James Dobbins

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Senior Fellow; Distinguished Chair in Diplomacy and Security
Washington Office


B.S. in international affairs, Georgetown School of Foreign Service

Media Resources

This researcher is available for interviews.

To arrange an interview, contact the RAND Office of Media Relations at (310) 451-6913, or email media@rand.org.

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Ambassador James Dobbins is a senior fellow and distinguished chair in Diplomacy and Security at the RAND Corporation. He has held State Department and White House posts including assistant secretary of State for Europe, special assistant to the president for the Western Hemisphere, special adviser to the president, secretary of State for the Balkans, and ambassador to the European Community. Dobbins has served on numerous crisis management and diplomatic troubleshooting assignments as special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Kosovo, Bosnia, Haiti, and Somalia for the administrations of Barack Obama, George W. Bush, and Bill Clinton. In 2013 he returned to the State Department to become the Obama administration's special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, returning to RAND in 2014. Dobbins is author of the memoir, Foreign Service: Five Decades on the Frontlines of American Diplomacy.

Previous Positions

Assistant Secretary of State for Europe; Special Assistant to the President for the Western Hemisphere; Special Adviser to the President and Secretary of State for the Balkans; Ambassador to the European Community; Clinton administration's Special Envoy for Somalia, Haiti, Bosnia, and Kosovo; Bush administration's first Special Envoy for Afghanistan; Bush administration's representative to the Afghan opposition in the wake of September 11, 2001

Selected Publications

James Dobbins et al., Choices for America in a Turbulent World, RAND Corporation (RR-1114), 2015

James Dobbins, Ending Afghanistan's Civil War, RAND Corporation (CT-271), 2007

James Dobbins et al., The Beginner's Guide to Nation-Building, RAND Corporation (MG-557), 2007

James Dobbins et al., America's Role in Nation-Building: From Germany to Iraq, RAND Corporation (MR-1753), 2005

James Dobbins et al., The UN's Role in Nation-Building: From the Congo to Iraq, RAND Corporation (MG-304), 2005

James Dobbins, Foreign Service: Five Decades on the Frontlines of American Diplomacy, Brookings Institution, 2017

Recent Media Appearances

Interviews: ABC; Al-Ahram Weekly; Al Arabiya; Al-Watan, Egypt; Associated Press TV; BBC; Bloomberg; CBC Radio One; CBS; Channel News Asia; Chicago Tribune; Christian Science Monitor; The Cipher Brief; CNBC; CNN; Copley News Service; Cox News Service; CRI Online Portuguese; The Crisis Next Door; C-SPAN; Financial Times; Foreign Affairs; Foreign Policy; Fox News; The Globe and Mail; Houston Chronicle; Huffington Post; International Herald Tribune; Irish Times; KCBS Radio Blogs; KCRW-FM; Knight Ridder; NBC; Newsday; NPR; PBS; Philadelphia Inquirer; Pravda; Radio Free Afghanistan; Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty; RealClearPolitics; Reuters; Rossiya Segodnya - Russia Today; The Rubin Report; South China Morning Post; Voice of America; WAMU, The Diane Rehm Show; Washington Post; WBUR-FM Online; WWL-AM

Commentary: The Cipher Brief; The Diplomat; Financial Times; Foreign Affairs; Foreign Policy; Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung; The Hill; International Herald Tribune; The Mark News; New York Times; Orange County Register; Politico; United Press International; USA Today; U.S. News & World Report; Washington Post


  • Ukrainian soldiers and press after clashes between the Ukrainian and Russian Army in Irpin, outside of Kyiv, Ukraine, April 2, 2022, photo by Raphael Lafargue/ABACAPRESS.COM/Reuters

    Could Insurgency Offer Ukraine a Decisive Edge?

    While insurgency rarely offers a path to early victory, a campaign of popular resistance that supports the continuing conventional battle could give overmatched Ukraine an edge in its fight against Russian occupiers.

    Apr 6, 2022 The Hill

  • Flags wave outside the Alliance headquarters ahead of a NATO defense ministers meeting, in Brussels, Belgium, October 21, 2021, photo by Pascal Rossignol/Reuters

    Should NATO Close Its Doors?

    In their current confrontation with Russia, the United States and its allies are defending a dangerously anachronistic principle: that all of Russia's European neighbors should be free to seek NATO membership and that NATO should be free to incorporate them. But maintaining this open-ended process of NATO expansion is likely to produce further conflicts.

    Feb 2, 2022 The Hill

  • Marines guide a woman and her child during an evacuation from Hamid Karzai International Airport, Kabul, Afghanistan, Aug. 18, 2021, photo by Marine Corps Sgt. Isaiah Campbell/U.S. Department of Defense

    Afghanistan Was Lost Long Ago

    The United States failed to build a lasting state in Afghanistan. Although the mission was not doomed from the start, early miscalculations and critical mistakes made success unlikely.

    Aug 30, 2021 Foreign Affairs

  • U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld pauses during a news conference at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., March 29, 2005, photo by Yuri Gripas/Reuters

    Donald Rumsfeld: Anti–Nation-Builder

    As Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld repeatedly resisted U.S. military participation in nation-building–type operations. Even as the United States terminates the last of those nation-building missions, that in Afghanistan, it is worth reflecting on these experiences.

    Jul 6, 2021 The Hill

  • Soldiers in 3rd Platoon, Combat Company, 1-32 Infantry, return from a patrol near the villages of Tsapre and Aybat, Afghanistan, April 1, 2007, photo by Army Spc. Jon H. Arguello/U.S. Army

    To Lose a War

    The result of a U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan will be a blow to American credibility and a weakening of deterrence and the value of American reassurance elsewhere. It will also result in an increased terrorist threat emanating from the Afghan region, and the distinct possibility of a necessary return there one day under worse conditions.

    Apr 26, 2021 The Hill

  • Delegates attend talks between Afghan government and Taliban representatives in Doha, Qatar, September 12, 2020, photo by Ibraheem al Omari/Reuters

    The Biden Administration's Afghanistan Challenge

    American efforts to speed up plodding Afghan peace talks seem unlikely to produce results fast enough to facilitate a withdrawal of remaining American and NATO forces by May 1. But the initiative could prove beneficial if it impels the two Afghan sides to at least begin engaging on the principles upon which an expanded government should operate.

    Mar 16, 2021 The Hill

  • Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the leader of the Taliban delegation, signs an agreement with Zalmay Khalilzad, U.S. envoy for peace in Afghanistan in Doha, Qatar, February 29, 2020, photo by Ibraheem al Omari/Reuters

    Afghanistan: Give Peace a Chance

    The timetable set out in the Afghan peace agreement was always unrealistically ambitious. If the Biden administration postpones the May withdrawal of U.S. troops, then this could provide the two Afghan sides more time to address core issues that must be resolved if any settlement is to stick.

    Feb 9, 2021 The Hill

  • Antony Blinken, nominee for Secretary of State, speaks as President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President–elect Kamala Harris announce their national security nominees and appointees, Wilmington, Delaware, November 24, 2020, photo by Joshua Roberts/Reuters

    For Joe Biden, an Experienced Foreign Policy Team

    As President-elect Biden fills out his foreign policy team he might wish to reach out to a few foreign affairs professionals who sat out the Trump administration in order to fill positions in fields where some degree of bipartisanship remains a possibility. These areas might include relations with allies and with the two major U.S. competitors, Russia and China.

