News Archive - 2007

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Long-term instability? - Dec. 31, 2007

Long-term instability?

The tragic assassination of Pakistani opposition leader Benazir Bhutto casts a dark shadow across Pakistan, a nuclear-armed state with a long history of militarism and militancy. According to this commentary by C. Christine Fair for the Washington Times, this event could move Pakistan towards a deeper and irreversible slide into Islamist violence.

The State of the Afghan Insurgency - Dec. 11, 2007

State of Afghan Insurgency

Six years after the overthrow of the Taliban regime, Canada, NATO, and the Afghan government stand at an important crossroads. Testimony presented by Seth G. Jones before the Canadian Senate National Security and Defence Committee on December 10, 2007.

U.S. Should Take Advantage of Improved Security in Iraq to Withdraw - Dec. 4, 2007

U.S. Should Take Advantage of Improved Security in Iraq to Withdraw

The recent improvement in security in Iraq may provide the U.S. military with a chance to achieve the best realistic outcome of the conflict to date: the extrication of the bulk of it’s forces. This topic is the subject of a commentary by David C. Gompert for the San Francisco Cronicle.

International Cooperation Needed to Keep Terrorists from Gaining Advanced Weapons - Nov. 15, 2007

International Cooperation Needed to Keep Terrorists from Gaining Advanced Weapons

International cooperation, such as ensuring security forces are aware of emerging threats, is needed to keep a new generation of advanced conventional weapons from falling into the hands of terrorists, according to a new RAND Corporation report.

The Right Way to Withdraw - Oct. 15, 2007

The Right Way to Withdraw

We're involved too deeply in Iraq and Afghanistan to exit suddenly without fixing our mess, states James Dobbins in this commentary for the Los Angeles Times. Having toppled the Iraqi government, the United States has assumed weighty responsibilities for about 28 million people whom we cannot in good conscience shirk.

Ready for Another Mideast War? - Sep. 20, 2007

Ready for Another Mideast War

On Sept. 6, Israeli aircraft bombed Syria, seem to have violated Turkish airspace, and the Israeli government has offered no explanation. Does this mean we on the verge of another Middle East war? This and other questions are discussed by James Dobbins in this timely commentary for the International Herald Tribune.

Unofficial Diplomacy Efforts Can Have a Positive Effect in the Middle East, South Asia Over Long Term - Sep. 19, 2007

Unofficial Diplomacy Efforts Can Have a Positive Effect in the Middle East, South Asia Over Long Term

Unofficial diplomatic discussions can play a significant role in shaping attitudes in the Middle East and Asia, but are best used as a long-term strategy without expectations for dramatic policy shifts, according to a report issued today by the RAND Corporation.

Assessing the Army's Assignment Policy for Women - September 7, 2007

This research brief summarizes important differences between the U.S. Department of Defense policy on women in the military and that of the U.S. Army and potential areas in which these can be reconciled to better apply to future military operations.

A New Tact on Iraq - August 29, 2007

As the sixth anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the United States approaches, al Qaeda appears to be gaining strength. America remains on alert. As Brian Michael Jenkins states in this commentary for the Washington Post, it's reasonable to wonder whether, how and when this conflict will end.

The Real Analogy for Iraq - August 27, 2007

The conflict raging in Iraq has been compared to many earlier wars, but the best historical comparison has been largely overlooked. Based on this commentary by John Arquilla and David Ronfeldt for United Press International the war that is the most fitting historical reference point to Iraq today is the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939).

Combating Radicalization - August 24, 2007

Nothing is more important in the global war on terrorism than reducing the production of new terrorists. In this commentary for United Press International Brian Michael Jenkins sites a recently released report as the most thorough study yet describing the paths of radicalization that produced operational terrorist cells around the world and can help authorities find ways to slow the process.

