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  • Author: Adam Garfinkle
  • Publication Date: 04-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Foreign Policy Research Institute
  • Abstract: By now the world knows that U.S. military forces for the first time since the onset of the Syrian civil war in 2011 have attacked regime targets. Plenty of the basic facts are known about what transpired about 18 hours ago, but a few important ones are not—at least not in the public domain. For example, we have only a very general Bomb Damage Assessment (BDA) report. This matters because Tomahawk cruise missiles are very accurate if “lite” weapons. Knowing what the four dozen or so missiles hit and missed, deliberately and otherwise, could tell us a lot about why the President, presumably with Secretary of Defense James Mattis’ guidance and concurrence, chose the lesser of three options presented at what has been described as a meeting of considerable length. That, in turn, could tell us if the intention ultimately is to coerce the Russians into coercing the Syrians to stop doing monstrous things to their own people, and possibly coercing them to support a compromise political settlement to the war; or if it’s just an Eff-You gesture designed only to relieve the sudden pressure of moral unction that unexpectedly came upon our new Commander-in Chief—who seemed to lurch from coldblooded Randian to “Godtalk” invoker of the American Civil Religion in the wink of an eye. In other words, knowing more about the target set would tell us whether there is any political strategy attached to the use of force, or not. Probably not.
  • Topic: International Security, Military Affairs
  • Political Geography: America, Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Andrew J. Tabler
  • Publication Date: 02-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: In this new Transition 2017 paper, Institute expert Andrew J. Tabler argues that Syria remains de facto partitioned, making the establishment of safe zones in non-Assad-controlled areas the Trump administration's most expedient course of action. Moreover, it would further Washington's cause to drive a wedge into the country's Russia-Iran alliance, and both isolate and pressure the Assad regime. If Washington's objectives in Syria are to defeat U.S.-designated terrorist groups and stem the outflow of refugees, President Bashar al-Assad is under no circumstances the right person to entrust with these missions. Simply in practical terms, he lacks the manpower to retake and hold the two-thirds of Syrian territory outside his control any time soon, despite having sufficient support from Russia and Iran to maintain control in large parts of the country. But more important, Assad is an avowed adversary of the West, undeserving of its cooperation.
  • Topic: International Relations, Civil War, International Security, International Affairs, Neoimperialism
  • Political Geography: Russia, America, Iran, Syria
  • Author: Lori Plotkin Boghardt, Simon Henderson
  • Publication Date: 02-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The Trump administration has an opportunity to reset, tighten, and maximize America's strategic relations with the Gulf states. For the United States, expanded security cooperation and coordination could be a force multiplier in campaigns to achieve key policy goals, such as countering Iran's destabilizing policies and defeating the Islamic State. Gulf leaders have expressed optimism over the new administration's gestures, despite its "America First" rhetoric. But the administration also faces challenges, including those brought about by its own emphasis on "radical Islamic terrorism." This two-part Transition 2017 paper, featuring contributions by Gulf experts Lori Plotkin Boghardt and Simon Henderson, navigates the complex U.S.-Gulf relationship. The first essay provides an overview of its basic tenets, stressing the importance of rapport to bilateral ties and discussing key policy priorities. The second essay narrows the focus to the Washington-Riyadh link, the most important U.S. tie with the conservative Gulf. It analyzes differences in viewpoint, policy options, and some anticipated Saudi responses on the core issues of oil, terrorism, Iran, Yemen, Syria, Gulf allies, and the Sunni bloc.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Cooperation, International Security, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: America, Middle East
  • Author: Alan Stephenson
  • Publication Date: 05-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Canadian Global Affairs Institute (CGAI)
  • Abstract: It is time for the Canadian government to conduct a holistic review of Canada’s national security complex. The Defence Policy Review is floundering as a consequence of an uncooperative world, Canada’s domestic security institutions require legislative empowerment, and the election of Donald Trump has placed increased pressure on Canadian security and defence. Securing the U.S.’s northern border is a no-fail mission for Canada as peace and prosperity depend upon it. However, this must be done within Canadian security norms and values. Only a ground-up examination of the Canadian national security system will elicit a comprehensive understanding of the current deficiencies that will allow focused alignment of government objectives, policies and public funds. Crisis management requires a strategic plan with clear objectives from which to conduct concurrent and coordinated activities. The Trudeau government has the team in place; now, it needs a new National Security Policy statement to assist in “lead turning” an unconventional U.S. administration steadfast in its stance over national security.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Security, Immigration
  • Political Geography: America, Canada
  • Author: George Perkovich
  • Publication Date: 05-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: In May 2017, negotiators at the United Nations introduced a draft convention to prohibit the possession of nuclear weapons, as a way to hasten progress toward eventual nuclear disarmament, as called for in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). All the nuclear-armed states except North Korea have boycotted the negotiations, along with many U.S. allies. Unfortunately, the good motives behind the treaty do not mean it will enhance international security, prevent nuclear proliferation, or facilitate actual nuclear disarmament. It may even have unintended consequences that make these goals harder to achieve. Yet there are steps that nuclear-armed states could take, perhaps nudged along by their allies, to help heal rifts that the proposed ban treaty has highlighted.
