Drag shows are not typically the first thought that comes to mind when asked about national security. However, they have become a significantly contested issue in the security realm. On March 29, against a backdrop of anti-LGBTQ+ state laws passed throughout the United States, drag was raised as an issue during a meeting of the House Armed Services Committee on the Pentagon’s 2024 budget. During the testimony of Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III, General Mark A. Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Under Secretary of Defense Michael J. McCord, Representative Matt Gaetz (R-FL) inquired into drag performances held on military bases.
Words have meaning, and that meaning translates into reality. The more influence an individual or organization has, the more their language could become dangerous and incite violent action. As a participant in Professor Annie Morgan’sEmerging Threats in National Securityprogram, I have learned of the vitalrole that language plays in the study of national security threats and government policy.
By Vincent DiFonzo ’25 Managing Editor, Ike’s Anvil
Last March, I had the opportunity to travel to Israel as part of the Eisenhower Institute’s Contours of the Middle East program. I visited during a time of political crisis. Israel’s young democracy was being challenged—not by a foreign power—but by their own prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. During the trip, our group met with a diverse range of people from the region, including both a retired Israeli Defense Force (IDF) general and a member of the Palestinian National Authority, the provisional government of the West Bank. These two people, from opposite sides of the conflict, disagreed on many things, yet they likely would have agreed on one: Netanyahu’s attempted judicial reforms, which would allow him to end his own corruption trial, are harmful to Israel. Israelis overwhelmingly opposed the changes and took to the streets in massive numbers to protest Netanyahu’s power grab.
As China’s economic and political power expands, the world order is moving away from unipolarity and towards a bipolar balance of power. Economic growth has driven China’s rise for the past few decades, transforming it into a major global player in trade, finance and investment. The United States, on the other hand, has been grappling with a range of domestic and international challenges that have contributed to a perception of declining global influence. The pact between Iran and Saudi Arabia, brokered by China in March, has further sidelined the US and weakened its power in the Middle East.
Much of the recent discussion on warfare has focused on drones and their impact on the battlefield. Though drones are vital in war, they are not the game-changer they might initially seem to be. The Russian Invasion of Ukraine has revealed that while drones play an important role in combat, they do not truly revolutionize modern warfare, which is still largely characterized by traditional weapons and tactics.
The Second Nagorno-Karabakh War in 2020 is one of the most important and overlooked conflicts in recent history. Evolving from an ethnic dispute in Nagorno-Karabakh, the war was a bitterly fought affair in the Caucasus mountains between Armenia and Azerbaijan. The conflict was brief, lasting only 44 days, yet the lessons learned and, more importantly, the tactics used have shined a light on the new era of warfare.
Since assuming the presidency of the Russian Federation in 1999, Vladimir Putin has deliberately worked towards an invasion of Ukraine. Over the past two decades, Putin has built up the Russian military, tested his boundaries with the West and repeatedly provoked Ukraine.
In 2014, following the pro-democracy and pro-European Maidan Revolution in Ukraine, Russia invaded and occupied the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea with almost no resistance. The diplomatic backlash from the West, including the United States, Canada, the European Union and NATO was swift. However, the actual repercussions were small and mostly symbolic. Since 2014, Putin has continued to cause chaos in Ukraine through his support for Russian separatists in the eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk. Despite years of warnings that Russia could invade Ukraine, the West still wasn’t ready.
As the Russo-Ukrainian War continues to rage on, it has become clear that Russia has suffered an immense failure. From the first week of the conflict, when Russia failed to seize Kiev and topple the Ukrainian government, its forces have continued to face setback after setback with continued ground loss and mounting casualties. Russia still holds a significant portion of Ukrainian territory and still poses a significant threat, but its pride and military capabilities have been shattered. Yet, who does Russia blame for this? It is not Ukraine, but rather NATO and the United States.
From the third of November to the sixth, I had the privilege of attending West Point’s Student Conference on United States Affairs. This annual gathering grants students from across America the opportunity to get together and draft memos for future policy initiatives. Each year, there is an overarching theme, with this years’ being Disruptive Technology. This broad theme is split into more specific topics, which vary table-to-table. From the impacts of social media to space technology, students gathered to discuss varying matters; my table was assigned the concern of China.
The Coronavirus pandemic has profoundly furthered the existing schism between the “global North” and the “global South.” The North-South divergence emerged after WWII as developed nations transitioned into industrialized manufacturing-based economies. The largely agricultural developing nations had not been a part of the post-war discourse, excluding them from politics thereafter and thus, becoming the global South. Since WWII, many of those developing nations have transitioned into or surpassed a manufacturing-based economy. While this has greatly minimized the divide between developed and developing nations, those of the global South still lack equal status with members of the global North. As a result, developing nations are entering a predefined international system that excludes them from any level of ascendancy established post WWII.