Foreign Policy

U.S. must lead from position of strength, not weakness

The abhorrent attacks on our U.S. embassy in Cairo and consulate in Benghazi, suspiciously timed on the eleventh anniversary of the 9/11 attacks refocuses the spotlight on America’s need for a dramatic shift to a new foreign policy.
Obama’s handling of our nation’s economy has been repeatedly compared to President Jimmy Carter’s economic failures of the 1970s. These attacks are sadly reminiscent of the 1979 attack on our embassy in Tehran under Carter’s watch.


Bedlam in Benghazi - What next?

It would be great if the world could just be put on hold until after the election—but the world is not big on time-outs. Certainly, it would be wrong to play to politics with foreign policy and national security.
But it is equally wrong to suggest that foreign policy and national security issues shouldn’t be debated in the wake of horrific tragedies like the attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya.


Nonproliferation requires enforcement

Should America use military force to prevent Iran from producing nuclear weapons? Our leaders are urgently addressing this question, spurred on by concerns that Israel, any day, may feel forced to launch such strikes independently. It’s a life-and-death question, because Iran’s response has the potential to trigger major armed conflicts.  Yet in addressing it we are ignoring what may be the most important strategic issue of all – global nonproliferation! Let’s take a broader look.


Tragedy in Libya: 'An attack that should shock the conscience'

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton made the following remarks in the Treaty Room at the State Department on the deaths of American personnel in Benghazi, Libya.
Yesterday, our U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya was attacked. Heavily armed militants assaulted the compound and set fire to our buildings.  American and Libyan security personnel battled the attackers together. Four Americans were killed. They included Sean Smith, a Foreign Service information management officer, and our Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens. We are still making next of kin notifications for the other two individuals.


Elections in Belarus: The world is watching

Just weeks before Belarus’s parliamentary elections on Sept. 23, few expect anything but another sham. And yet democratic nations will have to let the dictator, Alexander Lukashenka, know they are paying attention and mean business.

So far, in the run-up to this election we have seen few if any good signs. Opposition leader Alexander Milinkevich has been denied registration as a candidate. The intimidation and harassment of the opposition, detention of independent journalists and democratic activists continues unabated.


The untold story of Iran's religious minorities

Iran makes the front page of the news nearly every day. There has been constant coverage of the recent legislation tightening sanctions against Iran, as well as the looming threat of Iran’s nuclear program. What is not getting nearly as much attention is that Iran is one of the most egregious violators of religious freedom in the world.

Just one day before the Iran Sanctions bill passed Congress this summer, the State Department released its 2011 International Religious Freedom Report. For the 12th year in a row, the U.S. government designated Iran as a “Country of Particular Concern” (CPC) under the International Religious Freedom Act for having engaged in or tolerated particularly severe violations of religious freedom. The new report indicates that rhetoric and actions originating from the Iranian government have created a threatening atmosphere for nearly all non-Shiite religious groups – among them Baha’is, Christians, Jews, and Mandaeans – groups that do not share the government’s official religious views. In particular, Baha’is and Christians were found to be subject to arbitrary arrests, prolonged detentions, and confiscation of property. All religious minorities were found to be victims of varying degrees of discrimination, particularly in the areas of employment, education, and housing.


As Pentagon reshapes fighting force, civilian casualties need to be considered

The damaging impact of civilian casualties on combat operations is not a new lesson, but it is one that US defense forces have had to continually relearn. Historically, civilian protection and efforts to address harm become priorities only when external pressures demand attention. As the Pentagon reshapes its defenses and fighting force for the next decade, continuing this ad hoc pattern in the future is neither strategically smart nor morally acceptable.
The budget recently submitted to Congress by Secretary of Defense Panetta demonstrates a strategic shift toward smaller and more covert operations. Our new forces are to be leaner and more agile, able to be decisive in its operations without heavy investment.


Insider attacks raise concerns Afghan readiness

This year, the so-called “green on blue” attacks in Afghanistan – in which uniformed Afghan soldiers and police attack the ISAF personnel they work alongside – have risen to precipitous levels: More than 40 people killed so far, with many months to go in the year (and more than 80 since 2003). What does this say about the Afghan security forces?


Three things you need to know about IAEA report on Iran

As Iran war-fever again breaks out upon the release of another IAEA report, the sage advice from countless top national security officials becomes all the more relevant: diplomacy remains the single best way to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran and a devastating war.


Ongoing attacks in Afghanistan remind us it's time to bring troops home

“Just a flesh wound,” exclaims the Black Knight in Monty Python’s Holy Grail to having his left and right arms hacked off by the valiant King Arthur. The Black Knight’s bravado and self-deception continue, as Arthur chops off both his legs and leaves the former a trash-talking, powerless torso with a head.
Such lack of self-awareness characterizes the coalition’s mission in Afghanistan. U.S. officials continue to praise and support the Afghan Army and police, even in the midst of a disturbing trend of Afghan security forces turning their weapons on American and NATO trainers.