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March 7, 2024

Parameters | Spring 2024

Parameters | Spring 2024

From the Editor in Chief
Antulio J. Echevarria II 

Welcome to the Spring 2024 issue of Parameters. Readers will note a few differences in the formatting for this issue: we are now using endnotes instead of footnotes to facilitate switching from pdf to html via Adobe’s Liquid App; also, readers will be able to click on each endnote number to view the full endnote and then switch back to the text to resume reading. Please drop us a note to let us know how you like the changes. More are coming!

This issue opens with two In Focus commentaries: one on the urgency of continuing aid to Ukraine and one addressing ways to improve the West’s use of sanctions as a coercive tool. We then feature three forums covering two geographic regions and one offering ideas to improve our strategic thinking. We wrap up this issue with remarks from the China Landpower Studies Center (CLSC) and an update from the Director of the Strategic Research and Analysis Department (SRAD).

The PDF version of this issue of Parameters can be found here.

In Focus

Ukraine: The Case for Urgency
Rebecca W. Jensen and Anthony L. Tingle

If the United States and its allies seek to deny Vladimir Putin an objective victory in the Russia-Ukraine War, they must commit to providing sufficient aid to the Ukrainian army soon because the window of opportunity to provide sufficient resources is narrow—and closing. This article argues that the West must articulate a reasonable strategy for Ukrainian victory now, as a failure in Ukraine will weaken relationships between the United States and Western European states and their global partners while emboldening state and non-state actors to threaten the rules-based international order.

Keywords: Ukraine, Russia, NATO, Europe, security force assistance

Toward a Strategic Art for Sanctions 
David J. Katz

New strategic art is required to maneuver political economies to meet the demands of future engagements and campaigns. Current discussions of the projection of political-economic power are typically abstract, high-level, and policy-focused or present singular tactical actions as strategic actions, creating a gap for campaign practitioners. This article addresses the gap by drawing on Joint Planning, Joint Publication 5-0, and Joint Campaigns and Operations, Joint Publication 3-0, to further develop the concept and methodologies first introduced in the author’s earlier article “Multidimensionality: Rethinking Power Projection for the 21st Century.”

Keywords: sanctions, political-economic power, Russia, Ukraine, China

The Indo-Pacific Region

China’s Use of Nontraditional Strategic Landpower in Asia
Sheena Chestnut Greitens

This article argues that the People’s Republic of China uses its police and internal security forces as a nontraditional means of projecting strategic Landpower in the Indo-Pacific and Central Asia. Instead of limiting analysis of China’s power projection to military forces, this article employs new data on Chinese police engagements abroad to fill a gap in our understanding of the operating environment in Asia. Policymakers will gain an understanding of how these activities enhance China’s presence, partnerships, and influence across the region to inform the development of recommendations for a more effective response.

Keywords: China, strategic landpower, internal security, security force assistance, police

US-Taiwan Relations and the Future of the Liberal Order
Christina Lai

Strengthening ties with Taiwan is the best chance the United States has to preserve the liberal international order in Asia and improve its security relative to China. This study offers a normative perspective on how Taiwan can contribute to US-led international institutions and the Asian regional order and reduce conflict risk. It concludes with recommendations for the United States and its partners to integrate Taiwan into multilateral institutions in Asia.

Keywords: US Foreign Policy, China, Taiwan, Indo-Pacific, rules-based Order

The Middle East Region

International Law, Self-Defense, and the Israel-Hamas Conflict
Eric A. Heinze

This article examines the international law of self-defense as it applies to the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict to determine whether the October 2023 attacks by Hamas against Israel can be interpreted under Article 51 of the UN Charter as an “armed attack” that gives Israel the right to use military force in self-defense against non-state actors. It situates the conflict within ongoing legal and political debates, shows how this conflict fits into a changing global reality where the most dangerous security threats do not exclusively emanate from other states and concludes that Israel’s resort to force in the current conflict appears to have a sound basis in international law.  

