The IAEA Iran Report vs. the NIE

There’s been some speculation that the third round of Iran sanctions just approved by the Security Council demonstrates that the NIE did no harm and might even have helped efforts to apply diplomatic and economic pressure on Tehran. But when I asked a well-informed European official what impact the NIE had on this round of sanctions, he replied, “Hurt it tremendously.” As for whether the sanctions, which do have some bite, are stiffer than expected, he replied that it depends what you expected. Last week’s IAEA report, on the other hand, was “. . .extremely useful, because it came from […]

The Fallacy of the Surge

This is important, and not just for what Gian Gentile says about the mistaken credit given to the Surge for reducing violence in Iraq. It’s a military truism that an army often prepares to fight the last war. So while there are a number of positive conclusions to be drawn about the U.S. Army’s adoption of a more nuanced counterinsurgency posture, it’s also important to remember that there is no guarantee that the next enemy the American military faces will be an insurgency. Between the pre-invasion purges (Shinseki) and post-invasion failures (Sanchez, Casey) of the old school generals, Iraq has […]

Russia & Iran

This didn’t get much notice, but it strikes me as significant that the Iran sanctions resolution was passed as the first order of business under Russia’s presidency of the UN Security council, given recent signals of a hardening of Russia’s posture towards Iran. On the other hand, it will be interesting to see how Moscow plans to address the Kosovo dossier, which was included among priority items by Russia’s UN envoy.

The Israeli experience in Lebanon in the summer of 2006 should warn Americans against having an Army that has become so focused on irregular and counterinsurgency warfare that it can no longer fight large battles against a conventional enemy. In an important essay in the Journal of Strategic Studies, Israeli scholar Avi Kober recently noted that years of policing by the Israeli Army in its territories had degraded its ability to fight the Hezbollah enemy that used conventional tactics. The result was a significant battlefield defeat for the Israeli Army. The American Army is in a similar condition today, and […]

IAEA: Revenge of the Nerds

There’s been a lot of reaction to yesterday’s WaPo article about a technical presention to diplomatic representatives of IAEA member states that followed up on the IAEA’s Iran report. Some have interpreted the presentation, which revealed documentary evidence of Iranian weaponization efforts up to and slightly after 2003, as a vindication of IAEA Director Mohamed ElBaradei, who had previously been accused of carrying Tehran’s water. So I thought I’d point out that last week, a well-informed source I spoke to following the delivery of the report flagged the presentation — which significantly was given by Olli Heinonen, the IAEA’s head […]

Turkey’s Skillful Diplomacy

The irony did not go unnoticed last week when President Bush said of the Turkish incursion into northern Iraq, “The Turks need to move, move quickly, achieve their objectives and get out.” Do as I say, in other words, not as I do. Well, the Turks did just that, and I thought their handling of the PKK crisis over the course of the past year and culminating in last week’s incursion deserved a brief wrap-up. (So did the Jamestown Foundation.) Last spring, when the PKK mounted an attack on Turkish forces that resulted in a skirmish and a dozen or […]

GROUP SLAMS SCANDALOUS NIGERIA JUSTICE SYSTEM — The state of Nigeria’s criminal justice system represents a complete failure of the Nigerian government to address the needs of its people and is a national disgrace, Amnesty International said in a report released Feb. 26. Amnesty investigations found that only 35 percent of those serving time in Nigerian prisons are there as a result of any semblance of due process. Mentally ill patients handed over to police by family members unable to care for them, accused individuals who have not formally been charged and relatives arrested in place of suspects police were […]

Gaza Outsourcing

To get a sense of what’s going on in Gaza right now, just go read Laura Rozen. She’s got all the essential links and analysis. One thing, though, that I haven’t seen mentioned yet among all the talk of possible local brushfires (Gaza, West Bank, Lebanon, Syria, etc.) is the impact Hamas-Israel and Hezbollah-Israel conflicts might have on Iran’s activity in Iraq. The Iranians have already demonstrated how much they can contribute to improving the security situation there. A three-front war between Israel, Hamas, Fatah and Hezbollah would seem like the kind of scenario they would use to demonstrate how […]

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