News Archive - 2008

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Is Ahmadinejad in Trouble? — Dec. 17, 2008

Iran's President Ahmadinejad

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad may lose the June 2009 presidential election. And a more pragmatic figure... may assume power. But no one, especially in the United States, should count on a dramatic change in Iran's policies, even if Ahmadinejad loses, writes Alireza Nader.

The Obama Withdrawal From Iraq: How Fast? — Dec. 16, 2008

U.S. soldiers against Iraq sunset, photo courtesy of Army/Medellin

The debate over withdrawal of American forces from Iraq has effectively ended: Troops will begin withdrawing in early 2009.... What is not yet entirely clear is what type of residual American force may remain in Iraq, writes Brian Michael Jenkins.

The Backlash Against Terror — Dec. 11, 2008

Mumbai Hotel on Fire

The recent terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India, are part of a disturbing trend across the Muslim world of groups that target civilians in the name of Islam, according to this commentary by Seth G. Jones for the Ethics Newsline, a publication of the Institute for Global Ethics.

Mumbai’s Terrifying Logic — Dec. 9, 2008

Taj Mahal hotel in Mumbai

We tend to describe terrorism as senseless violence, but it seldom is. If we look at the attacks from the attackers’ perspective, we can discern a certain strategic logic, as discussed in this commentary by Brian Michael Jenkins for United Press International.

India, Pakistan Must Confront Threat of More Violence — Dec. 9, 2008

Taj Mahal hotel in Mumbai

As the last Mumbai sites were being cleared of terrorists, grim signs emerged of the challenges that face India and Pakistan, as discussed in this commentary by C. Christine Fair for

Piracy Needs Regional Answer — Nov. 26, 2008

anti-piracy training, photo courtesy of U.S. Navy/Erdmann

The international community is at something of a loss as to how to respond to the increasingly audacious nature of piracy off the Horn of Africa, exemplified by the hijacking of the Saudi-owned supertanker Sirius Star and three other ships last week.

While China's Regional Influence Grows, U.S. Remains Key Security and Economic Partner in East Asia — Nov. 17, 2008

pacific currents

A new study infers that America's key East Asian allies do not see China as a viable strategic alternative to the United States and that allied nations seek to broaden economic and diplomatic relations with both the United States and China.

Obama's First International Crisis — Nov. 16, 2008

Barack Obama giving speech

According to Vice President Joe Biden, the new President Barack Obama "will be tested by an international crisis within his first six months in power," as discussed by Brian Micheal Jenkins in this commentary for the San Diego Union-Tribune.

U.S. Department of Defense Faces Obstacles in Meeting Small-Business Contract Goals — Nov. 12, 2008

three business people

Many of the goods and services purchased by the U.S. Department of Defense are from industries that are often better suited to larger companies rather than smaller ones, complicating efforts to meet goals that about one-fourth of prime-contract dollars be awarded to small businesses.

Defeating Terrorist Groups — Nov. 12, 2008

defeating terroist groups

Since 1997, the Defense Department and other federal agencies have been assigned agency-specific goals of spending a set percentage of contract dollars on goods and services with small businesses.

Talk to the Taliban? Not Now — Nov. 12, 2008

A Taliban captured by soldiers in Afghanistan, photo courtesy of Army/J. Wagner

When U.S. Central Command chief Gen. David Petraeus reviewed the worsening security situation in Afghanistan, he was advised to engage in peace talks with the Taliban. According to this commentary, by Cheryl Benard for, this may not be an advisable approach.

Know Your Enemy: From Iraq to Afghanistan — Nov. 9, 2008

U.S. soldiers walk through Afghan poppy fields, photo courtesy of Army/SSG K. Davis

As debate continues about how to fight a resurgent Al Qaeda and Taliban in Afghanistan and along the Pakistan border, leaders in Washington, Kabul and Islamabad seem lost about what to do next.

New RAND Book Provides Unique View Into Jihadist Mind — Oct. 15, 2008

masked terrorist

David Aaron, a veteran U.S. diplomat and director of the RAND Center for Middle East Public Policy, has compiled a wide range of writings by Islamic terrorists that offer an unusual window into their mentality.

