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David Rothkopf (Foreign Policy) — Just because the Middle East’s descent into chaos is hardly the fault of the Obama administration, that doesn’t mean its policies in the region are not an egregious failure.
The situation in the region is unprecedented. For the first time since the World Wars, virtually every country from Libya to Afghanistan is involved in a military conflict. (Oman seems to be the exception.)
The degree of chaos, uncertainty, and complexity among the twisted and often contradictory alliances and enmities is mind-boggling. America and its allies are fighting alongside Iran to combat the Islamic State (IS) in Iraq and Syria but in Yemen, the United States and many of those same regional partners are collaborating to push back Iranian-backed Houthi forces.
Peter Munson (War on the Rocks) — American foreign policy has veered wildly between extremes over the last 14 years. We have tried and failed to remake the world through armed intervention.
We have tried and failed to ignore the spiraling disorder in the developing world. Though we may wish to turn inward, America is inextricably entwined in the world’s sordid affairs and will be for the foreseeable future.
America simply cannot shut itself off from the world. While globalization may ebb and flow, the global nature of supply chains, finance, and markets mean that even the most local of American businesses and consumers cannot insulate themselves from the rest of the world. Add in factors such as technology, transportation, and criminal and terrorist tactics, and it is clear that what happens beyond America’s borders has real impacts at home.
John B. Bellinger III (The New York Times) — Last month, the United Nations human rights office in Geneva issued a report that concluded that the Islamic State had committed war crimes, crimes against humanity and possibly acts of genocide. The report urged the Security Council to refer these acts to the International Criminal Court for investigation.
The proposal might seem abstract, impractical, even pointless; there are no defendants, as of yet, to put on trial. So would an investigation by the International Criminal Court, which is based in The Hague, be a feckless exercise in legal supra-nationalism?
No. The horrendous crimes committed by members of the Islamic State, also known as ISIS and ISIL, fall squarely within the court’s jurisdiction. It certainly makes more sense for the court’s prosecutor to investigate the Islamic State than to investigate the United States or Britain for treatment of detainees or Israel for its handling of last year’s Gaza conflict, as some activists have called for.
Nadia Schadlow (War on the Rocks) — Europe is now a petri dish for hybrid war. Events of the past decade, not to mention the last few years, have reaffirmed the value of a concept that sought to explain a range of diverse, coercive instruments across the operational spectrum of war.
Hybrid warfare is a term that sought to capture the blurring and blending of previously separate categories of conflict. It uses a blend of military, economic, diplomatic, criminal, and informational means to achieve desired political goals.
The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, has referred to these hybrid threats as an “inflection point” in modern war. Indeed, in the disordered post-Cold War world, hybrid warfare remains an excellent framework for understanding the changing character of war.
Joseph Young and Lionel Beehner (USA Today) — The grisly siege last week of Garissa, a Christian university in Kenya, has a familiar ring to it: Over 140 students slain and hundreds more missing. An extremist Somali group, al-Shabab, with ties to al-Qaeda, claimed responsibility. We've seen this horrific movie before.
Yet is this another example of religiously motivated terrorism that threatens U.S. interests? Or is this a more local or regional problem?
Popular accounts of terrorist attacks like this one suggest they have international causes and thus require international solutions. In fact, Thursday's attack — much like terrorist massacres at Nairobi's Westgate Mall in 2013 or the Beslan school in Russia in 2004 — have much more local causes.