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Hillary's Right About the 'Defense Umbrella'
By Ilan Berman and Clifford D. May, Wall Street Journal, August 25, 2009

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said recently in Thailand that if Iran acquires a nuclear weapon, the U.S. will offer allies in the Middle East a "defense umbrella" to prevent Iranian intimidation. That's a fine sentiment, but it raises the question: Are we capable of doing so?

The answer is more complicated than most people think. The proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and associated delivery systems since the collapse of the Soviet Union means that any "defense umbrella" will require the deployment of missile defense technologies capable of neutralizing a potential salvo of nuclear-tipped missiles—whether from Iran or another rogue such as North Korea.

Yet America's missile-defense efforts are being scaled back. Congress is contemplating a $1.4 billion reduction to the Pentagon's budget for antimissile capabilities.

How To Move Forward With Iran
By Ilan Berman,, July 21, 2009

How should the U.S. respond to Iran's post-election turmoil? A month and a half after a fraudulent election sparked popular outrage among ordinary Iranians and an unprecedented outpouring of opposition onto Iran's streets, that question continues to bedevil policymakers in Washington. The depths of the administration's dilemma are readily apparent. There is a way out of this impasse, however; one capable of satisfying the administration's supporters and its critics.

Obama In Moscow - Perhaps A B-Minus?
By E. Wayne Merry, OpenDemocracy, July 16, 2009

President Obama has completed his first in-depth engagement with the Russian leadership during his Moscow visit. From an outsider's perspective, he gets a B-plus for substance but no better than a C on form. On balance, then, a B-minus. The new American administration's relations with Russia are a process, adjusting the policies of the previous Bush administration to its own goals. The main areas of change are three: treaty-based strategic nuclear arms control; Afghanistan; and a structure for other bilateralcooperation. This process began with the meeting of the two presidents in London. The Moscow summit represents progress on their first meeting in each area, but each is a shell waiting for real achievement. In each case, the serious work is still ahead.

Obama Needs To Stay Course On Afghanistan
By Ilan Berman, McClatchy-Tribune News Service, June 29, 2009

What to do about Afghanistan? Ever since taking office in January, President Obama has received no shortage of advice about the proper way forward on the first front of America's struggle against radical Islam. Some have argued that Afghanistan is politically the same as Iraq — a war of choice in which America has little at stake, and even less idea of how to achieve victory — and counseled withdrawal. Others have acknowledged Afghanistan's strategic importance, while stressing that nothing more is required than simply relying on Coalition and NATO support to continue fighting an insurgency that is now in its seventh year. Still others have suggested that lightning can in effect strike twice, and the very same "surge" strategy adopted by the Bush administration in 2007 to deal with Iraq will reap dividends in Afghanistan as well.

The China-India Border Brawl
By Jeff M. Smith, Wall Street Journal Asia, June 24, 2009

The peaceful, side-by-side rise of China and India has been taken for granted in many quarters. But tensions between the two giants are mounting, and Washington would do well to take note. On June 8, New Delhi announced it would deploy two additional army divisions and two air force squadrons near its border with China. Beijing responded furiously to the Indian announcement, hardening its claim to some 90,000 square kilometers of Indian territory that China disputes.

Iran's Revolutionary Moment?
By Ilan Berman, The American Spectator, June 22, 2009

These are hopeful and perilous times in Tehran. Ever since the blatant fraud of Iran's June 12th presidential election, popular opposition to that country's ruling clerical order has been on the rise, leading more and more observers to wonder whether Iran could really be on the cusp of another revolution. Maybe so. But any analysis of the current situation in Iran must begin with the acknowledgement that revolutions, properly understood, are notoriously hard to predict.

Interesting Times In Tehran
By Ilan Berman, The American Spectator, June 16, 2009

What a difference a few days can make. Last week, ahead of Iran's presidential elections, I wrote here that the outcome would matter little in the grand scheme of Iranian politics. I may have spoken too soon. Since Friday, that country has descended into political turmoil of a type not seen since the Islamic Revolution of 1979. The cause is a rigged election that has catalyzed widespread outrage among ordinary Iranians and threatened the legitimacy of the ruling regime in Tehran.

Much Ado About Nothing
By Ilan Berman, The American Spectator, June 11, 2009

Tomorrow, Iranians will go to the polls to elect a new president in what has become the most anticipated political event in that country since the Islamic Revolution three decades ago. The results, however, are already a foregone conclusion. Whoever ends up becoming president will have little real power -- and even less influence over Iran's geostrategic direction.

Obama and the Two Muslim Worlds
By Matthew RJ Brodsky, The American Spectator, June 3, 2009

When President Obama delivers his long-awaited speech in Egypt on Thursday, he will be fulfilling his inaugural pledge to "seek a new way forward" with the Muslim world. But finding areas of mutual interest may prove far more difficult than the president imagines. That is because, in recent years, the Middle East has seen the crystallization of regional politics around two distinct ideologies. Call it the new bipolarity.

In Mideast, A Pivotal Proliferation Moment
By Ilan Berman, Defense News, May 25, 2009

If it needed another reminder of the global danger posed by Iran's nuclear program, the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama has just gotten one. In early May, the International Atomic Energy Agency, the nuclear watchdog of the United Nations, revealed in a closely held report that its inspectors had found traces of highly enriched uranium in Egypt last year. The disturbing revelation is the latest sign that the regime of President Hosni Mubarak in Cairo may in fact be looking for a nuclear deterrent, despite official assurances that its program is intended strictly for "peaceful purposes." Egypt’s apparent interest in "the bomb" is hardly an isolated incident, however. It is part of a growing pattern of proliferation and nuclear development in the greater Middle East — a trend that has been intensified by Iran’s increasingly mature, and menacing, atomic effort.