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History's Bleak Afghan Lesson
Articles - September 1, 2011
 

As the United States and other NATO countries begin to withdraw their forces from Afghanistan, Afghan and US policymakers alike fear a return to the carnage that characterized the five year civil war (1996-2001) between the Taliban and the Northern Alliance. In that conflict, battles over large population centres and campaigns of ethnic cleansing killed thousands. To prevent a repeat of that disaster, Afghan President Hamid Karzai and the Obama administration are now seeking to negotiate a truce with the Taliban. But just how likely is such a peace deal to materialize – or to hold, if it does?

 
Russia Reform Monitor - No. 1743
Bulletins - August 31, 2011
 

Interior Ministry eyes new Internet curbs;
Putin and company: popular at home, but not abroad

 
Military Force Must Be Considered
Articles - August 11, 2011
 

Make no mistake: U.N. Security Council sanctions and additional U.S. and European pressures are hurting Iran. Tehran is having a harder time importing food and other key goods, its foreign investment is drying up, financial firms and shipping companies are turning down its business, and its central bank is running short of hard currency.

 

What sanctions are not doing, however, is achieving their goal - to persuade Tehran to abandon its pursuit of nuclear weapons. Not only is Iran making more progress in its nuclear program, it's acting more boldly in its region, threatening U.S. interests while distributing weapons that are killing U.S. troops. Because neither current nor additional sanctions alone will deter Tehran, and because a nuclear Iran would be a disaster for the United States and the world, Washington must seriously consider a military option.

 
How Iran And America Could Wind Up At War
Articles - July 29, 2011
 

Are Washington and Tehran headed for a showdown?

For much of the past decade, conventional wisdom has held that Iran’s dogged pursuit of a nuclear capability – carried out in spite of mounting pressure from the international community – will ultimately become a casus belli for Washington. Early on in his tenure, President George W. Bush even went so far as to declare that the U.S. “will not tolerate” Iran arming itself with nuclear weapons, and to indicate that he was prepared to use force to prevent it. Despite its more dulcet diplomatic tones toward Iran, the administration of Barack Obama has grudgingly repeated much the same thing since taking office: that all options, including the use of force, remain on the table for dealing with Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Still, some eight years into the international standoff over Iran’s atomic program, it has become clear that a military option for dealing with an Iranian bomb, if not out of the question entirely, is an exceedingly remote possibility.

That does not mean, however, that Tehran and Washington won’t soon find themselves embroiled in a war. Indeed, Iran’s escalating activity on the territory of its western neighbor, Iraq, could end up becoming the real catalyst for a U.S.-Iranian conflict.

 
High Cost Of Stability In Egypt
Articles - June 14, 2011
 

Welcome to “The Hangover,” Cairo edition. The widespread grass-roots protests that broke out in Egypt this spring succeeded in accomplishing what many skeptics doubted they could: ousting long-serving strongman Hosni Mubarak and ending his 30-year authoritarian rule. But now, some four months on, Egypt’s revolution is obviously on the skids.

The problems start with Egypt’s economy. Under Mr. Mubarak, Egypt’s economic fortunes were comparatively rosy, with the national gross domestic product growing an average of nearly 6 percent annually over the past three years. Today, by contrast, they are anything but rosy. Since Mr. Mubarak’s ouster in February, the Egyptian stock exchange has lost nearly a quarter of its value, prompting its chairman, Mohamed Abdel Salam, to embark upon a frantic tour of Gulf monarchies in an effort to drum up Arab investment. Tourism, the lifeblood of the Egyptian economy, likewise has plummeted, falling an estimated 60 percent over 2010 levels and costing the country more than a half-billion dollars in revenue to date in the process. Nor is a reprieve in sight. According to observers, it could take a decade for Egypt’s tourism industry to rebound fully - if, indeed, it rebounds at all. The prognosis is grim: As a recent analysis in the Asia Times put it, “Egypt’s economy is in free-fall.”

 
Russia Reform Monitor - No. 1731
Bulletins - June 2, 2011
 

Kremlin plans for professional military now on ice;
New traction for Bush-era defense tech pact

 
Assad As Puppetmaster
Articles - May 19, 2011
 

Is a new Cold War brewing in the Middle East? That’s the conventional wisdom surrounding the so-called “Arab Spring,” which has further corroded the already poor relations between the region’s Saudi-led bloc on the one hand, and Iran and its allies on the other. Yet the two competing sides have found common ground on at least one strategic issue: Syria. Each desperately wants the regime of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad to survive.

 
Among the lessons from the successful raid on Osama bin Laden's refuge is the value of cooperative relations with Russia. Consider that until recently, Pakistan enjoyed a chokehold on supplies for American and other allied forces in Afghanistan. A trickl
Articles - May 15, 2011
 

Among the lessons from the successful raid on Osama bin Laden's refuge is the value of cooperative relations with Russia.

Consider that until recently, Pakistan enjoyed a chokehold on supplies for American and other allied forces in Afghanistan. A trickle of the vast logistical requirements of the war came in from the north, by air through Kyrgyzstan. The Pakistani leadership exploited its near-monopoly to extract massive aid from Washington and to limit American operations across the porous frontier region joining Pakistan and Afghanistan.

 
Russia Reform Monitor - No. 1727
Bulletins - May 10, 2011
 

Russian demography's downward spiral;
Medvedev targets Putin loyalists

 
What Makes Jordan And Bahrain Different
Articles - March 7, 2011
 

With regimes collapsing throughout the Middle East, many Washington experts wonder if two U.S.-aligned monarchies, Bahrain and Jordan, might be the next possible candidates for the type of regime change seen of late in Tunisia and Egypt. In recent weeks, thousands have demonstrated in Bahrain in favor of overthrowing the monarchy after security forces killed several protesters calling for constitutional reforms and investigations into government corruption and human rights abuses. In Jordan, meanwhile, demonstrations against rising food prices and rampant unemployment quickly transformed into pro-democracy rallies, rocking the Hashemite Kingdom to its core.

The stakes for the U.S. are enormous. The overthrow of either regime would threaten American interests and further destabilize the already-volatile region. Bahrain's strategic position in the Persian Gulf, through which approximately a fifth of the world's oil exports pass, as well as its role as host to the U.S. Fifth Fleet (which helps protect that oil), makes its continued alliance with the U.S. crucial to American energy security. As for Jordan, its long border with Iraq, which will likely host American troops for many more years, and its peace treaty with Israel, makes the country an important strategic partner for America.