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diplomacyWednesday, October 23, 2013

Small Steps on the Long Road Ahead for Syria

Yesterday, Secretary of State John Kerry met with his counterparts from ten Arab and European countries to push for a renewed diplomatic effort to resolve the ongoing civil war in Syria. While the partner countries are said to be on the same page pushing for new talks in Geneva, the moderate rebel forces remain divided and wary of entering the peace talks. Meanwhile, on the ground there is steady progress in chemical weapons inspections and disposal, but many questions still remain. The renewed diplomatic push is a positive step, but even a hard-earned political deal is only the beginning of a long road for Syria. Diplomatic push for peace talks puts international community on same page, but moderate opposition still undecided. U.S., Arab and European… Read More ›

AfghanistanMonday, October 21, 2013

Upcoming Key Decisions in Afghanistan

Upcoming Key Decisions in Afghanistan October 21, 2013 Afghanistan is entering a crucial decision-making period over the next weeks and months. Earlier this month Secretary of State John Kerry and Afghan President Hamid Karzai met to discuss the security agreement on the status of U.S. forces in Afghanistan following the 2014 drawdown. The agreement is now resting with the Loya Jirga, a tribal advisory council. This comes ahead of Afghanistan’s upcoming political transition with presidential elections scheduled for April of next year. A successful political transition requires focus from the U.S. and the international community beyond the military dimension. Afghanistan to convene tribal leaders on potential agreement. Reuters reports, “The future of U.S. troops in Afghanistan after 2014 will be decided by an assembly of tribal elders… Read More ›

Friday, October 18, 2013

After the Shutdown: Details on Implementing the Defense Drawdown

The agreement that ended the sixteen day government shutdown set the stage for yet another round of budget fights, renewing the importance of smartly drawing down Pentagon spending as more than a decade of war nears its end. The agreement creates a budget commission that will offer long-term budget plans in mid-December. As Congress gears up for the coming debate, there is little doubt that a substantial Pentagon drawdown will continue. The question remains how to do so safely while preserving – and in some cases increasing – combat power to meet future national security needs. Fortunately, on this score, experts and military leaders continue to offer detailed recommendations on a way forward that make sizable savings possible. Managing the Pentagon’s drawdown towards a post-war… Read More ›

IranWednesday, October 16, 2013

Cautious Optimism Coming out of Geneva Talks

Today, Iran and the P5+1 finished the first round of negotiations since the election of the President Hassan Rouhani. While, as expected, there was no breakthrough at the talks and public details about the negotiations remain limited, there are a number of positive developments coming out of Geneva, including a serious proposal from Iran that Western diplomats are carefully examining. In the first joint P5+1-Iran statement, the talks were described as “substantive and forward-looking.” Nonetheless, hardliners in Washington are dismissing the talks and calling for increased sanctions and preparations for military action no matter how the negotiations develop. In response to the developments coming out of Geneva, NSN Executive Director John Bradshaw stated, “We are just at the beginning of a long diplomatic process but… Read More ›

Friday, October 11, 2013

Putting International Talks with Iran in Perspective

Next week in Geneva the first talks between the P5+1 and Iran will take place since the election of Hassan Rouhani as the new Iranian president. Given past experiences, it is important to enter negotiations with a watchful eye and realistic expectations about what can be achieved. Nonetheless, these negotiations represent the best chance for making headway towards a realistic sustainable solution to the crisis over Iran’s nuclear program. Negotiations are the best realistic avenue to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran. Retired Major General George Buskirk explains:  “A negotiated solution is the only realistic avenue to achieve America’s long-term security goals in the region. For years commanders in the field have warned that war with Iran would come at enormous cost and be counter to our… Read More ›

TerrorismWednesday, October 9, 2013

Myth vs. Fact on al Libi and Use of Guantanamo

Saturday’s raid in Tripoli resulted in the capture of Abu Anas al Libi. Al Libi was indicted in 2000 for his role in the 1998 bombing of U.S. Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania that killed 224, including 12 Americans. The detention and interrogation of this high-value suspect has resurrected the tired old arguments from those advocating keeping the controversial detention facility at Guantanamo Bay open. Unfortunately these advocates twist the facts and create myths to fit their already established conclusion. MYTH: We are losing valuable intelligence because we are not utilizing Guantanamo Bay. FACT: The process currently being deployed has proven effective. In a press conference on al Libi’s capture, Lindsey Graham said, “The use of ships, instead of Guantanamo Bay, will greatly compromise our… Read More ›

TerrorismMonday, October 7, 2013

Double Raids in Africa

This Saturday, American commandos carried out two raids aimed at capturing fugitive terror suspects in Africa. In Libya, American forces captured Nazih Abdul-Hamed al-Ruqai, known by his nom de guerre, Abu Anas al Libi, who was indicted in 2000 for his role in the 1998 bombings of the United States embassies in Kenya and Tanzania and had a $5 million bounty on his head. It is believed that al Libi is currently being interrogated by the HIG (high-value interrogation group) an interagency team of interrogation experts, aboard a navy ship in the Mediterranean.  In Somalia, Navy SEALs engaged in a gunfight at the home of a senior al Shabaab leader, withdrawing without confirming whether their target had been killed. It is believed that the target… Read More ›

Friday, October 4, 2013

“Jefferson, Wake Up, They’ve Gone Crazy”

Last night President Obama canceled his planned trip to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Bali, Indonesia, and the East Asia Summit in Darussalam, Brunei because of the battle with conservatives on Capitol Hill over the government shutdown. This trip, and the enormous trade agreement it was meant to advance, is not the only national security priority that has been affected by the shutdown. From intelligence warnings that foreign spy services will recruit embittered, indebted government workers to some of our closest allies are issuing travel advisories for their citizens, the world is looking on with concern and laughter – and it’s not laughing with us. Shutdown is affecting key foreign policy priorities: Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Asia rebalance: The Trans-Pacific Partnership, the trade agreement… Read More ›

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

A Goal-Oriented Policy Toward Iran

Government shutdown or not, both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue have work to do in seizing and testing the opportunity to resolve concerns with Iran’s nuclear program. Amid a series of encouraging developments, culminating in a phone call between Presidents Obama and Rouhani, a poll shows that the public overwhelmingly supports direct diplomatic efforts with Iran to address the country’s controversial nuclear program – in line with a strong consensus from the expert community. As the process moves toward talks in Geneva on October 15 and 16, the general contours of a deal remain constraints on Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for commensurate sanctions relief. Willingness to align consideration of new sanctions with progress in the talks is an important strategic step toward the intended goal… Read More ›

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