Ad Men for U.S. Defense - August 21, 2007

All the products we buy have a brand identity and a reputation they’re known by. Organizations, such as the U. S. military, have brand identities as well. As discussed in this commentary by Todd Helmus, Russel Glenn, and Christopher Paul for United Press International a new study conducted for the RAND Corp. suggests the military can create more positive perceptions among civilians abroad by looking to successful consumer marketing practices.

Are the Sunnis changing sides - August 17, 2007

The warring parties in Iraq seem to be more interested in fighting each other than expelling the United States. According to James Dobbins in this commentary for the International Herald Tribune, it seems that Sunni insurgents are increasingly coming to realize that they cannot successfully resist both the United States and the Shiite-dominated government. Therefore increasing numbers of Sunni fighters are developing a tactical accommodation with the less dangerous enemy, the United States.

Spending Aid to Palestinians Wisely - August 16, 2007

Efforts to develop the Palestinian economy and self-government depends heavily on foreign assistance for desperately poor Palestinians and also how the funds will be spent. However, according to this commentary by David Aaron and C. Ross Anthony for the International Herald Tribune the United States and other donor nations must join with the Palestinian leadership to ensure that the funds are used to boost Palestinian support for the new government and to promote economic policies that improve the lives of Palestinians.

Rebuilding arms control - August 10, 2007

Russia’s recent announcement that it intends to formally suspend its compliance with the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty and withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty has caused consternation in Western capitals as discussed in this commentary by David Mosher and F. Stephen Larrabee for United Press International. These agreements limit Russian and NATO conventional forces, heavy weaponry, and the deployment of intermediate-range nuclear missiles in Europe.

United States Should Reassess Priorities, Next Steps in Iraq - August 9, 2007

U.S. political persuasion, security policies, and economic assistance in Iraq should focus on reducing sectarian and other violence. The United States should also consider its next steps in the event that violence does or does not decline.

RAND Study Says U.S. Army Following Defense Department Policy Barring Women from Ground Combat Units - August 7, 2007

The Department of Defense policy directs that women be assigned to all positions where they are qualified, but excludes them from assignments to “units below the brigade level whose primary mission is to engage in direct combat on the ground.” However, a RAND Corporation study concludes that the policies are difficult to understand, and that there is no consensus among senior defense officials about the objectives of the policies.

A Few Low Notes Won't Spoil China-US Harmony - August 2, 2007

US–China relations, and the respective national interests which underlie them, are generally harmonious. However, as discussed by Charles Wolf, Jr. in this commentary for the South China Morning Post, this harmony is occasionally jarred by sharp discord such as legislation pending in the US Congress to put pressure on China to substantially raise the value of its “misaligned” yuan, relative to the US dollar.

China's Challenge - July 29, 2007

Ever since China test-fired ballistic missiles into the ocean near Taiwan in 1995 and 1996, many analysts and commentators have sounded the alarm about the threat of China´s military power. This has been a false alarm until now, but within a decade China could supplant America as the dominant military power in East Asia as discussed in this commentary by Rober Cliff for the San Diego Union-Tribune.

How to Talk to Iran - July 22, 2007

American and Iranian ambassadors are scheduled to meet soon in Baghdad to discuss Iraq. Is this encounter a departure from decades of non-communication? In this commentary by James Dobbins for the Washington Post, we find out that American and Iranian officials have met many times over the years.

RAND Recommends U.S. Military Adopt Consumer Marketing Strategies to Reach Iraqi and Afghan Civilians - July 17, 2007

Adopting successful business marketing practices, such as branding and monitoring customer satisfaction, could help the U.S. military get more support from the local populations in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to a RAND Corporation report issued today.

Cost of Unleashing China's Currency - July 13, 2007

Congress has become obsessed with the Chinese currency seemingly because of US job losses and the trade deficit. While China's currency may well be undervalued, the fundamental causes of the job losses and the trade deficit actually lie elsewhere as discussed by William H. Overholt and Pieter Bottelier in this commentary for the Christian Science Monitor.

