News Archive - 2009

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

air traffic control tower and airplane, photo courtesy of

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

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

LNG carrier; courtesy of flickr

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Longer Parental Deployment Linked to More Emotional Challenges for Military Children — Dec. 7, 2009

silhouette of family

Children in military families may suffer from more emotional and behavioral difficulties when compared to other American youths, with older children and girls struggling the most when a parent is deployed overseas, according to a new RAND Corporation study.

Take the War to Pakistan — Dec. 5, 2009

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

When Generals and Ambassadors Feud — Nov. 13, 2009

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

Take it from this former ambassador: Disagreements over the war in Afghanistan may do more long-term harm than short-term good as discussed by James Dobbins in this commentary that appeared on

The Impact of Deployment on the Post-Deployment Labor Market Earnings of Reservists — Nov. 9, 2009

U.S. Army reservists taking re-enlistment oath, photo courtesy of U.S. Army/Staff Sgt. M. Alices

In this Congressional Briefing held on November 9, 2009, senior economist David Loughran presents findings about whether reservists who served in Iraq and Afghanistan suffer economic hardship in their post-deployment years because of lost civilian work experience, injury, and other difficulties adjusting to civilian work life.

The Fall of the Wall: A World Restored? — Nov. 9, 2009

crowd celebrating atop Berlin Wall, 1989, photo courtesy of F. L. Corkran

The fall of the Berlin Wall retains its status as an epoch–making event in modern world history. At the time, several adversaries feared that a reunited Germany would revert to the militarism of its past, as discussed in this commentary by Christopher S. Chivvis for

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

boy holding Palestinian flag, photo courtesy of

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

Our Man in Kabul — Nov. 4, 2009

Afghani village men, photo courtesy of

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

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

Daily Life in Afghanistan, Photo courtesy of

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Biden’s Task in Eastern Europe: Reassurance — Oct. 21, 2009

NATO Multinational Corps Northeast in formation, photo courtesy of

Vice President Joseph Biden’s trip to eastern Europe this week provides an important opportunity to reassure Poland, the Czech Republic, and Romania that the US is committed to their security. This is the subject of a commentary by F. Stephen Larrabee and Christopher S. Chivvis that appeared in The Christian Science Monitor.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

soldier overlooking mountains, MG873 cover

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

Afghanistan: Echoes of Vietnam — Oct. 7, 2009

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

China: Self-Perception vs. Outside Perception — Oct. 3, 2009

Tiananmen Square

The People’s Republic of China is contemplating its changing role in the world and trying to reinforce its message of the peaceful rise of China. In this commentary by Michael J. Lostumbo for World Journal there is still a large gap between how China perceives their progress and how other countries view them.

Finding a Solution to Iran — Sep. 30, 2009

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

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

The Right Move in Europe: Improved Opportunities with NATO, Russia — Sep. 23, 2009

NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer meets with the President of the Russian Federation, Vla

The Obama administration’s decision to alter course on missile defense was the right choice. However, the U.S. must reassure NATO's East European members that they are still committed to their security needs, according to this commentary by Christopher S. Chivvis for The Washington Times .

Real Threats, Real Fears, Real Defenses —Sep. 22, 2009

President Peres shakes hands with Russian Federation President Medvedev, photo courtesy of flickr/Is

The Bush missile defense plans for Central Europe are seen as deploying defenses that did not work against a threat that did not exist. James Dobbins discusses some of Obama's options in this commentary for the International Herald Tribune .

How Russia Can and Can't Help Obama — Aug. 28, 2009

U.S. President Obama and Russian President Medvedev sign documents on nuclear arms reduction July 20

President Obama's recent efforts to push past differences between Russia and the U.S. in an effort to seek cooperation in matters of mutual interest is seen as groundbreaking. However according to this commentary by Brian Michael Jenkins that appeared in, this has been done before.

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

Peacekeepr ICBM missile at silo opening, photo courtesy of

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

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

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

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

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

U.S. soldier salutes Iraqi flag

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

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

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

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

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

freight transport machinery

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

Russia and the Perils of Personal Diplomacy — Jul. 7, 2009

U.S. President Obama and Russian President Medvedev, photo courtesy of

History predicts U.S.-Russia relations will require more than a personal bond of nations’ leaders, according to this commentary by F. Stephen Larrabee that appeared on

Policing Pakistan — Jun. 30, 2009

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

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

Can Gitmo's Terrorists Be Rehabilitated? — Jun. 30, 2009

back of Guantanamo detainee being escorted, photo courtesy of U.S. Army/Baltz

Whether Gitmo terrorists can be rehabilitated or not, U.S. must plan more strategic counterterrorism, as discussed by Aidan Kirby Winn in this commentary that appeared in The Christian Science Monitor.

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

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

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

BRIC-à-Brac — Jun. 16, 2009

Flags of the participating counties

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

Getting Value from the U.S.-ROK Summit — Jun. 16, 2009

North Korean and ROK Army guards on either side of the Military Demarcation Line, photo courtesy of

North Korea has been aggressively trying to upstage the summit between South Korea and U.S. President Barack Obama as discussed by Bruce W. Bennett in this commentary for The Korea Herald.