NSRD research center director James Dobbins wins award for memoir of Afghanistan — Oct. 10, 2008

CB-414 Cover

The book by James Dobbins, After the Taliban: Nation-Building in Afghanistan was announced as the winner of the 2008 Douglas Dillon Award for Distinguished Writing on American Diplomacy by the American Academy of Diplomacy.

Georgia Dispute Derails Bid to Stop Nuke Terrorism — Oct. 6, 2008

Russian nuclear warhead, photo courtesy of Flickr

In the wake of Russia’s actions in Georgia, the U.S. has delayed talks with Moscow dealing with missile defense and reducing the size of strategic nuclear arsenals as discussed by Brian Micheal Jenkins for Providence Journal.

Changes Needed in Way the United States Conducts Military Interventions — Oct. 2, 2008

U.S. troops at capitol, photo courtesy of Army

In preparing for possible future military interventions, the United States needs to shift substantial resources and integrate military-civilian efforts.

War's Invisible Wounds — Sep. 28, 2008

Soldier Hugs Wife

Nearly 300,000 Iraq and Afghanistan service veterans who have returned home, about one in five, may suffer from combat-stress-related mental health problems as discussed in this commentary for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Political Reform in the Arab World is a Mixed Bag in Confronting Terrorism — Sep. 24, 2008

Iraq Politics - Image Courtesy of Flickr

A RAND Corporation study issued today finds that democratic political reforms can marginalize extremists and undermine support for political violence, but cosmetic reforms and backtracking on democratization can exacerbate the risk of terrorism.

Effects of Deployments on Spouses of Military Personnel — Sep. 23, 2008

Deployment Affects Kids Also, image courtesy of Flickr

A recent dissertation by Bogdan Savych examines the effect of deployment on spousal labor force participation and household well-being.

Defeating Terrorist Groups — Sep. 23, 2008

Anti Terrorist Patrol - Courtesy of US Army

Testimony presented by Seth G. Jones before the House Armed Services Committee, Subcommittee on Terrorism and Unconventional Threats and Capabilities.

Meeting America's Security Challenges Beyond Iraq: A Conference Report — Sep. 22, 2008

Globe, looking toward future

This conference discussed a list of security obligations that America faces, as well as future security issues likely to be problematic for any new administration, and discussed how the U.S. government and defense community should address these challenges.

A Nuclear 9/11? — Sep. 11 2008

Brian Michael Jenkins

Will terrorists go nuclear? It is a question that worried public officials and frightened citizens have been asking for decades. It is no less of a worry today, as we ponder the seventh anniversary of 9/11 as discussed by Brian Micheal Jenkins for .

A ‘Europe Whole and Free and at Peace’ — Sep. 9, 2008

Russian roadblock, Gori, Republic of Georgia, photo (c) Onnik Krikorian / Oneworld Multimedia 2008

Events in Georgia can and will have broader repercussions, most particularly on Russia's relations with Europe and especially the United States, far beyond anything at stake in the Caucasus as discussed by Robert E. Hunter for the Providence Journal .

Smooth Presidential Transition Is Crucial To Early Foreign Policy and National Security Success — Sep. 8, 2008

President George W. Bush

The foreign policy success of incoming presidents, particularly in the early years of a presidency, is largely determined by how well the new administration learns from the successes and failures of the outgoing president, according to a RAND Corporation study issued today.

Ukraine: The Next Crisis? — Sep. 7, 2008

tank at Ukrainian Independence Day Parade, photo courtesy of Flickr

The Russian invasion of Georgia has sent shock waves throughout the West and the former Soviet space - especially Ukraine. Indeed, Ukraine could be the next potential crisis according to this commentary by F. Stephen Larrabee for

Too Soon to Judge the Surge — Aug. 29, 2008

Three soldiers, photo courtesy of Army/Staff Sgt. Russell Lee Klika

Most of the units involved in the surge have been withdrawn from Iraq, and troop levels are about what they were before the surge was announced. And if General Petraeus recommends, further troop cuts may be adopted this fall. The key question is whether levels of violence will remain low once those troops are gone.

