As Israel contemplates military action to retard the development of Iran’s nuclear program, U.S. and Arab policymakers are trying to determine the second- and third-order effects that such a strike would have on the region. A recent exercise by U.S. Central Command has raised concerns among U.S. policymakers that an Israeli strike on Iran would do serious damage to U.S. interests in the region in particular, but analysts must remain humble about what we can really know with certainty about such contingencies. Both Iranian and Israeli intentions are unclear, and the United States and its allies have remarkably poor political […]

UN Peacekeepers in Syria See Tensions Rise in Buffer Zone

United Nations peacekeepers confirm violence between Syrian government loyalists and rebels is spreading into the buffer zone along the border between Syria and Israel. World News Videos by NewsLook

After months of aggressive debates over the Middle East, the U.N. Security Council is starting to calm down. Last week the council released a statement supporting Kofi Annan’s peace plan for Syria — which calls for a U.N.-supervised cease-fire and an “inclusive Syrian-led political process” — signaling the change of mood. The Western powers reached consensus with Russia and China on the text, toning down and cutting controversial passages, after Moscow called for daily cease-fires to let humanitarian aid reach suffering Syrians. The contrast with the mood at the United Nations in February, when the Chinese and Russians vetoed a […]

President Barack Obama has presented himself as the ender of wars. Moreover, where the preceding administration went heavy with its military power, the Obama administration goes laparoscopically light. And as if to culminate a quarter-century trend of U.S. military interventions that have all somehow devolved into manhunts of some sort, America now simply skips the intervention and gets straight to hunting down and killing bad guys. We stand our ground, as it were, on a global scale. Give us the wrong gesture, look, attitude or perceived intention, and wham! One of ours might kill one of yours — in a […]

The Obama administration’s national security team must walk a very delicate tightrope on Iran policy in the weeks to come. On the one hand, it must convince doubters in Iran, Israel and the U.S. Congress that the administration is prepared to use force if necessary to stop Iran from mastering the technologies needed to construct nuclear weapons. If the different factions within the Islamic Republic are not convinced that President Barack Obama is prepared to pull the proverbial trigger, they have no incentive to return to the negotiating table. And if the U.S. commitment to accept the use of force […]

Syria’s Economy Devastated by Unrest, Sanctions

The political unrest that has gripped Syria over the past year, and the sanctions that resulted, have had a devastating impact on the country’s economy. Sanctions by the U.S. and the European Union have targeted members of the Syrian government, frozen international banking transactions and halted Syrian oil exports. And the resulting economic decline, which is just beginning to make headlines, has major implications not only for the Syrian government, but also for the Syrian people. Ayesha Sabavala, the Economist Intelligence Unit’s editor and economist for the Middle East and North Africa, explained that as the economy declines, the likelihood […]

Raw Video: Kurds Hold New Year Demonstration in Syria

Thousands of Syrian Kurds held demonstrations in northern Syria on Wednesday to mark the Kurdish New Year, as seen in videos posted online by anti-regime activists. In the main northern city of Aleppo, demonstrators waving Kurdish flags shouted slogans such as “Azadi”, meaning freedom in the Kurds’ Kurmanji language, and “Our Syrian revolution is for justice, dignity and freedom.” World News Videos by NewsLook

In the run-up to Russia’s March 4 presidential election, with opposition forces staging massive protests, Vladimir Putin sharply escalated the intensity of his anti-American and anti-Western rhetoric. His accusations of U.S. interference in Russian affairs and portrayal of America as an enemy of Russia brought back memories of the Cold War, raising the specter that Moscow would become an unmovable obstacle in the path of many of Washington’s foreign policy objectives. The concern carried particular weight at a time when the U.S. and its allies are trying to muster a united front to stop Iran’s nuclear program and to bring […]

U.S. ‘Suspending’ Recovery of Troop Remains in N. Korea

The Pentagon says it’s suspending efforts to recover remains of fallen service members in North Korea. That’s after North Korea announced plans to launch a rocket to fire a satellite into space, which the US says would violate a UN ban. US News Video by NewsLook

Last week, while in Poland to deliver a series of lectures on defense issues, I traveled by train from Warsaw to Krakow and was reminded why Norman Davies titled his magisterial history of the country, “God’s Playground.” Aside from the Great Plains of North America, one would be hard-pressed to find terrain better suited to armored and cavalry warfare — and more inviting to invaders on all sides. So it was no surprise that during my visit, many of the questions I heard from Poles concerned the health and future of the NATO alliance. Americans are fortunate enough to no […]

U.S. Drawdown in Iraq, Afghanistan Presents Long-Term Logistical Challenges

Mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles, or MRAPs, have saved countless lives in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, as their special design absorbs the effects of mines and improvised explosive devices. The U.S. military began ordering almost 28,000 of these heavily armored trucks in 2007, with most of them sent to Iraq, where the Army and Marine Corps put them to use clearing the way for convoys navigating risky terrain. But as the military transitions away from these stability operations and toward a leaner force that will fight shorter conflicts from greater distances, the question of what to do with these vehicles […]

Shi’ites Rally For Jobs in Iraq

Followers of Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr demonstrate for better living conditions in Iraq’s southern city of Basra on the anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion. World News Videos by NewsLook

Stigmatization, Culture of Toughness Hamper Progress for U.S. Military Mental Health Care

As the U.S. soldier accused of slaughtering 16 civilians in Afghanistan on Sunday makes his way back to the United States, the base where the suspect hails from is coming under scrutiny for its controversial record when it comes to military mental health. The soldier in custody, described as a 38-year-old staff sergeant who had served three tours in Iraq before arriving for his deployment in Afghanistan in December, was previously based at Joint Base Lewis-McChord near Tacoma, Washington. He had reportedly suffered from a traumatic brain injury earlier in his career, and his attorney has suggested that a post-traumatic […]

Afghan Turmoil in Massacre Aftermath

As the massacre of Afghan civilians allegedly by a U.S. soldier continues to reverberate, President Hamid Karzai is demanding NATO forces pull back to major bases and the Taliban has announced it’s breaking off peace talks. World News Videos by NewsLook

In the immediate aftermath of the 2003 Iraq War, before the Iraqi insurgency had come to define the conflict, one of the Democratic Party’s loudest criticisms of the Bush administration was that it had utterly bungled the diplomatic angle in the run-up to the war: President George W. Bush had been unable to replicate his father’s success in getting the United Nations to pass a catch-all resolution authorizing “all necessary means” to ensure that Iraq was disarmed. Nor had he been able to get a major regional security organization to endorse military action after efforts at the U.N. Security Council […]

Despite Cameron’s Successful Visit, Questions Linger Over Future of U.S.-U.K. Ties

On an official visit to the United States this week, British Prime Minister David Cameron focused his conversations with U.S. President Barack Obama on the war in Afghanistan as well as on efforts to address the crisis in Syria and heightened tensions with Iran. The leaders met to “reaffirm one of the greatest alliances the world has ever known,” Obama said Wednesday. But some observers wonder whether the importance of what is known as the “special relationship” is beginning to fade. “It is a special relationship,” said Frances G. Burwell, vice president of the Atlantic Council and director of its […]

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