CMEPP News Archive - 2009

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How a Decade of Terror Changed America — Dec. 31, 2009

air traffic control tower and airplane, photo courtesy of

Two foiled airliner bombings bracket a decade that changed the world’s understanding of terrorism as a new form of global warfare and has had profound ramifications we are still coming to grips with in the U.S. as discussed by Brian Michael Jenkins that appeared on .

Study Funded by Nazarian Family Foundation Analyzes Risks, Benefits to Israel of Increasing Reliance on Natural Gas — Dec. 20, 2009

LNG carrier; courtesy of flickr

Israel can make natural gas usage a bigger part of its energy portfolio without jeopardizing its security, but even more importantly, the nation needs to make conservation measures a priority in its future energy plans, according to a RAND Corporation study issued today.

Punish Iran's Rulers, Not Its People — Dec. 14, 2009

satellite image of Iran nuclear plant, photo courtesy of flickr/Doug20022

Time is running out for the United States to persuade Iran to halt its nuclear program. Alternative actions should be considered that will convince Iran to curb its nuclear ambitions without punishing the Iranian people, as discussed in this commentary by Alireza Nader for

Ends, Ways, and Means—the Debate We Still Need on Afghanistan — Dec. 10, 2009

US and Afghan soldiers training, photo by Sgt. Johnny R. Aragon

When President Obama explained his decision to send 30,000 additional U.S. troops to Afghanistan he left a key question unanswered: Will this be enough to achieve U.S. strategic ends in Afghanistan? This is the subject of a commentary by David E. Johnson that appeared on

Take the War to Pakistan — Dec. 5, 2009

The national flag of Greater Baluchistan in a village, photo courtesy of

President Obama’s decision to announce a withdrawal timetable makes it official that “the clock is ticking in Afghanistan”. It is important now to use the time available to deal with the Taliban leadership in Pakistan, or repeat the Russian mistakes, according to this commentary by Seth G. Jones that appeared in the New York Times.

Afghanistan: A Marathon, Not a Prize Fight — Dec. 1, 2009

soldiers in Afghanistan, photo courtesy of U.S. Army/Abney

It is important that the reason behind President Obama’s decision to send additional troops to Afghanistan be clearly explained to the nation. It must be clear that long-term commitments and pragmatic, limited strategies may defeat al Qa’ida where over-ambitious, hasty ones will certainly fail as discussed by Brian Michael Jenkins in this commentary that appeared on

A False Promise of ‘Counterinsurgency’ — Dec. 1, 2009

troops in Afghanistan, photo courtesy of U.S. Army/Casteel

The plan by President Obama to send more troops to Afghanistan to pursue a “population-centric insurgency” may be regrettable. The solution to Afghanistan is not and never has been a military one as discussed by Celeste Ward Gventer in this commentary that appeared on

A Year After Mumbai, Lashkar's Threat Has Only Grown — Nov. 25, 2009

Home Guard guiding traffic with the Mumbai Police, photo courtesy of flickr/calamur

The terrorist group, Lashkar, responsible for the Mumbai attack, is still a significant threat. The US should make it a priority to apply pressure on Pakistan to target this group as discussed by Stephen Tankel in this commentary for

RAND Experts Available To Discuss Possible Abbas Resignation and Palestinian Issues — Nov. 6, 2009

boy holding Palestinian flag, photo courtesy of

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has indicated that he may not seek reelection, which could affect efforts to secure stability in the Middle East. Today RAND released the conclusions drawn from a series of exercises that examined the challenges of the Arab-Israeli conflict – and of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in particular.

Our Man in Kabul — Nov. 4, 2009

Afghani village men, photo courtesy of

Abdullah Abdullah was the first Afghan to suggest Hamid Karzai should become president of Afghanistan, however he cautioned that his view was not shared by all his comrades in the alliance as discussed in this commentary by James Dobbins that appeared in

U.S. Policy in Afghanistan: Basic Questions — Strategic Choices — Oct. 29, 2009

Daily Life in Afghanistan, Photo courtesy of

On October 29, 2009, the RAND Center for Middle East Public Policy convened a half-day symposium of experts — including Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski, Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, Ambassador James Dobbins, Senator Carl Levin, and others — and journalists to address assumptions and alternatives for U.S. policy in Afghanistan.