    Jan 19, 2021 The Hill

  • USA flag over NYC skyline, photo by franckreporter/Getty Images

    The Lost Generation in American Foreign Policy

    Throughout the 55 years following World War II, successive U.S. administrations racked up major foreign policy successes at an average rate of about once a year. Since 2001, the pace of foreign policy achievement has fallen to once every four years. The result has been a lost generation in American foreign policy.

    Sep 15, 2020 The Hill

  • Sailors from Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit Two move in a tactical formation during a training evolution to locate, identify, render safe and dispose of an IED, July 12, 2010

    Competition in Iraq

    Tensions between the United States and Iran reached a boiling point in January 2020, when Iranian-backed forces attacked U.S. military and diplomatic facilities on Iraqi soil, and the United States retaliated. Policymakers and experts again asked: Why are we in Iraq? What would happen if we left, and why would it matter?

    Jun 5, 2020 Rudaw

  • The U.S. Navy hospital ship Comfort passes the Statue of Liberty as it enters New York Harbor during the COVID-19 outbreak, March 30, 2020, photo by Mike Segar/Reuters

    After the Coronavirus: America Needs to Reengage with the World, Not Retreat from It

    The COVID-19 pandemic should lead to a further strengthening of the national and international response capacity. The alternative of erecting barriers and closing America off to the world would leave it more vulnerable to the next big shock.

    Apr 1, 2020 USA Today

  • Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the leader of the Taliban delegation, and Zalmay Khalilzad, U.S. envoy for peace in Afghanistan, shake hands after signing an agreement at a ceremony between members of Afghanistan's Taliban and the U.S. in Doha, Qatar, February 29, 2020, photo by Ibrahem Alomari/Reuters

    Peace Hasn't Broken Out in Afghanistan

    The United States and the Taliban signed a preliminary peace deal in February, aimed at ending nearly 19 years of war in Afghanistan and calling for the United States to gradually withdraw its troops. But talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government called for in the agreement and scheduled to begin on March 10 did not happen. What happens now?

    Mar 16, 2020 Foreign Affairs

  • U.S. troops patrol at an Afghan National Army base in Logar province, Afghanistan, August 7, 2018, photo by Omar Sobhani/Reuters

    The First Step on a Long Path to Peace in Afghanistan

    It has taken 10 years to reach the brink of a first substantial step in toward peace in Afghanistan. Much could still go wrong. Can the Taliban and the Afghan government come together to jointly govern the country?

    Feb 27, 2020 The Hill

  • Chinese President Xi Jinping speaks at the opening ceremony of the second China International Import Expo (CIIE) in Shanghai, China, November 5, 2019, photo by Aly Song/Reuters

    What to Expect from China in 2020

    Last year was an eventful one in China, with U.S.–China trade tensions escalating, protests in Hong Kong reaching a crisis point, and President Xi Jinping further consolidating power. What might the rest of the world expect from China in 2020?

    Jan 3, 2020 The Hill

  • U.S. soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division secure an area during Operation Mountain Sweep near Narizah, southeast of Kabul, Afghanistan, August 22, 2002, photo by Scott Schonauer/Stars & Stripes/Reuters

    The Post's Afghanistan Series

    The Washington Post series “The Afghanistan Papers” charges that “senior U.S. officials failed to tell the truth about the war in Afghanistan throughout the 18-year campaign.” As someone who was both an occasional participant in and frequent critic of the Bush and Obama administrations' Afghan policy deliberations, James Dobbins finds this charge considerably exaggerated.

    Dec 17, 2019 The Hill

  • French President Emmanuel Macron gives a news conference after a meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in Paris, France, November 28, 2019, photo by Bertrand Guay/Pool/Reuters

    Is NATO Brain Dead?

    French President Macron's remark about the brain death of NATO was provoked by President Trump's October 6 decision, since modified, to pull all U.S. troops out of Syria. Macron is right to wonder how Trump would respond to any threat to European security. But he is wrong to attribute this uncertainty to diminishing support for the alliance among all Americans.

    Dec 3, 2019 Inside Sources

  • U.S. President Bill Clinton on his way to making a statement regarding the conclusion of his impeachment trial in Washington, D.C., February 12, 1999, photo by Win McNamee/Reuters

    Memories of an Earlier Impeachment

    What is it like to work in the White House during an impeachment? RAND's Ambassador James Dobbins was special assistant to the president on the National Security Council staff during the Clinton impeachment. Here, he shares insights on the experience.

    Oct 23, 2019 United Press International

  • A convoy of U.S. vehicles is seen after withdrawing from northern Syria, in Erbil, Iraq October 21, 2019, photo by  Azad Lashkari/Reuters

    The Syrian Withdrawal: Where Things Stand

    Without an orderly process for its national security decisions, the Trump administration has defaulted to the worst option regarding Syria. The sudden withdrawal of U.S. forces has left an opening for Russia to exploit. It also left the Kurds, a U.S. partner, to fend off a Turkish assault.

    Oct 21, 2019 Fox News

  • A Turkish army howitzer is positioned near the Turkish-Syrian border in Sanliurfa province, Turkey, October 17, 2019, photo by Murad Sezer/Reuters

    Indecision in Washington Compounded the Kurds' Dilemma

    Core qualities of statesmanship and statecraft have been notably lacking in charting the U.S. administration's Syria end game. This has compounded the unavoidable costs of withdrawal with charges of betrayal and a retreat under fire.

    Oct 18, 2019 The Hill

  • U.S. President Donald Trump attends a bilateral meeting with China's President Xi Jinping during the G20 leaders summit in Osaka, Japan, June 29, 2019, photo by Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

    How Not to Confront China

    There are several key reasons why current U.S. policy toward China may not help advance America's competitiveness or enlist much support abroad. Most notably, the administration has yet to explain what it ultimately hopes to accomplish.

    Sep 23, 2019 The National Interest

  • Globe map on grunge texture, photo by caracterdesign/Getty Images

    Time to Return to the Basics of Statecraft

    After two decades of setbacks abroad, it's time to ask whether the decline in American influence is irreversible. Ultimately, neither China nor Russia is responsible for these difficulties. Washington's failures have been self-inflicted, the result of flawed policy rather than any decisive shift in the global balance of power.

    Sep 4, 2019 The Wall Street Journal

  • A protester poses for a portrait during a rally against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's government in Caracas, February 2, 2019, photo by Carlos Barria/Reuters

    Preparing for a Venezuela After Maduro

    If it becomes evident that Maduro isn't about to fall, then the Trump administration should revisit its sanctions and rescind those that weigh most heavily on the Venezuelan people, while targeting and isolating the regime.

    Jun 24, 2019 Foreign Affairs

  • U.S. President Ronald Reagan (R) and Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev sign the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty in the White House, Washington, DC, December 8, 1987, photo by Str Old/Reuters

    What Ronald Reagan Can Teach Us About Dealing with Contemporary Russia

    Politics loves its historical analogies and today, perhaps, there is no more common a comparison to the Trump presidency than the Reagan administration. Reagan's tenure was marked by his successful competition with the Soviet Union. Does Reagan provide a blueprint for triumphing over modern Russia?

    May 13, 2019 Lawfare

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping meet on the sidelines of the G20 leaders summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina, December 1, 2018, photo by Sputnik/Mikhail Klimentyev/Kremlin via Reuters

    A Warming Trend in China–Russia Relations

    The China–Russia relationship is indeed growing across military, economic, and political dimensions. But it is still more anchored in shared grievances than in common visions. Both countries contest U.S. interests, but in different ways. Washington should treat them as separate strategic challenges.

