Tunisia is rightly hailed as the lone success story of the Arab Spring: the only country that has threaded a path from the uprisings of 2011 to genuine multiparty democracy today. Yet the future of freedom in Tunisia is far from assured. With the election of a new parliament and president in recent weeks, the most important experiment in Arab democracy is entering a difficult and potentially perilous new phase — one in which greater U.S. support and attention are urgently needed.
Tunisians are quick to cite a litany of challenges that could still derail their transition, including an unreformed economy that generates too few jobs and a persistent threat from terrorist groups such as Ansar al-Sharia.… Seguir leyendo »
As the Obama administration grapples with how to respond to the terrorist takeover of northern Iraq, one consequence of the crisis should be clear: There is an urgent need to reassess the White House’s recently announced plans for Afghanistan — specifically, its pledge that all U.S. troops will be withdrawn by the end of 2016, other than a small contingent attached to our embassy in Kabul.
Of course, Afghanistan is not Iraq; there are key differences between the two countries. But there are also parallels and lessons from America’s experience in both wars that we ignore at our peril.
As with Iraq three years ago, the White House has justified the proposed Afghan pullout as “ending” one of the wars it inherited.… Seguir leyendo »
Advocates of the effort to reach a negotiated settlement with Iran over its illicit nuclear activities have emphasized the benefits an agreement could bring by peacefully and verifiably barring Tehran from developing nuclear weapons. Skeptics, meanwhile, have warned of the risks of a “bad deal,” under which Iran’s capabilities are not sufficiently rolled back.
Largely absent from the debate, however, has been a fuller consideration of the strategic implications a nuclear agreement could have on the U.S. position in the Middle East.
Such an assessment must begin by considering the consequences of lifting the majority of sanctions on Iran — and of Iran resuming normal trade with the world’s major economies.… Seguir leyendo »
As nuclear negotiators in Geneva renew their attempts to strike a deal with Iran, predictions of a diplomatic breakthrough are rife. Yet rather than reassure the countries most directly threatened by an Iranian nuclear weapon, the prospect of an agreement with Tehran is provoking unprecedented anxiety among America’s Arab and Israeli allies. Why?
Part of the reason is that these countries worry the White House will accept a flawed agreement that ultimately will not prevent Iran’s nuclear breakout. While the Obama administration has emphasized in recent weeks that a “bad deal” with Tehran would be worse than no deal, it has failed to build a consensus — in Washington or internationally — about what a “good-enough” agreement must entail: which Iranian nuclear capabilities need to be verifiably abandoned and which safeguards put in place to instill sufficient confidence that Tehran can’t continue creeping toward the nuclear finish line.… Seguir leyendo »
The coalition of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe won a majority of seats in the upper house of parliament on Sunday, consolidating Abe’s unlikely political comeback and ending the procession of weak, unstable governments in Tokyo that he inaugurated during his hapless first term in office six years ago. His victory means that U.S. policymakers finally have a pro-American partner in Japan who is capable of making tough decisions at home and abroad, backed by a parliamentary majority that can keep him in power for several years.
Rather than welcoming this development, however, the Obama administration is widely perceived here as being ambivalent.… Seguir leyendo »
Over the past two years, Syria’s descent into civil war has provoked alarm and horror in Washington. While officials have argued over the extent to which the United States can and should intervene, everyone agrees that the conflict poses a humanitarian catastrophe and a threat to U.S. interests across the Middle East, including to the stability of allies, the struggle against Islamist extremism and the effort to keep weapons of mass destruction out of terrorist hands.
Lately, however, another argument has crept into the debate: the idea that, while unquestionably tragic, Syria’s slow-motion unraveling might not be an unmitigated calamity for the United States.… Seguir leyendo »
For decades, when U.S. policymakers contemplated conflict with China, their fears focused on Taiwan. Today, by contrast, Sino-American tensions seem to be on the rise everywhere but Taiwan, where relations between this island and the mainland have significantly improved.
Since Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou took office in 2008, the government in Taipei has inked 18 agreements with China, unleashing a surge of commerce and tourism. With trade barriers falling and direct flights proliferating — there are more than 600 a week, up from none five years ago — the Taiwan Strait is the only flash point in Asia where globalization and economic integration seem to be trumping historical antagonisms.… Seguir leyendo »