  • Topic: International Security
  • Political Geography: America
  • Publication Date: 01-2017
  • Content Type: Video
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The conflict in Syria, the war on ISIS, Israeli settlements, relocating the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, the stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace process, Iranian regional influence -- all contentious issues at the top of the U.S. foreign policy agenda in the Middle East. During this January 30 policy forum, Israeli Regional Cooperation Minister Tzachi Hanegbi -- a confidant of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu -- and former Israeli ambassador to the United States Itamar Rabinovich offer their perspectives on these challenges and others confronting President Trump in the region. Tzachi Hanegbi has just been named Israel's cabinet minister for regional cooperation. A close confidant of Prime Minister Netanyahu, he has held a variety of cabinet portfolios in the past, and served most recently as chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. Itamar Rabinovich is a former Israeli ambassador to Washington and founding president of the Israel Institute. A renowned expert on Syria, he once headed Israeli peace talks with Damascus. He has also served as president of Tel Aviv University, where he is now a professor emeritus of Middle Eastern history. David Makovsky is the Institute's Ziegler Distinguished Fellow and Director of its Project on the Middle East Peace Process, and the Irwin Levy Family Program on the U.S.-Israel Strategic Relationship.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Security, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: America, Middle East
  • Author: Jonathan Pollack
  • Publication Date: 04-2017
  • Content Type: Video
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: Brookings Senior Fellow and SK-Korea Foundation Chair Jonathan Pollack explains the threat that North Korea poses to the United States, its neighbors, and the world. Pollack also explores the different options that the United States has to handle threats from North Korea and describes the different scenarios that could escalate tensions between the United States and North Korea.
  • Topic: International Security, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: America, North Korea, Global Focus
  • Author: Julian Zelizer, Sam Wang
  • Publication Date: 07-2017
  • Content Type: Video
  • Institution: Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University
  • Abstract: President Donald Trump has spent his first months faced with a potential scandal involving Russia, an issue that’s only grown since the election with discussions and investigations about possible obstruction and collusion. In recent weeks, this has dominated national political debates, especially in Congress and the White House. Benjamin Wittes, co-founder and editor-in-chief of the Lawfare blog, joins this episode of Politics & Polls to discuss where things stand in the Trump-Russia scandal. The Lawfare blog is “devoted to sober and serious discussion of ‘hard national security choices.’” Wittes, a journalist who focuses on national security and law, is also a senior fellow in governance studies at the Brookings Institution. He is the author of “Detention and Denial: The Case for Candor After Guantanamo”, published in November 2011; co-editor of “Constitution 3.0: Freedom and Technological Change,” published in December 2011; and editor of “Campaign 2012: Twelve Independent Ideas for Improving American Public Policy,” published in May 2017 by the Brookings Institution Press.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Security
  • Political Geography: Russia, America
  • Author: James F. Jeffrey, Dennis Ross
  • Publication Date: 01-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Given the unprecedented turmoil and uncertainty afflicting the Middle East, the new administration will need to devote particular care and urgency to understanding the essence of America's interests in the region, and applying clear principles in pursuing them. This is the advice offered by two U.S. diplomats with a distinguished record of defending those interests under various administrations. As Trump and his team take office, they face a regional state system that is under assault by proxy wars that reflect geopolitical rivalries and conflicts over basic identity. Rarely has it been more important for a new administration to articulate clear goals and principles, and Ambassadors James Jeffrey and Dennis Ross outline both in this transition paper. With 30 percent of the world's hydrocarbons still flowing from the Middle East, safeguarding that supply remains a critical U.S. national security interest, along with preventing nuclear proliferation, countering terrorism, and preserving stability. In their view, the best way to pursue these interests is to emphasize a coherent set of guiding principles, namely:
