history of reconstruction as a part of Army operations, assesses the capabilities of today’s forces to conduct successful reconstruction operations in support of a counterinsurgency campaign, and makes recommendations to build a capability that is commensurate with the demands of our doctrine and the imperatives of the modern battlefield.

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    Added September 09, 2010

    Somalia: Line in the Sand--Identification of MYM Vulnerabilities

    Authored by LTC Eloy E. Cuevas, Madeleine Wells.
    Continuing instability in Somalia has increased concern that terrorists who seek to establish a foothold in Africa may use such insecure places as a safe haven and launching pad for future attacks. Several attempts have been made to establish lawful governments in Somalia; however, warlord and clan interests have managed to take center stage among the population. The Somali-based al-Shabaab (also known as the Mujahidin Youth Movement [MYM]) is a militant organization born out of both successive regional turmoil and international salafi-jihadi ideology, which continues to actively undermine the United Nations (UN)-supported African Union (AU) peacekeeping force, the fledging Somali Transitional Federal Government (TFG), and all UN efforts to support Somalis in creating a stable state.

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    Added May 06, 2010

    Decisionmaking In Operation IRAQI FREEDOM: The Strategic Shift of 2007

    Authored by Dr. Steven Metz.
    Was the 2007 decision to surge forces into Iraq effective in turning the war from a potential disaster to a possible success?

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    Added April 23, 2010

    Shades of CORDS in the Kush: The False Hope of "Unity of Effort" in American Counterinsurgency

    Authored by Mr. Henry Nuzum.
    Counterinsurgency (COIN) requires an integrated military, political, and economic program best developed by teams that field both civilians and soldiers. This Paper describes the benefits that unity of command at every level would bring to the American war in Afghanistan.

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    Added April 19, 2010

    Short of General War: Perspectives on the Use of Military Power in the 21st Century

    Edited by Dr. Harry R Yarger.
    In this anthology, students in the U.S. Army War College Class of 2008 critically examine the emerging 21st century security environment and offer diverse and innovative thoughts on how military power should be applied in situations short of general war.

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    Added April 16, 2010

    The Construction of Liberal Democracy: The Role of Civil-Military Institutions in State and Nation-Building in West Germany and South Africa

    Authored by Dr. Jack J. Porter.
    West Germany’s and South Africa’s experiences remind U.S. policymakers of the tremendous obstacles and challenges that confront states as they attempt to install liberal, democratic political institutions.

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    Added March 22, 2010

    Decisionmaking in Operation IRAQI FREEDOM: Removing Saddam Hussein by Force

    Authored by Dr. Steven Metz. Edited by Professor John R. Martin.
    The Strategic Studies Institute (SSI) is pleased to initiate its latest monograph series, Operation IRAQI FREEDOM Key Decisions. SSI started this project in an effort to give leaders of the U.S. Armed Forces some important insights into how military advice was provided to the Nation’s civilian leadership during the many years—including the months before the invasion—of the war in Iraq. Dr. Metz starts this series with an impressive review of the decision to remove Saddam Hussein by force. The Strategic Studies Institute hopes that this and the succeeding monographs will generate debate on just how the United States made decisions—some of them disastrous—about Iraq. The resulting better understanding of the decisions should lead to strengthening of the processes—where appropriate—so that the military and civilian leadership forge better decisions in the future.

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    Added March 04, 2010

    Transnational Insurgencies and the Escalation of Regional Conflict: Lessons for Iraq and Afghanistan

    Authored by Dr Idean Salehyan.
    Transnational insurgencies complicate traditional counterinsurgency operations in significant ways and can lead to conflict between states. This monograph examines several transnational militant groups, assesses the prospects for conflict and cooperation over cross-border violence, and discusses current issues facing Iraq and Afghanistan.

