It wasn’t very long ago that international political observers were marveling at the political acumen of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, with headlines crowning him “King of Israel,” an allusion to his mastery of the political game. Israeli voters and his political rivals were somewhat less impressed, however, and they showed it in the Jan. 22 parliamentary elections, throwing cold water on Netanyahu’s plans to form a formidable coalition for a new term. One month after that election, with the clock ticking on the deadline to form a governing coalition, Netanyahu is struggling in his maneuvers to put together an […]

No topic in American security inspires more heated debate these days than the Obama administration’s use of drone strikes against armed militants, terrorists and their supporters. While debate and scrutiny of public policy is a good thing, a hefty proportion of this criticism is badly misguided, often mistaking the use of drones as America’s strategy itself. In large part this reflects a failure on the part of the Obama administration to develop a convincing narrative to explain the assumptions, logic and ultimate objectives of its strategy. Without seeing the big picture, it is difficult to understand how drone strikes fit […]

Before departing from her position as U.S. secretary of state, Hillary Clinton stated at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing that al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) is “not only a terrorist syndicate, it is a criminal enterprise.” Recognizing the interconnected nature of these multifaceted illicit networks, Clinton affirmed that to combat them, “we’ve got to have a better strategy.” The former top U.S. diplomat was voicing a conviction increasingly shared by governments and multilateral organizations around the world, which are beginning to recognize that today’s most pressing security challenges are too connected, transnational and vast for states to confront […]

Will Ban Ki-moon leave a substantial legacy when he completes his second term as secretary-general of the United Nations at the end of 2016? This question may seem premature. Ban has been in office for more than six years, but he has nearly four more to go. Yet, as Ban has already discovered, a U.N. secretary-general’s schedule is consumed by a mix of urgent crises and hollow diplomatic rituals. Last week, for example, Ban oversaw the signing of a new peace deal for the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, but also had to make time for a speech launching the […]

For the past 60 years, there has been convergence between the strategic logic of America’s strategy of forward deployment in key regions of the world and the economic imperative of securing the nation’s prosperity. Despite the constant protests on college campuses about “banana republics” and “no blood for oil,” there was, in fact, generally a strong correlation between the places where the American military was engaged and those areas that were seen as vital to the economic health of the country. Opposition from naturally isolationist tendencies of the American body politic was overcome, in part, by the argument that prosperity […]

The East African Community (EAC) provides a useful lens through which to examine the prospects for broader regional integration in East Africa. The current EAC is built on a long history of regional cooperation, including a High Commission (1948-1961), a Common Services Organization (1961-1967) and even a previous attempt at an EAC, which was formed in 1967 and managed to build shared institutions before collapsing in 1977 under the weight of trade imbalances and ideological differences. In spite of the collapse, the three founding countries — Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania — agreed to explore and identify areas for future cooperation, […]

Critics of U.S. foreign policy often argue that the United States lacks a grand strategy — a set of principles, norms and goals applied consistently to foreign policy. Many have argued, for example, that Washington’s reluctance to take strong action to help overthrow Syrian dictator Bashar Assad, or its failure to support protesters in places like Bahrain, results from a grand strategy deficit. In fact, the critics have it wrong in this age-old debate. What Washington needs, whether under a Democratic or a Republican administration, is actually less grand strategic thinking. Political pundits and scholars alike love to talk about […]

Tunisia’s young democracy has never seemed to be in so much jeopardy. The political opposition is accusing the ruling Ennahda party of the assassination of Chokri Belaid, a popular figure on the political left who was murdered Feb. 6 in front of his home, and hundreds of Tunisians are holding ongoing protests to demand the government’s resignation. Several parties, including one of Ennahda’s coalition partners, are threatening to pull out of the Constituent Assembly, which is tasked with rewriting Tunisia’s constitution. The current political turmoil is an outgrowth of Tunisia’s many challenges, which have multiplied over the past few months […]

The early contests for power following the Arab uprisings proved rather easy for the Muslim Brotherhood. What has come since then, however, has been much more challenging, and the Brotherhood’s difficulties are only growing. Where the Brotherhood has not won, it is facing reversals. Where it did come to power, its leaders are finding that governing, and even keeping a country from going off the rails these days, is far more complicated than winning elections. In Egypt and Tunisia, Brotherhood-dominated governments are on the defensive. In Jordan, the Brotherhood’s strategy seems to be failing. In Syria, amid the carnage, the […]

