Small Wars Journal

LANDPOWER: Russia, Syria, China, and Drones

Fri, 07/18/2014 - 10:28pm

LANDPOWER: Russia, Syria, China, and Drones

Russia's Contribution as a Partner in the War on Terrorism by Henry Plater-Zyberk

This monograph examines terrorism and counterterrorism from the Russian perspective so as to assess prospects for cooperation with Russia in fighting terror. It concludes that, regardless of the state of political relations between Russia and the United States at any given time, longer-term systemic and conceptual obstacles to meaningful cooperation may well prevent any significant Russian contribution to U.S. counterterrorism efforts. This monograph details Russian definitions of terrorism and then looks at the Russian security “pyramid,” which sets out the relevant authority structure. It examines the roles of coordinating bodies such as the Security Council and the National Anti-Terrorist Committee, before looking at the individual organs involved in counterterrorism operations, particularly the Federal Security Service and Ministry of the Interior. The monograph then explores the most important question for Russia in terms of terrorism, the North Caucasus, and finally explores the wider context of the relationship between Russia and the West, particularly the United States, looking at the lengthy list of tensions affecting that relationship even before Russia's seizure of Crimea, which took place after the monograph was completed.

Syria and the Great Middle-Eastern War by, Dr Larry P. Goodson

The Syrian Civil War is shaping up to do something disastrous to the Middle East - something that has not occurred in modern history. A regional conflagration is coming; indeed, it may already be here. The meltdown currently underway in Iraq is only the first manifestation of the regional war—or perhaps region-wide violence—that is coming. The Syrian Civil War also is widening because it has become an avenue for a bigger proxy war, especially between Sunni and Shia.

China's North Korea Policy: Rethink or Recharge? by Andrew Scobell and Mark Cozad

There has been much speculation lately about a Chinese “rethink” on North Korea. Beijing has clearly been exasperated with Pyongyang. What is going on with Beijing’s Pyongyang policy? Has there actually been a reassessment of the PRC’s policy toward the DPRK? Is there a military component to this policy, and what do we know about planning by China’s People’s Liberation Army for a Korea contingency? This article answers those questions.

Drones, Drone Strikes, and US Policy: The Politics of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles by Ulrike Esther Franke

Each of the four books discussed in this review has specific merits—Predator gives a fascinating account of the Pakistani perspective; The Way of the Knife allows an insight into the black box of US state agencies in their global fight against terrorism; Drone Warfare is an appealing example of activism literature; and Killing by Remote Control is a useful scholarly work on the ethics of drone use. While these books naturally have flaws, as a whole they form a comprehensive overview of the current drone debate.

We hope you will enjoy these insightful and thoughtful works and we always look forward to your feedback through comments to this blog, Landpower, or to me.