    Apr 18, 2019 The Diplomat

  • Children walk as they hold stacks of bread at al-Hol displacement camp in Hasaka governorate, Syria, April 2, 2019, photo by Ali Hashisho/Reuters

    Economic Sanctions and Carpet Bombing Are Similarly Ruinous

    For American policymakers, economic sanctions are too often the soft choice between doing nothing and taking effective but risky or expensive action. Yet, before they inflict years, perhaps decades of impoverishment and worse on entire populations, they should ask if their efforts are likely to succeed and are worth punishing an entire people.

    Apr 15, 2019 The Hill

  • Imam Ibrahim Abdul Halim of the Linwood Mosque is embraced by Father Felimoun El-Baramoussy from the Coptic Church, in Christchurch, New Zealand March 18, 2019, photo by Edgar Su/Reuters

    The Christchurch Massacre Was Another Internet-Enabled Atrocity

    Terrorism has become an internet-enabled abuse—incited, propagated, and sometimes organized and concealed by online activity. Who should be held accountable for abusive content, the author or the publisher? And what role should the government play in regulating it?

    Mar 20, 2019 The Hill

  • Soldiers assigned to the 101st Resolute Support Sustainment Brigade load onto a helicopter to head out and execute missions across Afghanistan, Jan. 15, 2019, photo by 1st Lt. Verniccia Ford/U.S. Department of Defense

    Trump's Latest Move on Afghanistan Is a Repeat of Obama's

    So far, both Presidents Obama and Trump have chosen “not to lose” in Afghanistan. As time goes on and the American public's patience grows shorter, this choice becomes more difficult.

    Mar 11, 2019 The Hill

  • U.S. military advisers from the 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade walk at an Afghan National Army base in Maidan Wardak province, Afghanistan, August 6, 2018, photo by James Mackenzie/Reuters

    Don't Rush Into Afghan Peace

    The Trump administration has reportedly offered to withdraw forces from Afghanistan if the Taliban stops fighting and opens negotiations with the government. If the Taliban agrees to a cease-fire and wider negotiations, it will be an accomplishment to celebrate. But it will be only the first step on a long and difficult road to peace.

    Mar 1, 2019 The Wall Street Journal

  • U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un shake hands before their one-on-one chat during the second U.S.-North Korea summit at the Metropole Hotel in Hanoi, Vietnam, February 27, 2019, photo by Leah Millis/Reuters

    Declaring an End to the Korean War

    President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un might agree at their summit this week in Hanoi, Vietnam, to declare an end to the Korean War. Since this conflict stopped 66 years ago, what would be the practical impact of such declaration?

    Feb 28, 2019 USA Today

  • A soldier stands guard near a poster of Syria's President Bashar al Assad and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in Rastan, Syria, June 6, 2018

    Confusion Over the U.S. Withdrawal from Syria

    Washington's strategy in Syria has been to impose costs on the Syrian government by diplomatic ostracism and economic sanctions. This punitive approach is morally satisfying and politically expedient, but as a practical matter it just helps perpetuate the conflict and sustain Assad's dependency on Iran.

    Jan 9, 2019 Reuters

  • U.S. President Donald Trump arrives to deliver remarks on the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) at a news conference in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, U.S., October 1, 2018

    The End of the End of History?

    The Trump administration has taken steps that represent a significant retreat from the norm-based, world order that the United States has championed since 1945. If this shift continues, what might be the impact?

    Jan 8, 2019 The Wall Street Journal

  • Chinese President Xi Jinping meets former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, November 8, 2018

    Engagement vs. Competition: The China Policy Debate

    There is a consensus that the U.S. is engaged in an intensifying strategic competition with China. It's less clear what relationship the U.S. should seek and can plausibly achieve with its competitor. An inability to classify China along the ally-to-adversary continuum limits, if not precludes, America's ability to formulate a coherent strategy.

    Dec 31, 2018 The Hill

  • U.S. Soldiers surveil the area during a combined joint patrol in Manbij, Syria, November 1, 2018

    Trump's Syria Withdrawal: Right Idea, Wrong Way, Wrong Time

    President Trump's desire to withdraw from Syria is consistent with his and his predecessor's national strategies, but the manner in which the decision has been taken is highly counterproductive. Unless modified it could have disastrous consequences, says James Dobbins.

    Dec 26, 2018 Reuters

  • German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks during a session at the lower house of parliament in Berlin, October 17, 2018

    Merkel's Departure: A Star Begins to Dim

    German Chancellor Angela Merkel's decision to not seek re-election may signal an end to two key features of post-WWII Europe.

    Oct 31, 2018 The Hill

  • U.S. President Donald Trump, flanked by White House senior advisor Jared Kushner, meets with Saudi Arabia's Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Riyadh, May 20, 2017

    The Khashoggi Case and the Cost of Subcontracting U.S. Policy

    Following the killing of the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the United States needs to, at minimum, return toward a distinctly American policy toward the Middle East, one which can be distinguished from that of its local partners.

    Oct 23, 2018 The Hill

  • International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde speaks at a Belt and Road conference in Beijing, China, April 12, 2018

    The Global Order Will Outlast U.S. Leadership

    Even if America bails on the international order there is plenty of evidence that Europe, China, Japan, and the rest of the developed world will maintain existing multilateral structures and build new ones. The order will survive but may become less liberal, less democratic, and perhaps less peaceful.

    Aug 23, 2018 The Wall Street Journal

  • The Facebook logo is pictured during the Viva Tech start-up and technology summit in Paris, France, May 25, 2018

    Freedom of the Internet 'Press'

    The First Amendment protects the rights of companies such as Facebook and YouTube to publish what they choose. Arguing against this right could lead to government regulation over digital media. It could also further degrade the reliability of online information.

    Aug 10, 2018 The Hill

  • U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delivers remarks on the Trump administration's Iran policy at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, May 21, 2018

    Regime Change in Iran: Watch What You Ask For

    Mike Pompeo's speech in May signaled a desire for regime change in Iran, but the U.S. will have to change its approach to shape a positive outcome. This could involve targeting sanctions more narrowly rather than seeking to impoverish the general population. And lifting the ban on Iranian visitors to the U.S. would be a good start.

    Aug 2, 2018 USA Today

  • Heads of state ahead of the opening ceremony of the NATO summit, at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, July 11, 2018

    A Look at NATO Funding

    European defense spending has been rising since 2014. NATO's two percent of GDP target for defense spending is a goal, not a commitment, and indeed a goal to be reached by 2024, not a standard allies have already failed to meet.

    Jul 13, 2018 Inside Sources

  • North Korean leader Kim Jong Un shakes hands with U.S. President Donald Trump at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa island in Singapore, June 12, 2018

    Why This Wasn't Kim's Father's—or Grandfather's—Summit

    This is the third time the United States and North Korea have started down a path toward denuclearization and normalization of relations. The difference now is that Trump and Kim have committed themselves earlier on in the process and more publicly than their predecessors did.

    Jun 13, 2018 Reuters

  • G7 leaders take part in a working session on the first day of the G7 meeting in La Malbaie, Quebec, Canada, June 8, 2018

    Why Russia Should Not Rejoin the G7

    Even were it to disgorge the parts of Ukraine that it seized in 2014, Russia still would not qualify for reentry into the G8. An aspirational case for Russian membership might be made, but only if Russia's leadership aspires to democratic government and an open free market economy. At the moment there is no sign of such an aspiration.

