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Posts from the ‘Regional Issues’ Category


The Narrowing Path on Iran

One more point on the endless Israel-Iran debate:  An Israeli strike will re-set the terms for U.S. objectives toward Iran, and not in a helpful way.  But then, Israel hasn’t been much in the business of setting a helpful context for U.S. grand strategy of late, so perhaps this should hardly come as a surprise. Read more


This is How the Theory [War] Ends

Like this:  Not with a victory parade, but with a stalemate.  A suggestive Times piece on uprisings against Taliban abuses in eastern Afghanistan may point the way to the only realistic route to stability.  Read more


Avoiding Hard Truths

Well, it’s official.  We have reached the nadir of our public, official analysis of the decade-old Afghan conflict. Read more »


The Thread Misses the Needle on Iran

A flurry of recent articles continue to raise the prospect of an Israeli strike on Iran in the fall.  There is, to be sure, no consensus on action, and the most recent developments may have slowed the race to action.  Major Israeli opinion leaders, including President Shimon Peres, have spoken out against a near-term strike, and recent public opinion polls show a more Israelis opposed to the idea than in favor of it. Read more »


Preparing for the Post-Iran-Strike World … And a New Iran

The United States now faces an unprecedented likelihood that, some time within the next 12 months, it will be dealing with the aftermath of an Israeli strike on the Iranian nuclear program.  And while this has been a looming possibility for years—and countless articles, exercises, and policy discussions have been devoted to the “what if” and “day after” questions—a number of recent reports suggest that the Israeli government is either putting its final bluff on the table, or gearing up for a possible strike this fall. Read more


Goodbye Stability (Operations)

Events and reports out of Syria and Afghanistan raise a theme that’s not new, but hardly resolved:  What options does the United States have for what we might call the “post-stability operations era”? Read more »


Building an Enemy

After a hiatus imposed by travel and family duties, the blog returns for a hopefully extended run to the promised end of the 2012 strategic transition moment.

In the endless discussion about U.S.-China policy, two recent stories offer bookends that frame perhaps the most serious flaw in the current U.S. approach—balanced and nuanced though it has sought to be, all the way back to the Clinton years. Read more


Reading Aaron Friedberg in Southeast Asia

Reading Aaron Friedberg’s fascinating, informative, sometimes questionable, ultimately unsatisfying argument about China’s strategic mindset and the necessary US response, A Contest for Supremacy, many issues suggest themselves.  It’s a great read, elegantly written, well-argued, highly worth one’s time even if the case doesn’t eventually persuade.  His insistence on trying to see the world through the eyes of Chinese strategists—rather than seeing Chinese strategy through the eyes of an American NSC advisor with a year of Mandarin and an MA in Asian Studies—is refreshing, even if one doesn’t fully agree with the Chinese worldview he sketches out. Read more »


The Truth That Refuses to Be Spoken

Another tragic sign in the emerging Afghan endgame:  The flight of cash and investment.  As the American and coalition departure looms, more and more schemers are shepherding their profits out of the country, despite the futile efforts of the government to block them.  To paraphrase a famous line from Jurassic Park, “Cash will find a way.” Read more »


The Younger Kim Makes Strategy … Or Not

Andrei Lankov, for my money the single most thoughtful observer of North Korea we’ve got, joins a chorus of others looking at Pyongyang’s decision to announce a “satellite test” (read: long-range rocket test) just after it reached an accord with the U.S. trading nuclear and missile concessions for food, and is perplexed.  He calls it an “unusually witless move,” but he also says it raises many questions. Read more »