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2015 Commentary and Blog Posts

  • U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (L), Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (R), and UN Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura address the media in Vienna, Austria, November 14, 2015

    Bosnia Was Hard, Syria Is Harder

    Nov 16, 2015

    To find peace in Syria, cooperation among outside powers will be an essential first step. But before going forward, the great powers should soberly assess prospects for an enduring peace accord, as well as the resources required.

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin talks to servicemen during a training exercise at the Donguz testing range in Orenburg region, Russia, September 19, 2015

    Is Winter Coming? Or, Our Russia Strategy

    Nov 12, 2015

    In Washington, and across the globe, many ask if Russian actions represent a new challenge to international order, and, if so, what is the best course of action to respond to it.

  • Egypt's Prime Minister Sherif Ismail (right) listens to rescue workers as he looks at the remains of a Russian airliner after it crashed in central Sinai, north Egypt, October 31, 2015

    Passing Judgment on Russian Plane Crash Before the Facts Are In

    Nov 12, 2015

    A bright flash and catastrophic event suggest an explosion, but do not necessarily exclude the possibility of a mechanical failure. This would not, in fact, be the first time evidence pointed to a terrorist attack when none existed.

  • The remains of a Russian airliner that crashed are found near Al-Arish, Egypt, October 31, 2015

    Could the Russian Jet Crash in Egypt Prompt a Change of Direction for Putin and Russia?

    Nov 9, 2015

    If ISIS was responsible for the downing of Metrojet Flight 9268, a Russian passenger jet, this may alter the strategic equation for Moscow.

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin at a session of the Valdai International Discussion Club in Krasnaya Polyana, Sochi, October 22, 2015

    The West Needs to Take a Tougher Line with Putin

    Nov 1, 2015

    By responding more robustly to Russia's interventions, the West could reduce military asymmetries in Ukraine and Syria and improve prospects for negotiated outcomes.

  • Syrian President al-Assad made a surprise visit to Moscow on October 20, 2015, to thank Russian President Putin for launching air strikes against Islamist militants in Syria

    Five Options for the U.S. in Syria

    Oct 21, 2015

    How should the United States respond to Russia's intervention in Syria's civil war? Here are five options intended to encourage rational thinking based upon realistic presumptions, not media or campaign-driven hype.

  • The Ohio-Class ballistic missile submarine USS Nevada returns to homeport at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor following a strategic deterrent patrol

    If We Keep Cutting Defense Spending, We Must Do Less

    Oct 19, 2015

    The United States is underinvesting in defense and other instruments of national influence just when they are most needed. Improving defenses needn't require Cold War levels of expenditure but Americans should look realistically at the demands being placed on their forces and generate the revenues to meet those demands.

  • Men search for survivors at a site hit by shelling in Damascus, Syria, June 16, 2015

    A No-Fly Zone Over Syria: Q&A with Karl Mueller

    Oct 15, 2015

    Some are advocating a no-fly zone in Syria to protect civilians from both ISIS and forces loyal to Assad. What constraints complicate establishing a no-fly zone and realizing its expected benefits? And how might Assad supporters, such as Russia, respond?

  • Refugees at a transit camp in Gevgelija, Macedonia, after entering the country by crossing the border with Greece, September 24, 2015

    Will Today's Refugees Become the 'New Palestinians'?

    Oct 9, 2015

    The conflicts in Syria and Iraq have generated the greatest volume of refugees since World War II. If the international community is to avoid seeing the emergence of a population of new Palestinians lasting decades into the future, it will have to craft a more coherent approach.

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting at the Novo-Ogaryovo state residence outside Moscow, September 30, 2015

    What Is Putin Really Up to in Syria?

    Oct 2, 2015

    Russia wants to be sure that it's not ignored if and when the West succeeds in implementing a broader, more effective solution to the Syria-Iraq-ISIL problem. This is a task far beyond Russia's capabilities, but one that America, the West, and regional powers may be able to accomplish.