    Jun 13, 2018 USA Today

  • Women walk past a TV broadcasting a news report on the cancelled summit between the U.S. and North Korea, in Seoul, South Korea, May 25, 2018

    Canceled Summit Doesn't Spell End to U.S.-North Korea Nuclear Diplomacy

    President Trump canceled his June 12 meeting with Kim Jong-un but left the door open for a future one. Successful diplomacy will require tending and fostering U.S. relations with China, Japan, and South Korea while forging an entirely new relationship with North Korea.

    May 25, 2018 The Hill

  • U.S. President Trump holds up a proclamation declaring his intention to withdraw from the JCPOA Iran nuclear agreement after signing it at the White House, May 8, 2018

    The U.S. Is Out of the Iran Deal. What Now?

    Abandoning the nuclear agreement with Iran isolates the United States, reneges on an American commitment, adds to the risk of a trade war with U.S. allies and a hot war with Iran, and diminishes the prospects of an agreement to eliminate the North Korean threat.

    May 9, 2018 Reuters

  • A member of U.S forces rides on a military vehicle in the town of Darbasiya next to the Turkish border, Syria April 28, 2017

    Conditioning American Withdrawal from Syria

    U.S. forces will soon withdraw from Syria, and the U.S. State Department put a hold on further stabilization assistance to areas liberated from the Islamic State. The U.S. and its partners should offer stabilization and reconstruction help, particularly in regions where much of the damage was the result of American-supported military operations.

    Apr 9, 2018 Al-Monitor

  • North Korean leader Kim Jong Un waves to the crowd during a military parade in Pyongyang, April 15, 2012

    What Will Kim Jong Un Want and What He Might Give

    Verifiable denuclearization is an impossible goal, not just because Kim Jong Un may not agree, but because such a deal couldn't be fully verified if he did. But this doesn't mean there is no deal worth making for America.

    Mar 12, 2018 The Hill

  • A display featuring missiles and a portrait of Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is seen at Baharestan Square in Tehran, Iran, September 27, 2017

    Can Europe Save the Iran Nuclear Deal?

    In mid-January, President Trump threatened to withdraw from the Iran agreement if Europe does not “fix” it within four months. There are viable steps Europe could take to address Trump's concerns about the deal — on missile development, inspections, and sunset clauses. However, if the U.S. withdraws, Europe could still work with other international powers to keep the deal alive.

    Mar 12, 2018 Reuters

  • Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May makes a speech about her vision for Brexit at Mansion House in London, Britain, March 2, 2018

    A Brexit Do-Over?

    European Union member states have a method for dealing with unsatisfactory referendums, called a do-over. A Brexit do-over would be complicated—all 27 other EU members would have to agree—but since Britain leaving is also disadvantageous for the rest of the EU, they have incentives to welcome back the prodigal.

    Mar 6, 2018 U.S. News & World Report

  • U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announces North Korea-related sanctions, Washington, D.C., February 23, 2018

    North Korean Sanctions to Make for Interesting U.S.-China Trade Talks

    With one of China's top officials arriving in Washington for trade talks, this might not be the best time to impose additional tariffs on Chinese exports, as the Trump administration has been threatening.

    Feb 28, 2018 The Hill

  • U.S. Army soldiers load military vehicles onto trains at Camp Carroll in Chilgok, South Korea, during the annual Key Resolve/Foal Eagle military exercises, March 6, 2012

    Joint Military Exercise Can Be a Bargaining Chip with North Korea

    Since 1976, the United States and South Korea have scheduled large-scale joint military exercises each year. Postponing the exercises this year has led to some signs that North Korea might be open to diplomacy. Delaying the exercises further could lead to direct talks between Washington and Pyongyang.

    Feb 23, 2018 The Hill

  • U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and South Korea's President Moon Jae-in attend short track speed skating events in Pyeongchang, February 10, 2018

    At Olympics, U.S. and Korean Leaders Revive Familiar Roles

    The current spate of North-South Korean diplomacy could be short-lived, giving way to resumed tensions and mounting fears of war. It seems possible, however, that South Korean President Moon Jae-in will succeed in brokering direct talks between Pyongyang and Washington.

    Feb 22, 2018 Reuters

  • Smoke rises after an airstrike during fighting between the Syrian Democratic Forces and Islamic State militants, Raqqa, Syria, August 15, 2017

    Tillerson's All of the Above Policy for Syria

    U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson proposed to suppress any ISIS resurgence in Syria, oust Bashar al Assad, reduce Iranian influence, continue to back a Kurdish-dominated enclave, and reassure Turkey. It's important to understand why such an “all of the above” approach would not be workable.

    Feb 1, 2018 Newsweek

  • North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visits the national science centre, in Pyongyang, North Korea, January 12, 2018

    Nothing New from North Korea

    Kim Jong Un's recent proposal for talks with South Korea is by no means unprecedented. And while the overture could somewhat ease tensions in the region, there is no reason to believe that Kim is ready to give up his nuclear arsenal.

    Jan 12, 2018 U.S. News & World Report

  • Children run along a damaged street as they celebrate the first day of the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha at a rebel-held area in Deraa, Syria, September 1, 2017

    How to Help Syrians — Without Helping Assad

    The U.S. and others have a major interest in ending the Syrian civil war, helping the millions of displaced Syrians, and preventing the re-emergence of the Islamic State. But they are naturally reluctant to assist rebuilding a country run by Assad and supported by Russia and Iran. What are their options?

    Nov 3, 2017 The Washington Post

  • An Iranian flag flutters in front of the International Atomic Energy Agency headquarters in Vienna, Austria, January 15, 2016

    Why the Iran Nuclear Deal Benefits the U.S.

    The Iran deal has stretched the time needed to produce a nuclear weapon from three to at least 12 months and has established the strongest inspections system ever negotiated. Walking away from the agreement now will only isolate the U.S. and provide Iran an easy excuse to join North Korea on the road toward nuclear weapons.

    Oct 23, 2017 St. Louis Post-Dispatch

  • U.S. President Donald Trump speaks about the Iran nuclear deal in the Diplomatic Room of the White House in Washington, U.S., October 13, 2017

    Punting on the Iran Nuclear Deal

    President Trump has signaled that he is likely to decline to certify that Iran is adhering to its nuclear deal commitments. The alternatives to the agreement are clear: Iran will develop nuclear weapons, the U.S. will go to war to prevent this, or both.

    Oct 16, 2017 U.S. News & World Report

  • U.S. President Donald Trump announces his strategy for the war in Afghanistan during an address to the nation from Fort Myer, Virginia, August 21, 2017

    Trump's New Afghanistan Strategy: Governing from the Center?

    The president has embraced a national security establishment strategy for Afghanistan with a veneer that does not alter its essence. The result is likely to disappoint some of his supporters and to be criticized by his opponents, but it will also secure a measure of bipartisan support.

    Aug 22, 2017 The Hill

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G-20 summit in Hamburg, Germany July 8, 2017

    In Its Relations with Russia, Can the U.S. Walk and Chew Gum at the Same Time?

    A U.S. policy of unremitting hostility toward Russia won't command domestic support or secure European backing. Neither will a policy of comprehensive collaboration. Washington needs to confront Moscow where necessary and cooperate where possible.

    Aug 6, 2017 U.S. News & World Report

  • An American flag on a fence in the prairie

    American Retrenchment Is a Golden Oldie

    Isolationism is a recurring temptation of American foreign policy. Responding to new and unforeseen challenges, however, the United States has repeatedly resisted that temptation and risen to the demands of global leadership. Is it different today?

