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Air & Space Power Journal

Volume 06, Issue 4, Winter 2015

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Editorial

Regional Economic Organizations, American Policy after the Arab Spring, Practices and War in Countering Terrorism, Oil as the Path to Institutional Change, Kenya's Truth Commission, and Missile Defenses and Strategic Nuclear Arms Control

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.


Articles

Why Regional Economic Organizations Take on Conventional Security Tasks

Leann Brown, PhD
 
In the immediate aftermath of the Cold War, scholarly literature proliferated suggesting that regional organizations in cooperation with the United Nations represent the best hope for conflict amelioration around the world. While this optimism has been tempered by the scope of security challenges and institutional capacity shortfalls, regional organizations have increasingly become mainstays in global security governance. This paper draws upon several theoretical literatures and empirical illustrations to explore why regional economic organizations take on conventional security roles. After a brief discussion of the organizational change, critical junctures, and crises literatures, the paper divides the regional organizational change literatures into those emphasizing (1) structural and other power-related factors, (2) functional needs and institutional factors, and (3) cognitive and constructivist understandings. The study concludes that structural- and organizational-level factors provide opportunities and constraints on decisionmakers faced with a security threat. However, the decision to transform the regional organization from a predominantly economic actor into a conventional security one is most immediately influenced by decisionmakers' perceptions of proximate threat and functional necessity.


Allies in Flux
American Policy after the Arab Spring

Khalil Marrar, PhD
 
The U.S. Israel relationship, while rhetorically cordial as ever, has underwent key changes in recent years. With the Obama administration's "pivot to Asia," the "Arab Spring" turned "Winter," and geopolitical challenges from Russia and China in their respective zones of influence, the United States' commitments to Israel and other Middle East allies, most notably Saudi Arabia and Egypt, have necessarily evolved under scrutiny and in light of changes in the global and regional strategic terrain. And while American policy still remains susceptible to influence from a variety of domestic lobbying and public opinion pressures, international forces have once again proven preeminent in the ultimate American approach to world affairs. This paper looks at how changes in the prevailing order have trumped America's commitments to its Middle East allies, most notably Israel, and traces out how those changes supersede and influence domestic politics surrounding foreign policy decision-making in the United States. While this approach warrants a larger study, the present paper will focus on the effects of the Arab Spring and Winter on the American policy calculus in the Middle East and subsequent impacts on political pressure groups representing Arab and Muslim American interests.


A Different Type of War
Practices and War in Countering Terrorism

Christopher McIntosh, PhD
 
In this article Dr. Christopher McIntosh posits that the United States is finding it difficult to successfully end what began as a war on terrorism and what the 2015 National Security Strategy describes as a war on al-Qaeda and its affiliates. He argues that some quality of the enemy has not caused this difficulty; rather, it stems from common practices associated with and expected when one engages in a strategy of war. By employing practice theory to understand US actions, the author identifies areas where challenges have arisen, maintaining that by looking at the normal practices of war for contemporary US strategy, we can begin to see many of the problems facing the United States in terms of finally winning the conflict with al-Qaeda. Specifically, our troubles result from trying to rectify what is normal or expected behavior in a war with what is most effective in addressing the threat posed by this terror organization and its affiliates.


Oil as the Path to Institutional Change in Oil-exporting MENA

Mohammed Akacem, PhD 
Dennis D. Miller, PhD

 
This article proposes an oil privatization plan whose goal is to transfer oil wealth from the oil MENA (Middle East and North African) governments to the citizens. Its ultimate objective is to empower citizens of the oil MENA. It argues that oil by itself does not prevent the onset of transparent and accountable democracy. Rather, it is the lack of sound democratic institutions that enforce property rights, nurture independent judiciaries, and support the rule of law that prevents good government from taking hold. Privatization would enable the flow of financial benefits to citizens directly from petroleum and natural gas extraction. Governments would then have to tax citizens to gain revenues. Governments would have to clearly justify their expenditures for citizens to allow themselves to be reasonably taxed. This shift in power would be conducive to the establishment of democratic institutions that would increase transparency and likely reduce waste and corruption that is so endemic in these resource-rich countries. Furthermore, it would foster peace within and between countries by lessening strife between ethnic groups for central control of the oil resources and thus reduce the need for U.S. projection of power in the region.


Justice for Economic Crimes?
Kenya's Truth Commission

Kimberly Lanegran, PhD
 
Transitional justice and reconciliation measures have increasingly been expanded to address wide-spread social and economic injustices. Kenya's Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) (2008-2013) was mandated to investigate violations of socio-economic as well as political rights since 1963. This article assesses how the TJRC operationalized its mandate, summarizes its findings with particular attention to misallocation of land, and considers the political battle sparked by the report. It concludes that investigating a broad range of human rights crimes can reveal convincing evidence of linkages among economic and political violations. Second, truth commissions, frequently incapable of assessing the veracity of individuals' testimonies, struggle to precisely identify the nature of the truth they have "found." Third, commissions may rely heavily on existing secondary sources and reports, which calls into question their unique contributions to justice. Finally, addressing economic violations may provoke vehement political backlash from officials implicated in long-standing and continuing economic violations.


Missile Defenses and Strategic Nuclear Arms Control
Technology and Policy Challenges

Stephen J. Cimbala, PhD 
Adam B. Lowther, PhD

 
Russian annexation of Crimea and subsequent destabilization of Ukraine contributed to a downward spiral in U.S.-Russian nuclear arms control, along with disagreements between NATO and Russia over missile defenses deployed in Europe. Nevertheless, opportunities exist for post-New START strategic nuclear reductions between the U.S. and Russia. Either incremental or more ambitious post-New START reductions are theoretically possible within the confines of stable deterrence. In practice, modest reductions are more likely to survive the domestic politics of the United States and Russia. Missile defenses are wild cards in the nuclear arms control process, but they are far from game changers in technical terms - their significance is as incubators of political mistrust, at least, in Russia.


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