Georgia: Breakdown of Vision the West Had for a New Europe — Aug. 28, 2008

Russian President Putin and EU Commission President Barrolo, photo courtesy of Fllickr

Since the Russian Federation sent tanks, troops, and planes slicing into Georgia, commentators have reached for a variety of historic parallels.... None of these supposed parallels catches the current situation.

Kosovo and South Ossetia More Different Than Similar — Aug. 26, 2008

Russian tank in Georgia, photo courtesy of Flickr

The Russian government has long highlighted the similarities between Kosovo and South Ossetia. When Kosovo declared independence, Russia argued that this would embolden South Ossetia, as discussed by Olga Oliker in this commentary for .

The Arc: A Formal Structure For a Palestinian State — Aug. 25, 2008

Palestinian girl by fence

This video explores the options for the physical infrastructure of potential for a Palestinian state.

Turkey's Second Chance — Aug. 25, 2008

Turkey Prime Minister Erdogan, photo courtesy of Flickr

The recent decision by the Turkish Constitutional Court not to close the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) helped Turkey narrowly dodge a dangerous political bullet, according to this commentary by F. Stephen Larrabee for the Washington Times .

After the Taliban: Nation-Building in Afghanistan — Aug. 19, 2008

U.S. soldier with Afghan children

Ambassador James Dobbins recounts how the U.S. administration reluctantly adjusted to its new role as nation-builder, yields insights into how government and diplomacy really work, and explains why it has failed to stabilize Afghanistan or Iraq.

Terrorism expert examines intelligence on al Qaida in "Will Terrorists Go Nuclear?" — Aug. 19, 2008

icbm guidance system, courtesy of Flickr

Offering insights into vital questions of national security, presidential decisionmaking, and terrorist motives, world-renowned terrorism expert Brian Michael Jenkins examines how terrorists think about nuclear weapons and nuclear terror.

Researcher Farhana Ali Discusses Future of Pakistan — Aug. 18, 2008

Pervez Musharraf

The future of Pakistan after the resignation of President Pervez Musharraf is discussed in this interview of Farhana Ali by C-Span.

Stop the ’War’ on Terror: Calling It a ’War’ Is a Boon to Terrorist Recruiters — Aug. 6, 2008

Sustaining Key Skills in the UK Naval Industry

Military might against terrorist groups isn’t working. After studying the record of 648 terrorist groups between 1968 and 2006, military force has rarely been effective, as discussed in this commentary by Seth G. Jones and Martin C. Libicki for the Christian Science Monitor.

A New Grand Strategy for the United States — Jul. 31, 2008

Image courtesy of US Army Flickr

Testimony presented by Robert E. Hunter before the House Armed Services Committee, Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations on July 31, 2008.

Dressed To Kill: Why the Number of Female Suicide Bombers is Rising in Iraq — Jul. 31, 2008

Iraqis wounded in suicide bombing, photo courtesy of Flickr

Muslim female suicide bombers are on the rise. For almost 10 years, we have warned that women would start playing a more aggressive role in groups like Al Qaeda, as discussed in this commentary by Farhana Ali for Newsweek .

Colonel Cardinal's Iceberg Theory — Jul. 31, 2008

antarctic iceberg, courtesy of Flickr/Josh Landis

Colonel Chuck Cardinal, former director of the Pacific Command's inter-agency coordination group for counterterrorism, devised a novel overarching “Iceberg Theory”, which is the subject of this commentary by Dick Hoffman for The San Diego Union-Tribune .

U.S. Should Rethink “War On Terrorism” Strategy to Deal with Resurgent Al Qaida — Jul. 30, 2008

Image courtesy of Comstock Royalty-Free Images

Current U.S. strategy against the terrorist group al Qaida has not been successful in significantly undermining the group's capabilities, according to a new RAND Corporation study issued today.