    Aug 1, 2017 The Wall Street Journal

  • Afghan local police (ALP) sit at the back of a truck near a frontline during a battle with the Taliban at Qalay-i-zal district, in Kunduz province, Afghanistan August 1, 2015

    Trump's Options for Afghanistan: Losing or Not Losing

    The Trump administration faces the choice of losing quickly by withdrawing from Afghanistan; losing slowly by maintaining America's current, inadequate commitment; or not losing by increasing that commitment enough to maintain a stalemate on the battlefield.

    Jun 23, 2017 The Cipher Brief

  • War veterans and commanding officers in a military parade celebrate the 60th anniversary of the signing of the truce of the Korean War, in Pyongyang, August 3, 2013

    End the Korean War, Finally

    Sixty-four years ago, the Korean War was suspended by a cease-fire. A peace treaty was never signed. Standing ready to formally end this old war may be the key to dismantling North Korea's nuclear program without starting a new one.

    Jun 8, 2017 New York Times

  • A coder types on laptop keyboard

    Reining in Internet Abuse

    The internet is being used for harmful, unethical, and illegal purposes. Examples include incitement and recruitment by terrorists, cyber bullying, and malicious fake news. Americans say they are unhappy with the tone of the online discourse, but are reluctant to consider potential remedies.

    Mar 23, 2017 Inside Sources

  • Iraqi civilians walk in Al Mansour District as fighting between Iraqi security forces and Islamic State fighters continues in western Mosul, Iraq, March 10, 2017

    Why a Dying Islamic State Could Be an Even Bigger Threat to America

    The collapse of the so-called caliphate won't eliminate ISIS or similar groups. In the short term, the threat of ISIS-related attacks on the West may even grow.

    Mar 13, 2017 Fortune

  • ExxonMobil Chairman and CEO Rex Tillerson speaks during the 26th World Gas Conference in Paris, France, June 2, 2015.

    Rex Tillerson's Many Challenges

    If confirmed as secretary of state, Rex Tillerson will face a broad array of challenges. One may be to lend the administration consistency, while closing at least some of the deals that President-elect Trump has promised.

    Dec 24, 2016 U.S. News & World Report

  • A worker reads a freshly printed newspaper with the headline reading "We will tremble" at a printer of the local daily Norte in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, November 9, 2016.

    Is the U.S. Abandoning the World Order It Created?

    In the 20th century the United States created and expanded a world order that has provided security and prosperity, and it has borne much of the cost for sustaining it. Can that liberal global order be updated rather than jettisoned?

    Nov 14, 2016 Newsweek

  • People hold banners during a March for Europe demonstration against Britain's decision to leave the European Union, in central London, Britain, July 2, 2016

    Time for a Do-Over on Brexit

    As the right of the UK voters to decide on EU membership should be respected, so should their right to change their minds. There is no reason to regard their choice to leave as irreversible.

    Jul 7, 2016 USA Today

  • U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (center) listens as President Barack Obama meets with veterans and Gold Star Mothers about the Iran nuclear deal at the White House in Washington, DC, September 10, 2015

    Before Obama Leaves Office, Here's What He Should Do About Iran

    The United States needs to pursue policies designed to preclude regional hegemony and create a balance of power in the Middle East, while also expressing support for human rights and engaging Iran diplomatically.

    Jun 17, 2016 Washington Post

  • Afghan security forces keep watch after a suicide car bomb attack on a government security building in Kabul, Afghanistan, April 19, 2016

    The Taliban's Persistent Threat

    The United States and its NATO allies have been scaling back their military commitment in Afghanistan. The Taliban, in response, have been scaling up their operations, inflicting unprecedented heavy casualties on Afghan government forces and gaining increased control over much of the countryside.

    Apr 21, 2016 The Cipher Brief

  • Members of the Group of 20 during the G20 leaders summit in Antalya, Turkey, November 15, 2015

    Foreign Policy Challenges on the Campaign Trail

    Foreign and security policy will play a significant role in the run-up to the November U.S. presidential election. The campaign offers voters a wide spectrum of responses to the challenges of militant Islamism, ties with China and Russia, dealings with rogue states like North Korea, and free trade.

    Feb 4, 2016 U.S. News & World Report

  • Pakistani Taliban fighters, who were arrested by Afghan border police, stand during a presentation of seized weapons and equipment in Kabul, Afghanistan, January 5, 2016

    Pakistan Holds the Key to Peace in Afghanistan

    Sustained and intensified U.S. pressure on Pakistan offers the only viable path to advancing the Afghan reconciliation process in a way that does not turn Afghanistan into a launching pad for terrorism and extremism.

    Jan 11, 2016 Newsweek

  • U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Foreign Minister of Russia Sergey Lavrov before a meeting of Foreign Ministers about Syria in New York, December 18, 2015

    A Realistic Peace Plan for Syria Needs to Begin with an Immediate Cease-Fire

    To reach peace in Syria, the International Syria Support Group should concentrate on securing an immediate cease-fire and arranging for its enforcement, followed by further negotiations on the shape of a reconstituted Syrian state.

    Dec 18, 2015 Washington Post

  • A schoolgirl walks past damaged buildings in Maarrat al-Numan, Syria, October 28, 2015

    Partition Syria to Crush the Islamic State

    The Islamic State will never join in any settlement. Peace in Syria therefore requires that everyone else stop fighting each other and join in suppressing the Islamic State.

    Nov 1, 2015 USA Today

  • Palestinians walk past Israel's controversial barrier at a checkpoint near Ramallah, July 10, 2015

    One State Over the Status Quo

    If the next U.S. administration were to conclude that perpetuating the Israeli-Palestinian status quo for another eight years was unacceptable or unachievable, it might begin speaking of the one-state solution not as its preferred outcome, but as one more acceptable than no solution at all.

    Aug 18, 2015 U.S. News & World Report

  • Anti-government protesters at the site of clashes with riot police in Kiev on January 25, 2014

    Reports of Global Disorder Have Been Greatly Exaggerated

    Deterring Russia, channeling growing Chinese power, and working with others to dismantle the Islamic State are daunting challenges, but not greater than rebuilding post-World War II Europe, containing the Soviet Union, ending the Cold War, and promoting democratic governance throughout much of the modern world.

    Jul 22, 2015 Foreign Policy

  • Afghanistan Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah, Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter at their news conference following diplomatic meetings at Camp David, Maryland, March 23, 2015

    What Afghanistan Wants from Washington

    Afghan President Ghani's main mission in coming to Washington is to change the American view of Afghanistan, not so much inside the Obama administration as on Capitol Hill. This view remains a mostly negative one, formed by a seemingly endless war, high levels of government corruption, and repeated expressions of rank ingratitude on the part of Ghani's predecessor.

    Mar 23, 2015 Politico

  • Afghanistan's President Ashraf Ghani inspects the honour guard during a graduation ceremony at the National Military Academy in Kabul, March 18, 2015

    Q&A: What to Expect from Ghani's U.S. Visit

    With Afghan President Ashraf Ghani's first official visit to the United States set to begin Sunday, a trio of RAND researchers discuss what to expect after the president and his chief executive officer, Abdullah Abdullah, arrive in Washington.

