Forgetting to Play to our Strengths

Buried at the end of this LAT article on Iraqi PM Nouri Maliki and the decline of American influence in Iraq is this passage: At the same time, Iraqi officials complain about the United States’ failure to create a lasting foundation beyond its military presence. Iran has created more than $2 billion in trade with its neighbor, including fuel and electricity exports. “The Iranians will stay in this place forever till the Judgment Day and the Americans will withdraw,” said Sheik Jalaluddin Saghir, a senior Shiite politician. “The Americans built their status on their military and their political viewpoints. They […]

IAEA Iran Report

The IAEA issued its latest Iran report yesterday. Here’s the report itself (.pdf) from the ISIS site, here’s Elaine Sciolino’s write-up for the IHT. The short version is that little has changed in the way of Iranian compliance since the last report. So, declared materials are still accounted for, the nuclear fuel at Bushehr is still under IAEA seal, and Iran’s declared facilities have not been altered or engaged in suspect activity. But it has continued its enrichment program, gaining substantially in the efficiency of its centrifuge cascades and expanding their operation, and has done almost nothing to increase transparency […]

NEW YORK — Both candidates for President of the United States agree that Iran’s pursuit of nuclear technology is a serious threat to national security, but neither has presented a serious strategy for dealing with the problem on the campaign trail. One seems to think he can talk Iran out of its nuclear program without specifying what he’d say to change the equation. The other summed up his strategy by inserting a few bombs into an old Beach Boys song. Campaign rhetoric rarely becomes policy, especially in foreign affairs, and the Iranian question is no exception. Certainly Barack Obama will […]

COIN and Counterterrorism: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

In the Sergio Leone-inspired, and admittedly simplistic, formulation of the above headline, Iraq is the good, Somalia is the bad, and Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) are the ugly. The must-read from today’s media roundup of commentary concerns Iraq and comes from CNAS’s Nagl, Kahl and Brimley. The three analysts recently returned from Iraq advise policymakers on “How to Exit Iraq,” saying the answer has little to do with “‘all in’ or ‘all out’ way that Iraq is debated in Washington” at the moment. The most worrying piece of analysis I saw in today’s papers assesses U.S. and Ethiopian […]