Karzai's Second Term a Test for International Community — Nov. 3, 2009

Afghan President Hamid Karzai at press conference in presidential palace, photo courtesy of defensei

To establish control in Afghanistan, two major elements of reform are necessary. First, Karzai needs to rein in the large-scale corruption that threatens the country and he must convince local Taliban leaders to change sides and support the government as discussed by Terrence K. Kelly in this commentary for

Keeping Our Allies on Our Side in Afghanistan — Nov. 2, 2009

U.S. Marines train in Afghanistan, photo courtesy of Pete Thibodeau

NATO allies provide a vital part of the forces available in Afghanistan. This fact must not be ignored when the U.S. administration consults with its allies as discussed in this commentary by Leo Michel and Robert E. Hunter that in Los Angeles Times.

Fighting Terror the Cold War Way — Oct. 14, 2009

statue from Kish island Dariush grand hotel, Iran - photo courtesy of Flickr/nIma

The U.S. may have more success in turning public opinion in the Middle East if it considers the successful efforts used during the Cold War to inject art and culture into these societies, thereby eroding the power of the intolerant regimes. The rich culture of the Arab world, which still exists, could be nurtured to promote tolerance and reform, as discussed in this commentary by Todd C. Helmus and Dalia Dassa Kaye for

The Great Silencing: Intolerance and Censorship in the Arab World — Oct. 13, 2009

Muslim woman gets blood pressure taken by another amid U.S. military

The Arab world has a rich culture of literature, enlightenment, and tolerance that has experienced censorship in recent years. The western world, though, would be well advised to not attempt to script Arab thought in this area, but would better push to ensure that the voices of tolerance are once again provided more visibility, as discussed in this commentary by Cynthia P. Schneider and Nadia Oweidat for

Too Many Months of Military Deployment Can Reduce Reenlistment Rates — Oct. 8, 2009

soldier overlooking mountains, MG873 cover

Although U.S. Army deployments have been linked positively to the likelihood of reenlisting for much of the past decade, a new RAND Corporation study shows that by 2006 the mounting burden of deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan reached the point where deployment had a negative effect on reenlistment.

Afghanistan: Echoes of Vietnam — Oct. 7, 2009

photo of U.S. Army jumpmaster taken by SSG Russell Lee Klika, courtesy of

The volatile military situation in Afghanistan has resulted in significant increases in troop strength and a call from the American commander for 40,000 more. This situation, combined with the growing skepticism over the conflict bring up memories of Vietnam, as discussed in this commentary by James Dobbins for The Huffington Post.

How to Tell if We're Winning the Afghan War — Oct. 5, 2009

Photo Courtesy of U.S. Army, by Spc. Kelly Hunt

With public opinion turning against the war in Afghanistan, the Obama administration is proposing a list of 50 metrics to measure success. According to this commentary by Nora Bensahel for Providence Journal only two criteria are needed to determine whether the U.S. mission is succeeding.

Path to a Pashtun Rebellion in Afghanistan — Oct. 3, 2009

photo of Afghan National Army general taken by Sgt. Freddy G. Cantu, courtesy of

The U.S. strategy in the War in Afghanistan may reflect a failure to understand the nuances of the Afghan society, as discussed in the commentary by Seth G. Jones for Washington Post online. The struggle in the Pashtun areas against the Taliban may hold a key to turning the tide of this challenging conflict.

Finding a Solution to Iran — Sep. 30, 2009

satellite image of Iran nuclear plant, photo courtesy of flickr/Doug20022

The revelation of more nuclear facilities makes more urgent the need to resolve the Iran nuclear impasse. As discussed in this commentary by Alireza Nader for, U.S. policymakers should not delude themselves that engagement and sanctions will produce a quick and easy solution.