As the Arab Spring enters its third year, several trends have become clear. The world now knows that massive and effective popular opposition to authoritarian regimes can coalesce with stunning speed and little advance warning. In an era of interconnectedness and information saturation, revolution often moves in waves as the collapse of one dictator inspires the opponents of other ones. Getting rid of dictators may be bloody and difficult, as in Libya and Syria, but even when it’s relatively quick, as in Egypt and Tunisia, the transition to a stable post-authoritarian system is extraordinarily difficult and fraught with the potential […]

European soldiers, often mocked by American analysts in recent years, are back in fashion. France’s intervention in Mali has inspired commentators on both sides of the Atlantic to wonder whether, in the words of Anne Applebaum of the Washington Post, “the European Union could become the world’s policeman.” French President François Hollande’s willingness to go to war excites those who believe the Obama administration is too cautious in its use of military strength. Philip Stephens of the Financial Times observes that “Europeans have caught the interventionist bug just as the U.S. has shaken it off.” There are some obvious problems […]

Friday was Iraq’s bloodiest day in more than two months, as suspected Sunni insurgents targeted crowded Shiite areas, bombing a pet market, a vegetable market and a group of taxi vans waiting for passengers returning from prayers. But while there has been an increase in such deadly attacks in recent weeks, Douglas Ollivant, senior vice president at the global strategic consulting firm Mantid International and a senior fellow in the New America Foundation’s security studies program, emphasized that they are unlikely to escalate into a broader sectarian civil war. “Until and unless we see the return of Shia militias going […]

With middle-class dissatisfaction growing and her modus operandi becoming better understood, President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner is finding the crucial challenge of controlling the political narrative in Argentina increasingly difficult, and she may not be able to pin the blame for her country’s woes on outside forces for much longer. That’s a key part of the strategy that has proved so effective for more than a decade of Kirchner administrations, beginning with the late Nestor Kirchner and continuing with his widow, the current president. Every few days, Fernandez faces a new controversy, and each time she responds by singling out […]

In mid-January, militants raided Algeria’s In Amenas gas field, sparking a crisis that ended with the deaths of at least 37 hostages. Anne Korin, co-director of the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security, an energy security research organization, explained in an email interview why the oil and gas industry is an attractive target for terrorists. WPR: What makes the oil and gas industry an attractive target for terrorists? Anne Korin: In many parts of the world where oil and gas export income is a critical contributor to regime budgets, attacking oil and gas infrastructure serves to strike a direct […]

From the standpoint of America’s national security, the most important assignment in your military career may not necessarily be commanding U.S. soldiers, but advising or mentoring the troops of other nationals as they battle the forces of terror and the instability within their own borders. – Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, West Point, April 21, 2008 (.pdf) Historically, Western armies have struggled with the task of training, advising and assisting host-nation security forces to defeat irregular adversaries. This is part and parcel of their broader problem with irregular conflict. Conventional military forces are designed for combat against counterpart forces of […]

It is no accident that European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton proposed, and Iran has accepted, holding the next round of nuclear talks in Kazakhstan on Feb. 25. Iran had recently rejected proposed talks in Istanbul on Jan. 28-29, presumably due to irritation with Turkey’s efforts to overthrow Syria’s pro-Iranian government. Citing a desire to reduce regional tensions and avert an escalation of the Iranian nuclear crisis, Kazakhstani Foreign Minister Erlan Idrissov reaffirmed his country’s readiness to host the next round of talks during a late-January visit to Moscow. The relationship between Iran and Kazakhstan is driven by pragmatism […]

French President Francois Hollande’s Jan. 15 visit to the United Arab Emirates garnered relatively little attention, coming just four days after the start of the French military intervention in Mali. Though Hollande traveled to the UAE ostensibly to give the keynote address at the World Future Energy Summit, the trip was actually the latest move in Paris’ efforts to strengthen the two countries’ economic and strategic relationship. Over the past five years, France has made a concerted push to boost ties with the United Arab Emirates. Former President Nicolas Sarkozy visited twice, in 2008 and 2009, and established France’s first […]

Showing 1 - 17 of 181 2 Last