The PLA Navy's "New Historic Missions": Expanding Capabilities for a Re-emergent Maritime Power — Jun. 15, 2009

Chinese Navy men, photo courtesy of Family Security Matters

Testimony presented, by Cortez A. Cooper, before the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission on June 11, 2009.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No Surprise in Failure To Deter N. Korea — June 2, 2009

North Korean rocket test launch, photo courtesy of The Inquisitr

North Korea's latest misbehavior highlights an uncomfortable truth: the failure of the United States and the international community to deter North Korean actions according to Bruce W. Bennett in his commentary that appeared in Chicago Tribune.

Rethink Washington's 'War of Ideas' — June 2, 2009

corporate meeting

The term "Global War on Terror" is out of favor in the government lexicon, and new drug czar Gil Kerlikowske wants to end the use of the phrase "War on Drugs." The words we use communicate certain things and also shape how we think about them, as discussed in this commentary by Christopher Paul for The Christian Science Monitor.

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

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

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

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

cover of MG-781

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

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

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

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

Assessing Mexico's Narco-Violence — May 18, 2009

Mexican street sign depicts figure holding gun, photo courtesy of flickr/mañoso

Drug-related violence in Mexico has more than doubled over the past 18 months, with a sharp increase in crimes that can only be understood as atrocities, since these are some of the same tactics used by al-Qaeda in Iraq according to Benjamin Bahney and Agnes Gereben Schaefer in this commentary for The San Diego Union-Tribune.

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

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

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

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

toppling of Iraq statue of Saddam Hussein

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

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

oil tanker at port

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

NATO After the Summit: Rebuilding Consensus — May 7, 2009

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

Testimony presented, by Robert E. Hunter, before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Subcommittee on European Affairs on May 6, 2009.

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

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

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

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

Military aircraft monitoring pirate activities

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

Swine Flu: A Real Security Threat — Apr. 30, 2009

Mexican migrant workers

In the rush of constant news updates on swine flu, we must recognize that controlling the spread of this disease is not simply a health concern but also one of national security, as discussed by Melinda Moore in this commentary for the Baltimore Sun.

Gauging Future Demand for Veterans' Health Care: Does the VA Have the Forecasting Tools It Needs? — Apr. 29, 2009

Military Health Care

Testimony presented, by Katherine M. Harris, before the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee on April 29, 2009.

U.S.-Mexico Strategic Partnership Needed to Help Mexico Improve Its Security Institutions — Apr. 28, 2009

U.S. - Mexican border security

The United States should forge a strategic partnership with Mexico that emphasizes reform and long-term institution building as a way to battle the ongoing drug war and other security challenges that face Mexico, according to a new RAND Corporation report.

European Union at Cross Purposes in Kosovo — Apr. 27, 2009

Flag of Kosovo, a country in crisis

Standing on the Mitrovica bridge looking at the Serbian flags flying on the northern side of the Iber River, it is clear that something is gravely amiss in Europe's youngest democracy, Kosovo, as discussed in this commentary by Christopher S. Chivvis for

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

Elderly Woman with Walker

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

Air Force Service Procurement: Approaches for Measurement and Management — Apr. 27, 2009

Titanium ingots

Testimony, by Laura H. Baldwin, presented before the House Armed Services Committee Panel on Defense Acquisition Reform on April 23, 2009.

The Netherlands F-16 Comparative Analysis: An Evaluation of the Process — Apr. 27, 2009

Aircraft repair process

Testimony presented, by Matt Bassford, before the Dutch Parliamentary Committee for Defence on April 6, 2009.

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

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

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

The Department of Defense Can Improve Its Response to and Management of Anthrax Incidents — Apr 22, 2009

medics wheel patients on stretcher into ambulance

New Research Brief assesses the Department of Defense (DoD) response to three potential anthrax-related incidents at DoD facilities in March 2005 and recommends ways that DoD can improve its incident-response capabilities.

Leaving the Nest — Apr. 17, 2009

Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates during the Southeastern European Defense Ministerial in Ohrid,

In the wake of President Obama’s recent European trip, hopes for a rejuvenation of transatlantic security cooperation continue to rise, as discussed in this commentary by Christopher S. Chivvis for The National Interest online.

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

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

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

Andrew Weiss Named to Lead RAND Business Leaders Forum, Center For Russia And Eurasia — Apr. 9, 2009

photo of Andrew Weiss

Former government and business leader Andrew Weiss has been named executive director of the RAND Business Leaders Forum and the director of the RAND Center for Russia and Eurasia, RAND Corporation President and CEO James A. Thomson announced today.