  • Topic: International Relations, Diplomacy, International Security, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: America, Middle East
  • Author: Zvi Magen, Udi Dekel
  • Publication Date: 07-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Institute for National Security Studies (INSS)
  • Abstract: The arrangement between the United States and Russia over southern Syria represents a test, both for the chances of jumpstarting a coordinated process between the world powers over a future settlement in Syria and for the relations between them on other contested issues. Israel was not mentioned in the context of the ceasefire arrangement, but it has scored several achievements. Nonetheless, Israel is likely to confront an attempt by President Assad to advance forces to southwest Syria and the Golan Heights. Because Assad’s forces rely on help from Iran’s proxies – Shiite militias and Hezbollah – Israel may have to fulfill a counter-threat if any of the red lines it announced are crossed.
  • Topic: International Cooperation, International Security, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Russia, America
  • Author: Ephraim Kam, Zaki Shalom
  • Publication Date: 08-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Institute for National Security Studies (INSS)
  • Abstract: Senior officials within the Iranian regime have long been convinced that American administrations have striven to infiltrate Iran’s internal system and topple the Islamic regime, and this impression has been bolstered of late. For its part, even if the Trump administration has not presented a defined position on regime change in Iran, it undoubtedly has a clear interest in this regard. Yet the US administration has no concrete ability to bring about regime change in Iran in the desired direction – not by supporting internal opposition forces, and certainly not through military intervention. If the Iranian regime does change in the future, it will presumably result from internal processes and not external intervention.
  • Topic: War, International Security, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: America, Iran
  • Author: Aspen Institute
  • Publication Date: 10-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Aspen Institute
  • Abstract: The Aspen Institute Homeland Security Group (AIHSG) is a bipartisan group of homeland security and counterterrorism experts who convene periodically to discuss these issues and to make recommendations to policy makers. To ensure the Department of Homeland Security makes further progress toward securing the homeland against ever evolving threats the AIHSG urges the President, Secretary, and Congress enact their recommendations.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Security
  • Political Geography: America, Global Focus
  • Author: Simon Palamar
  • Publication Date: 10-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Centre for International Governance Innovation
  • Abstract: In July 2015, the Islamic Republic of Iran, along with China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, the United States and the European Union, signed on to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), an agreement in which Iran would put substantial and verifiable limits on its nuclear science and engineering activities in exchange for sanctions relief. Many observers hailed the agreement as an important — if imperfect — tool for keeping Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. Former US President Barack Obama argued that “the United States, our partners, and the world are more secure because of the JCPOA.”
  • Topic: International Security, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: America, Iran
  • Author: Franklin Kramer, Robert J Butler, Catherine Lotrionte
  • Publication Date: 01-2017
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: This paper analyzes cyber’s role in deterrence and defense—and specifically the military-civil nexus and the relationship between the Department of Defense (DoD), the civil agencies, and the key private operational cyber entities, in particular the Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and electric grid operators. The focus of the paper is on high-end conflict including actions by an advanced cyber adversary, whether state or nonstate, and not on the “day-to-day” intrusions and attacks as regularly occur and are generally dealt with by governmental agencies and the private sector without military involvement. High-end conflict can be expected to include attacks within the United States homeland as well as in forward theatres.
