Looks Interesting: February 2020

I am attempting to keep track of all the articles I come across that look interesting, that I'll probably never read, but might read more of them if I keep track of them. This is the results for January-February 2020.

The impact of Artificial Intelligence on hybrid warfare

By Guilong Yan in Small Wars & Insurgencies

At the top of the reading pile in part because the author is “an associate professor and Director of Foreign Military Studies Centre at the Information Engineering University, Luoyang Campus of the PLA Strategic Support Force”

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/09592318.2019.1682908

Normative Scaling and Crisis Knowledge: The Problematic Use of Selective Analogies to Compare Conflicts

By Florian P. Kühn in Civil Wars

Comparing Afghanistan with Vietnam, or highlighting difference to Switzerland, thus on the surface is merely a technique to connect knowledge; but it also, on a deeper level, assigns Afghanistan its place in the world, where it can be objectified and where its social dynamics can be left out of consideration.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/13698249.2019.1654326

Wired warfare 3.0: Protecting the civilian population during cyber operations

By Michael N. Schmitt in International Review of the Red Cross

Interesting piece continuing previous analysis of the civilian consequences of state cyberattacks in armed conflict, in light of the failure of the UN GGE process:

The current state of IHL governing cyber operations is not fully satisfactory. Lack of clarity as to which cyber operations qualify as an attack at best leaves civilians at risk when they otherwise should not be, and at worst opens the door to States wishing to exploit the ambiguity in order to mount highly disruptive cyber operations against the civilian population. Moreover, some cyber operations that would clearly not qualify as an attack could nevertheless create chaos among the civilian population.

The issue of whether data is an object complicates this situation. On the one hand, if it is, many cyber operations presently conducted by States would be barred. Laudable though their intent may be, advocates of this view are naive in believing the interpretation will prove acceptable to States that wield cyber capabilities. But on the other hand, failing to treat some civilian data as a civilian object that benefits from IHL's protective umbrella undervalues the humanitarian considerations that underpin the prohibition on attacking civilian objects. In terms of finding an appropriate balance of humanitarian considerations and military necessity, arguments on both sides of the fence fall short.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/S1816383119000018

Signals of strength: Capability demonstrations and perceptions of military power

By Evan Braden Montgomery in Journal of Strategic Studies

Interesting piece on how/why states demonstrate military capability, with a good section on the conundrum of demonstrating capabilities of emerging technology:

The first and most obvious observability problem obtains when the existence of certain capabilities cannot be known with confidence until after they have been used and their effects have become apparent…

The second and potentially more intractable observability problem obtains when both the existence and effects of capabilities are difficult to establish, a situation that might characterise many applications of artificial intelligence (AI).

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/01402390.2019.1626724

Hyperlinked Sympathizers: URLs and the Islamic State

By Samantha Weirman & Audrey Alexander in Studies in Conflict & Terrorism

Study of the resilience of ISIS content-sharing networks on Twitter, notable point about apparent key factor:

Despite takedowns, extremist actors persist if they can successfully direct their networks to radical content and users.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/1057610X.2018.1457204

Back to the future? Nordic total defence concepts

By James Kenneth Wither in Defence Studies

Neat overview of the honeybadger model of national defence favoured by the Nordics…

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/14702436.2020.1718498

Archaeology and small wars

By Christopher Jasparro in Small Wars & Insurgencies

Neat observation:

U.S. and key allied militaries have yet to systematically consider the material past as a strategic element or domain of contemporary and emerging future small war and hybrid battlespaces above the operational and tactical levels or beyond legal and protectionist (mainly avoidance of inadvertent destruction) lenses. Archaeology, as a discipline, has also yet to seriously wrestle with either the strategic, ethical or scientific implications of non-western actors systematic targeting of cultural heritage and weaponizing of archaeological sites and research in a post-factual world dominated by ‘fake news.’

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/09592318.2020.1713542

Political Authority in International Relations: Revisiting the Medieval Debate

By Julia Costa Lopez in International Organization

medieval political authority emerged from the competition between four sets of ordering categories: iurisdictio, potestas, lord/vassal, and magistrate. Each one of these four categories understood authority, rulers, and the relation between rulers in different ways. The problem with existing accounts of medieval authority is that they attempt to find the single ordering principle of medieval international relations. In doing so, they not only fail to capture the features of the time but also reinforce a particular approach to political authority that is unhelpful for understanding medieval and modern politics alike.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/S0020818319000390

Knowledge Problems

Analytic objectivity and science: evaluating the US Intelligence Community’s approach to applied epistemology

By Stephen Marrin in Intelligence & National Security

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/02684527.2019.1710806

Normative Uncertainty and the Dependence Problem

By Abelard Podgorski in Mind

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/mind/fzz048

What's it like to be a state? An argument for state consciousness

By Adam B. Lerner in International Theory

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/S1752971919000277

Dirty Wars

Managing ‘dangerous populations’: How colonial emergency laws shape citizenship

By Yael Berda in Security Dialogue

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/0967010620901908

Introducing the Targeted Mass Killing Data Set for the Study and Forecasting of Mass Atrocities

By Charles Butcher, Benjamin E. Goldsmith, Sascha Nanlohy, Arcot Sowmya, David Muchlinski in Journal of Conflict Resolution

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/0022002719896405

What Do We Know about Interrogational Torture?

By Ron E. Hassner in International Journal of Intelligence and CounterIntelligence

Neat overview of the limits of knowledge/evidence about torture in interrogations.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/08850607.2019.1660951

War and Technology

Technological Wonder and Strategic Vulnerability: Satellite Reconnaissance and American National Security during the Cold War

By Aaron Bateman in International Journal of Intelligence and CounterIntelligence

[The article] explains the effects of colonial bureaucracies of security upon independent regimes seeking legitimacy as new democracies by tracing decisions regarding the use of an inherited arsenal of colonial and settler-colonial practices of security laws for population management, particularly mobility restrictions, surveillance and political control. One of the most important of these effects is the shaping of the citizenship of targeted populations by security laws.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/08850607.2019.1703926

A mercenary army of the poor? Technological change and the demographic composition of the post-9/11 U.S. military

By Andrea Asoni, Andrea Gilli, Mauro Gilli & Tino Sanandaji in Journal of Strategic Studies

We find that, in contrast to the accepted wisdom, the U.S. military no longer primarily recruits individuals from the most disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds. Technological, tactical, operational and doctrinal changes have led to a change in the demand for personnel. As a result, on different metrics such as family income and family wealth as well as cognitive abilities, military personnel are on average like the average American citizen or slightly better.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/01402390.2019.1692660

Mind over matter? Multinational naval interoperability during Operation Iraqi Freedom

By Steven Paget in Defense & Security Analysis

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/14751798.2020.1712025

Innovation for seapower: U.S. Navy strategy in an age of acceleration

By James J. Wirtz in Defense & Security Analysis

Pretty sure this gripe is shared by many people tired of empty innovation mantras:

senior officers have to stop calling for innovation and instead develop a systematic way to accelerate the introduction of new technology, concepts and operations into the Fleet. The U.S. Navy lacks a Concept of Operations (CONOPS) for innovation. New technology does not come packaged for immediate use like a software update. Someone has to identify how to use the technology to address a problem or to exploit an opportunity. Someone also has to weaponise that technology and then make it understood by, and available to, the warfighter. By contrast, there is a tendency to treat technology as if it were an innovation, something that arrives “out of the box,” so to speak, relevant and fully capable of helping the Navy attack effectively first.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/14751798.2020.1712026