About Adam Elkus

Adam Elkus is a PhD student at George Mason University in Computational Social Science. He blogs on strategy, technology, defense and national security, and research methodology.

Spectrums of Intervention

I have mostly resolved to leave R2P-blogging to Gulliver, Dan Trombly, Mark Safranksi, and Anne-Marie Slaughter. However, Safranski linked to an op-ed by Simon Adams on the Responsibility to Protect that I find illustrative of some of the issues with talking about R2P: the prevention/intervention distinction, non-military coercive prevention measures, and strategy in intervention.
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British COIN: The Debate Continues

Dr. Andrew Mumford has released a monograph attacking what he view as the “myths” of British counterinsurgency as interpreted by American analysts–and in his view, some Brits themselves. However, history is a far from settled matter. The historians, soldiers, and analysts critiqued in Mumford’s monograph also are on the receiving end of a debate very much influenced by modern COIN campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan (much as Vietnam hung over discussion of nonrelated or tangential political-military subjects in that period).

The outcome of these inquiries may be more useful for the US than, say, the back-and-forth about Galula and French COIN. While Britain and the United States have vastly different strategic cultures, they are still closer together and thus a better reference point for Americans than continental powers. As Alexander Hamilton noted, Britain and America’s geography as maritime powers free from continental threats provided a space for liberal political culture and similar norms. Additionally, both have waged expeditionary COIN as offshore powers.

Perhaps a debate hosted by Kings of War would be very fruitful for the analytical community.

Reading List Bonananza–Or Not.

Prompted by Citizen Fouche, I have an idea for a reading list. One of the many problems with professional reading lists is that they are unlikely to be read by those within the professional institution they are intended for.

Hence mine is short and tries to be at least somewhat accessible. Friends and relatives who have often asked for me to give them strategy and foreign policy reading lists often have complained that I’m a bit too academic, so here I’m trying to go for the bare bones. Continue reading

FHI on London Riots

Over the coming week, we’ll be discussing the strategic, operational, and tactical implications of the London riots. Given that for many of our readers in the Western world, these events may be “coming to a theater near you” as economic and political divides intensify, the importance of a sober and analytical recounting of the riots (from a wide range of expertise) is certainly high. Stay tuned.

A Counterterrorism Net Assessment: Bin Laden’s Legacy

I have an unpublished paper (one of a growing pile that I’m trying to sort through) on the need for the use of net assessment techniques for the global war on terror. Although net assessment (as practiced by the titular office) is difficult to really sum up, it can best be understood as evaluating a long-term competition (different from a war–more like, say, something comparable to the US vs. Soviet Union) by tallying up all of the Blue (our side) and Red (the enemy) data in one place for an comprehensive diagnostic picture of what the competition looked like.

A diagnostic assessment shows who is ahead in the competition, where the important “markets” are, and where competitors ought to be best positioning themselves to be more competitive than theirs adversaries. Sometimes net assessments are also local in nature–such as exploring the impact of one weapon on the competition or just looking at one military competition (such as the military use of space as a competition itself).

To my knowledge, this method–borne out of the late Cold War–has never been used in counterterrorism. Daveed Gartenstein-Ross’s new book provides a framework for how it can be responsibly done, free of the politicization that is endemic to the post-9/11 CT debate but yet without pulling any punches. Continue reading