Blair's Project for a New Palestine - July 7, 2007

The release of an abducted BBC journalist in Gaza is being seen by some as an attempt by Hamas to curry favour with Tony Blair, Britain's newly appointed international envoy to Israel and Palestine. One of his first efforts, as discussed in this commentary by Robert Hunter for the Project Syndicate may be the thankless task of helping Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas build institutions for a viable state, following Hamas's military takeover of Gaza.

In Ukraine, Four Steps to Democracy - June 28, 2007

The Ukrainian president´s decision to dissolve parliament and call for new elections demonstrated a resolve and decisiveness that had been often lacking in the past. According to this commentary by by Taras Kuzio and F. Stephen Larrabee for the Washington Post, the elections could give Ukraine's revolution — recently mired in crisis — new momentum and have an impact elsewhere in the post–Soviet space.

Iraqi Refugee Challenge - June 28, 2007

According to UN estimates, about 2.2 million Iraqis — close to half of them children — have fled their country since the US invasion in 2003. As discussed by Kristen Cordell in this commentary for United Press International, without a greater US effort, young Arabs will remain a ripe and malleable target for recruitment by radical Muslim groups.

Rand Studies Make Recommendations For A Successful Palestinian State - June 19, 2007

The RAND Corporation today issued the most comprehensive recommendations ever made for the success of an independent Palestinian state. The proposals, which include a landmark rail, highway, and infrastructure link between the West Bank and Gaza would open the door to dramatic new development and would give Palestinians new access to jobs, food, water, education, health care, housing and public services.

A Comparative Evaluation of United Nations Peacekeeping - June 13, 2007

Modern nation building requires a mix of military and civilian capacity, and of national, multinational and international participation. It therefore necessitates trade offs between unity of command and broad burden sharing, as stated by James Dobbins in testimony presented before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs´ Subcommittee on International Organizations, Human Rights, and Oversight on June 13, 2007.

Two Years After Andijan: Assessing the Past and Thinking Towards the Future - June 13, 2007

Two years after the events in Andijan province, in Uzbekistan, both the events themselves and their implications continue to be questioned and reassessed as provided by Olga Oliker in testimony presented before the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe on May 18, 2007.

Understanding Terrorist Ideology - June 12, 2007

Both individual motivations and community support are important to understanding the challenges that extremist ideologies pose to US national security stated Kim Cragin during testimony before the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on June 12, 2007.

Saudi Arabia: Shi´a Pessimistic About Reform, but Seek Reconciliation - June 1, 2007

The Saudi Shi´i news service al–Rasid released its second annual human rights report on discriminatory practices against the Kingdom's Shi´i minority. In this commentary by Fred Wehrey for the Arab Reform Bulletin, the report cites Salafi hardliners dissuading the ruling family from providing further concessions, intensified by the support of an Islamic presidentical candidate in Turkey that could significantly impact Turkey's relations with the West.

Risks and Riddles - June 1, 2007

During the cold war, much of the job of U.S. intelligence was puzzle-solving. However the collapse of the Soviet Union and the rise of terrorism changed all that. The major challenge now is to frame the mysteries of terrorizm, which often grow out of too much information as dicussed by Gregory F. Treverton in this commentary for Smithsonian Magazine.

Is America Prepared for Disaster? - May 30, 2007

How prepared is America for the next terrorist attack or natural disaster? Government and the private sector have spent billions of dollars and created the Department of Homeland Security to make America more secure. Brian Jackson discusses in this commentary for the Washington Post that there still is no satisfactory answer to this question.

New Security Threats Beyond Iraq Will Require Changes in Military Deployments and Structure - May 22, 2007

The complex military challenges facing the United States will require all four military services to rethink the way forces are manned, equipped and deployed. This report outlines three key security challenges to the United States, its interests, and its allies: terrorist and insurgent groups; regional powers with nuclear weapons, such as North Korea; and increasing security competition in Asia, which could result in a military confrontation with China.

