DIPLOMACY BY FORCE. U.S. special forces are taking the place of ambassadors. That’s a problem. Monica Toft in Tufts Magazine

A STRONG LEGACY OF U.S. LEADERSHIP AND ENGAGEMENT IN GLOBAL POLITICS has been reduced today to what I call kinetic diplomacy—diplomacy by armed force.

As of March 2018, the Trump administration had appointed only 70 of 188 U.S. ambassadors. Meanwhile, it increased the deployment of special operations forces to 149 countries, up from 138 in 2016 during the Obama administration (the use of military force also expanded under Obama). By October, after a concerted effort by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, 127 ambassadors had been appointed. Still, ambassadors are operating in just two-thirds of the world’s capitals, while special operations forces are active in three-fourths of them.

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“It’s simply a mess,” Toft told Newsweek, also noting the ongoing war in Afghanistan—the longest in U.S. history. “We have no grand strategy for what the U.S. interests are and how to secure those interests. The U.S. loves military force; you might say we are addicted to it. Contemporary history has shown that force can only get you so far, and perhaps even profoundly, in the modern era is far less likely to achieve what you set out to achieve.”

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Monica Toft on California’s potential secession

Americans have grown increasingly polarised in recent years. According to the Pew Research Center, median Republicans are more conservative than 97% of Democrats, while median Democrats are more liberal than 95% of Republicans. By contrast, in 1994 those figures were just 64% and 70%, respectively. Some scholars argue that ideological tensions have never been greater in living memory.

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CSS Research & Policy Seminar: Peter Andreas

Wednesday, February 6, 2019
5:30-7:00pm, Murrow Room


Peter Andreas is the John Hay Professor of International Studies at Brown University. Previously, Andreas was an academy scholar at Harvard University, a research fellow at the Brookings Institution, and an SSRC-MacArthur Foundation Fellow on International Peace and Security.

Discussant: Polina Beliakova, PhD Research Fellow, Center for Strategic Studies

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The Future of Religious Terrorism

Megan K McBride

In December 2017, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared the defeat of ISIS: “We can announce the end of the war against Daesh.… Our battle was with the enemy that wanted to kill our civilization, but we have won with our unity and determination.” One year later, in December 2018, U.S. President Donald Trump issued a similar declaration: “We have won against ISIS. We have beaten them and we have beaten them badly.…We have taken back the land and now it’s time for our troops to come back home.” These declarations are aspirational at best, and analysts from both the left and the right agree that ISIS is far from defeated.

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CSS Research & Policy Seminar: Karim Elkady

Karim Elkady, the Smith Richardson strategy and policy fellow at the Center for Strategic Studies, presented his next book, “Alliances that Matter: Why the United States Succeeds in Rebuilding States under its Military Occupation,” on November 19 at the CSS Research and Policy Seminar. After Elkady’s presentation, Jeffrey Taliaferro, professor of political science at Tufts University, discussed the project and offered feedback.

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