Israel, Iran and Nuclear Disambiguation

Israel’s deterrent policy of nuclear ambiguity is in the spotlight this week, as a result of remarks by Assistant Secretary of State Rose Gottemoeller at a U.N. non-proliferation meeting, and this resulting Eli Lake article. Andrew Sullivan followed with a sincere post wondering about the logic behind the “don’t ask, don’t tell” approach to Israel’s nuclear status, followed by a reader’s response linking it to U.S. law forbidding aid to a NPT non-signatory that acquires nuclear weapons. Now, there’s no question that the legal issue raised by Sullivan’s reader is damning, as is the fundamental hypocrisy involved in holding Iran […]

In the years since Arab countries proclaimed their infamous “Three Nos” policy towards Israel — no peace, no recognition, no negotiations — the official stance of most Arab governments has eased. A number of Arab leaders now openly speak of normalizing relations with Israel under certain conditions. But despite the change in policy at the top, hundreds of millions of Arabs continue to receive a steady barrage of anti-Israel, anti-Jewish and anti-American propaganda, much of it coming in the official government-sanctioned press. The quest for peace between Israel and its Arab neighbors faces no shortage of obstacles. Not least of […]

Is Iraqi Kurdistan Now a Free-Fly Zone?

Regarding Iran’s helicopter attacks against PJAK camps in Iraqi Kurdistan over the weekend, John McCreary at NightWatch wonders: The curious point isthat combat aircraft from both Iranand Turkey violate Iraqiairspace with impunity while a USarmy and air force is responsible for protecting the country. That would seemto need an explanation by someone, but, then, this is the Middle East. That the Turkish aircraft get a pass is due to lobbying by PM Tayyip Recep Ergogan in November 2007 that has gone a long way towards redrawing the map of northern Iraq from a Turkish-Kurdish standoff into a Turkish-Kurdish partnership. There’s […]

WPR on France 24

World Politics Review managing editor Judah Grunstein made two appearances yesterday on France 24. In the morning, he appeared on the short-format program, “Face Off,” to discuss the recent violence in Iraq. The English-language segment can be seen here. The French-language segment is not yet available online. In the evening, he appeared on the long-format panel discussion program, “The Debate,” to discuss the possible banning of the political party founded by controversial French political humorist, Dieudonn√©. The English-dubbed version of the program can be seen here (part one) and here (part two). The French-language segment can be found here (part […]

For years, analysts have argued that the Nabucco natural gas pipeline — a U.S.-backed effort to transport gas from the Caspian Sea to Europe via Turkey, thus bypassing Russia — needed to accept gas from Iran if it was to be economically viable. But Iranian involvement in the project, which is intended to reduce European energy dependence on Russian gas exports, has been anathema for U.S. policymakers: Washington’s efforts to thwart Iran’s ambitions have so far overridden its desire to thwart Russia’s. That may be changing. The White House has appointed a new envoy for Eurasian Energy, Richard Morningstar, who […]

The Iraq Surge’s Political Success

In reading up on the recent violence in Iraq for a France 24 taping I did this morning (I’ll post the link when it goes live tomorrow), I found myself thinking that the Surge ultimately did achieve its second-stage objective of providing the space for political reconciliation. Not in Iraq, that is, but in the U.S. And that might turn out to be just as, if not more, important. Because the Iraqi political accomodation the Surge was meant to facilitate was the one aspect of the strategy that was entirely out of our hands. The Surge — and here I […]

Obama’s First Steps: What Comes After the ‘Listening Phase’?

