Archive for the ‘Middle East’ Category

U.S. National Security Forecast: The Next Four Years

December 12, 2012

The election is over.  President Obama’s administration will be in charge of national security policy for the next four years.  The product of this tenure will have long lasting consequences for American security, for good or for ill.

The next issue of the National Strategy Forum Review presents a comprehensive and succinct overview of what lies ahead for the next four years—trends, options, and consequences.  It is our forecast of the major issues and challenges that will shape U.S. national security discussion in 2013 and beyond.  Articles in this issue include:

  • The Threat Array: Knowns and Unknowns: Given that there are many unknown emerging threats, it may be prudent to develop national resilience rather than to counter every known threat to U.S. national security.
  • Military Policy in a Time of Fiscal Retrenchment: The U.S. military is in a state of flux as a result of the Afghan and Iraq wars. U.S. military resources and doctrine must adapt to asymmetry, terrorism, insurgency, and a constrained defense budget.
  • Pivot to Asia: Calculus and Consequences: The American destiny may lie more with countries in the Asia-Pacific than with traditional Western European orientation.  What are the consequences and how can this shift be managed?
  • Flashpoint Mediterranean: Middle Eastern conflicts are continuing and are unresolved.  There is a Mediterranean connection that should be explored, resulting in potential amelioration of the conflict.  The realistic goal is political stability rather than peace.
  • The National Security Benefit of Good Neighbors – Canada And Mexico: America’s backyard is composed of Canada, Mexico, and Latin America.  These states are expanding their economic and political stability.  Although the U.S. has not been an exceptionally good neighbor, there is opportunity for the U.S. to initiate actions that could result in an enhanced relationship.
  • Proactive Asymmetry: To counter ongoing terrorist threats, the U.S. needs to “think small”—an asymmetric, proactive offensive doctrine.

The National Strategy Forum mission is to assist our members to become more informed about U.S. national security issues through our lecture series, conferences, and publications.  It is our hope that this new issue of the National Strategy Forum Review proves useful to you.

National Security Forecast: The Next Four Years can be read online at the link here.

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The Vice Presidential Debate: Differences on Iran

October 16, 2012

The Vice Presidential Debate: Consequential Statements on Iran (Download in PDF)

Iran’s progress towards a nuclear weapon requires three stages of development.  First, Iran must enrich uranium from 20% up to greater than 90% purity.  Second, Iran must develop a trigger mechanism to detonate a bomb.  Third, Iran must have a delivery system for transporting the bomb, typically a long range missile system.  To date, Iran has made significant progress towards enriching uranium, but progress on the missile system and trigger mechanism are believed to be not as advanced.  The “red line” in this process is the point at which Iran’s nuclear program is on the verge of completing a nuclear bomb.  Traditional views ascribe the “red line” as Iran’s ability to enrich uranium to weapons-grade level, because once this step occurs, the transition to a nuclear bomb is possible in a very short time period.  For example, Israel’s Prime Minster, Benjamin Netanyahu, made a similar argument before the UN a few weeks ago—literally drawing a red line for Israeli military intervention at the 90% enrichment.

The Vice Presidential debate on October 11th between Vice President Joe Biden and Congressman Paul Ryan illuminated their perspectives on the Iranian nuclear proliferation issue.  Their comments anticipate how each Presidential candidate would handle foreign policy issues.  When asked about the American “red line” for military intervention in the crisis, each candidate made contrasting statements.  Viewers should consider the consequences of these statements, and look for clarification from President Obama and Candidate Romney during the upcoming October 22nd foreign policy debate.   (more…)

Iran in the Crosshairs

September 28, 2012

 

Iran in the Crosshairs: International Elements of Non-Proliferation Policy

President Obama’s speech at the UN on September 25 amplified the urgent need to confront Iran’s nuclear program.  In an effort to project American strength on the issue, President Obama made the following statement:

“A nuclear-armed Iran … would threaten the elimination of Israel, the security of Gulf nations, and the stability of the global economy.  It risks triggering a nuclear-arms race in the region, and the unraveling of the non-proliferation treaty.  That’s why a coalition of countries is holding the Iranian government accountable.  And that’s why the United States will do what we must to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.”

