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Karabakh: Is War Inevitable?
By E. Wayne Merry, OpenDemocracy, May 22, 2009
 

In a time of shooting wars, it is easy to lose sight of wars waiting to happen. This is dangerous, especially for a new US administration with an ample international agenda. Serious attention is required on Nagorno Karabakh, the simmering dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

 
Time To Get Tough With Pakistan
By Jeff M. Smith, Far Eastern Economic Review, May 11, 2009
 

Back in 2007, commentators were sounding the alarm that Pakistan was approaching a precipice. A lot has changed in two years. Pakistan’s problems then—protesters clogging the streets of Islamabad demanding President Musharraf’s resignation, and sporadic Taliban raids on coalition forces in Afghanistan—were but a glimpse of the danger ahead. No one could have imagined the speed and intensity with which the Taliban and their allies have since spread east from their sanctuary in the Hindu Kush mountains to threaten an invasion of the Pakistani capital.

 
Beijing's Iranian Gamble
By Ilan Berman, Far Eastern Economic Review, April 13, 2009
 

China's leaders are betting big in the Middle East. In the high stakes game of geopolitical poker now being played between the West and Iran over the latter's nuclear program, Beijing has clearly placed its wager on Tehran. If China's leaders are right, and Iran does succeed in going nuclear, it will drastically alter regional politics, and quite possibly the global energy picture as well. If they are wrong, and the Islamic Republic is stopped from doing so, the Chinese economy could end up being one of the biggest casualties of the resulting fallout.

 
U.S. Pledge To Rebuild Gaza Likely Will Rearm Terrorists
By Ilan Berman, McClatchy-Tribune News Service, April 4, 2009
 

During the 1990s, the Clinton administration funneled millions of dollars in aid to the Palestinian Authority and its gangster-in-chief, Yasser Arafat, in the vain hope that the Palestinian leadership would focus on development and reconcile itself to the existence of the state of Israel. The funds, however, ended up doing no such thing. Fueled in part by American dollars, Arafat and his cronies preserved and strengthened their anti–Israeli animus, all the while entrenching a culture of corruption and cronyism that has crippled progress toward a Palestinian state. Yet today, the Obama administration is poised to make much the same mistake in post-Arafat "Palestine."

 
Will U.S. 'Reset' Offers Work?
By Ilan Berman, Washington Times, March 27, 2009
 

In February, the Obama administration sent a secret letter to Moscow in which it reportedly offered up its predecessor's plans for missile defenses in Europe in exchange for a more constructive Russian role on dealing with Iran's nuclear program. The Kremlin happily pocketed that proposal, but made no firm commitments as to its cooperation in squeezing Tehran. So what does Russia really think of Iran and its nuclear ambitions?

 
Why Syrian-Israeli Peace Deals Fail
By Matthew RJ Brodsky, inFocus, March 24, 2009
 

Several myths lie at the core of the arguments in favor of resuming the Syrian-Israeli peace process. The first is that the two parties were close to completing a peace deal in 2000, but diplomacy faltered over final borders—and that it would be relatively simple to solve this territorial dispute. The second is that the return of the Golan Heights is a priority for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who is not only capable of making peace with Israel, but could deliver the warm relations that Jerusalem seeks in return. Lastly, there is the myth that if the West sufficiently sweetened a Syrian-Israeli peace deal, Damascus could undergo a strategic shift and even reorient itself toward the West.

 
Rookie Mistake
By Ilan Berman, The American Spectator Online, March 18, 2009
 

Last month, as part of his plans to "push the reset button" on U.S.-Russian relations, the new president sent a secret letter to his Russian counterpart, Dmitry Medvedev. The missive reportedly contained a simple offer: America would move to scrap Bush administration-era plans to deploy missile defenses in Eastern Europe in return for the Kremlin's help in dealing with Iran's persistent nuclear ambitions.

 
Foreign Service Leadership Gap?
By E. Wayne Merry, Washington Times, February 27, 2009
 

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen, has repeatedly called for more emphasis on this country's nonmilitary instruments of international influence, and especially for a greater role, resources and capabilities for American diplomacy. Adm. Mullen and his colleagues on the Joint Chiefs ironically represent a critical weakness in this country's diplomatic establishment - institutional leadership.

 
On the Road to Damascus
By Matthew RJ Brodsky, Washington Times, February 26, 2009
 

The Obama administration appears to have set its sights on Syria as part of its efforts to turn over a new leaf on Middle East policy. Recent days have seen a spate of diplomatic overtures by Washington to the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad. These overtures represent a major shift in American policy.

 
No Diplomatic Relations Until Terrorist Funding Stops
By Ilan Berman, McClatchy-Tribune News Service, February 12, 2009
 

The subject of diplomacy with Iran has been on Barack Obama's mind for some time. Back in October 2007, while on the campaign trail, the then-Democratic presidential contender famously announced that he would hold "direct diplomacy, without preconditions" with Iran as a counterpoint to the Bush administration's more hawkish approach to the Islamic Republic. Little has changed in Obama's outlook since. The new president has wasted no time since being inaugurated in making clear that he still seeks diplomatic engagement with the Iranian regime. He has selected a seasoned diplomat, former Israeli-Palestinian negotiator Dennis Ross, as his special envoy on the Iranian issue, and his administration is said to be moving forward with plans to set up an American interests section in Tehran.