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IranWednesday, June 20, 2012

After Moscow

Moscow talks on Iran’s nuclear program ended with “the most substantive discussion” to date, and agreement for more technical talks, but no breakthrough. The U.S. position remains strong, as economic and political pressure on Iran intensifies over the coming weeks. As the House Armed Services Committee holds a hearing  on “understanding the military options,” it’s worth bearing in mind the statements of current Pentagon officials, Bush Administration officials, and Israeli national security leaders that a military strike will not destroy the program and, as Bush administration CIA Director Michael Hayden has said, would “guarantee that which we are trying to prevent.” No breakthrough, but no breakdown, in “most substantive discussion” to date. Laura Rozen of al Monitor describes the situation in Moscow: “After two grueling… Read More ›

IranMonday, June 18, 2012

Politics, Posturing and Negotiations

The latest round of negotiations between the P5+1 countries and Iran over the latter’s controversial nuclear program is currently underway in Moscow. Officials have described the scene as “tense and tough.” At home, politics, posturing and micro-managing have not ceased. But that doesn’t change the reality that, as security officials from the United States and Israel have repeatedly said, a continued diplomatic process is the best way forward. Negotiations take time, and time, right now, is on the side of the West. Romney, rooting for failure of diplomacy, tries to make political gain out of a delicate national security issue. The Los Angeles Times reports, “In hawkish remarks that drew cheers from an audience of religious conservatives, Mitt Romney accused President Obama on Saturday of… Read More ›

IranWednesday, June 6, 2012

Realistic Expectations, or Rooting for Failure?

As the talks with Iran that career diplomat and former Under Secretary of State Nick Burns described as a “marathon not a sprint” ramp up for another round next week,  John Bolton has preemptively applauded their “failure” and renewed calls for military strikes.  But senior military and security leaders continue to say that the military option would be unwise; that Iran’s slow technical progress means we have time available for diplomacy to play out; and above all that the Iran talks are “too important to be undercut by meddling from politicians.” Romney advisor applauds ill-conceived notion of American failure, pushes for war.  As the National Journal’s Michael Hirsh writes today, “Bolton, a key foreign-policy advisor to Romney, created a stir recently by appearing to rejoice… Read More ›

ChinadiplomacyMonday, June 4, 2012

Rebalance in Action

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta’s weeklong trip to Asia shows U.S. “rebalancing” to the Asia-Pacific in action: from strengthened ties with key allies, to outreach to regional partners like Vietnam, to broad security discussions and a targeted focus on China. Speaking at a defense summit in Singapore, Panetta explained plans to shift more American naval assets to the region. This increase in force is not aimed “containing” China, however. The U.S. welcomes a strong and prosperous China, primarily because cooperation between the two nations will be essential to solving global problems. Looking forward, a realistic strategy maintains U.S. strength; stands firm on issues of difference; and works to clarify intentions and reduce misunderstandings between Washington and Beijing as the world goes through an economically and… Read More ›

Arab SpringdiplomacySyriaThursday, May 31, 2012

Syria: Attacks, Not Alternatives

Today the Assad regime launched renewed attacks in Houla, Syria, where more than 100 civilians were killed over the weekend, and UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon said that the UN is not in Syria “to play the role of passive observer to unspeakable atrocities.” As the U.S. and the international community struggle with the complexity of the situation and the lack of easy solutions, Syria’s tragedy entered U.S. presidential politics with Mitt Romney’s criticism of the administration’s approach and call for arming the Syrian opposition. But Romney’s solution is an attack line, not a coherent alternative. Regional and military experts warn that efforts underway by countries in the region to arm the rebels are not effective and could make the situation worse, ultimately making… Read More ›

IranWednesday, May 30, 2012

Time Is on Our Side

Negotiations between Iran and the permanent five members of the U.N. Security Council (P5+1) are developing into a sustained diplomatic process, with more talks in Moscow next month. This is a positive development, because one-off meetings have failed in the past and because economic and political pressure is ratcheting up on Iran to reach a deal, with more sanctions coming into force this summer. Time is on our side, not Iran’s, as the pressure building against Iran and the diplomatic negotiations are moving at a faster pace than Iran’s progress toward the capability to build not just a weapon but also a missile to deliver it. After opening gambits, diplomacy takes next step. Reza Marashi of the National Iranian American Council explains the track and… Read More ›

2012 ElectionArab SpringdiplomacyMitt RomneySyriaWednesday, May 30, 2012

Major General Eaton responds to Romney’s Syria critique on MSNBC’s “Hardball”

P.J. Crowley, former Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs, and Major General Paul Eaton join Hardball to discuss Mitt Romney’s criticism about President Obama’s handling of the violent situation in Syria.   MATTHEWS: We`re back. Amid escalating violence over there in Syria, where last week, dozens of children were brutally killed. The United States and several other countries have expelled Syrian diplomats in a move to pressure the Assad regime. But back home, Mitt Romney condemned the Obama administration for leaning on diplomacy. In a statement issued yesterday, Romney said, quote, “President Obama`s lack of leadership has resulted in a policy of paralysis that has watched Assad slaughter 10,000 individuals. We should increase pressure on Russia to cease selling arms to the Syrian government… Read More ›

Arab SpringdiplomacySyriaTuesday, May 29, 2012

Syria: How to Do “More good than Harm”

Over the weekend, violence in Syria, which has suffered from a 15-month civil conflict, escalated with massacres resulting in over 100 people killed, including many children. The United Nations Security Council responded with a unanimous condemnation of the events – though did not assign blame. Kofi Annan, former UN secretary general currently serving as the special envoy for the United Nations and the Arab League, returned to Syria to meet with President Bashar al Assad. The U.S. and a dozen major industrial nations expelled Syrian ambassadors, and observers report that economic sanctions are starting to bite – but Assad continues to seem impervious to pressure, and the sectarian and geopolitical complexities continue to block any easy solution to the violence, military or otherwise. As James Traub… Read More ›

Heather HurlburtFriday, May 25, 2012

Heather Hurlburt Quoted in The Daily Beast

Republicans and the military: No longer BFFs? A provocative Democracy Arsenal article suggests that some conservatives who claim to be pro-military are routinely throwing obstacles in the Pentagon’s way By The Daily Beast Editorial Board May 25, 2012 | The Daily Beast The GOP has long had a reputation as the national-security party. But there’s a growing “rift between the U.S. military and the leadership of American conservatism,“ says Heather Hurlburt at Democracy Arsenal. Hardline politicians “who ritually stand up in front of the public and say they want to ‘listen to the commanders,’ [actually] ignore the commanders on issue after issue.” Congressional Republicans, Hurlburt says, are arguing against Pentagon officials on everything from the threat of war with Iran, to military detention of terror suspects, to green energy initiatives designed to… Read More ›

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