Iran’s rapid development of fissile nuclear material is a complex issue.  The transition from conventional contemporary weapons to nuclear weapons has grave implications for the existence of the State of Israel; the potential for nuclear proliferation, including possession of a nuclear weapon by terrorist organizations; a severe oil shortage; and the degradation of the global ecosystem.

Iran’s ability to acquire a nuclear weapon is a manifestation of nuclear proliferation.  It tells us that the concept of an effective international non-proliferation regime is a marvelous idea that, based on the statements of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), has not prevented Iran from moving rapidly toward a nuclear capability.  What is complicating the process?  How can the international community change course? (more…)

All Options are on the Table: U.S. Foreign Policy and Iran

August 20, 2012

Satellite Image

“All options are on the table.”  These six words often spoken by President Obama, presidential aspirant Mitt Romney, DoD Chiefs, and a litany Congressmen define the contemporary U.S. strategic postures towards an Iran seemingly intent on acquiring a nuclear weapon and upsetting global stability.  However, few details are given as to what these words imply.  The magnitude of the threat, qualified by the assurance that this is the U.S.’s most pressing national security threat since 9/11, gives rise to the following question: if all options are on the table, then what are they?  This article outlines the various options that are most likely to be on the table and discusses the implications of each option.

To read the rest of the article, click on the link below.

All Options Are On The Table

By Eric S. Morse

From India With Unrequited Love

June 14, 2012

A new article by NSF Editorial Board Member Frank Schell, featured in The American Spectator: “From India With Unrequited Love.”

“Deep within the psyche of America is the desire to be loved.  Never a colonial power in the traditional sense, and with a New World cheerfulness unlike the cynicism of so-called Old Europe, America predictably seeks to provide aid monies, investment capital, cultural exchanges, armaments, goodwill, and in the case of India — even nuclear fuel and civilian reactors.  While America has a vested interest in making these offerings to ensure a benign world order, at times we are perplexed when generosity is not met with warm display…”

Please visit the following link to read the rest of the article “From India With Unrequited Love.”

The Iranian Nuclear Crisis and American Leadership

January 25, 2012

The case for American leadership in the Iran nuclear crisis has gained focus lately.  It is becoming clearer that strong U.S. leadership is the predicate for coordinated multilateral engagement on the Iranian nuclear issue.  An effective sanctions campaign against Iran’s nuclear program has been impeded in the past by lack of strategic focus and the complexity international relations.  This is not time for the U.S. to lead from behind.

A member of the NSF Editorial Board, recently published a commentary on the subject at The American Spectator.

The American Spectator: Don’t Waste Another Crisis, Mr. President

By Frank Schell

U.S. Strategy in South Asia

September 9, 2011

Illinois Senator Mark Kirk recently issued a statement about his strategy for U.S. aid in Pakistan.  He commented that “In such an environment, and with our deficits and debt, aid to Pakistan seems naive at best and counter-productive at worst. I am seriously reconsidering and rethinking how well aid to Pakistan served us.”  The day after, the Chicago-Sun Times ran an editorial suggesting that the U.S. should pull out of Afghanistan and allow India to become the natural leader of the region.

Whatever the merits, these policy positions have important implications that must be seriously considered by national security policymakers.  Richard E. Friedman has provided an analysis of these policy proposals in his new article titled “Toward a Complementary Strategy for the U.S. in South Asia.”  He warns that eliminating U.S. aid to Pakistan and allowing India to become the regional leader may destabilize the region and lead to outcomes counter to U.S. objectives in South Asia.  For a deeper look at the potential consequences of these proposals, and for an alternative U.S. strategy, click on the link below to read Mr. Friedman’s new commentary.

Toward a Complementary Strategy for the U.S. in South Asia

By Richard E. Friedman

Breeding Grounds for Terrorism and Transnational Crime

July 19, 2011

As the U.S. is withdrawing from Iraq and Afghanistan, and the Department of Defense and Pentagon are cutting excess programs, security analysts are faced with the challenge of doing more with less.  How can the U.S. best use its resources, military, and intelligence tools to focus in on the major threats to U.S. national security?

