Air & Space Power Journal - Africa and Francophonie, Air University, Maxwell AFB, AL
/ Published December 31, 2016
Rémy M. Mauduit
As usual, this issue of Air and Space Power Journal-Africa and Francophonie addresses diverse topics relevant to our time and its readers in 185 countries. This editorial serves as a guide to introduce the many topics covered in this edition.
Jeffrey W. Meiser, PhD
In recent years, influential field commanders have pushed for prolonged and expanded military strategies in Iraq and Afghanistan. Prof. Jeffrey Meiser raises the question of whether this position is a characteristic of modern general officers or part of a broader attitude of military officers for the most part. This article uses the United States' experience during its "imperial" era to test the hypothesis that military officials are more likely to advocate for political-military expansion than are civilian officials. This supposition is derived from the literature on civil-military relations, which has found that military leaders tend to favor military solutions to policy problems. The inference is that military officials will tend to see political-military control of foreign territory as the best solution to instability and will advocate for political-military expansionism. Professor Meiser's study seeks to clarify the various arguments that link civil-military relations to foreign policy actions by analyzing 10 cases of American military intervention in the Caribbean Basin and the Asia-Pacific region during a particularly belligerent period of American foreign policy: the presidential administrations of presidents Cleveland, McKinley, Roosevelt, and Taft (1893-1913).
Charles Vandepeer, PhD
Alexandru Grigorescu, PhD
Sherri S. Replogle, PhD
In their article Prof. Sherri Replogle and Prof. Alexandru Grigorescu help us understand how norms act upon each other. Their approach is based on a theoretical framework that focuses on actors’ efforts to reshape norms to promote their material interests. The authors argue that actors rarely accept norms and their prescriptions as they are originally promoted or that they simply challenge them. Most often actors attempt to reshape norms by using “narrowing” or “broadening” strategies that often connect them to other existing norms. Professors Replogle and Grigorescu assess the plausibility of their arguments by discussing the evolution of the civilian protection norm and the antiterrorism norm. They especially emphasize developments after 2001 when the United States reinforced the antiterrorism norm and, by doing so, inadvertently empowered the civilian protection norm. This result, in turn, put pressure on the United States to alter some of its policies in its wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Axel Heck, PhD
Prof. Axel Heck analyzes two docudramas about an air strike ordered by a German colonel on an area near the Kunduz River in Afghanistan in September 2009, killing more than 140 people—many of them civilians. Dr. Heck examines the hotly contested question of whether Col Georg Klein’s order should be considered an act of self-defense or a war crime. The two films take a crucial position regarding the interpretation of the incident in terms of its legitimacy. The central research question of Dr. Heck’s article, therefore, is how the Kunduz air strike is audiovisually constructed and narrated in these two productions. He maintains that docudramas are important sources for international relations research for three reasons: (1) television productions reach millions of people and tremendously affect public discourses on the legitimacy of military action, especially in cases in which knowledge is incomplete, limited, or even contested; (2) documentary films in general and docudramas in particular can contribute to the collective memory by rendering audiovisual narratives and interpretations of the represented military operations; and (3) docudramas deconstruct reality by assembling fictional and nonfictional elements. As such, they are aesthetic artifacts performing a mimetic claim. The authors’ empirical analysis draws on a semiotic theory about the audiovisual construction of legitimacy narratives and uses a film analytical methodology.
Azar Gat, PhD
The potential for both war and peace is embedded in us, posits Prof. Azar Gat in this article. He argues that the human behavioral tool kit includes a number of major implements geared for violent conflict, peaceful competition, or cooperation, depending on people’s assessment of what will serve them best in any given circumstance. Dr. Gat points out that conflict is only one tool—the hammer—and that all three behavioral strategies are not purely learned cultural forms. He asserts that this naive nature/nurture dichotomy overlooks the heavy, complex biological machinery necessary for the working of each of them and the interplay among them. Violent conflict, peaceful competition, and cooperation are close under our skin and readily activated because they have remained handy during our long evolutionary past. At the same time, they are variably calibrated to particular conditions through social learning; consequently, their use may fluctuate widely. Thus, state authority has tilted the menu of human choices in the direction of peaceful options in the domestic arena, and changing economic, social, and political conditions may be generating a similar effect in the international arena.
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