Limited Options: Deterring North Korea and Iran — Aug. 18, 2009

Peacekeepr ICBM missile at silo opening, photo courtesy of

The U.S. has used several strategies to stop or slow nuclear weapon development in Iran and North Korea, with little success. The result is that maintaining regional security will be much more difficult as discussed in this commentary by Lowell H. Schwartz for the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.

Going Local: The Key to Afghanistan — Aug. 10, 2009

U.S. Army and translator take information from Afghani village elders, photo courtesy of U.S. Army/T

The U.S. strategy in Afghanistan stability is building a strong central government. This notion fails to grasp the local nature of Afghan politics according to this commentary by Seth G. Jones for The Wall Street Journal.

Timeline to Withdraw U.S. Troops from Iraq Is Feasible, but Combat Forces Are Needed for Elections — Jul. 28, 2009

U.S. soldier salutes Iraqi flag

The timetable set by President Obama to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq is feasible, however it is important that an adequate combat force is retained to ensure a peaceful election in January 2010.

Mullah Sprung from Gitmo Jail Now Leads Foe in Afghan Campaign — Jul. 10, 2009

U.S. and Afghan Army commanders meet, photo courtesy of U.S. Navy/Gay

Marines fighting in Southern Afghanistan are facing a familiar enemy, Mullah Zakir, a former Guantanamo Bay prisoner who now leads the resurging Taliban, however, this restructuring may present an opportunity, as discussed by Seth G. Jones in this commentary for the New York Post.

On Dry Land - The Onshore Drivers of Piracy — Jul. 9, 2009

freight transport machinery

Although the international community has responded to the growing piracy problem off Somalia on the sea, Peter Chalk and Laurence Smallman argue in this commentary for Jane's Intelligence Review online that eradication of piracy will require actions on land as well.

Mullah Sprung from Gitmo Jail Now Leads Foe in Afghan Campaign — Jul. 9, 2009

Public School

This research brief summarizes the development of a standards-based student assessment system in Qatar, lessons for policymakers in Qatar and elsewhere, and challenges in aligning the assessment with future changes in the curriculum standards.

Policing Pakistan — Jun. 30, 2009

Afghan policeman at Pakistan border checkpoint, photo courtesy of flickr/lafrancevi

The United States has spent some $12 billion trying to help Pakistan save itself, however most of the aid has gone to the Pakistan army, when the focus should be on the police force, according to this commentary by C. Christine Fair that appeared in Wall Street Journal Asia.

Iran's Real Winners: The Revolutionary Guards — Jun. 23, 2009

hands holding small free iran sign, photo courtesy of flickr/Steve Rhodes

Despite huge protests, Iranian President Ahmadinejad has been re-elected. As discussed by Alireza Nader on the post-election crackdown on the demonstrators suggest that the Iranian political system is moving in a new and potentially dangerous direction.

BRIC-à-Brac — Jun. 16, 2009

Flags of the participating counties

The leaders of the BRIC countries Brazil, Russia, India, and China hold their first stand-alone summit in Yekaterinburg, Russia, on Tuesday, June 16, but the timing of this meeting is hardly coincidental, as discussed by Andrew Weiss for .

Lebanon Vote Tilts to the West — Jun. 10, 2009

Lebanese voter dips thumb in ink bottle, photo courtesy of flickr/Sana Tawlieh

The result of the June 7 parliamentary elections in Lebanon is a boon for the U.S., but it would be well-advised to play for the long term in Lebanon with a pragmatic policy that deals with the reality of Hezbollah's political power while continuing to strengthen moderate forces and national institutions, write Aram Nerguizian and Ghassan Schbley.

Engaging Iran: Opportunities and Obstacles — Jun. 8, 2009

Southern iwan with the square ablutions pool in the middle of of Masjed-e Jame mosque's sahn courtyard, the largest sahn in Iran, photo courtesy of flickr/youngrobv

In this Congressional Briefing held on June 8, 2009, Ambassador David Aaron, director of the RAND Center for Middle East Public Policy, moderates a discussion on Iran, one of the United States' most critical and high-profile foreign policy concerns.