    Mar 20, 2015

  • Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (L) discusses a report on the CIA's anti-terrorism tactics on the floor of the U.S. Senate as Senators Debbie Stabenow (rear) and Patty Murray look on, Washington, December 9, 2014

    Why the Senate Intelligence Committee and the CIA May Both Be Right

    Given that many questions of fact regarding the CIA's program of enhanced interrogation techniques can probably never be conclusively answered, the real issue comes down to a value judgment: whether inflicting physical pain on prisoners is an acceptable means of reducing the risk of terrorist attacks.

    Dec 12, 2014 U.S. News & World Report

  • Afghan policemen in Kabul

    Afghanistan After America: A Fragile Stability

    Since 2011, the United States, the Afghan government, and the Taliban have engaged in intermittent and often indirect talks about peace negotiations. It may be stalemate on the battlefield that eventually forces the parties to break this stalemate over the shape of a peace process.

    Nov 14, 2014 The Mark News

  • A Kurdish Peshmerga fighter launches mortar shells towards Zummar, controlled by the Islamic State, near Mosul, September 15, 2014

    Does ISIL Represent a Threat to the United States?

    There are legitimate questions about how to best go about preventing ISIL from consolidating its control over Iraq and Levant. But this is very different from arguing that ISIL is not a threat and that the United States therefore should stand aside as it does so.

    Oct 3, 2014 The Hill

  • U.S. President Barack Obama meets with the National Security Council in the Situation Room of the White House in Washington

    Taking It One Crisis at a Time

    The main difference between the immediate post-Cold War decade and the post-9/11 era as regards the variety of international challenges is that during that earlier period these challenges were faced and dealt with seriatim, rather than allowed to accumulate.

    Aug 19, 2014 U.S. News & World Report

  • U.S. Army sergeant throws a smoke grenade to mask his team's movements during a joint operation with the Iraqi police

    Learning Curve

    The post-Vietnam “never again” attitude led to a severe atrophy of the U.S. military's counterinsurgency skills and it is quite possible that the U.S. military will go through a similar phase of unlearning over the next several years, writes James Dobbins.

    Mar 14, 2013 Foreign Policy

  • View of buildings damaged by what activists said were missiles fired by a Syrian Air Force fighter jet loyal to President Bashar al-Assad at Jessreen area in Ghouta east of Damascus, December 2, 2012

    Syria, the Case for Intervention

    The longer this war drags on, the more radicalised become the insurgents, the more brutalised the population, the more inflamed the sectarian passions, and the more destabilised neighbouring societies, writes James Dobbins.

    Dec 7, 2012 Financial Times

  • U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta walks through an honor cordon at the Chinese North Sea Fleet headquarters in Qingdao, China

    U.S. President Can Sustain Peace with China, Through Deterrence

    The steady growth of China's military power raises important questions about the role that the next U.S. president should play in either containing China, cooperating with China, or trying to strike a balance between containment and cooperation, write James Dobbins and Roger Cliff.

    Nov 6, 2012 The Orange County Register

  • men looking at a United States poltical map

    The National Security Consensus

    Today American public opinion is much less divided on international issues than it was four years ago. The two presidential candidates are much closer in their expressed views than were Obama and McCain, writes James Dobbins.

    Nov 6, 2012 Foreign Policy

  • President Obama speaking at the Lincoln Memorial

    Rhetorical Questions

    However one characterizes the strategic communications of the early Obama administration, there can be little doubt that by calibrating his messages more to foreign audiences, he increased regard for America around the globe, as confirmed in numerous opinion polls, writes James Dobbins.

    Oct 26, 2012 Foreign Policy

  • Iranians supporting Mousavi in Azadi Square

    Gate Crashing the Opposition: Why Washington Should Leave Regime Change to the Iranians

    Emphasizing human rights will demonstrate to the Iranian people that the U.S. cares for their future. Threats of military action and war will only convince the Iranian opposition that America is a hostile power that supports regime change for its own narrow purposes, write James Dobbins and Alireza Nader.

    Aug 23, 2012 Foreign Affairs

  • Dormation drills during a passing exercise in the South China Sea

    Conflict with China: What It Would Look Like, How to Avoid It

    While China's overall military capabilities will not equal those of the United States anytime soon, it will more quickly achieve local superiority in its immediate neighborhood, first in and around Taiwan and then at somewhat greater distances, writes James Dobbins.

    Aug 14, 2012 The Diplomat

  • Free Syrian Army members shout Islamic slogans as they prepare to move into Aleppo's district of Salah Edinne August 9, 2012

    Step Up Opposition Support

    Well-meant advice and promises of postwar aid will mean much less in forging a relationship with the eventual rulers of Syria than decisive assistance now, writes James Dobbins.

    Aug 9, 2012 NYTimes.com

  • A Free Syrian Army fighter takes cover during clashes with the Syrian Army in the Salaheddine neighbourhood of central Aleppo, August 7, 2012

    Fiasco in the Levant

    The United States' ability to shape future events in Syria will only be as great as the support it gives the rebels in their fight to topple Assad, writes James Dobbins.

    Aug 9, 2012 Foreign Policy

  • Free Syrian Army members raise an opposition flag on top of a damaged building in Al-Rasten, near Homs, Syria, July 27, 2012

    The Case for Expanding Assistance to the Syrian Opposition

    What is important for the U.S. government to do at this stage is forge relationships with those likely to next govern Syria. The United States should up its assistance to the rebels, providing military assets needed for success that only the United States possesses in adequate number.

    Aug 1, 2012

  • U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton meets with Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Hor Namhong of Cambodia at the Department of State in Washington, D.C. on June 12, 2012

    Debating Hillary

    Absent further developments or revelations, history will judge Hillary Clinton's tenure as secretary of state as solid if unspectacular, writes James Dobbins.

    Jun 21, 2012 Foreign Policy

  • U.S. President Barack Obama waves as he walks on the South Lawn of the White House upon his return to Washington May 2, 2012 after a trip to Afghanistan

    Obama Learned from Bush's Mistakes and Successes

    On-the-job training is a necessary element of the American presidency, but so should be learning from the accomplishments, as well as the mistakes, of one's predecessor, writes James Dobbins.

    May 2, 2012 U.S. News & World Report, Debate Club

  • U.S. President Barack Obama (R) shakes hands with American Israel Public Affairs Committee President Lee Rosenberg before he delivers remarks to AIPAC's annual policy conference in Washington, March 4, 2012

    U.S. and Israel Need to Agree on Strike Against Iran

    Essential to any Israeli government decision to bomb Iran is confidence that whatever advice Washington might provide before the attack, the U.S. administration will feel bound to help Israel cope with the consequences of its action, writes James Dobbins.

    Mar 5, 2012 U.S. News & World Report, Debate Club

  • Demonstrators protest against Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in al-Midan district in Damascus, February 14, 2012, photo by Reuters

    Syria Is Trending Toward the Libya Model

    If the Syrian opposition clearly asks for American help, if the rest of the Arab world supports such a military intervention, and if America's European allies prove ready to join in—and indeed lead—such an effort, the United States should contribute those military assets which only it can provide, writes James Dobbins.

    Feb 14, 2012 U.S. News & World Report, Debate Club

  • Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta enters a press conference with Afghan President Hamid Karzai in Kabul, Afghanistan, December 14, 2011, photo by Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo/U.S. Dept. of Defense

    Negotiating Peace in Afghanistan Without Repeating Vietnam

    The Vietnam negotiations arose from a U.S. initiative, in response to domestic political imperatives and over repeated objections from the Saigon regime. By contrast, the incipient Afghan process has its roots in that society, not ours, writes James Dobbins.

