Over the weekend, Wikistrat — a Tel Aviv-based technology start-up for which I serve as chief analyst — gathered a group of Israeli and U.S. geostrategists, myself included, to take part in an online scenario-generating drill in response to the ongoing protests in Egypt. Our goal was to work up four feasible pathway trees along which events could develop — two favorable to the Egyptian people, two favorable to the Egyptian regime — and then present them online to interested parties for feedback and voting. The exercise was an attempt to harness the Web 2.0’s wisdom of the crowd for […]
Negotiators from the P5+1 countries and Iran failed to reach a breakthrough in Istanbul last week at thelatest round of talks over Iran’s nuclear program. Nevertheless, it seems that, once again, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad wants to keep negotiations alive with his seemingly never-ending bazaar-style haggling. The reason is simple: Ahmadinejad’s administration requires a positive outcome, at least on paper, so that the U.S., its European allies and the United Nations Security Council lift the debilitating economic sanctions targeting the Islamic Republic. So despite last week’s stalemate, the latest of many, Ahmadinejad is dangling the carrot of compromise to lure […]
Beginning with the Iranian Revolution in 1979, the West has viewed the Middle East and North Africa primarily through the lens of radical fundamentalist political movements. That perspective has narrowed our strategic vision ever since, conflating Shiite with Sunni, evangelicals with fundamentalists, Persians with Arabs, Islamists with autocrats, and so on. But recent events in Tunisia and Algeria remind us that the vast bulk of history’s revolutions are fueled by economics, not politics. In this, the struggle for Islam’s soul is no different than that of any other civilization in this age of globalization’s rapid expansion. All of the world’s […]
Iran has successfully test-fired an upgraded surface-to-air missile authorities say is aimed at protecting the counry’s most sensitive areas. The test was carried out near a nuclear facility in the central part of Iran. This video, from Russia’s government-owned English-language television station, features an interview with Victor Mizin, a political analyst at the Moscow State Institute for International Relations.
The Obama administration has been transmitting a relatively clear set of signals regarding its policy toward Afghanistan ever since the strategic review was completed in December 2010: Progress has been made, but it is “fragile” and “reversible.” According to this argument, since U.S. and allied efforts are showing the first green shoots in terms of being able to train and deploy Afghan security forces that could end up holding territory on their own, it would be irresponsible to change course now. The current strategy must be given sufficient time to play out, even if that does not neatly dovetail with […]
When Brazilian voters went to the polls last year, they voted for continuity. In electing Dilma Rousseff, a 63-year-old technocrat who had never run for office before, they responded to the pleas of their popular outgoing president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. Lula, as he is known, had made his preference clear. “A vote for Dilma is a vote for me,” he told them, with both leaders promising that she would continue moving Brazil down the same path. When it comes to foreign policy, Dilma, as Brazilians call their new president, has also said she will follow her predecessor’s line. […]
U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates unveiled his much-anticipated budget cuts last Thursday, signaling the beginning of the end of the decade-long splurge in military spending triggered by Sept. 11. Gates presented the package of cuts as being the biggest possible given the current international security landscape, warning that any deeper reductions could prove “potentially calamitous.” Frankly, I find that statement hard to swallow. How can America basically match the rest of the world’s defense spending combined, and then describe anything less as “potentially calamitous”? Clearly, given the “nation’s grim financial outlook,” as Gates himself put it, we’re going to have […]