Turkey's broadening crisis

Turkey’s broadening crisis - Jul. 28, 2008

Turkey is facing a domestic political crisis that not only threatens the country’s internal stability but could weaken its ties to the West and exacerbate instability in the Middle East as discussed by F. Stephen Larrabee in the International Herald Tribune.

How to Save Karzai - Jul. 25, 2008

How to Save Karzai

Afghanistan’s president is no George Washington, it’s true. But with Afghanistan growing more chaotic by the day, now is no time to throw Hamid Karzai under the bus as discussed in this commentary by Seth Jones for Foreign Policy .

Sustaining Key Skills in the UK Naval Industry — Jul. 25, 2008

Sustaining Key Skills in the UK Naval Industry

To preserve its ability to design, build, and support complex warships and submarines, the UK’s Ministry of Defence (MOD) will need to preserve and sustain several key technical skills in the maritime domain.

European Union Has Developed a Nascent, but Growing Capacity to Deploy and Employ Armed Force - Jul. 8, 2008

EUFOR and Chadian soldier

The European Union has recently demonstrated the capacity to deploy and employ armed force outside its borders in support of broader common policy objectives, creating a new player in nation-building operations.

Dealing with Iran: The Case for Talking - Jul. 1, 2008

Russian Soccer Diplomacy

Negotiating with Iran will not necessarily produce accommodations, however it will provide more information, which will in turn lead to more options, better choices and wiser policy, as discussed by James Dobbins in this commentary for the International Herald Tribune .

Shortcomings in Planning for Post-Combat Period in Iraq Outlined - June 30, 2008

Image courtesy of US Army

Efforts to adequately plan for the post-combat period in Iraq were thwarted by overly optimistic views held by top civilian leaders and a belief among military leaders that civilian authorities would be responsible for postwar operations, according to a report by RAND Corporation researchers.

China's Responsibility to Protect: The Nation Can Help Citizens in Myanmar, Sudan — Jun. 17, 2008

Image courtesy of Flickr

Of all countries remiss in their responsibility to protect human rights, China bears special scrutiny because of its influence with the Myanmar and Sudanese regimes, writes David C. Gompert.

Clarifying the Yuan Debate: U.S., China Economic Imbalance Benefits Both Nations — Feb. 1, 2008

Image courtesy of Comstock Royalty-Free Images

China's surplus contributes to sustaining its high growth rates, and the U.S. deficit contributes to easing inflationary pressures while enhancing average living standards through the competitive price and quality of imports from China, writes Charles Wolf Jr.

U.S. Still Leads the World in Science and Technology; Nation Benefits From Foreign Scientists, Engineers — Jun. 12, 2007

Science and Technology

Despite perceptions that the nation is losing its competitive edge, the United States remains the dominant leader in science and technology worldwide, according to a RAND Corporation study issued today.

Army soldier before suspected Taliban stronghold

Taliban's Sanctuary Bases in Pakistan Must Be Eliminated - Jun. 9, 2008

If Taliban sanctuary bases in Pakistan are not eliminated, the United States and its NATO allies will face crippling long-term consequences in their effort to stabilize and rebuild Afghanistan, according to a RAND Corporation study issued today.

Increase In Piracy And Terrorism At Sea; Little Evidence Supports Fear That The Two Crimes Are Merging - Jun. 5, 2008

Piracy and Terrorism at Sea

Acts of piracy and terrorism at sea are on the rise, but there is little evidence to support concerns from some governments and international organizations that pirates and terrorists are beginning to collude with one another, according to a RAND Corporation study issued today.

Russian soccer diplomacy - May 30, 2008

Russian Soccer Diplomacy

Russia's prominence as a global soccer leader has exemplified the wider integration of Russian and European societies. The growing trade and foreign investment have started to blend the Russian economy with the rest of the world, as discussed by Lowell Schwartz in this commentary for Washington Times .

The Challenges of Trying Terrorists as Criminals - Proceedings of a RAND/SAIS Colloquium - May 30, 2008

Prisoner at Guantanamo Bay

Held in Washington in January 2008, this colloquium brought together a distinguished group of specialists in strategy and intelligence joined with lawyers, prosecutors, and judges – to discuss the challenges of using criminal trials as one instrument in combating terrorism.