  • Topic: Civil Society, International Security, Military Strategy, Military Affairs, Cybersecurity
  • Political Geography: America, Global Focus
  • Author: Katherine A Brown, Shannon N. Green, Jian “Jay” Wang
  • Publication Date: 01-2017
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Throughout the world, citizens are increasingly flexing their muscles and shaping their governments’ decisionmaking on domestic and foreign affairs. Expanded access to information, facilitated by new media and communication technologies, has greatly empowered nonstate actors and strengthened their role in international politics. In this environment, the U.S. government cannot afford to solely engage in state-to-state diplomacy. The new global landscape requires foreign ministries and diplomats to go beyond bilateral and multilateral diplomacy and broaden and deepen relationships with a broad and diverse range of actors. The public diplomacy (PD) toolkit of informational, educational, and cultural programs is central to this objective by creating and maintaining relationships with influential leaders and opinion-makers in civil society, commerce, media, politics, and faith communities worldwide. This paper attempts to capture the lessons that the U.S. government and PD experts have learned over the past eight years in applying PD tools in order to chart an effective course for the incoming administration.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, International Security, Non State Actors, Public Opinion
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: Carl W Baker, Federica Dall’ Arche
  • Publication Date: 01-2017
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: There have been remarkable transformations in UK/US-Myanmar relations over the past few years with the signing of trade agreements, lifting of sanctions, and investments. Nevertheless, some issues such as the government’s alleged violations of the human rights of minority ethnic groups have prevented better relations. There is currently a fairly wide gap in perceptions regarding the issue of human rights violations in the Rakine State. While some outsiders accuse the government of genocide or ethnic cleansing, the Myanmar government has consistently portrayed its actions as justified based on the need for counterterrorism measures against international terrorists. An open dialogue over these
  • Topic: Nuclear Weapons, International Security, International Affairs, Nuclear Power
  • Political Geography: Britain, America, Myanmar
  • Author: Eugene B. Rumer
  • Publication Date: 03-2017
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Deception and active measures in all their incarnations have long been and will remain a staple of Russia’s dealings with the outside world for the foreseeable future.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, International Security, International Affairs, Elections, Democracy, Post Truth Politics
  • Political Geography: Russia, America
  • Author: Geoffrey Gertz
  • Publication Date: 03-2017
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: President Donald Trump has promised to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which links the United States with two of its largest trading partners, Canada and Mexico. Officials in both Canada and Mexico have signaled they are open to renegotiations, and talks are expected to begin soon. New commerce secretary Wilbur Ross has indicated he hopes the negotiations could be completed within a year.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Trade and Finance, International Security
  • Political Geography: America, Canada, Mexico
  • Author: Elizabeth Rosenberg, ​Neil Bhatiya, Edorado Saravalle
  • Publication Date: 08-2017
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Center for a New American Security
  • Abstract: Congress adopted new sanctions in late July to codify and significantly expand U.S. financial restrictions on Russia and tightly constrain the president’s exercise of policy in this domain. The sanctions bill was driven by concerns over Russia’s interference in U.S. elections and destabilizing aggression abroad, as well as a broadly held belief by legislators that the president is mishandling critical national security issues. With these new sanctions authorities, Congress is taking an unprecedented step to assume greater control over a domain of foreign policy
  • Topic: International Relations, International Trade and Finance, International Security, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Russia, America
  • Author: Stephen Tankel
  • Publication Date: 06-2017
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Center for a New American Security
  • Abstract: Pakistan is not a front-burner issue for the administration of President Donald Trump, but it remains a major contributor to the security challenges facing the United States in South Asia. This is most immediately felt in Afghanistan, where President Trump is considering sending 3,000 to 5,000 more troops on top of the almost 10,000 already there.1 There is considerable frustration with Pakistan on Capitol Hill and among career officials in the executive branch over the country’s ongoing support for various militant groups, including the Taliban-led insurgency in Afghanistan, and production of tactical nuclear weapons.2 Members of Congress and committee staff are thinking through how to reform the U.S.-Pakistan defense relationship. Several prescriptive reports and articles, including one by the author, have argued the United States should consider a tougher line with Pakistan.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, International Security, Military Affairs
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, America