President Barack Obama entered office with such an inflated cloud of expectations hanging over his head that it is not surprising that some are criticizing him now for his “failures.” After a mere 100 or so days in office, why hasn’t he solved the global financial crisis, reversed global warming and brought peace to the Middle East? On the other hand, some of his partisans are wont to claim major foreign policy successes for the new administration because of the president’s personal popularity and the tumultuous acclaim he has received during his overseas visits. Yet during his first few months […]

The first hundred days is an artificial benchmark for assessing presidential performance. In foreign policy, Barack Obama has not had time to do much, and the moves he has made have yet to produce clear consequences. He has, however, set a tone. It is reminiscent of the approach George W. Bush proposed in his 2000 campaign debate with Al Gore when he said, “If we’re an arrogant nation, they’ll resent us. If we’re a humble nation . . . they’ll welcome us.” Whether Mr. Bush’s foreign policy would have embodied that prescription had Osama bin Laden’s minions not struck the […]

Throughout its history, America has experienced many kinds of bubbles. The 19th century brought us a railroad bubble, the 20th, an Internet bubble. Now, 100 days into a new presidency, America has replaced the housing bubble that opened the 21st century with an Obama bubble. But while bubbles usually convey negative connotations, the “Obama Bubble” is one that we in America — and the rest of the world — desperately need. When George W. Bush came into office, the United States was still perceived by most countries as an ascendant nation — one reviving the infrastructure of its post-World War […]

No president could restructure U.S. national security strategy in 100 days. It is possible to announce new strategic concepts and goals, and to make some time-urgent changes. In practice, however, it takes months to translate strategic concepts into detailed plans and budgets, and even the most urgent actions take time to implement. A major restructuring of U.S. procurement or military end strength can take several years to implement, and the same is true of any major reorganization of a key department and the interagency process. Changing America’s Image That said, having inherited one of the worst presidential legacies of the […]

Iran’s Democracy Promotion Agenda

Friday Lunch Club quotes this WSJ article on Iran’s plans for regional hegemony in the Middle East: Arab states are especially concerned because Tehran has succeeded in transcending sectarian and ideological divides to create a coalition that includes Sunni movements such as Hamas, the Islamic Jihad, sections of the Muslim Brotherhood, and even Marxist-Leninist and other leftist outfits that share Iran’s anti-Americanism. . . . Tehran plays a patient game. Wherever possible, it is determined to pursue its goals through open political means, including elections. With pro-American and other democratic groups disheartened by the perceived weakness of the Obama administration, […]

Turkey’s New Foreign Minister

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan just named Ahmet Davutoglu his new foreign minister as part of a cabinet shake up. That means that my favorite foreign policy adviser just became my favorite foreign policy maker. This essay (.pdf) is a good place to start to get up to speed on Davutogu’s very sharp analysis of Turkey’s foreign policy posture. I’d been thinking recently that there seemed to be some drift in Turkey’s “zero problem” approach, mainly from the part of Erdogan. Davutoglu’s appointment, accompanying this interesting item of a surprise visit by Moqtada al-Sadr to Ankara, makes me think […]

Has France Passed into the Opposition?

I’ve been following recent developments in French-American relations with some concern, because after having correctly calculated that political advantage was to be had in “befriending” the toxic, late-term Bush administration, it increasingly seems like President Nicolas Sarkozy has decided the opposite is true with regards to the wildly popular, young Obama administration. So far, there are only behind-the-scenes whisperings to signal that France has once again passed into the “opposition,” in particular some post-London G-20 spin debunking the “Obama as savior” line pushed by the White House press team. But if Sarkozy’s “alignment” with Bush had everything to do with […]

Dear Ambassador Hill, Congratulations on your long-delayed confirmation as U.S. ambassador to Iraq. By now you’re probably on the ground in Baghdad, being overwhelmed with briefings from the embassy staff and the military. We trust that Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and his government have also presented you with their agenda for what Iraq wants from the United States. You are being pulled in many different directions, with everyone vying to attract your attention to their own special needs and issues. Iraq is sure to test your formidable diplomatic skills. The ad hoc bargains and ceasefires negotiated by your predecessor, […]

NATO and the Turkish ‘Deep State’

Very fascinating post by Yigal Schleifer on the Turkish “Deep State’s” roots in a NATO Cold War program. The program involved paramilitary networks trained as “stay behind operations” in the event of a successful Soviet invasion. The networks were apparently widespread throughout Europe. Turkey’s is just the last to be “purged.” Well worth a click.

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