Was the killing of Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, commander of Iran’s elite Quds Force, an act of war? If it was, it was a war in which the United States and Iran were already joined.
That war goes back to Lebanon in the early 1980s, where General Suleimani’s predecessors created what became Hezbollah. Iran, with Syria, helped stage the 1983 bombings of the American Embassy and Marine barracks in Beirut that killed 241 Americans involved in a peacekeeping mission. As a young Foreign Service officer who survived those bombings, I saw how Iran succeeded in forcing the United States to withdraw its forces from Lebanon through terrorism.… Seguir leyendo »
We arrived in Kabul in the summer of 2011 to assume the leadership of the American Embassy. The U.S. military surge had been completed and was beginning to reverse from its peak of some 100,000 troops. The U.S. civilian surge had peaked, with more than 1,200 American diplomats, civil servants and contractors throughout the country, working under difficult and dangerous conditions, to help the Afghan people rebuild their country.
We were tasked, along with our incredible military partners, to implement a strategy that would transition responsibility for security to Afghan hands — where it belongs — to create an international structure of military and development support based on U.S.… Seguir leyendo »
During the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, thousands of brave citizens of both countries assisted our efforts, at great risk to themselves and their families. Many were killed because they stood with us. Many more faced serious threats. Now we have a moral obligation to stand with them by ensuring that those who need it have the opportunity to live safely and securely in the United States, a country they served at considerable risk even though it was not their own.
This is a matter of deep personal concern to me. When I became ambassador to Iraq in 2007, we had no special immigrant visa (SIV) program for our employees, and only a tiny number of those who served with us were being admitted into the United States as refugees.… Seguir leyendo »
An Arab proverb advises, “A problem is solved when it gets tougher.”
Illustrating that point, the advance in Iraq and Syria of the Islamic State poses a threat to the United States while clarifying choices for U.S. policymakers. The question confronting the United States and Iran is no longer whether to work together but how to do so. And in light of decades of distrust and animosity, communications between the two countries can be greatly facilitated by reaching a comprehensive nuclear agreement in talks underway in Vienna. Failure, however, would leave only bad options.
If the Islamic State is to be contained, the United States and other nations will have to reconsider past policies and manage enmities.… Seguir leyendo »
There were high expectations after President Obama and Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani, talked on the phone in late September. Those hoping for a diplomatic resolution to the nuclear standoff were excited that a breakthrough was imminent; meanwhile, some American allies, like Israel and Saudi Arabia, expressed deep skepticism over a potential American rapprochement with Iran.
No breakthrough was achieved when American and Iranian officials met for negotiations last month, but few observers expected one. Later this week, another round of talks is scheduled to begin in Geneva.
The window for achieving a diplomatic solution to the nuclear crisis is not open-ended.… Seguir leyendo »
The situation in Iraq has taken a very dangerous turn. Events there in recent days are reminiscent of those that led to virtual civil war in 2006 and resulted in the need for a surge in U.S. troop levels, a new strategy and very heavy fighting. Indeed, the places where the violence has erupted are eerily familiar, as many were strongholds of al-Qaeda in Iraq at the outset of the surge, before the spread of the Awakening movement that fostered reconciliation between disaffected Sunni Arabs and the Shiite-led government in Baghdad. The recent events come on top of increasing incidents of horrific attacks by al-Qaeda in Iraq, with last month seeing the largest losses in years — and they take place against a backdrop of increasingly serious political discord.… Seguir leyendo »
Much has been written in recent days about Iraq and anniversaries. August 1990: Iraq invades Kuwait. August 2010: The last U.S. combat brigade withdraws from Iraq. Are these the bookends of a 20-year war? Did we win? What does winning mean?
The significance of August 1990 remains considerable. It was the dramatic opening of the post-Cold War era, in which regional actors, state and non-state, could operate without the constraints imposed by the two great blocs. We thought in those early days that the challenge was an opportunity — that an international response to this aggression would pave the way for a new world order, orchestrated by a benevolent America.… Seguir leyendo »