The High Ground – With Harvey Sapolsky

In The High Ground Professor Harvey M. Sapolsky shares his observations on international security issues, and the role of the US in the 21st century. Harvey is Professor of Public Policy and Organization, Emeritus at MIT and was formerly the Director of the MIT Security Studies Program. He has been a visiting professor at the University of Michigan and the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. In the defense field he has served as a consultant or panel member for a number of government commissions and study groups.


US Secretary of defense Robert Gates said recently that coalition forces have about a year to turn around the war in Afghanistan, where the Taliban is resurgent, or risk losing support in America.Just a few days later the US military command in Afghanistan announced that action reports will no longer mention enemy casualties


The Air Force was for a long time the guiding star of US military doctrine, but it seems to be fading fast of late. Air power did not win the Second World War, but the USAF did, gaining its independence from the Army, a large share of the defense budget, and prominence in the Cold War with the promise of easy victory


Some parts of the American military, perhaps a bit underemployed, propose humanitarian aid missions as a central component in America’s national military strategy. Admiral James Stavridis, the new NATO Commander, in his last assignment, Commander US Southern Command, was certainly an advocate of this approach.


With American forces turning over security responsibilities to Iraqis as another step toward complete withdrawal from Iraq, I am searching for the war’s lessons and am left mostly with questions.


To understand American policy better, I suggest you consult a recent, very well written and argued paper by Stephen Peter Rosen of Harvard on why we Americans are less the peace-loving people we often claim to be.


Afghanistan is a country of 33,000,000 people that has been at war for 30 years, has a life expectancy of only 44 years, an infant mortality rate 151/1000 births, and experiences about 660,000 deaths from all causes per year. Life is hard, brutal and short in Afghanistan


The American military keeps searching the horizon for a peer competitor, the challenger who has to be taken seriously. Is it China? What about an oil rich and resurgent Russia? Can we really trust those café-living Europeans? The Peer Competitor is here and about to hobble our interventionist inclinations. In […]


torture is slippery slope. One officer told me that troops have to be watched all the time. Unsupervised 10% will do something stupid. Abu Ghraib involved untrained (reserve) soldiers working at night without supervision. Guards have power which can easily be abused.


We know that torture is a constant presence in warfare, most especially in counter-insurgency operations. Terrible things happen in wars. But warfare is also a learning process where participants try to avoid repeating the mistakes of their own experience and that of others.

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