Nuclear terror: How real? - May 13, 2007

Former CIA Director George Tenet wrote in his new book that terrorist groups "desperately want" to mount a nuclear terrorist attack. This prospect remains a fantasy of terrorists and a nightmare for everyone else. While Al Qaeda is not believed to have nuclear capabilities at this time, it has not prevented nuclear terror, as indicated by Brian Jenkins, in his commentary for Washington Times.

A war of nerves in Turkey - May 12, 2007

Turkey is entering a critical policial period due to the standoff surrounding the selection of a new president. The situation, as discussed by Stephen Larrabee for Project Syndicate, has intensified with the governmnent's support of an Islamic presidentical candidate and the strong position of the miliarty as defenders of Turkey's secular democracy. Effects of this could significantly impact Turkey's relations with the West.

RAND Study Finds Terrorist Groups Teach Each Other Deadly Skills - May 9, 2007

Terrorist groups around the world with different ideologies and from different religious and ethnic backgrounds have improved their effectiveness by teaching each other deadly skills such as bomb-making and guerilla warfare techniques, according to a RAND Corporation report issued today.

Pro-American Yes, French Poodle No - May 8, 2007

Many in the United States will no doubt be pleased at Nicolas Sarkozy's victory in the French presidential election on Sunday. However, according to a commentary by Christopher S. Chivvis for the International Herald Tribune, Americans should not anticipate any immediate changes in foreign policy.

Afghanistan: Why Canada Should Stay - May 7, 2007

There is a growing movement in Canada to withdraw troops from Afghanistan. In this commentary for the Toronto Star, Seth G. Jones discusses how such a move would be a tragic mistake. Withdrawing would be a severe blow to NATO´s efforts in Afghanistan and would ultimately undermine Canada´s own security.

Building an Army of Believers - Jihadist Radicalization and Recruitment - April 27, 2007

Testimony presented before the House Homeland Security Committee, Subcommittee on Intelligence, Information Sharing and Terrorism Risk Assessment on April 5, 2007 (Superscedes original posting).

The Counterinsurgency Fight: Think Globally, Lose Locally - April 27, 2007

Confronted with insurgents in several countries and a true global terror network operating in others, some people are tempted to incorrectly to view these opponents as a monolithic force, waging a global insurgency to destroy freedom. The reasons for this misconception and proposals for successful responses are the subject of this commentary by James T. Quinlivan and Bruce R. Nardulli for the Washington Post.

How not to promote American missile defense in Europe - April 27, 2007

Missile defense has suddenly emerged as a divisive issue in Europe. Rather than enhancing European security, the Bush administration's plan to deploy elements of a missile defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic has meet with growing opposition. In their commentary for Project Syndicate, F. Stephen Larrabee and Andrzej Karkoszka discusss how the roots of this opposition may be in the way in which America has managed - or rather mismanaged - the presentation of its deployment plans.

Improving the Department of Defenseís Small Business Innovation Research Program - April 26, 2007

Testimony presented by Bruce Held, Senior Policy Researcher for the RAND Corporation, before the House Science and Technology Committee, Subcommittee on Technology and Innovation

Easing U.S.-Iran Tensions - April 19, 2007

The release of the British sailors and marines by Iran was considered a victory for common sense in this volitile region. Now it is important that U.S. and Iranian diplomats take advantage of this victory to begin de-escalation of tensions between these two key players in the Persian Gulf region. In this commentary by Robert E. Hunter for United Press International important issues are highlighted that may be used to bring the necessary parties to the table.

RAND Proposes Blueprint for Building Moderate Muslim Networks - April 17, 2007

While Muslim radicals are a minority, they hold an important advantage over their nonradical counterparts in that they have developed extensive networks spanning the Middle East, North America, and Europe. This research brief summarizes work to develop a plan for building moderate Muslim networks to counter the message of Islamist radicals in the war of ideas within Islam.

