Category Archives: Issue Archive

From Protecting Lives to Protecting States: Use of Force Across the Threat Continuum

Retired Brigadier General Kenneth Watkin’s new book, Fighting at the Legal Boundaries: Controlling the Use of Force in Contemporary Conflict, helps address some of the issues with the increasingly blurred line between international humanitarian law and human rights law. Professor Mitt Regan’s review addresses the trends that Watkin regards as posing novel challenges for states accustomed to traditional concepts of the use of force and discusses Watkin’s concepts that are especially relevant to the question of how much the traditional categories of law enforcement guided by human rights principles and armed conflict governed by international humanitarian law should continue to frame thinking about the use of force. Regan also critiques Watkin’s use of the binary framework of law enforcement and armed conflict to guide analysis.

Prominence Effect

Countering the Prominence Effect: How US National Security Lawyers Can Fulfill Non-Prominent Humanitarian Objectives

Decision researchers describe a “prominence effect” that leads decision makers to choose an option with more defensible attributes when quantitative assessment of those options is difficult. Prominence is hypothesized as a factor in US policy decisions not to use military force to prevent or stop humanitarian crises. Prominence is also regarded as a behavioral failure affecting both the general public and public officials that can be mitigated to improve welfare outcomes in transnational security decisions. This article—by David G. Delaney and Paul Slovic—considers those hypotheses as they relate to attorneys advising the US president and other senior public officials addressing transnational security issues. It proposes a combination of institutional, organizational, and individual steps to mitigate prominence and related behavioral failures.

climate change and national security

The National Security Impacts of Climate Change

As global sea levels rise and extreme weather events become more frequent and more intense, what is the impact on our nation’s military readiness and the capabilities of its forces to carry out their missions? On both the domestic and international front, the effects of climate change could become catastrophic, overwhelming disaster-response capabilities.

Recent actions and statements by members of Congress and US military officers have drawn attention to the consequences of climate change, including the destabilizing effects of storms, droughts, and floods. Military experts note that the fallout from global warming—massive migrations, increased border tensions, and greater demands for rescue and evacuation efforts—could increase the need for more direct US military involvement.

For these reasons, climate change is increasingly recognized as having national security implications, which has spurred dialogue between the climate change and national security communities. This issue brief, by Brian La Shier and James Stanish, provides an overview of the US military’s position on climate change, and specifically how it defines climate change risks and the subsequent challenges the military branches will likely face in the future. In addition, a brief accounting of Department of Defense and Congressional actions on climate and security is provided.