Keywords: Self-defense, international law, non-state actors, Israel, Hamas

The Politics of Restraint in the Middle East
Andrew Payne

Domestic constraints make it difficult for the United States to pursue a coherent program of restraint in the Middle East. As events in Gaza revive debates about the appropriate size and scope of the military footprint in the region, this article shows the importance of grounding any revised posture on a firm domestic foundation. Going beyond accounts that blame the obstructionism of a foreign policy establishment, it explores barriers to strategic adjustment and supports its claims through a case study of the Obama administration’s record, drawn from relevant literature, data on the distribution of military capabilities, and interviews with senior officials. 

Keywords: Middle East, restraint, public opinion, domestic politics, polarization, civil-military relations

On Strategic Thinking

Rethinking the Relevance of Self-Deterrence
Jeffrey H. Michaels

Self-deterrence is critically understudied in deterrence theory. Similarly, deterrence practitioners prefer to focus on adversaries’ threats rather than seeking to account for the full scope of fears influencing the decision calculus of policymakers. Through historical case studies, this article identifies where self-deterrence has occurred, highlights the benefits of incorporating the concept in future strategic planning and intelligence assessments, and recommends that policymakers, strategists, and analysts acknowledge self-deterrence as an important factor when preparing for future wars.

Keywords: deterrence, self-deterrence, chemical weapons, nuclear weapons, decision-making

Strategy as Problem-Solving
Andrew Carr

This article proposes a new definition of strategy as problem-solving that challenges the focus on goals and assumptions of order within many post–Cold War approaches to strategy. It argues that the military needs strategy to diagnose the complex problems of the twenty-first century before they can be solved. Inspired by practitioners such as Andrew Marshall and George F. Kennan, this new definition clarifies what strategists do and offers a logic for distinguishing the use of the term strategy. Practitioners will also find problem-solving tools and pedagogies they can adopt today.

Keywords: strategy, complexity, Andrew Marshall, problem solving, George F. Kennan

The Art of Avoiding Strategic Miscalculation
Steven W. Knott 

This examination of British War Secretary George Cornewall Lewis and the gold standard memorandum he penned in 1862 (that proved instrumental in preventing British intervention in the American Civil War) offers insights for modern leaders on how to avoid institutional barriers to effective strategic thinking and political-strategic miscalculation through insightful analysis of potential liabilities and policy assumptions. It shows how outstanding strategic thinkers possess an informed and reflective filter to evaluate past, present, and anticipated events—developed through a good education, diverse practical experience, lifelong intellectual curiosity, empowerment, and access to senior leadership.

Keywords: George Cornewall Lewis, Anglo-American relations, strategic thinking, denial systems, Abraham Lincoln

CLSC Director’s Corner

Building a Purposeful Research Agenda
Richard D. Butler and Joshua M. Arostegui 

In this second installment of the CLSC Director’s Corner, Joshua Arostegui, the center’s research director and chair of China studies, and the center's director, Richard Butler, discuss the center’s research agenda. Previously, Butler outlined the center’s mission and how the research agenda answers large campaign questions across the perspectives of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), the United States, and US allies and partners.

Keywords: China, Landpower, protracted war, People’s Liberation Army, Chinese Communist Party

SRAD Director’s Corner

Emerging Technologies and Terrorism: A Report from NATO’s COE Defence Against Terrorism
Eric Hartunian

The Strategic Studies Institute and the NATO Centre of Excellence for the Defense Against Terrorism have solicited expert researchers’ knowledge on emerging threats and technologies to prepare a (forthcoming) report on emerging technologies in terrorism. The information presented here previews this report, including an overview of key factors inhibiting counterterrorism, examples of potential threat scenarios, and recommendations of ways in which the policy and defense communities can keep pace with the challenges that emerging technologies present.

Keywords: biological weapons, unmanned killing machines, detection, attribution, accessibility

Book Reviews