Living with the Outcome: Elections in Lebanon — June 5, 2009

The Lebanese parliament building in downtown Beirut, photo courtesy of flickr/nathanm

The pro-Western alliance favored by the United States won Sunday's parliamentary elections in Lebanon. According to this commentary, by Ghassan Schbley, that appeared in The Washington Times, the result may be a boon for the Obama administration, but it also presents challenges.

Living with the Outcome: Elections in Lebanon — June 5, 2009

banners, people, flags at 2009 Lebanese parliamentary elections, photo courtesy of flickr/Sana T

The United States needs to play for the long term in Lebanon with a pragmatic policy that deals with the reality of Hezbollah's political power while continuing to strengthen moderate forces and national institutions, as discussed by Ghassan Schbley

A Better Bargain for Aid to Pakistan — June 1, 2009

Pakistan refugees in Amam, photo courtesy of flickr/Al Jazeera English

Since 2001, the United States has spent about $12 billion to help Pakistan. Yet Secretary of State Hillary Clinton declared Pakistan a "mortal threat" to international security. Washington needs to strike a far better bargain for its billions, as stated in this commentary by C. Christine Fair for The Washington Post .

U.S. Strategy Should Avoid Inflating Iran's Role in Middle East Instability, Exploit Constraints on Iranian Power and Seek Areas of Engagement — May 19, 2009

cover of MG-781

Iran’s rise as a regional power presents a key foreign policy and security challenge to the United States, but its reach may be more limited than Western conventional wisdom suggests, according to a RAND Corporation study issued today.

Countering the Military's Latest Fad — May 18, 2009

Army Maj. Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal briefs reporters in 2003, photo courtesy of DefenseLINK/Stikkel

The recent choice of top U.S. commander in Afghanistan reflects military's latest fad in warfare planning as discussed in this commentary, by Celeste Ward, for The Washington Post.

Pakistan, Taliban and Global Security – Part II — May 13, 2009

Afghan policeman at Pakistan border checkpoint, photo courtesy of flickr/lafrancevi

The evolving situation in Pakistan imay be the most dangerous international situation since the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, states Robert D. Blackwill in this commentary for YaleGlobal Online. The U.S. should consider working together with India and other nations on a common strategy to contain Pakistan's Wahabist extremism.

Records From Coalition Provisional Authority Shed Light On Occupation Of Iraq — May 13, 2009

toppling of Iraq statue of Saddam Hussein

The record of the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) in Iraq after the fall of Saddam Hussein compares favorably to that of many other U.S. efforts at post-conflict reconstruction, particularly in the areas of economic development, rule of law, education, health and democratization, according to a study released today by the RAND Corporation.

Economic Costs of Major Oil Supply Disruption Pose Risk to U.S. National Security — May 12, 2009

oil tanker at port

While on a net basis the United States imports nearly 60 percent of the oil it consumes, this reliance on imported oil is not by itself a major national security threat, according to a RAND Corporation study issued today.

From Strategy to Implementation: The Future of the U.S.-Pakistan Relationship — May 7, 2009

USAID representative present shield for Pakistani vocational center for girls, photo courtesy of flickr/crspakistan

Testimony presented, by C. Christine Fair, before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on May 5, 2009.

Opposing View: Keep Arms Off Ships — May 4, 2009

Military aircraft monitoring pirate activities

Does the provision of private security contractors provide a viable solution to the growing problem of piracy off the Horn of Africa? In this commentary, by Peter Chalk, for USA Today, employing security contractors poses problems on several fronts.

Redefining ‘Old Age’: 60 Is the New 40 — Apr. 27, 2009

Elderly Woman with Walker

In this commentary by Linda G. Moore, that appeared in the Shanghai Daily, she discusses that China's population is aging quickly. To address this issue, two options are identified: try to slow it down or develop policies and programs to deal with whatever negative consequences there might be.

