Jacob Stokes

Jacob Stokes is a policy analyst at the National Security Network and editor of the international affairs blog DemocracyArsenal.org.

Recent Articles

Pruning the Pentagon

Yesterday, President Barack Obama crossed the Potomac River to hold a press conference at the Pentagon, the first time a president has addressed reporters from the military’s headquarters. Flanked by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, Joint Chiefs Chairman General Martin Dempsey, and other senior military leaders, the president introduced the findings of a nine-month review of U.S. military strategy that will guide how the Pentagon allocates defense dollars as military spending slows following a decade of war. The review, which calls for a leaner, more agile military and a shift in focus from the wars in the Middle East to the Asia-Pacific region, carries great strategic and political import. Any defense analyst worth his or her bullets will tell you that budget decisions should follow strategic priorities, never the other way around. Choices arrived at in the opposite direction are tarred as “ math, not strategy .” The problem is that since the end of the Cold War, U.S...

Conflict's Resolution

The end of the Iraq War marks a victory for progressives, but tough work lies ahead.

Earlier this week, President Barack Obama stood with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in the South Court Auditorium of the White House to announce that “ a war is ending .” Two days later, the president visited Fort Bragg to offer an encomium to post-9/11 veterans. “Your service belongs to the ages,” he told the assembled troops. By the end of the year, all U.S. combat troops in Iraq will have slipped across the border into Kuwait, and America’s war in Iraq will be over. The president’s political staff carefully crafted the public-relations campaign around the war’s end. The issue, after all, is a political IED. Obama had to take credit for keeping a campaign promise while avoiding the appearance of enjoying a political victory lap among the ashes of a war that cost 4,483 American lives. The president also had to avoid portraying the end of the war in any way that conjures memories of George W. Bush’s fatefully premature victory...

Troop Think

The drawdown in Afghanistan only highlights the problems that we haven't resolved.

(Flickr/U.S. Army)
This evening, President Barack Obama is set to announce his plan for withdrawing troops from Afghanistan. The speech comes just weeks before the July 2011 deadline for beginning the drawdown of American forces, which the president set when he announced the 30,000-troop "surge" in December 2009. With Osama bin Laden out of the picture, both conservatives and liberals -- including Prospect contributor Matthew Yglesias -- have pressured the president to expedite the pullout. Others, including outgoing Defense Secretary Robert Gates and, reportedly, General David Petraeus, have argued for a slower reduction. But as Americans debate the speed of the drawdown, other important questions have been put on the backburner. Fixing the broken Afghan government is the most obvious. The Arab Spring made clear that a government's long-term stability depends on its legitimacy. Illegimate rulers may bend to U.S. demands in the short-term, but they don't provide long-term stability. As Caroline Wadhams...