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

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

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

Obama's Turkish Dilemma — Apr. 6, 2009

President Obama meeting with Turkey Leaders

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

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

MG852 cover

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

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

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

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

The Torture Debate, Redux — Apr 2, 2009

guards at the Guantanamo Prison

Former Vice President Dick Cheney has been insisting again that the coercive interrogation techniques used against terrorism detainees after 9/11 prevented attacks on the United States. More on this debate is the subject of this commentary by Brian Michael Jenkins for

Ultimate exit strategy — Mar. 26, 2009

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

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

Counterinsurgency in Afghanistan — Mar. 26, 2009

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

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

France's Creeping Reintegration — Mar. 24, 2009

French Soldier

The announcement by French President Sarkozy that France will return to NATO's integrated military command, is expected to remove an important irritant in U.S.-French relations and open up new possibilities for strengthening U.S.-European cooperation according to this commentary by F. Stephen Larrabee for

Iran's New Contender — Mar. 24, 2009

Iranian President with Saudi Leader

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

Assessing Combat Exposure and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in Troops and Estimating the Costs to Society: Implications from the RAND Invisible Wounds of War Study — Mar. 24, 2009

silhouette of soldiers

Testimony presented by Terri Taielian before the House Veterans' Affairs Committee, Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs on March 24, 2009.

U.S.-NATO Immersion Course — Mar. 11, 2009

NATO Meeting

At a major conference in Munich last month, Vice President Joseph Biden underscored the U.S. determination to rebuild strong and productive relations with its European allies. At the conference, no issue mattered more than Afghanistan, as discussed by Robert E. Hunter in this commentary for The Washington Times.

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

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

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

Is Iraq Safe Yet? — Mar. 9, 2009

suicide bombing aftermath, Iraq

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

Afghanistan: The Regional Solution — Mar. 9, 2009

Afghani village men, photo courtesy of

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

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

gun, bullets, money, and dvds

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

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

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

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

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

Osama bin Laden Speaking

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

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

Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai, photo courtesy of Flickr/KarlMarx

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

A Trans-Atlantic Moment — Feb. 23, 2009

NATO Response Force, photo courtesy of Flickr/MATEUS_27:24&25

The election of Obama offers chance to repair frayed U.S., Europe security partnerships according to this commentary co-authored by F. Stephen Larrabee for The Washington Times.

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

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

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

Obama's Foreign Policy Team and U.S.-Korean Relations — Feb. 16, 2009

North Korean Military

The concrete contours of President Obama's foreign policy team have finally begun to emerge. What is intriguing is how many assignments are being given to those who have worked on the Korean peninsula. A commentary by Chaibong Hahm that appeared in Joangang Ilbo.

Could Mexico Fail? — Feb. 13, 2009

wall at U.S., Mexican border, photo courtesy of Flickr/dcipjr

Lawlessness in Mexico is approaching terrorism and becoming a U.S. security issue along the border according to this commentary by Brian Michael Jenkins for Homeland Security Today.

Going the Distance — Feb. 15, 2009

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

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

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

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

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

How China Can Strengthen Its Economy by Investing in High-Technology Applications — Feb. 13, 2009

Tianjin port, photo courtesy of Flickr/egorgrebnev

China's Tianjin Binhai New Area (TBNA) and Tianjin Economic-Technological Development Area (TEDA) can best spur regional development and economic growth by focusing on emerging high-technology applications, including molecular-scale drug development and green manufacturing.

Family Readiness and Coping During Deployments Key Issues for National Guard and Reserve — Feb 11, 2009

soldiers say goodbye to wives

As the U.S. military continues to rely on the National Guard and Reserve for overseas deployments, making sure their families are adequately prepared for those missions is critical.

Asia's Nonproliferation Laggards: China, India, Pakistan, Indonesia and Malaysia — Feb. 9, 2009

Power plant near one of Beijing's

President Obama has a strong tool to get key Asian nations to curb spread of nuclear weapons as discussed in this commentary by Charles Wolf, Jr. for Wall Street Journal Asia .

Congressional Panel Discussion on Transatlantic Security — Feb. 12, 2009

Obama inauguration videocast to huge crowd in Berlin, photo courtesy of Flickr/helter-skelter

Director of RAND International Security and Defense Policy Center James Dobbins will moderate a discussion on Revitalizing the Transatlantic Security Partnership: An Agenda For Action on February 12, 2009, co-hosted by the Bertelsmann Stiftung.

United States, East Africa Allies Must Overcome Radical Islam to Reshape the Region's Security — Feb. 4, 2009

cover of MG-782

While al Qaeda is the primary terrorist/extremist threat in East Africa, the region suffers more broadly from a danger of radical Islamist groups and organizations that the United States and its allies must address to reshape the region's security environment.

Terrorists Can Think Strategically: Lessons Learned From the Mumbai Attacks — Jan. 28, 2009

security camera photo of two terrorists from 11/26/08 Mumbai attack

In testimony presented before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Brian Michael Jenkins discusses the increasing use of terrorism as an effective strategic weapon.

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

Terror in Mumbai, photo courtesy of Flickr

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

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

Defeating Hamas Will Not Defeat Iran

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

Reasons Why Hispanics Remain Underrepresented in Military, Despite Interest — Jan. 12, 2009

recruiting officer of Diversity Directorate, photo courtesy of U.S. Navy/Eifert

Lower high school graduation rates and higher rates of obesity are two of the reasons that many Hispanics are denied entry into the U.S. military. Although Hispanics do well once in the military, they are underrepresented in all branches of the nation's armed forces, primarily because they often fail to meet eligibility requirements.

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

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

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

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

Islamic Revolutionary Guards

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

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