Who Has the Will to Fight Piracy? — Apr. 22, 2009

pirates off Somali shore, photo courtesy of U.S. Navy/Zalasky

The recent French and American rescues of hostages held by pirates off the coast of Somalia were necessary and proper. No one believes these actions will end piracy, unless we impose risks on the pirates, according to this commentary by Brian Michael Jenkins for

South Asia's Taliban Problem: Multiple Threats From Multiple Groups — Apr. 15, 2009

a Muslim man, photo courtesy of U.S. Army/Herrera

For India, the development of a conducive environment on its western flank for groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Muhammad has already resulted in sophisticated terrorist attacks on Indian soil, most recently in Mumbai as discussed by Seth G. Jones for

Afghanistan Is NATO's Most Important Challenge — Apr. 6, 2009

A display of flags outside the Nato Summit in Strasbourg, 4 April 2009, photo courtesy of flickr/Dow

This week's NATO summit is not the most important moment on this year's trans-Atlantic calendar. That honor belonged to the Group of 20 (G20) summit that was just concluded in London as discussed in this commentary by Robert E. Hunter for, the website of Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty.

Obama's Turkish Dilemma — Apr. 6, 2009

President Obama meeting with Turkey Leaders

President Obama’s visit to Ankara this week highlights Turkey’s growing strategic importance to the United States and a high stakes dilemma for the President and for U.S. strategic interests, according to this commentary by F. Stephen Larrabee for .

Ways to Improve U.S. Stability and Reconstruction Missions Are Outlined — Apr. 3, 2009

MG852 cover

Recent stabilization and reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq have underlined the need for the United States to shift the burden of these operations away from the Defense Department and onto other government agencies better suited to the work, according to a study released today by the RAND Corporation.

U.S. Strategy in Afghanistan — Apr. 2, 2009

U.S. soldiers combating insurgency in Afghanistan, photo courtesy of

Testimony presented by Seth G. Jones before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Subcommittee on Middle East and South Asia on April 2, 2009.

Ultimate exit strategy — Mar. 26, 2009

Afghan policeman at Pakistan border checkpoint, photo courtesy of flickr/lafrancevi

The upcoming high-level conference on Afghanistan at The Hague will involve all the parties who have a stake and an interest in Afghanistan. With the situation in that country growing more precarious by the day, those attending this meeting must think big per this commentary by James Dobbins for the International Herald Tribune .

Counterinsurgency in Afghanistan — Mar. 26, 2009

U.S. soldier and Afghani police office map out security, photo courtesy of

Testimony presented by James Dobbins before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Subcommittee on National Security and Foreign Affairs on March 26, 2009.

Iran's New Contender — Mar. 24, 2009

Iranian President with Saudi Leader

Iran’s presidential race just got more interesting, with former Prime Minister Mousavi joining the race and former President Khatami withdrawing, this development poses the most significant challenge yet to current President Ahmadinejad, as discussed in this commentary by Alireza Nader for Project Syndicate .

Antecedents and Implications of the November 2008 Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) Attack Upon Several Targets in the Indian Mega-City of Mumbai — Mar. 11, 2009

Home Guard guiding traffic with the Mumbai Police, photo courtesy of flickr/calamur

Testimony presented by C. Christine Fair before the House Homeland Security Committee, Subcommittee on Transportation Security and Infrastructure Protection on March 11, 2009.

Is Iraq Safe Yet? — Mar. 9, 2009

suicide bombing aftermath, Iraq

The Obama administration's plan to withdraw US troops from Iraq has sparked fears that Iraq will again plunge into wide-scale violence. Those fears are, for the most part, overblown, according to a commentary by Lowell J. Schwartz for Project Syndicate.

Afghanistan: The Regional Solution — Mar. 9, 2009

Afghani village men, photo courtesy of

Obama’'s move to commit more troops to Afghanistan must be part of a broader strategic shift as discussed in this commentary by F. Stephen Larrabee that appeared on

Organized Crime Is Increasingly Active in Film Piracy; Three Cases Link Terrorists to Piracy Profits — Mar. 3, 2009

gun, bullets, money, and dvds

Organized crime increasingly is involved in the piracy of feature films, with syndicates active along the entire supply chain from manufacture to street sales. While crime syndicates have added piracy to their criminal portfolios, the profits from film piracy also have been used on occasion to support the activities of terrorist groups.

