In a recent World Politics Review article, U.S. Army Col. Gian Gentile declared that COIN is “dead” as the motivating intellectual concept for the U.S. Army. Although combat continues in Afghanistan, to some extent guided by the precepts set forth in the Army’s “Field Manual 3-24: Counterinsurgency,” Gentile argues that the inability of COIN doctrine to produce a definitive outcome in Afghanistan, along with the end of fighting in Iraq, serves to render the school of thought obsolete. Indeed, Gentile argues that the Army should abandon the “search for lessons of strategic value from the past 10 years of counterinsurgency […]

With huge hydrocarbon finds being unearthed in both conventional and unconventional sectors across the Americas, energy independence is being hyped to epic proportions in the United States. The scorecard now shows 6.5 trillion unconventional barrels of oil in the Americas, running from Canada all the way to Argentina, versus 1.2 trillion conventional barrels in the Middle East and North Africa. The U.S. and Brazil sit comfortably in the middle of the expected windfall, and even Mexico, long lost to the annals of hydrocarbon blunders, boasts major new unconventional reserves. Given the awesome scale of these figures, it is hardly surprising […]

NAIROBI — Targeting East Africa as an area of vital strategic interest, Israel is heightening its regional presence, most notably through a security pact signed last week with Kenyan political and security leaders. The move comes at a critical time for Kenya. The country’s military campaign aimed at eradicating al-Qaida-linked al-Shabaab in Somalia has now entered its sixth week, and domestic security concerns continue to escalate. Speculation over the nature of the enhanced bilateral ties emerged after Kenyan political leaders provocatively declared the alliance. Officials from both nations have since been tight-lipped, and details remain murky. But Israeli officials in […]

There is perhaps no better measure of the failure of American strategy over the past decade than the fact that in both Iraq and Afghanistan, tactical objectives have been used to define victory. In particular, both wars have been characterized by an all-encompassing obsession with the methods and tactics of counterinsurgency. To be sure, the tactics of counterinsurgency require political and cultural acumen to build host-nation governments and economies. But understanding the political aspects of counterinsurgency tactics is fundamentally different from understanding core American political objectives and then defining a cost-effective strategy to achieve them. If it is to avoid […]

Religion is widely understood to be a powerful force in domestic and international politics in the Middle East, Southeast Asia, the Asian subcontinent, sub-Saharan Africa and Central Asia. It is used by multinational groupings — the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), for instance — to justify international cooperation and by both political figures and terrorists to justify violence. Since the 1990s, religion has become so pervasive in international politics that it is almost impossible to imagine that it has not always attracted the attention that it now commands. In fact, however, the salient role of religion in contemporary international political […]

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Indian Vice President Hamid Ansari paid a six-day visit to Turkey last month. In an email interview, Michael B. Bishku, a professor of history at Augusta State University, discussed India-Turkey relations. WPR: What is the recent history of India-Turkey relations? Michael B. Bishku: Bilateral relations between Turkey and India experienced a renaissance after the 2002 Turkish parliamentary elections that brought the mildly Islamist Justice and Development Party (AKP) to power. This is in part due to Turkey’s “zero-problems” foreign policy — initiated by Ahmet Davutoglu, first as Ankara’s chief foreign policy adviser and more recently as foreign minister — which […]

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Thanks to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 and the two wars they spawned, it seemed like the near entirety of President George W. Bush’s two terms in office were characterized by efforts to define, harness and exploit fear. Despite living in the most peaceful, prosperous and predictable period in world history, Americans became convinced that they faced an unending era of war, impoverishment and chaos. That muddled mindset put us painfully out of touch with the rest of the planet. Enter then-Sen. Barack Obama, whose masterful presidential campaign in 2008 spoke openly and honestly about healing that growing rift. […]

CAIRO — On Jan. 28, the Egyptian revolution’s “Day of Anger,” revolutionary protesters drove security forces loyal to the ruling regime from Cairo’s streets. As Egyptian army tanks rolled into Tahrir Square to fill the security vacuum, thousands cheered the arrival of what they saw as stability amid the chaos of the uprising. And when then-President Hosni Mubarak finally abdicated power on Feb. 11, most Egyptians were relieved to see the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), a body of military leaders normally headed by the president, take control. “During the Egyptian revolution, you had a sense of the […]

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An explosion at the Alghadir missile base in Iran on Saturday killed the architect of the Iranian missile program. In an email interview, Bruno Gruselle, a senior research fellow at the Foundation for Strategic Research, discussed Iran’s missile capabilities. WPR: What is the current size of Iran’s ballistic missile arsenal? Bruno Gruselle: Iran possesses a large ballistic missile arsenal, but there are huge differences between its short- and medium-range capabilities. Iran is not known to possess any operational missiles with a range in excess of 1,250 miles. But it is suspected of working on a longer-range missile and has in […]

The order that structured the Arab Middle East for the past several decades is now coming apart, giving way to a new power landscape in the region. The new topography of strength is still very much a work in progress, but it is not too early to ask which countries are emerging as the most powerful and influential. This is a matter of importance not only to the states in the region. For centuries the Arab world has been the epicenter of regional and global struggles, and the ongoing changes it is currently undergoing pose a vital question for actors […]

How much danger would Iranian nuclear weapons pose to the world? This question animates the debate over whether the threat of the Iranian nuclear program is worth robust sanctions or a preventive military attack. Nuclear weapons are by their nature alarming, and the Iranian regime says and does a lot of alarming things. But how useful are nuclear weapons, even to a state with bad intentions? How much do they change tactical and strategic behavior? For devices capable of destroying cities and killing millions, the answer is surprisingly murky. States sometimes have excellent reasons for developing nuclear weapons. Countries that […]

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Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has faced growing criticism from the Iranian parliament regarding an ongoing banking scandal. In an email interview, Farideh Farhi, a researcher on Iran at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, discussed the Iranian banking scandal. WPR: What is the background of the ongoing Iranian banking scandal? Farideh Farhi: The background to the banking scandal is a combination of outright fraudulent activities, policies that have encouraged loose lending practices and speculation, and political cronyism that has allowed the use of borrowed money to gain control of recently privatized companies. The scandal came to light when it was […]

The International Atomic Energy Agency’s latest report on Iran’s nuclear program surprised no one, even as it created the usual flurry of op-eds championing preventative “next steps.” As I’ve been saying for the past half-decade, there are none. Once the U.S. went into both Iraq and Afghanistan, the question went from being, “How do we prevent Iran from getting the Bomb?” to “How do we handle Iran’s Bomb?” That shift represents neither defeatism nor appeasement. Rather, it reflects a realistic analysis of America’s strategic options. With that in mind, here are 20 reasons why Iran’s successful pursuit of the Bomb […]

The latest IAEA report on Iran’s nuclear program is a particularly bad piece of news for an Obama administration that is already coping with other brushfires in the Middle East. If President Barack Obama is re-elected next year, then Iran will very likely cross the nuclear finish line on his watch. Given the “musical chairs” nature of U.S. politics, where the person left standing when the music stops loses, the blame for Tehran getting the bomb will fall squarely on Obama’s shoulders, even though one could quite fairly apportion a fair share to the Clinton and Bush administrations. Since 2009, […]

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