Who lost Iraq? - April 16, 2007

The United States is relentlessly being urged to withdraw by Iraqi and American public opinion. Inevitably the debate over who lost Iraq is quickly gaining momentum. While the politicians seek blame, the soldiers in Iraq claim, rightly enough, that they are the only ones mobilized for this war, and decry the scarcity of on-site civilian experts as discussed in this commentary by James Dobbins for the International Herald Tribune.

The Taliban threat is not just America's burden - April 12, 2007

When President Bush meets European Union leaders for the annual US-EU summit in Washington on April 30, Afghanistan will be high on the agenda. The summit will offer the EU a chance to move beyond rhetoric and take action to help the US - and themselves - by standing up to the Taliban, a terrorist group that hijacked a nation and is trying to get it back as discussed by Robert Hunter in this commentary for the Financial Times.

Building an Army of Believers - Jihadist Radicalization and Recruitment - April 5, 2007

Testimony presented by Brian Michael Jenkins before the Committee on Homeland Security, Subcommittee on Intelligence, Information Sharing and Terrorism Risk Assessment of the United States House of Representatives on April 5, 2007.

RAND Distinguished Speaker Series to Feature Admiral Thad W. Allen - April 19, 2007

Admiral Thad W. AllenAt the next RAND Distinguished Speaker Series, Admiral Thad W. Allen, Commandant of the United States Coast Guard, will provide a talk on the key challenges faced by the nation and today's Coast Guard. In light of the national debate over port security, the impact of seaborne terrorist threats, and the demand for effective emergency response to natural disasters, the Coast Guard has been thrust into the public eye. Admiral Allen will discuss how a ready, aware, and responsive Coast Guard will addressing these challenges. Advanced registration is required for this event.

Missile Defense: Avoiding a Crisis in Europe - Mar. 29, 2007

The United States should not abandon its plans to deploy a missile defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic just because of a temper tantrum by Putin or the blustering of a few Russian generals. But before America proceeds with the deployment, it needs to spell out more clearly the benefits and risks of the move. Key questions are discussed in this commentary by F. Stephen Larrabee and David E. Mosher for the International Herald Tribune.

Iraqi Security Forces - Defining Challenges and Assessing Progress - March 28, 2007

Testimony presented before the House Armed Services Committee, Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, by Olga Oliker.

Coping With Iran: Confrontation, Containment or Engagement? - March 21, 2007

Over 350 people recently attended a RAND–sponsored policy forum on Iran in Washington DC. The forum includes a series of discussions on the future of U.S.–Iranian relations featuring government officials from the United States and Iran, foreign affairs journalists, and policy analysts from RAND and other think tanks including: the Brookings Institution, Council on Foreign Relations, the New America Foundation, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, and the American Enterprise Institute.

Flagging Ally: Pakistan's Lapses Are Hurting the War on Terror - Mar. 18, 2007

Vice President Dick Cheney´s recent blunt warning to Pakistan President Musharraf to crack down on terrorism signals a growing consensus that Pakistan needs to do more to counter terrorist groups operating on its soil. However, as stated in a commentary by Seth G. Jones and John Gordon IV for the San Diego Union-Tribune, it must be recognized that any meaningful crackdown on extremist groups by the Pakistani government will have domestic political risks.

Iran's Covert War in Iraq - March 16, 2007

There is understandable skepticism about the claim by U.S. military officials in Baghdad that Shi´ite militias in Iraq are receive support and training from elite units of the Iranian special forces. Although we may never have the smoking gun, states Rick Brennan in this commentary for the Washington Times, it is hard to believe such a large-scale covert action could take place by Iranian forces in Iraq without both the direct knowledge and approval of the Iranian government.

Media Leaks Hinder Intelligence Gathering - March 11, 2007

The U.S. news media has long been considered an open vault of classified information on U.S. intelligence collection sources and methods. The problem may be worse now than ever. The scope and seriousness of recent leaks coupled with the power of electronic dissemination and Internet search engines feed the voracious appetites of foreign intelligence services and terrorists as discussed in this commentary by James B. Bruce for the Washington Times.