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    Added January 22, 2010

    Security and Stability in Africa: A Development Approach

    Authored by Lieutenant Colonel Clarence J. Bouchat (USAF, Ret.).
    The security and stability of Africa has recently become an important national issue. However, to be effective this growing interest must be rooted in the desire to overcome centuries of ignorance and misunderstanding about the conditions and people of Africa.

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    Added September 25, 2009

    A "New" Dynamic in the Western Hemisphere Security Environment: The Mexican Zetas and Other Private Armies

    Authored by Dr. Max G. Manwaring.
    A new and dangerous dynamic has been introduced into the Mexican internal security environment. That new dynamic is represented by a private military organization called the Zetas, and involves the migration of power from traditional state and nonstate adversaries to nontraditional nonstate private military organizations. Moreover, the actions of this irregular nonstate actor tend to be more political-psychological than military, and further move the threat from hard power to soft power solutions.

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    Added September 25, 2009

    A Comprehensive Approach to Improving U.S. Security Force Assistance Efforts

    Authored by Lieutenant Colonel Theresa Baginski, Colonel Brian J. Clark, Lieutenant Colonel Francis Donovan, Ms. Karma Job, Lieutenant Colonel John S. Kolasheski, Colonel Richard A. Lacquement, Jr., Brigadier Simon "Don" Roach, Colonel Sean P. Swindell, Colonel Curt A. Van De Walle, Colonel Michael J. McMahon.
    Security Force Assistance may be a new term but the activities are familiar and are related to how the Department of Defense trains, advises, and assists foreign partners' security establishments to accomplish common objectives. Recommendations to improve U.S. performance are provided.

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    Added September 24, 2009

    Iraq: Strategic Reconciliation, Targeting, and Key Leader Engagement

    Authored by Captain Jeanne F. Hull.
    Military commanders and diplomats in Iraq and Afghanistan have been meeting with important local officials since the inception of those conflicts. These engagements have aided commanders and diplomats alike in furthering their objectives by establishing productive relationships with those who know and understand Iraq’s complex human terrain best—the Iraqis. However, these engagements frequently take place on ad-hoc bases and are rarely incorporated into other counterinsurgency operations and strategies. In some cases, unit commanders fail to see the utility of using these engagements at all--an oversight that contributes to deteriorating security situations and loss of popular support.

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    Added September 16, 2009

    Baghdad ER--Revisited

    Authored by Colonel Erin P Edgar.
    The China Dragons of the 28th Combat Support Hospital deployed in support of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM from September 2006 until November 2007. Their service epitomizes the strides that have been made in military combat medicine.

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    Added September 16, 2009

    Escalation and Intrawar Deterrence During Limited Wars in the Middle East

    Authored by Dr. W. Andrew Terrill.
    This monograph seeks to analyze military escalation and intrawar deterrence by examining two key wars where these concepts became especially relevant—the 1973 Arab-Israeli War and the 1991 Gulf War against Iraq. A central conclusion of this monograph is that intrawar deterrence is an inherently fragile concept, and that the nonuse of weapons of mass destruction in both wars was the result of a number of positive factors that may not be repeated in future conflicts.

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    Added August 11, 2009

    Toward a Risk Management Defense Strategy

    Authored by Mr. Nathan P. Freier.
    The author outlines eight principles for a risk management defense strategy. He argues that these principles provide “measures of merit” for evaluating the new administration’s defense choices.

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    Added June 25, 2009

    2009 Key Strategic Issues List

    Edited by Dr. Antulio J. Echevarria, II.
    The purpose of the Key Strategic Issues List is to provide military and civilian researchers a ready reference for issues of special interest to the Department of the Army and the Department of Defense.

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    Added January 26, 2009

    The Serpent in Our Garden: Al-Qa'ida and the Long War

    Authored by Colonel Brian M. Drinkwine.
    This paper recommends new approaches to fighting terrorism. The author explores al-Qa’ida’s organization, leaders, doctrine, and their radical ideologies. Several initiatives are recommended to include development of a cogent grand national strategy. These recommendations are intended to assist future planners in the development of a grand national strategy and an integrated long war campaign plan aimed at terrorism.