Afghan Progress Spotty but Hopeful - May 12, 2008

Afghanistan people, progress, but spotty, Photo Courtesy of Flickr

Progress in Afghanistan is a study in contrasts. Progress is substantial in the north, but limited in the south. In this commentary by Obaid Younossi and Peter Dahl Thruelsen for the Providence Journal, sustained efforts are required by the UN and the Afghan government to develop a multiyear, well-resourced political, military and economic roadmap.

Give Them Sabbaticals - May 7, 2008

Army training, courtesy of US Army

The Army’s Training With Industry program, though not tied to officer retention, could serve as the basis for an expanded effort to provide unique training in the diverse civilian world. In this commentary by Laura Miller, for USA Today, a new outlook on training could help prepare officers for the future military interactions and improve retention.

A House of Tribes for Iraq - Apr. 29, 2008

Iraq Tribal Meeting, photo courtesy Flicker

Many western notions of governance struggle with Iraq, however one that deserves a close look is the effort to create a unique upper legislative body: The House of Tribes, as discussed in this commentary by Theodore W. Karasik and Ghassan Schbley for

Good Morning, Syria! – Time to Revisit Our Axis of Evil List? — Apr. 22, 2008

Radio Studio

Syria is changing and the United States should take notice. A vibrant youth scene, chic cafe´s, art exhibitions, modish shopping districts, and the WiFi hotspots in a country late to adopt the Internet, are not the only surprises in Syria, as discussed in this commentary by Cheryl Benard and Edward O’Connell for the Providence Journal .

Invisible Wounds of War - Apr. 17, 2008

Invisible Wounds of War

he RAND Corporation conducted a comprehensive study of the mental health and cognitive needs of U.S. servicemembers returning from Afghanistan and Iraq, the costs associated with mental health and cognitive conditions such as post traumatic stress disorder, depression, and traumatic brain injury, and the care systems available to deliver treatment. The study is the first of its kind to consider mental health and cognitive problems associated with deployment to Afghanistan and Iraq from a broad societal perspective.

The New Deterrence: Overwhelming and Searching Retaliation - Apr. 10, 2008


On February 8, National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley announced that the United States had recently adopted "a new declaratory policy to help deter terrorists from using weapons of mass destruction against the United States, our friends, and allies", as discussed in this commentary by Elbridge Colby for Weekly Standard.

Finding Common Ground in an Uncommon Nation - Mar. 19, 2008

Boys in Damascus

After a recent trip to Syria, Edward O'Connell and Cheryl Benard, in this commentary for Malibu Magazine, found themselves happening one night upon an unsettling and perception-busting TV program, they found that in a country known for defending terrorism, programs that portrayed quite the opposite.

Iraq's Sunni Time Bomb - Apr. 4, 2008

Iraqi police recruits, photo courtesy U.S. Army

While the recent fighting in Basra and Baghdad has alerted us to the danger that Shiite-on-Shiite violence poses to our goals in Iraq, it should not divert our focus from the fact that the Sunni tribesmen who have sided with the American-led coalition may turn against us. A commentary by Matthew Sherman for the New York Times .

America is Making a Difference in Eastern Afghanistan - Apr. 2, 2008

U.S. soldier and Afghani working on building, photo courtesy U.S. Army

The United States has turned a corner in Afghanistan, as discussed by Seth G. Jones in this commentary for Globe and Mail . It has made some progress against the Taliban and other insurgent groups in eastern Afghanistan, and created a window of opportunity to spread this elsewhere.

Georgia on Their Mind — Mar. 27, 2007

Osama bin Laden

As NATO heads toward its summit meeting in Bucharest on April 3-4, the question of NATO enlargement – especially whether to give Membership Action Plans, or MAPs, to Georgia and Ukraine – has re-emerged as a contentious issue, as discussed in this commentary by F. Stephen Larrabee for International Herald Tribune.