The Strategic Challenge of Border Security - March 8, 2007

While issues of security from terrorist attacks is certainly a major concern that drives many border security considerations, there are other critical, “daily” issues involving criminal activities, including trafficking in drugs, the smuggling of weapons and other illegal contraband, and human trafficking. Testimony presented by Michael A. Wermuth1 and K. Jack Riley before the House Homeland Security Committee, Subcommittee on Border, Maritime and Global Counterterrorism.

Ending Afghanistan´s Civil War - March 8, 2007

The resurgence of civil war in Afghanistan can be attributed to two fundamental causes; the failure of the United States, the Karzai administration, and the rest of the international community to take advantage of the lull following the collapse of the Taliban regime in late 2001 to strengthen the new Afghan government and the fragmentation of the international coalition that the United States put together to stabilize and reconstruct Afghanistan. Testimony by James Dobbins before the United States Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Unknown Education Revolution - Mar. 7, 2007

The massive expansion of private primary schooling across India may be a harbinger of the Unknown Indian Education Revolution as reflected by more than 80% of government–school teachers sending their own children to a private school. When government teachers don´t trust government schools with their own children, it´s time to recognize that this is not a path–breaking exception but part of a mainstream, silent and telling revolt against the poor performance of government schools as discussed by Naveen Mandava in a commentary for Mint.

Central Asia´s Great Game - Mar. 5, 2007

The recent election of the former deputy prime minister and health minister, Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov, as president of Turkmenistan could have a profound influence on events far from the remote Central Asian nation. With one of the largest natural gas reserves in the world, Moscow, Beijing, Washington and many European capitals will be watching closely to see what policies Berdymukhammedov will pursue, as discussed by F. Stephen Larrabee in a commentary for the United Press International.

My Enemies Enemy - Feb. 27, 2007

American forces are being attacked from all sides by Sunni insurgents, ex–Baathists, and Al Qaeda operatives, with no sign of abating. In fact, one of the few things that the combatants have in common is their opposition to the American presence. The United States somehow has maneuvered itself into a position were most Arabs and Persian alike regard America as their enemy, as discussed in this commentary by James Dobbins that appeared in the International Herald Tribune.

America´s Turkey problem - Feb. 23, 2007

As America struggles to stabilize Iraq while fighting rages, the last thing it needs is to become embroiled in a new crisis with Turkey. But that is where Washington appears headed if Congress passes a resolution accusing Turkey of committing genocide against Armenians from 1915 to 1918. This is the subject of a commentary by F. Stephen Larrabee and Suat Kiniklioglu that appeared in the United Press International.

“Working Around the Military” Revisited: Spouse Employment in the 2000 Census Data - Feb. 23, 2007

Previous studies have shown that military wives ó women married to U.S. military service members ó are more likely to be unemployed and earning less than their civilian counterparts. This study revisits the gaps in employment and earnings between military and civilian wives using the 2000 census, and extends these analyses to include military husbands who also are at a relative disadvantage in the labor market compared with their civilian equivalent.

Need for High-Quality Child Care Affects Military Readiness and Retention - Feb. 19, 2007

The Department of Defense (DoD) supports the largest employer-sponsored system of high-quality child care in the United States. This research brief presents focus group and survey results that point to several options for improving the Department of Defense's approach to addressing the child-care needs of military families.

Iraqís Jobs-for-Peace Mirage - Feb. 11, 2007

As the wisdom of President Bush´s proposed “surge” of US troops is debated across the US and around the world, another question about the US President´s new policy to avert all-out civil war there is coming to the fore. Can the US funded plan to reopen Iraqi state-owned enterprises divert young men from the insurgency and sectarian militia´s, or will state employees continue to get paid for not working? Keith Crane of the RAND Corporation provides this discussion for the Project Syndicate.