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    Added November 07, 2008

    Unity of Command in Afghanistan: A Forsaken Principle of War

    Authored by COL Ian Hope.
    The author discusses the traditional importance of unity of command in American doctrine and practice from World War I until now, and how this principle has been forsaken in the evolution of military command for Afghanistan. He argues for a renewal of understanding of the importance of unity of command and recommends amending the Unified Command Plan to invest one "supreme commander" with responsibility for the current Operation ENDURING FREEDOM Joint Operations Area.

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    Added November 04, 2008

    Known Unknowns: Unconventional "Strategic Shocks" in Defense Strategy Development

    Authored by Mr. Nathan P. Freier.
    Historically, defense strategy demonstrates three flaws: (1) it is generally reactive, (2) it lacks sufficient strategic imagination, and (3) as a result, it is vulnerable to surprise. The current administration confronted a game-changing “strategic shock” in its first 8 months in office. The next team would be well-advised to expect the same kind of unconventional and nonmilitary shock to DoD convention early in its first term.

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    Added September 30, 2008

    Stability Operations and State Building: Continuities and Contingencies

    Edited by Colonel Greg Kaufmann, U.S.A., Ret..
    The current age of state building may be traced back at least to U.S. involvement in the various Balkan conflicts. But with the advent of the Global War on Terror and the subsequent interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq, the U.S. military, especially the Army and the Marines Corps, has been faced with an unprecedented challenge to reestablish entire countries and rebuild their institutions.

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    Added September 25, 2008

    The 2006 Lebanon Campaign and the Future of Warfare: Implications for Army and Defense Policy

    Authored by Dr. Stephen D. Biddle, Mr. Jeffrey A. Friedman.
    Critics of irregular-warfare transformation often cite the 2006 Lebanon campaign as evidence that modern nonstate actors can wage conventional warfare in state-like ways. This analysis assesses this claim via a detailed analysis of Hezbollah’s conduct of the campaign at the tactical through theater-strategic levels of war.

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    Added August 27, 2008

    U.S. Counterterrorism in Sub-Saharan Africa: Understanding Costs, Cultures, and Conflicts

    Authored by Dr. Donovan C. Chau.
    The global conflict against Islamic terrorists and their perceived threat to the United States have propelled the African continent into U.S. counterterrorism policy. The challenges facing the United States are widespread and long term, requiring deep knowledge and understanding of sub-Saharan Africa.

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    Added July 31, 2008

    Real Change or Retrenchment?

    Authored by Dr. Douglas V. Johnson, II.
    Each month a member of the SSI faculty writes an editorial for our monthly newsletter. This is the Op-Ed for the August 2008 newsletter.

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    Added July 16, 2008

    Key Strategic Issues List, July 2008

    Edited by Dr. Antulio J. Echevarria, II.
    The Key Strategic Issues List gives researchers, whether military professionals or civilian scholars, a ready reference of those issues of particular interest to the Department of the Army and the Department of Defense. Its focus is strategic, rather than operational or tactical. Every year, the KSIL helps guide research efforts to the mutual benefit of the defense community and individual researchers.

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    Added June 03, 2008

    From the New Middle Ages to a New Dark Age: The Decline of the State and U.S. Strategy

    Authored by Dr. Phil Williams.
    The author contends that the long-term decline of the state will move the world into a New Dark Age in which the forces of chaos and disorder will be almost overwhelming. Alternative options for the U.S. response to the security challenges posed by such an environment are examined.

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    Added May 27, 2008

    Borders: Technology and Security--Strategic Responses to New Challenges

    Authored by Dr. Douglas V. Johnson, II.
    A border is both a place of separation and connection, intended to be a barrier to the unwanted—particularly criminal, illegal, or specifically terrorist entry—but simultaneously a connecting point for legitimate trade, services, and knowledge.

