Emphasis Added: The Foreign Policy Week in Pieces (4/1)

War: Not Just Hell, But the Tenth Circle Thereof

War is obscene. I mean that in every sense of the word. Some veterans will tell you that you can’t know war if you haven’t served in one, if you haven’t seen combat. These are often the same guys who won’t tell you the truths that they know about war and who never think to blame themselves in any way for our collective ignorance.

Who Did You Rape in the War, Daddy?, Nick Turse, The Nation

Thank Goodness for Small Favors

The very fact that our policy of regime change is aimed at the same rulers our principal enemy wishes to overthrow should give logical pause. … Yet for all the clarity of this logical fallacy in the American democracy project, it has not stopped President Obama from helping to overthrow Muammar al-Qaddafi in Libya, or from calling for the ouster of Bashar al-Assad in Syria — even though the fall of the former and the uprising against the latter have given al Qaeda new “active fronts” (to use the jihadis’ own term) in which to operate. … So far, it hasn’t. But at least there are some limits to the American pursuit of folly; there is no call in Washington for overthrow of the regime in Riyadh. For this we should at least be thankful.

The Illogic of Iraq, John Arquilla, Foreign Policy

Transparency About Drones May Only Serve to Legitimate Them

So, moving [drone] operations to the Pentagon may modestly improve transparency and compliance with the law but — ironically for drone critics — it may also entrench targeted-killing policy for the long term.

For one thing, the U.S. government will now be better able to defend publicly its practices at home and abroad. The CIA is institutionally oriented toward extreme secrecy rather than public relations, and the covert status of CIA strikes makes it difficult for officials to explain and justify them. The more secretive the U.S. government is about its targeting policies, the less effectively it can participate in the broader debates about the law, ethics, and strategy of counterterrorism. … Under a military-only policy, the United States would also be better positioned to correct lingering misperceptions about targeted killings and to take remedial action when it makes a mistake.

Moreover, clearer legal limits and the perception of stricter oversight will make drone policy more legitimate in the public’s eyes.

Going Clear, Matthew Waxman, Foreign Policy

Two-Score Years Hence

Furthermore, since launching an ICBM from Iran towards the United States or Europe requires going somewhat against the rotation of Earth the challenge is greater. As pointed out by missile and space security expert Dr. David Wright, an ICBM capable of reaching targets in the United States would need to have a range longer than 11,000 km. Drawing upon the experience of France in making solid-fuel ICBMs, Dr. Wright estimates it may take 40 years for Iran to develop a similar ICBM – assuming it has the intention to kick off such an effort. [Author's emphasis.] A liquid fueled rocket could be developed sooner, but there is little evidence in terms of rocket testing that Iran has kicked off such an effort.

… The central conundrum of midcourse missile defense remains that while it creates incentives for adversaries and competitors of the United States to increase their missile stockpiles, it offers no credible combat capability to protect the United States or its allies from this increased weaponry.

Q&A Session on Recent Developments in U.S. and NATO Missile Defense with Dr. Yousaf Butt and Dr. George Lewis, Charles Blair, FAS Strategic Security Blog

At This Point, the Only Defense Against Missile Defense May Be Black Humor

Now for the really fun part: Let’s say one of these interceptors does manage to hit an incoming North Korean missile. While the folks at Greely are celebrating with a little Harlem Shake, what’s happening with the other interceptors we shot off? If you said “They are lighting up the early-warning radars as they streak into the heart of Mother Russia,” you win a prize! I am sure there is no chance that will spark an accidental nuclear war, the firing-missiles-into-Russia-on-purpose thing. There is no way the Russians could miss a North Korean missile launch or get an itchy trigger finger when they see missiles converging on their country. [Double emphasis — bold and italic — added.]

Billion Dollar Baby, Jeffrey Lewis, Foreign Policy