Which economy will run into trouble first: The US or China? - Feb. 7, 2007

Both the US and Chinese economies are highly diversified, highly globalized, competitive economies run by institutions and leaders who are usually capable of reacting proactively to potential problems. The key risk is not that one would collapse, but that both would simultaneously get into trouble according to this commentary by William H. Overholt that appeared in the Policy & Markets Magazine.

America's long wars - Feb. 2, 2007

It is clear that U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, along with his leadership team in the Pentagon, will devote the preponderance of their time contending with the “long war” against radical Islam. At five years and counting, the “long war” is living up to its name, having now lasted longer than the U.S. Civil War, as well as America´s involvement World War I and World War II combined as discussed in this commentary by Andrew R. Hoehn and David A. Shlapak that appeared in the United Press International.

Afghanistan's Local Insurgency- Jan. 31, 2007

The rising violence and the near certainty of a Taliban spring offensive have triggered calls for an increase in U.S. military forces in Afghanistan. But a military strategy is not likely to succeed. Counterinsurgencies are almost always won by establishing a viable and legitimate government at the local level that can win popular support as stated by Seth G. Jones in this commentary that appeared in the International Herald Tribune.

Ending Afghanistan's Civil War - Jan. 30, 2007

The resurgence of civil war in Afghanistan can be attributed to two fundamental causes; first, the failure of the United States, the Karzai government, and the international community to strengthen the capacity of the new Afghan government to project its authority, provide public services, and security to the population beyond Kabul and second, the fragmentation of the international coalition to stabilize and reconstruct based on the testimony presented by James Dobbins before the House Armed Services Committee on January 30, 2007.

Put Iraqi Insurgents Out of Business - Jan. 29, 2007

The militias and insurgent groups that have turned Iraq into a killing field can't function without money. Hence, President Bush should make sharply reducing the flow of money to these groups a top priority. If successful, this effort could give Iraq's government a fighting chance to curb the violence. In this commentary for the Christian Science Monitor, Keith Crane discusses a 5-point plan to starve militia fighters and insurgent groups of the cash they need to fight.

No Need to Expand U.S. Army - Jan. 29, 2007

President George W. Bush and Defense Secretary Robert Gates have announced plans to increase the size of the U.S. Army and Marines by 93,000, at a cost of $10 billion a year. Initially, this seems to make sense since it is now generally agreed that the United States has too few ground forces to meet its needs in Iraq without sapping its ability to defend American interests everywhere else. But on closer examination, the case for expanding the Army and Marines has not yet been made as indicated by David C. Gompert in United Press International.

A Bad Plan for the Middle East - Jan. 17, 2007

President George W. Bush's most recent address to the American people on Iraq may be the scariest presidential message since Ronald Reagan announced that he had launched a nuclear strike against the Soviet Union. Reagan was just kidding. Bush is not. The far graver risk inherent in the president«s plan is that the war in Iraq may spread to neighboring countries according to a commentary by James Dobbins in the International Herald Tribune.

Central Asia«s other 'Turkmenbashis' - Jan. 15, 2007

The sudden death in late December of Saparmurat Niyazov, Turkmenistan«s authoritarian president-for-life who declared himself "Turkmenbashi" (Leader of all Turkmens), jeopardizes stability in a country that is an increasingly important supplier of energy to Europe. Worse, given the absence of a clearly designated successor and the weakness of civil society and other political institutions, his death could have repercussions across Central Asia as discussed in this commentary by F. Stephen Larrabee in Project Syndicate.

Old front against terrorism - Jan. 14, 2007

It would be premature to portray Ethiopia«s swift defeat of the Islamist forces in Somalia as a victory in the global war on terror. The December invasion blunted the immediate threat of Somalia«s takeover by Islamist hard-liners. Al-Qaeda fugitives who found sanctuary in Somalia are again on the run. The internationally recognized but thus far ineffectual transitional federal government has been restored. There is now an opportunity to begin rebuilding Somalia from the ground up as stated in this commentary by Brian Jenkins in San Diego Union-Tribune.