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Make Terrorists Compete On Ideas
By Ilan Berman,, October 13, 2009

In the eight years since Sept. 11, the U.S. has devoted a great deal of funding and thinking to the struggle against radical Islam. There's at least one area where it's fallen short, though: It hasn't mounted a serious economic challenge to the activities and ideologies of terrorist groups on a grassroots level.

Our Missile-Defense Race Against Iran
By Ilan Berman, Wall Street Journal, September 21, 2009

Perhaps the most surprising thing about the Obama administration's decision last Thursday to scrap missile-defense deployments in Poland and the Czech Republic is that it was so long in coming. Mr. Obama has defended his decision on both technical and financial grounds. The Bush administration's plans to deploy ground-based interceptors in Poland and early warning radars in the Czech Republic were targeted as part of his campaign pledge to eliminate billions of dollars in missile-defense spending. Instead, the White House now has pledged to develop a new theater and sea-based missile-defense architecture for Europe that "will provide stronger, smarter, and swifter defenses of American forces and America's allies." But what about defense of America?

HowTo Engage Iran (If You Must)
By Ilan Berman,, September 8, 2009

After months of dithering and delay, the Iranian government appears to have grudgingly accepted the U.S. president's diplomatic overtures. Just shy of the deadline for dialogue set by the White House, the Islamic Republic has announced its readiness to offer new "proposals" for talks over its nuclear program.

The move is a political victory of sorts for Obama, who has made "engagement" with Iran a centerpiece of his Middle East policy. But it might end up being a Pyrrhic victory. If true to form, Iran will likely try to use the upcoming talks with Washington the same way it did previous ones with Europe -- as a way to play for time and add permanence to its nuclear project. For Obama to convince Iran's rulers that the costs of their nuclear effort will far outweigh the perceived benefits, talking alone won't be enough; the White House will need real leverage over Tehran.

With Friends Like These
By Matthew RJ Brodsky, The American Spectator, September 8, 2009

When the Fatah Central Committee convened its sixth party conference last month in Bethlehem -- the first such meeting in twenty years and the first ever held on Palestinian Authority territory -- one might have expected a bit of soul-searching. After all, more than two decades after the Palestine Liberation Organization and its main political faction met America's prerequisites for a dialogue by rhetorically recognizing Israel's right to exist, renouncing terrorism, and accepting United Nations Resolution 242, a casual observer might assume that a re-examination of revolutionary principles was in order. Yet nothing of the sort occurred.

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.