Few took issue with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s bold assertion on Wednesday that the Pakistan-based Taliban pose a “mortal threat” to the United States. The stakes, of course, are high. The Taliban provided safe haven to Osama bin Laden prior to the 9/11 attacks, and could very well be doing so now. Since fleeing Afghanistan following the U.S. invasion in 2001, they have mounted stubborn insurgencies on both sides of the border that separates Afghanistan from Pakistan’s tribal areas, and have now established footholds in formerly secure parts of Pakistan. The fact that Pakistan is a nuclear-armed power makes […]

The Israeli Right Revisited

I appreciate WPR giving me one last bit of space to respond to some of Petra Marquardt-Bigman’s critiques of my recent post on the assumptions that underlie the policy orientation of the Israeli right. Ms. Marquardt-Bigman makes some important points, and on reading her criticism I realized that there are probably a few clarifications I should make. First off, I realize that the Israeli right is fairly ideologically heterogeneous, made up of people who arrive at a variety of conclusions for an even wider variety of reasons. I did not mean to imply in my last post that Beres’s views […]

Wrong Assumptions About the Israeli Right

I hope no one will accuse me of defending the extreme Israeli right if I take issue with some of the observations that Matt Eckel offered in his recent WPR blog post, “The Assumptions of the Israeli Right.” Eckel incorrectly assumes that the views expressed in a Jerusalem Post op-ed by Louis RenĂ© Beres are representative of the broader Israeli right. He then bases the sweeping claim that “Israeli leaders . . . pursue policies manifestly contrary to the long-term interests of their country” on this assumption. In fact, however, the Beres article presents the case against a Palestinian state […]

Russia and NATO have been trying to “reset” their relations in parallel with the ongoing reconciliation between Washington and Moscow. Although progress along these lines has occurred, Russia-NATO differences over Georgia remain a major impediment. Belying Moscow’s hopes that the new American administration and other NATO members might reduce support for the current Georgian government in order to secure Russian assistance regarding Afghanistan, Iran, and other issues, the alliance appears unwilling to abandon Tbilisi despite Russian threats and inducements. NATO’s decision to conduct a major military exercise, “Cooperative Longbow/Lancer-09,” in Georgia from May 6 through June 1 has reignited the […]

NEW DELHI — A shift in India’s strategic defense thinking has become increasingly apparent over the months following the Mumbai terror attack in November. Before the Mumbai attacks, India’s military infrastructure was predominantly oriented to building against a long-term threat from China, aided by some plodding from a U.S. keen to counter Beijing’s rise in the region. Post-11/26, however, there is every sign that India’s defense preparedness is more focused on the immediate threat from Pakistan. India’s massive $50 billion defense modernization plans are being tweaked accordingly. Indian intelligence agencies have warned that a conflict situation with Pakistan could arise […]

What is Motivating Pyongyang This Week?

North Korea’s statement yesterday that it intended to restart its dormant nuclear program and withdraw from the Six-Party Talks is fairly unambiguous: Second, there would be no need to hold six-party talks which the DPRK has attended. Now that the six-party talks have turned into a platform for infringing upon the sovereignty of the DPRK and seeking to force the DPRK to disarm itself and bring down the system in it the DPRK will never participate in the talks any longer nor it will be bound to any agreement of the six-party talks.Third, the DPRK will bolster its nuclear deterrent […]

The Pyrrhic Solution to Piracy

In his previous post, Matt asked readers for “less cynicism and more solutions” to the Somali pirate problem. I can’t provide that, unfortunately, but John Robb at Global Guerillas has a thought-provoking post in which he provides a sort of cynical solution while dismissing the most commonly floated strategies. Here’s what Robb concludes: The most commonly suggested solutions, patrols by conventional navies and nation-building, aren’t the answer. Both are expensive and would be futile over the longer term. The Pyrrhic solution that will eventually be adopted is a combination of A) funded militias (Somali anti-pirates that raid pirate dens) and […]

Outside-the-Box Thinking

I’ll dispense with the introductions – my colleague Matt Dupuis did a fine job earlier and in any case I doubt I could puff myself up in a way that would be particularly impressive – in favor of jumping right in. One of the great things about twenty-first century media is the diversity of opinions. I’m particularly excited by the potential that the chattering classes’ digitization has to bring in fresh perspectives and question stale policies and assumptions. Hand-in-hand with the modern landscape of opinion writing, though, comes the obligation to recognize that some “fresh” perspectives that haven’t gone mainstream […]

Last November, in the restive tribal region on Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan, an American Predator drone circled several thousand feet above the village of Ali Khel. Firing one of its Hellfire missiles, the drone destroyed a compound that was reportedly occupied by two senior al-Qaida officials: Abu Zubair Al Masri, an explosives expert from Egypt, and Rashid Rauf, a Pakistani linked to a 2006 plot to bomb London Heathrow airport. Both Al Masri and Rauf died in the blast, according to intelligence officials quoted by press reports. The attack was just one of scores of air strikes conducted by robotic […]

NEW DELHI, India — A series of brazen infiltration attempts by militant groups in Indian Kashmir have resulted in fierce gun battles with security forces, and threaten to exacerbate already tense relations between India and Pakistan. The skirmishes come amid fears of militant attacks on prominent political leaders as the campaign for India’s parliamentary elections gets under way. A five-day gun battle in north Kashmir’s Kupwara region left 17 militants as well as eight Indian Army commandos dead in the last week of March. The militants were part of an unusually large group of 25 Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) […]

STRASBOURG, France — It’s a virtual certainty that the concerto played by violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter at NATO’s 60th anniversary dinner Friday night wasn’t chosen because of its nickname. Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 5 is known as the “Turkish Concerto” because the composer used oriental themes in the final movement. But as it happened, the one discordant note in an otherwise harmonious summit was the down-to-the-wire threat by NATO member Turkey to veto the nomination of former Danish prime minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen as the alliance’s new secretary general. It took frantic, behind-the-scenes efforts, which delayed the start of the Saturday […]

RAWALPINDI, Pakistan — Not very long ago, one of Malik Naeem’s favorite pastimes was an afternoon jaunt to McDonald’s with his granddaughters for french fries and a tour of the playground. Islamabad, the Pakistani capital where Naeem lives with his family, seemed sheltered from far-off concerns about growing militancy and insecurity along the Afghan border. That changed in an instant last September, when militants attacked the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad, just a few seconds’ drive from the Pakistani Parliament and Supreme Court buildings. The high-profile attack on a popular public establishment in a heavily guarded area meant that no place […]

Parliamentary elections in Indonesia, as elsewhere, are usually an ordinary affair as local politicians jockey for position among voters at the grassroots level. Normally voting revolves around homespun issues: a new school library, the local waters works or paved roads. But in the lead-up to legislative elections in Indonesia, campaigning has taken on much broader implications, providing a battleground for separatist forces in the troubled province of Papua, a testing ground for the fragile peace in Aceh and a vibrant backdrop for the presidential poll in July. Keith Loveard, a Jakarta-based security consultant with Concord Security said electoral-related violence in […]