This month marks the 40th anniversary of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries embargo against the United States and states that supported Israel after Egypt and Syria initiated simultaneous offensives against it on Yom Kippur in 1973. While it’s not an anniversary that many will celebrate, it’s a good opportunity to reflect on how much more secure our energy situation is, despite our continued heavy reliance on fossil fuels.
Most commentators have focused, with good reason, on the West’s greatly enhanced ability to withstand similar shocks were they to occur today. Equally important, although generally overlooked, is the reality that OPEC has no incentive or real ability to inflict them on the world.… Seguir leyendo »
Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad must be pleased at how, within a week, the conversation has shifted from his regime’s alleged use of chemical weapons to an international peace conference on Syria’s civil war.
The idea of ending the bloodshed — and presumably addressing Syria’s chemical weapons as well — through an accord similar to that of post-Arab Spring Yemen is certainly worth exploring. Let’s hope Assad’s foreign patron, Russia, has altered its stance enough to make some sort of deal feasible.
The conference, however, cannot become an excuse to sweep the chemical weapons issue under the rug, not to mention the deaths of more than 80,000 in the civil war.… Seguir leyendo »
The latest Iran sanctions came into full effect this week, adding to a byzantine array of unilateral and multilateral measures that prohibit Iranian oil imports, other trade and financial transactions, and freeze Iranian assets by countries concerned that Tehran’s nuclear program is intended for military purposes, not civilian ones.
The international community is now on watch for cracks in Iran’s defiant stance: Will increased sanctions compel Tehran to make real concessions and allow for a diplomatic solution to the standoff? This characterization is too simplistic, however, and the record suggests there may be some reasons to be optimistic that current sanctions on Iran will deliver.… Seguir leyendo »
Foreign policy and political experts assess the president’s speech. Below are responses from Frederick W. Kagan, Kimberly Kagan, Matthew Dowd, Meghan O’Sullivan, Gilles Dorronsoro, Douglas E. Schoen, Andrew J. Bacevich, Ed Rogers and Dennis Kucinich.
Buried in the unfortunate rhetoric of timelines and exit strategies is a critical fact that gives reason to support the ongoing effort in Afghanistan: The president intends to give Gen. Stanley McChrystal 100,000 U.S. troops to use at his discretion for 18 months to pursue a counterinsurgency strategy. McChrystal and his team are the most clear-eyed and determined command group the United States has had in Afghanistan in years.… Seguir leyendo »
The Post asked foreign policy experts whether President Obama should maintain a focus on protecting the population and rebuilding the country, or on striking terrorists. Below are contributions from Jane Harman, Kurt Volker, Gilles Dorronsoro, John Nagl, Ronald E. Neumann, Meghan O’Sullivan and Carl M. Levin.
Jane Harman, Democratic representative from California and former ranking member of the House intelligence committee.
It’s too early to abandon a strategy focused on protecting the population and rebuilding the country, a key part of which is Afghan buy-in. We should aim to shrink our ground footprint and focus on training a growing army of willing and courageous Afghans.… Seguir leyendo »
It is not good short-term politics to escalate the war in Afghanistan. However, it is necessary to avoid the political and security debacle that would arise from an American failure there. We are in Afghanistan to prohibit the rise of an enemy regime or a failed-state environment that would endanger Americans. Failing to do so would be much worse for the Democrats than the fatigue voters will feel from a prolonged, ugly fight in another foreign land. For his sake and ours, President Obama should be in it to win, not just interested in doing the minimum necessary to follow up on his 2008 campaign rhetoric about staying tough on terrorism.… Seguir leyendo »
During the first months of the Obama administration, Iraqis watching the appointments of Richard Holbrooke, George Mitchell and Dennis Ross would call me and ask, “Who will be Iraq’s special envoy?” After six months of a stance perceived by many Iraqis as “hands off,” the administration appears to have realized that political engagement is most important when a military presence is waning. Yet recent comments by Vice President Biden suggest that U.S. officials’ mind-set toward Iraq could do as much harm as good.
While visiting Iraq this month, Biden spoke of a need to broker a grand bargain between Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds, and to resolve disputes between “the different confessional groups.” He made clear that he — and, presumably, the United States — saw Iraq’s challenges and solutions largely in terms of sectarian or ethnic groups.… Seguir leyendo »