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Russia's Real Threat? Failure
By Ilan Berman, Washington Times, February 1, 2010
 

There's an old saying, familiar to historians and foreign policy practitioners, that "geography is destiny." A modern twist to this rule is that demography is no less decisive.

Russia is finding this out the hard way. Over the past several years, under the direction of former President (and current Prime Minister) Vladimir Putin and his handpicked protege, Dmitry Medvedev, Russia may have re-emerged on the international scene with a vengeance. But behind all of the Kremlin's contemporary geopolitical bluster, the successor state of the once-mighty Soviet Union is caught in a demographic and socioeconomic death spiral.

 
Thinking Beyond Petroleum
By Ilan Berman, Forbes.com, January 19, 2010
 

The funny thing about windows of opportunity is that they have a way of closing. Over the past year, spurred by mounting worries over Iran's nuclear ambitions, Congress has taken up the issue of economic pressure against the Islamic Republic in earnest. The result is a series of sanctions bills aimed at targeting what is commonly viewed as the regime's economic Achilles' Heel: its deep dependence on foreign refined petroleum.

 
Stagnation Threatens U.S. Arms Superiority
By Ilan Berman, Defense News, January 4, 2010
 

A funny thing happened in the skies over Norway last month. On Dec. 10, as U.S. President Barack Obama geared up to deliver his acceptance speech before the Nobel Prize Committee in Oslo, spectators outdoors were treated to a spectacular display of spiraling light. The cause was not a UFO, as some contended, but a failed test of the Bulava, Russia's newest sea-launched intercontinental ballistic missile. The episode was a telling reminder of the shifting strategic balance between Washington and the rest of the world.

 
Defiant In Tehran
By Ilan Berman, Washington Times, December 27, 2009
 

Another month, another fissure within the Islamic Republic. In the six months since Iran's fraudulent presidential elections brought protesters out into the streets en masse, the Iranian regime has weathered a profound and sustained domestic crisis of confidence. The latest sign of this discontent began on Dec. 7, when tens of thousands of students clashed with regime security forces on university campuses throughout Tehran in days of unrest. This protest and numerous others like it serve as a telling reminder that the rift between the Iranian people and the thuggish theocracy that rules them remains as deep as ever.

 
Iraqi Militia Leader Lays Down Arms For Politics
By Ilan Berman, Jane's Defence Weekly, December 23, 2009
 

Remember Moqtada al-Sadr? Just three years ago, the firebrand cleric and his feared Mahdi Army militia were the scourge of the coalition in Iraq, spearheading the Shia opposition to the United States and its allies in the former Ba'athist state. Since then, the man who ranks as one of Iraq's most notorious native sons has largely disappeared from view, preferring flight rather than fight in the face of an increasingly assertive central government in Baghdad. Now, however, there are signs that Sadr is poised on the brink of a major political comeback – one that could significantly reconfigure Iraqi politics.

 
Toughen Up On Iran
By Ilan Berman, Forbes.com, December 11, 2009
 

When it comes to Iran, the Obama administration could learn a thing or two from Europe. That is because, even as Washington clings doggedly to its plans for "engagement" with Tehran, there are signs that a new consensus is emerging in Europe about confronting the Islamic Republic.

On Nov. 24, the Dutch parliament caused a minor political earthquake on the Old Continent when it voted to designate Iran's powerful clerical army, the Islamic Revolution Guard Corps (IRGC), as a terrorist group under Netherlands law. The same measure also called for the IRGC to be put on the European Union's terror list--a step that would harmonize U.S. and European approaches toward Iran's ideological army.

 
Messaging To The (Muslim) Masses
By Ilan Berman, The Journal of International Security Affairs, December 7, 2009
 

By now, the idea that the struggle against radical Islam is in large part a battle of ideas has become widely accepted. Our statesmen, diplomats and political leaders regularly intone that we are engaged in a monumental conflict between freedom and fear, between democratic values and religious totalitarianism, and between individual liberties and religious fiat. But is the United States actively engaging in this struggle? Sadly, all of the available evidence suggests that it is not. Eight years into the fight, America still lacks anything remotely resembling a coherent strategy for competing on the Muslim world's intellectual battlefields. And without one, it has steadily ceded the strategic initiative to its adversaries, who do.

 
The Great Game, Round Three
By Jeff M. Smith, The Journal of International Security Affairs, November 20, 2009
 

When the eight states that now constitute Central Asia and the Caucasus freed themselves from the grip of the Soviet Union in 1991, it was perhaps inevitable that outside powers would rush to fill the vacuum. Of the eight at least three, the Caspian Basin states (Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, and Kazakhstan) found themselves awash in natural resources. The remaining five (Georgia, Armenia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan), though less endowed materially, are strategically situated along crucial energy, trade, and logistics corridors. The combination of renewed interest and a reopened playing field in the heart of Eurasia resulted in the rise of a new “Great Game,” reminiscent of the great-power contest of the 19th century between the British and Russian empires over access to India glorified by Rudyard Kipling in his day. A decade-and-a-half on, this Great Game has matured, and undergone important changes. More important, however, as the energy struggle evolved a new front in the Game emerged out of the ashes of the September 11th terrorist attacks: one that pits the United States against Russia for influence and basing rights in Central Asia.

 
No Substitute For Substance
By Robert R. Reilly, The Journal of International Security Affairs, November 9, 2009
 

The primary purpose of U.S. public diplomacy is to explain, promote, and defend American principles to audiences abroad. This objective goes well beyond the public affairs function of presenting and explaining the specific policies of various administrations. Policies and administrations change; principles do not, so long as the United States remains true to itself. Public diplomacy has a particularly vital mission during war, when the peoples of other countries, whether adversaries or allies, need to know why we fight. After all, it is a conflict of ideas that is behind the shooting wars, and it is that conflict which must be won to achieve any lasting success.

 
An Islamist Pivot To The East
By Ilan Berman, Washington Times, November 6, 2009
 

"This is the way the world ends," T.S. Eliot wrote in his epic 1925 poem "The Hollow Men," "not with a bang but a whimper." Had he written it today, Eliot could easily have been speaking about the strategic divorce taking place between Israel and Turkey - a monumental decoupling with the power to alter the correlation of forces in the greater Middle East.