Regular Blogs of War and Covert Contact contributor William Tucker joins me after a long break to discuss Russia’s intervention in Syria. Why are they there, what were their true motives, what have they gained, and where does this action fit in the context of Russia’s long-standing adversarial position with NATO and the West? Continue reading
I have just completed a book review of Vanya Eftimova Bellinger’s biography of Marie von Clausewitz, which you can check out on H-War very soon. For a variety of reasons, I was keen to write this review. First, it was a work of military history by a woman and about a woman. Given how infrequently that happens, it was important to me to interact with the work intellectually and professionally. Second, although not officially a Clausewitzian, my thesis focused on strategic culture and I have worked in academic strategy at regular intervals both in the civilian and military schoolhouses. But the most compelling issue to me was the unshakeable identification with Marie. As I have written elsewhere I was for a long time a military spouse. And so I felt strongly that I would have something particular to offer to the discussion of this biography.
Since the attacks of 9/11 there has been much research and policy work done on ungoverned spaces. An early discussion of ungoverned spaces occurred in February, 2004 when the Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, U.S. Navy Vice Admiral Lowell Jacoby, provided a statement for the record to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence . His 2004 definition of the term spoke to “geographic areas where governments do not exercise effective control….Terrorist groups and narco-traffickers use these areas as sanctuaries to train, plan and organize, relatively free from interference.” From a U.S. perspective, the idea that ungoverned spaces pose a threat to U.S. interests is continued today in the 2015 U.S. National Security Strategy  which states that “[a]n array of terrorist threats has gained traction in areas of instability, limited opportunity, and broken governance.” This article will discuss the term ungoverned spaces; what it means, its ties to human nature, how ungoverned spaces in and of themselves are not a threat, as well as outline a broad concept for action and identify one additional consideration.
Episode 39 of Covert Contact explores our frequent inability to adequately understand Russia’s strengths and weaknesses. William Tucker joins me once again to look at the significant challenges weakening Russia, their ability to act within constraints that would hobble other nations, and how they might evolve and cope in the face of serious economic and demographic pressures.