November 22, 2014

TEN YEARS LATER: WHO WON THE IRAQ WAR, THE US OR CHINA?

Burning oilfield during Operation Desert Storm, Kuwait.

PDF version available here Many news sources have announced that the answer to the question of who won the Iraq war is simple:  the People’s Republic of China. Was China the real winner? If so, in what ways? This study analyzes the question of who won the Iraq War in broader terms, both in retrospect and looking forward. It separates myth from reality and takes a long, hard look at the war’s impact, both short- and long-term, on the economic and strategic interests of China and the … [Read more...]

THE SOUTH CAUCASUS: OBAMA’S FAILED RUSSIA “RESET” AND THE PUTIN DOCTRINE IN PRACTICE

"Restart Button" offered by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Geneva, Switzerland March 6, 2009. [U.S. State Department photo]

PDF version available here Since 2009, under President Barack Obama, the U.S. has pursued a “Russian reset” policy, promising a fresh start to previously tense relations. Yet this policy has failed to improve American interests, particularly in the South Caucasus region, which is strategically important for both Israeli and U.S. policy towards the greater Middle East and the post-Soviet space. This article examines the priorities of both the Obama administration and President Vladimir … [Read more...]

Syrian Rebels Say: We Demand Radical Islamism; U. S. Says: We Can’t Hear You!

barry-rubin

Can it be more obvious? Thirteen Syrian rebel groups--including the most important in Aleppo and Damascus--demand an Islamist state in Syria and say they don’t care what the official rebel, U.S.-backed politicians say. By the way, only one of these groups is an al-Qaida group, Jabhat al-Nusra. There is also the large Salafi Islamist group, Harakat Ahrar al-Sham al-Islamiya. The others include the powerful Liwa al-Tawhid (Aleppo) and Liwa al-Islam. Both groups operated as part of … [Read more...]

Now We Know the Truth: What’s Behind U.S. “Peace Process” Policy

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, and Palestinian Chief Negotiator Saeb Erekat address reporters on the Middle East Peace Process Talks at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., on July 30, 2013. [State Department photo/ Public Domain]

At last we have an explanation for what has been going on with Israel-Palestinian talks. It is credible yet ridiculous. And it is very important. Here is today’s New York Times. “In recent weeks, Mr. Kerry and his aides have outlined several basic arguments for why his efforts might bear fruit. Perhaps the most important one, which Mr. Kerry advanced almost the moment he was picked for the State Department post, is that the United States does not have the luxury of staying on the … [Read more...]

BLIND TO TERROR: THE U.S. GOVERNMENT’S DISASTROUS MUSLIM OUTREACH EFFORTS AND THE IMPACT ON U.S. MIDDLE EAST POLICY

Obama meets with members of his national security team to discuss developments in the Boston Marathon bombings investigation, in the Situation Room of the White House on April 19, 2013. Pictured, from left, are: FBI Director Robert Mueller; Lisa Monaco, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism; Attorney General Eric Holder; Deputy National Security Advisor Tony Blinken; and Vice President Joe Biden.

    Why has the U.S. government called certain Islamic groups supporters of terror in federal court, and then turned around and called these same organizations “moderates” and embraced them as outreach partners? In a number of cases from the Clinton, Bush, and Obama administrations, the leaders of these organizations (some of whom are now in federal prison) were under active investigation at the same time they were meeting with senior U.S. leaders at the White House and the … [Read more...]

WESTERN INFLUENCE ON ARAB MILITARIES: POUNDING SQUARE PEGS INTO ROUND HOLES

Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff greets the various commanding generals of U.S. Forces, Iraq in Baghdad on July 27, 2010. Mullen's final stop in Iraq wraps up the ten-day, around the world trip to meet with counterparts and troops engaged in the war on terrorism. DoD photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Chad J. McNeeley

This article is a personal account of U.S. Army Colonel Norvell DeAtkine’s experience in dealing with Arab militaries for over 40 years. Based on observation and study of Arab military establishments, he concludes little of significance has happened to change the deeply embedded character of the Arab military mindset. While there is some evidence that Arab soldiers historically performed better under European officers, there is no evidence that the Western tradition of command ethos outlived … [Read more...]

Why Today’s American Foreign Policy Is So Unrealistic

barry-rubin

One of the main features of this misguided contemporary foreign policy debate is the corruption of the concept of Realism.  In some ways, the school called Realism was simply a way of teaching principles long regarded as obvious in Europe to Americans, whose idealism about the world had both good and bad implications. Both isolationism and the idea that America's mission is to spread democracy are typical non-Realist patterns of how American exceptionalism plays into foreign policy … [Read more...]

Understanding Real Israeli Politics

barry-rubin

“Can’t anybody here play this game?”  --Casey Stengel, great baseball coach Stengel’s complaint is the precise description of Israeli politics nowadays. To a remarkable extent—and this has nothing to do with his views or policies—Bibi Netanyahu is the only functioning politician in Israel today. No wonder he is prime minister, will finish his current term, and will almost certainly be reelected in 2013. Consider the alternatives. The number one such option is Shaul Mofaz who … [Read more...]

THE ARAB SPRING, ITS EFFECTS ON THE KURDS, AND THE APPROACHES OF TURKEY, IRAN, SYRIA, AND IRAQ ON THE KURDISH ISSUE

  This article addresses the approaches of Turkey, Iran, Syria, and Iraq in dealing with the Kurdish issue, with a special focus on historical background. In addition, the article discusses how this issue affects relations among the aforementioned countries and whether cooperation on this issue is possible. The article also examines how the Arab Spring has impacted the Kurds and the attitudes of these countries toward the Kurdish issue.    Click here to download the PDF version of … [Read more...]

IS THE ISRAEL-PALESTINIAN PEACE PROCESS DEAD?

barry-rubin

  Western governments, experts, and journalists have long assumed that an Israel-Palestinian or comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace agreement ending the conflict was near at hand and easily achieved. In fact, the truth is the exact opposite. Indeed, there has not been any real “peace process” or real chance for a diplomatic solution since the Palestinian leadership rejected a deal in 2000. This article examines the factors that, on one hand, make the “peace process” deceased and, … [Read more...]