Hard Choices for NATO: Expansion vs Commitments

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(This was cross-posted at www.YoungAtlanticist.org. Sameer will be blogging live from Bucharest from April 2-4 during the NATO Summit.) Leading up to the NATO Summit in Bucharest, the op-ed pages have provided a transatlantic policymaker’s feast of competing proposals, warnings, and framings of the critical events facing the 59 year old military alliance. NATO expansion and commitments to the ISAF in Afghanistan obviously rise to the top as critical tests of the alliance’s future, but at some level they seem…

<em>Guest Post by Ben Katcher</em>: McCain is Not the First

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Ben Katcher is a Research Associate at the New America Foundation. In a post on Monday, Steve Clemons referred to Anatol Leiven’s critique of John McCain in the Financial Times. The piece demonstrates that McCain’s propensity to make rash statements, such as singing “Bomb, bomb, bomb Iran,” must be understood in the context of his neo-conservative foreign policy views, including his advocacy of what he calls ‘rogue state rollback.’ In addition to being unbecoming of an American president, comments like…

Former Israeli Foreign Minister Calls for Ceasefire, Palestinian Unity Government

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Shlomo Ben-Ami, as Israel’s Foreign Minister, led peace negotiations with the Palestinian Liberation Organization under Prime Minister Ehud Barak, culminating in the Camp David Summit. And ever since he’s maintained an active profile and is utilized as a source of fresh thinking on various informal security policy planning exercises. The former Foreign Minister recently penned an op-ed in the Lebanon Star making the controversial case for what Israel needs to do to revive the Annapolis process: Israel must change its…

The Transatlantic Alliance’s Afghan Strains

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For some time now, transatlantic analysts have warned that the NATO deployment of International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and US troops in Afghanistan is on the precipice of unraveling, and with that will usher in grave questions and implications for the future of NATO and transatlantic ties. Given Zbigniew Brzezinski’s pronouncement in his book Second Chance that the drift in transatlantic ties throughout the 1990s was one of two crucial meta-mistakes that undermined the US position globally, there is real…

<em>Guest Post by Anya Landau French</em>: No Magic Cuba Policy

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Anya Landau French joined the Lexington Institute in February 2008 as a Senior Fellow, focusing on U.S.-Cuban affairs. With the anti-climactic departure of Fidel Castro from power in Cuba, it appears that the United States plans to hurry up and continue waiting for change in Cuba. The waiting may soon be over. Today, twenty-four U.S. senators, led by Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) and Senator Mike Enzi (R-WY), wrote to Secretary Rice (for letter click here) — as did…

Some Progress to Report for Saudi Women

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Arab News, a Saudi government media outlet published in English, has an article describing a couple religious scholars supporting the proposition that Islamic law does not in fact prohibit women from driving. The story is buoyed by a rough survey of respondents that show the majority of Saudi men and women support this to various degrees. Arab News would not print this unless there was a conscious decision at the top to initiate and open up this debate — as…

Candidates’ Reinstatements Could Spell Trouble for Ahmadinejad

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Reuters is reporting an important story on the reinstatement of over a thousand candidates for the March 14th Iranian parliamentary elections who were initially struck from the lists by government committees: Over 2,000 registered candidates out of 7,200 were initially barred by government committees. Moderate politicians, including former president Mohammad Khatami and some of Ahmadinejad’s backers, have complained over the mass disqualifications. However, the conservative-run Guardian Council, which has stopped hundreds of reformists running in past votes, has now reinstated…

Three Pakistan Stories Worth Following

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1. Pakistan Elections Today Preliminary results trickling in seem to indicate that, as expected, there will be no clear winner with each of the three major parties holding their own with their base — the PPP in Sindh, the PML-N in Punjab, and the MQM in Karachi. However, it remains to be seen whether Musharraf will be the big loser. There are already reports of voter fraud, intimidation, buying votes, and low turnout according to reports on the ground from…

Elections at Home and Abroad

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Despite Gov. Romney’s departure from the Republican field, the excitement over the primaries is unlikely to dissipate anytime soon. But in the next month, there are a number of elections around the world that will have significant bearing on the U.S. strategic landscape, and perhaps the candidates’ foreign policy positioning. Pakistan’s elections are scheduled for February 18 with Western hopes that a new democratically elected government might actually start to crackdown on the Taliban freely operating on the Pakistani-Afghan border….

The Iran-Hezbollah Schism

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Last week, I heard some pretty fascinating analysis of the Iranian-Hezbollah relationship that, while not earth shattering, is worth sharing. The idea being floated from a Levant scholar was that — based on interviews with senior Hezbollah officers — the organization considers itself more of a partner rather than a client of Iran with greater freedom of action than the prevailing narrative accords it. The officers claim Hezbollah has never taken an action at Iran’s bequest which they believed to…