Danish Cartoons Doom Us All - Mar. 21, 2008

Muslim protest Danish cartoons

Last week's rage in Pakistan over reprints of cartoons and a forthcoming Dutch film that insult Islam's holy book once again entangles Muslims and the West in a fury over freedom of speech, as discussed in this commentary by Farhana Ali for United Press International.

A New National Strategy for Korea: North Korea Threats Require Deterrence, Reconciliation - Mar. 13, 2008

A New National Strategy for Korea

Over the last five years, the South Korean government has tried to downplay the military threat posed by North Korea. However North Korea still poses a serious military threat to South Korea as discussed by Bruce Bennett in this commentary for Korea Herald.

An Independent Kosovo Was a Part of the U.N.’s Plan - Mar. 12, 2008

Flag of an Independent Kosovo

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. James Dobbins provides this commentary for Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

U.S. Failed to Monitor and Adapt to Insurgent Trends in Iraq - Mar. 11, 2008

U.S. Failed to Monitor and Adapt to Insurgent Trends in Iraq

The inability of the United States to monitor insurgent trends in Iraq and apply new counterinsurgency tactics led many Iraqi civilians to side with sectarian groups, propelling the country to the brink of civil war, according to a new RAND Corporation study.

A Post-Musharraf Pakistan Policy - Mar. 10, 2008

A Post-Musharraf Pakistan Policy

Now that the parliamentary elections in Pakistan have gone decisively against President Musharraf, will the newly elected prime minister agree to work with Musharraf? If not, what should the United States do in response? This is the subject of a new commentary by Farhana Ali for

RAND Study Offers Ways to Help North Korea Peacefully Modernize Its Political, Economic Structure - Mar. 10, 2008

Help North Korea Peacefully Modernize

An unprecedented joint report, based on a 2½-year-long collaboration between RAND and five international research institutions, recommends a new approach for North Korea to create fundamental, but peaceful, change in it’s archaic political, economic and security systems.

Why We Need to Nail Osama — Feb. 28, 2007

Osama bin Laden

The recent killing of Hezbollah’s Imad Mughniyah begs a larger question: How important is it to take out key terrorists such as Osama bin Laden? The costs and benefits of such action is the subject of this commentary by Elbridge Colby for the Washington Times.

United States Lacks the Capability to Counter Insurgency in the Muslim World - Feb. 11, 2008

State of Afghan Insurgency

A new RAND report finds that large-scale U.S. military intervention and occupation in the Muslim world is at best inadequate, at worst counter-productive, and, on the whole, infeasible. The United States should shift its priorities and funding to improve civil governance, build local security forces, and exploit information-capabilities.

International Perspectives on Interagency Reform - Jan. 29, 2008

Courtesy of the US Army

The United States and many of its allies and partners have become increasingly involved in stability operations and nation building around the world. This testimony by Nora Bensahel before the Armed Services Committee Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations suggests major capability shortfalls that may undermine prospects for success.

Nora Bensahel discusses counter insurgency in Iraq - Jan. 24, 2008

Iraq Insurgency Interview

A group of former Sunni insurgents in Iraq joined forces to form, “The Awakening Council.” that has grown to about 70,000 members and has helped quell the violence. Nora Bensahel discusses with Katy Clark of PRI, The World that the group is now under attack by the current insurgents in Iraq.

Not That Bad a Legacy, After All - Jan. 18, 2008

President George W. Bush

George W. Bush may leave a positive foreign policy legacy after all, as discussed in this engaging commentary by James Dobbins for the International Herald Tribune. His commitment to Middle East peace, Israel and Palestine, and his willingness to talk to Iran and North Korea will make it easier for his successor.

Robert E. Hunter Awarded Grand Officer of the Order of the Crown — Jan. 7, 2007

Ambassador Robert E. Hunter

Robert E. Hunter is an expert in a wide variety of foreign policy and national security fields. He was recently awarded the Grand Officer of the Order of the Crown by the Belgian government for his work in modernizing NATO and for helping to repair US-Belgian relations after the Iraq war.

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