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    Added April 18, 2008

    Precision in the Global War on Terror: Inciting Muslims through the War of Ideas

    Authored by Dr. Sherifa D. Zuhur.
    This monograph identifies a set of approaches to Muslim beliefs and institutions that pathologize these important issues. The author contends that this pathologizing impulse may be beneficial in rallying Americans to the defense of their nation, but it might impede the international cooperation necessary to that endeavor. She also aims to educate the reader about the value inherent in particular concepts that could be controversial but are part of Muslims' historical legacy.

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    Added April 14, 2008

    The Evolution of U.S. Turkish Relations in a Transatlantic Context

    Edited by Dr. Frances G. Burwell.
    Since World War II, the relationship between Turkey and the United States has been characterized by periods of remarkable cooperation, even when significant disagreements existed.

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    Added March 20, 2008

    The Political Context Behind Successful Revolutionary Movements, Three Case Studies: Vietnam (1955-63), Algeria (1945-62), and Nicaragua (1967-79)

    Authored by LTC Raymond A. Millen.
    The author examines the extent to which some states create the conditions for revolutionary movements to flourish. He explores how the governments in Vietnam (1955-63), Algeria (1945-62), and Nicaragua (1967-79) unintentionally empowered revolutionary movements, resulting in these governments’ demise.

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    Added March 14, 2008

    Security Sector Reform in Liberia: Mixed Results from Humble Beginnings

    Authored by Mr. Mark Malan.
    The author describes the state of the armed forces and the police in post-war Liberia, evaluates the ongoing process of security sector reform, and makes recommendations to the United Nations and the U.S. Government on consolidating military and police transformation

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    Added March 12, 2008

    Drug Intoxicated Irregular Fighters: Complications, Dangers, and Responses

    Authored by Dr. Paul Rexton Kan.
    The presence of drugged fighters is not unknown in the history of warfare. Irregular fighters have found a ready supply of narcotics for a variety of combat purposes. Such consumption has led to unpredictable fighting, the commission of atrocities, and to the prolongation of internal violence.

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    Added March 04, 2008

    Towards a New Russia Policy

    Authored by Dr. Stephen J. Blank.
    Russia presents an ever greater challenge to American policy and interests. This monograph analyzes the dimensions of Russian threat perception, the mainsprings and goals of contemporary Russian foreign policy, and the requirements for a coherent U.S. strategy to meet that challenge across the entire agenda of Russo-American and East-West relations.

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    Added January 15, 2008

    A Contemporary Challenge to State Sovereignty: Gangs and Other Illicit Transnational Criminal Organizations (TCOs) in Central America, El Salvador, Mexico, Jamaica, and Brazil

    Authored by Dr. Max G. Manwaring.
    Building on his 2005 monograph, Street Gangs: The New Urban Insurgency, the author answers questions regarding “What are the implications of the gang and other Transnational Criminal Organizations’ assault on stability in the Western Hemisphere?” and “What are the implications of the clash of values between liberal democracy and criminal anarchy?”

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    Added December 28, 2007

    Jordanian National Security and the Future of Middle East Stability

    Authored by Dr. W. Andrew Terrill.
    The United States and Jordan have maintained a valuable mutually-supportive relationship for decades as a result of shared interests in a moderate, prosperous, and stable Middle East. In this monograph, the author highlights Jordan’s ongoing value as a U.S. ally and considers ways that the U.S.-Jordanian alliance might be used to contain and minimize problems of concern to both countries.

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    Added November 29, 2007

    The Global War on Terrorism: A Religious War?

    Authored by Lieutenant Colonel Laurence A. Dobrot.
    After 5 years of national effort that has included the loss of over 3,000 service members in combat operations, many question whether the U.S. strategy is working, and whether the United States understands how to combat an enemy motivated by a radical revolutionary religious ideology.

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