    Jan 13, 2012 The Washington Post

  • Iran's Navy commander Habibollah Sayyari points from a naval ship during Velayat-90 war game on Sea of Oman near the Strait of Hormuz, Iran, January 1, 2012

    Iran's Self-Destructive Gamble

    For all its bluster, the Iranian regime is more vulnerable than at any time in its 32-year history. Internally, Iran is constrained by deep political divisions, civil strife and a woeful economy, write Alireza Nader and James Dobbins.

    Jan 6, 2012 NYTimes.com on January 5, 2012 and in International Herald Tribune

  • Britain's Foreign Secretary William Hague (L) talks to Dutch Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal at the start of a European Union foreign ministers meeting at the EU Council headquarters in Brussels, December 1, 2011

    Dissuading Iran from the Bomb and Avoiding War

    By refusing to face more squarely the probability that Iran will eventually acquire a nuclear weapons capability, the American and Israeli governments actually reduce their ability to dissuade Iran from crossing that threshold, writes James Dobbins.

    Dec 2, 2011 Public Service Europe

  • :An Iranian cleric talks to students who are forming a human chain around the Uranium Conversion Facility to show their support for Iran's nuclear programme in Isfahan, Iran, November 15, 2011, photo by Morteza Nikoubazl/Reuters

    An Attack Would Only Strengthen Iran's Influence

    Reaction to a strike against Iran among neighboring populations would be almost uniformly hostile. The sympathy thereby aroused for Iran would make containment of Iranian influence much more difficult for Israel, for the U.S., and for the Arab regimes currently allied with Washington, writes James Dobbins.

    Nov 16, 2011 U.S. News & World Report, Debate Club

  • The sun rises above the mountain ridges of Kunar province overlooking the bunkers of soldiers from the Afghan army at Combat Outpost Pirtle King in Ghaziabad district in eastern Afghanistan, September 24, 2011, photo by Erik De Castro/Reuters

    Don't Overestimate Afghanistan Pessimism

    Multiple polls commissioned by independent news and other organizations consistently reveal an Afghan population that sees improvement in its well-being, has a favorable view of its government and is optimistic about its future, writes James Dobbins.

    Sep 29, 2011 Reuters blog, The Great Debate

  • Protesters in Libya burning books

    Libyan Nation Building After Qaddafi

    If Libya is to have a chance of replacing Qaddafi with something better, the United States, its allies, and the rest of the international community will need to pivot very quickly from the rather straightforward requirements of war fighting to taking seriously the complex and demanding tasks of peace building, write James Dobbins and Frederic Wehrey.

    Aug 23, 2011 Foreign Affairs

  • Afghanistan's Reasons for Optimism

    Afghans in general are much more optimistic about their future than we Americans are about ours, write James Dobbins and Craig Charney.

    Apr 1, 2011 The Washington Post

  • Thinking Twice about Libyan Engagement

    We have learned over the past couple of decades that it is deceptively easy for the world's only superpower to topple objectionable regimes—but a good deal harder to replace them with something better, writes James Dobbins.

    Mar 15, 2011 RAND.org and GlobalSecurity.org

  • Your COIN Is No Good Here

    One can legitimately argue for reducing the United States' commitment to the Afghan war, but it makes no sense to denigrate the tactics and techniques best designed to counter an insurgency, writes James Dobbins.

    Oct 26, 2010 Foreign Affairs

  • A To-Do List for Shoring Up Haiti

    It is not enough to raise stronger buildings. What Haiti truly needs is a more resilient and effective government, write James Dobbins and Laurel Miller.

    Aug 23, 2010 Los Angeles Times

  • The Afghanistan Clock

    By replacing Gen. Stanley McChrystal with Gen. David Petraeus, U.S. President Barack Obama has treated the most recent symptom of his Afghan malaise—an insubordinate, or at least indiscreet, general. He has not, however, addressed the underlying malady, writes James Dobbins.

    Jun 25, 2010 ForeignPolicy.com

  • Talking to the Taliban

    President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan wants to talk to the Taliban, and that's going to be a thorny issue for President Obama when the two leaders meet on Wednesday, writes James Dobbins.

    May 12, 2010 International Herald Tribune

  • Dueling Doctrines: Mullen vs. Powell? Or Mullen & Powell vs. Rumsfeld?

    Reflecting changes in the American approach to counterinsurgency, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mullen recently enunciated a new and apparently more restrained doctrine for the use of armed force. But is this really a repudiation of the so-called Powell Doctrine, asks James Dobbins.

    Mar 17, 2010 Proceedings, a magazine of the U.S. Naval Institute

  • Skip the Graft

    The latest disaster to befall Haiti creates the opportunity to combine bipartisan accord on Haiti in Washington with keen and perhaps sustained American public interest, writes James Dobbins.

    Jan 17, 2010 New York Times

  • When Generals and Ambassadors Feud

    In 2007 in Iraq, Gen. David Petraeus and Amb. Ryan Crocker set a model for civil-military collaboration: They never let daylight show between their positions. General McChrystal and Ambassador Karl Eikenberry have diverged from this model, writes James Dobbins.

    Nov 13, 2009 Foreign Policy

  • Our Man in Kabul

    The last thing Karzai, NATO, and the United States can afford is the emergence of a renewed northern alliance, writes James Dobbins.

    Nov 4, 2009 Foreign Affairs

  • Afghanistan: Echoes of Vietnam

    Now that U.S. involvement in Iraq has begun to require fewer resources, Afghanistan is the new focus of American and European anti-war sentiment, and increasingly Obama's critics are drawing on the analogy of Vietnam, writes James Dobbins.

    Oct 8, 2009 The Huffington Post

  • Real Threats, Real Fears, Real Defenses

    Critics of the Bush administration missile defense plans for Central Europe have charged that the United States would be deploying defenses that did not work against a threat that did not exist, writes James Dobbins.

    Sep 21, 2009 International Herald Tribune

  • Ultimate Exit Strategy

    Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has described the upcoming high-level conference on Afghanistan at The Hague as a "big-tent meeting, with 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 also think big, write Karl F. Inderfurth and James Dobbins.

    Mar 26, 2009 International Herald Tribune

  • To Talk with Iran, Stop Not Talking

    If the dominant imperative is to stop Iran from getting the bomb, every month counts. Perhaps the simplest -- and certainly the quickest -- way to launch a dialogue with Iran, and the one least likely to play unhelpfully into the upcoming Iranian election, would be to simply stop not talking to Tehran, writes James Dobbins.

    Mar 3, 2009 The Washington Post

  • Dealing with Iran: The Case for Talking

    Opponents of war with Iran who take their stand on the grounds that Washington should talk to Tehran first are in danger of finding themselves trapped within a broadening national consensus that could lead to an unwinnable war, writes James Dobbins.

    Jun 30, 2008 International Herald Tribune

  • An Independent Kosovo Was a Part of the U.N.'s Plan

    Diplomatic wrangling over Kosovo's declaration of independence this week has created a good deal of misunderstanding about the U.N. Security Council Resolution that defines that society's current status and future evolution, writes James Dobbins.

    Feb 25, 2008 Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

  • Not That Bad a Legacy, After All

    George W. Bush may leave a positive foreign policy legacy after all. A year ago this would have seemed difficult to credit... [Y]et over this period, Bush has put in place a series of more pragmatic policies from which even a Democratic successor will have a hard time moving away, writes James Dobbins.