To Talk With Iran, Stop Not Talking — Mar. 3, 2009

side by side pictures of Iranian President Ahmadinejad and U.S. President Obama, courtesy of Flickr/

If goal is to prevent Iran from gaining nuclear weapons, U.S. must stop not talking to Tehran, as discussed in this commentary by James Dobbins that appeared in the Washington Post.

WANTED DEAD OR ALIVE?; When we don't get our man — Mar. 3, 2009

Osama bin Laden Speaking

As visceral as the urge may be to bring Bin Laden to justice - dead or alive - however history shows that if the target is sent into hiding by the search, then we have effectively met our goal, as discussed in this commentary by Benjamin Runkle that appeared in the International Herald Tribune.

In Afghanistan, It's Deadly at the Top — Feb. 23, 2009

Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai, photo courtesy of Flickr/KarlMarx

Rather than perpetuating a love-hate-kill relationship with their leaders, Afghans need to develop respect for the laws and institutions of their new democracy, as discussed in this commentary by Cheryl Benard that appeared in the Los Angeles Times.

Two RAND Researchers in the News for USIP Report on Afghanistan Security Weaknesses — Feb. 17, 2009

U.S. Sgt and Royal Danish soldier march in Afghanistan, photo courtesy of Army/Pullen

C. Christine Fair and Seth G. Jones are in the news for Securing Afghanistan, a report they've written for the United States Institute of Peace on weaknesses in the Afghan security environment. The authors largely attribute failed efforts to stabilize the country to a lack of oversight of international aid programs at work there.

Going the Distance — Feb. 15, 2009

soldiers in Afghanistan, photo courtesy of U.S. Army/Abney

The war in Afghanistan isn't doomed. We just need to rethink the insurgency. The U.S. can still turn things around in Afghanistan if it exploits insurgency's weaknesses, as stated in this commentary by Seth G. Jones for The Washington Post.

What the Israeli Right Owes to Hamas — Feb. 13, 2009

Israeli TAU students protest Hamas, photo courtesy of Flickr/ShadoWalker

The Hamas attacks and Gaza war moved Israel's political center to the right in recent election as discussed in this commentary by Claude Berrebi for

Issues in Focus: President Obama and the Middle East — Feb. 10, 2009

political reform in arab countries

Leadership for the RAND Center for Middle East Public Policy will discuss considerations for the administration on issues such as: Iran's nuclear ambitions, the U.S. drawdown in Iraq, the unprecedented Iraqi refugee crisis, implications of unemployment, poor governance, and radicalism throughout the Middle East.

Mumbai Terrorist Attacks Show Rise of Strategic Terrorist Culture — Jan. 16, 2009

Terror in Mumbai, photo courtesy of Flickr

The Mumbai terrorist attacks in India suggest the possibility of an escalating terrorist campaign in South Asia and the rise of a strategic terrorist culture, according to a study issued today by the RAND Corporation.

Defeating Hamas Will Not Defeat Iran — Jan. 14, 2009

Defeating Hamas Will Not Defeat Iran

Some observers speculate that the Isreali offensive against Hamas has a second target: Iran. Some even imagine a domino effect, with Hamas's defeat a defeat for radicalism across the region. In this commentary by Dalia Dassa Kaye for, one should not be so sure.

Guidelines and Recommendations for Opening Dialogue with Iran — Jan. 8, 2009

statue from Kish island Dariush grand hotel, Iran - photo courtesy of Flickr/nIma

While Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad grabs the headlines, it is Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei who is Iran's most powerful figure. And... it is Khamenei's sense of strategic confidence, distrust of the United States and his focus on Iranian sovereignty that are the sources behind Tehran's aversion to compromise.

Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps Plays Complex Role in Iran's Political, Economic, Cultural Scene — Jan. 8, 2009

Islamic Revolutionary Guards

Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps has evolved to take on a greater role in the nation's political, economic and cultural arenas in addition to serving as a major military force.