    Jan 17, 2008 International Herald Tribune

  • The Right Way to Withdraw

    We're involved too deeply in Iraq and Afghanistan to exit suddenly without fixing our mess.

    Oct 14, 2007 Los Angeles Times

  • Ready for Another Mideast War?

    The Bush administration has acknowledged that Israel attacked Syria last week, but has not given any indication that the United States sought to prevent it, or discourage a repetition, writes James Dobbins.

    Sep 20, 2007 International Herald Tribune

  • Are the Sunnis Changing Sides

    Are the Sunnis Changing Sides, in the International Herald Tribune

    Aug 17, 2007 International Herald Tribune

  • How to Talk to Iran

    How to Talk to Iran, in Washingtonpost.com

    Jul 22, 2007 The Washington Post

  • Who Lost Iraq?

    Published commentary by RAND staff: Who Lost Iraq?

    Apr 16, 2007 International Herald Tribune

  • My Enemy's Enemy

    Published commentary by RAND staff: My Enemy's Enemy, in International Herald Tribune.

    Feb 27, 2007 International Herald Tribune

  • A Bad Plan for the Middle East

    Published commentary by RAND staff: A Bad Plan for the Middle East, in International Herald Tribune.

    Jan 17, 2007 International Herald Tribune

  • America Needs to Pick Its Fights Carefully

    Published commentary by RAND staff: America Needs to Pick Its Fights Carefully, in International Herald Tribune.

    Aug 13, 2006 International Herald Tribune

  • America Needs to Pick Its Fights Carefully

    Published commentary by RAND staff: America Needs to Pick Its Fights Carefully, in International Herald Tribune.

    May 2, 2006 International Herald Tribune

  • Dialogue Can Stop Iran at the Nuclear Threshold

    Published commentary by RAND staff: Dialogue Can Stop Iran at the Nuclear Threshold, in the Financial Times.

    Apr 4, 2006 Financial Times

  • A Far too Costly Pentagon

    Published commentary by RAND staff: A Far too Costly Pentagon, in United Press International.

    Feb 27, 2006 United Press International

  • Give Haiti United Message from D.C.

    Published commentary by RAND staff: Give Haiti United Message from D.C., in the Miami Herald.

    Feb 26, 2006 Miami Herald

  • Amateur Hour in Iraq

    Published commentary by RAND staff: Amateur Hour in Iraq, in United Press International.

    Feb 10, 2006 United Press International

  • Iraq Needs Unity

    Published commentary by RAND staff: Iraq Needs Unity in United Press International.

    Dec 30, 2005 United Press International

  • NATO's Role in Nation-building

    Published commentary by RAND staff: NATO's Role in Nation-building in NATO Review.

    Dec 8, 2005 NATO Review

  • Little to Argue About on Iraq

    Published commentary by RAND staff: Little to Argue About on Iraq in the Hill.

    Dec 7, 2005 The Hill

  • Bush Needs Allies Near Iraq, However Unsavoury

    Published commentary by RAND staff: Puts & Calls: Bush Needs Allies Near Iraq, However Unsavoury in the Financial Times.

    Nov 1, 2005 Financial Times

  • NATO Peacekeepers Need a Partner

    Published commentary by RAND staff: NATO Peacekeepers Need a Partner in the International Herald Tribune.

    Sep 30, 2005 International Herald Tribune

  • Iraq's Constitution: From Dayton to Baghdad

    Published commentary by RAND staff: IIraq's Constitution: From Dayton to Baghdad appearing in the International Herald Tribune.

    Aug 27, 2005 International Herald Tribune

  • America Is Punishing Germany for Its Iraq Opposition

    Published commentary by RAND staff.

    Jul 12, 2005 Financial Times

  • Lessons to Be Learned from Conflicts in Bosnia, Kosovo and Afghanistan

    Published commentary by RAND staff.

    Jun 28, 2005 NPR

  • Majority Rule That Respects Minorities

    Published commentary by RAND staff.

    Jun 11, 2005 International Herald Tribune

  • Iraq: Democracy vs. Power Sharing

    Published commentary by RAND staff.

    May 7, 2005 International Herald Tribune

  • Upcoming Iraqi Elections Could Make Ethnic Strife There Even Worse

    Published commentary by RAND staff.

    Jan 26, 2005 NPR

  • 'Oil for Food' Worked

    Published commentary by RAND staff.

    Dec 10, 2004 Washington Post

  • In Iran, the U.S. Can't Stay on the Sidelines

    Published commentary by RAND staff.

    Dec 2, 2004 International Herald Tribune

  • We're All Multilateralists Now

    Published commentary by RAND staff.

    Nov 13, 2004 International Herald Tribune

  • The Kosovars Need to Know Where They're Headed

    Published commentary by RAND staff.

    Oct 29, 2004 International Herald Tribune

  • Elections and Nation-building

    Published commentary by RAND staff.

    Oct 20, 2004 International Herald Tribune

  • Safety First

    Published commentary by RAND staff.

    Sep 22, 2004 New York Times

  • Nation-Building Returns to Favour

    Published commentary by RAND staff.

    Aug 11, 2004 Financial Times

  • Kosovo: Delaying is the Least-Bad Option

    The recent outbreak of ethnic violence in Kosovo has led to a good deal of soul-searching within the international community. A noble experiment in building a multi-ethnic Kosovo seems to have ended in failure. European governments are rethinking their approach. Talk of partition is gaining currency.

    Aug 2, 2004 International Herald Tribune

  • Securing the Peace Will Require Finesse

    Published commentary by RAND staff.

    Jun 27, 2004 Orange County Register

  • Gaining The Iraqis' Toleration

    Published commentary by RAND staff.

    May 28, 2004 Washington Post

  • Changing Course In Iraq Is Not an Option

    Published commentary by RAND staff.

    May 17, 2004 The Financial Times

  • Time to Deal With Iran

    Published commentary by RAND staff.

    May 6, 2004 The Washington Post

  • A Perilous Journey from Sovereignty to the Polls

    Published commentary by RAND staff.

    Mar 18, 2004 Financial Times

  • A Way Out for Haiti

    Published commentary by RAND staff.

    Feb 19, 2004 New York Times

  • A Perilous Dialogue of Pessimists

    Published commentary by RAND staff.

    Feb 4, 2004 Financial Times

  • UN Man for Baghdad: Bringing the Afghan Experience to Iraq

    Published commentary by RAND staff.

    Jan 20, 2004 International Herald Tribune

  • Carrots Are as Vital as Sticks in the Balkans

    In a collective display of wisdom and will in the Balkans, the U.S. and Europe imposed an uneasy peace upon the war-torn region in the second half of the 1990s.

    Jan 6, 2004 Financial Times

  • We've Been Down This Road Before

    commentaries by RAND Staff: insightful commentaries on current events, published in newspapers, magazines and journals worldwide.

    Jul 17, 2003 Los Angeles Times

  • America's Record on Nation Building

    commentaries by RAND Staff: insightful commentaries on current events, published in newspapers, magazines and journals worldwide.

    Jun 13, 2003 New York Times

  • And, Now: The Battle For Peace and Order

    Published commentary by RAND staff.

    Apr 11, 2003 New York Newsday

  • Europe is Split in a Number of Different Ways

    Published commentary by RAND staff.

    Feb 18, 2003 Albany Times Union

  • Afghanistan's Faltering Reconstruction

    Published commentary by RAND staff.

    Sep 12, 2002 New York Times