Fine tuning what too look for and where to look for it is key to this process.  A team of analysts at Syracuse University’s Global Black Spots—Mapping Global Insecurity Project (GBS-MGI) is developing a new research methodology that goes beyond the traditional state level analysis to find “Black Spots,” or areas of insecurity that are beyond government control.  The team probes the local-level characteristics of a region using open source information to determine where terrorism and transnational crime may develop in the future.  Their findings provide a map of global insecurity that is being applied by U.S. intelligence agencies.

The Summer 2011 issue of the National Strategy Forum Review shares this process with our readers.  The case studies below are a sample of the estimated 600+ Black Spots operating around the globe.  This unique research demonstrates that traditional security analysis must add a deeper, more local component to the search for future security threats.

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Pew Global Attitudes Survey: U.S. Image in Pakistan

June 22, 2011

A new Pew Global Attitudes Project poll was released on June 21, 2011 detailing the U.S. image in Pakistan.  The survey data is available at the link here.

Many of these findings echo NSF research completed in March-April of 2011.  The Spring 2011 NSFR report titled “The U.S.-Pakistan Relationship: Towards a Complementary Strategy” analyzed many of these trends and suggested a complementary strategy for achieving U.S. objectives in Pakistan.

To improve the relationship, the report suggested a number of initiative (details found on page 14):

  • Restructuring American aid to Pakistan by emphasizing targeted project investments that are highly visible to the Pakistani public. Several common sense ideas include power plants and natural gas facilities.
  • Establishing anti-corruption controls to facilitate future American aid and support.
  • Emphasizing U.S. communications and branding. America must rebrand its image, sense of purpose, and policy actions in the eyes of Pakistan’s public.
  • Encouraging cultural diplomacy that leverages civilian cross-cultural exchanges and study abroad opportunities.
  • Increasing medical collaboration in projects that provide visible assistance to the Pakistani people.
  • Setting a new diplomatic tone to make it more likely that the two countries listen to one another.

The new Pew Global Attitudes survey on Pakistan reinforces a number of the trends identified in the NSF report.  There are ten notable results from the Pew Global Attitudes survey data:

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The U.S.-Pakistan Relationship: Toward a Complementary Strategy

May 23, 2011

The U.S.-Pakistan relationship is vital to U.S. interests in the Middle East.  The relationship has been especially strained recently, putting into question the future of U.S. aid and commitments to Pakistan.

This issue of the NSFR, titled “The U.S.-Pakistan Relationship: Toward a Complementary Strategy”, is a report of a series of interviews with Pakistan VIPs conducted by the NSFR Editorial Board.  Our findings have been distilled and we have provided a number of policy options with the objective of reformulating U.S. relations with Pakistan.  Our suggestions are based on complementary strategy: the idea that the U.S. and Pakistan must understand each other’s objectives before hard negotiations can be effective.  Also in this issue are two articles by high level Pakistani political figures: General (Retired) Parvez Musharraf, former president of Pakistan, and Imran Khan, a prominent philanthropist and activist leader of a leading Pakistan political party.  Their thoughts add a unique Pakistani perspective to the analysis of this relationship.

Following the publication of the NSFR report, President Obama announced a new direction for America’s Middle East strategy.  Here are the key points of his speech:

  • Elevating trade and investment over financial aid handouts
  • Broadening and deepening regional trade initiatives between the U.S. and the region
  • Promoting the development of civil society
  • Demanding anti-corruption initiatives
  • Encouraging new forms of U.S. communication and outreach to the Middle East

These policy initiatives are consistent with our findings.  So far, President Obama has limited implementation to Tunisia and Egypt.  The NSFR report advocates that these principles be applied to Pakistan urgently.  A rupture of the U.S.-Pakistan relationship would be a serious set back to U.S. objectives in the region.

Click here to read the Spring 2011 issue of the National Strategy Forum Review:

“The U.S.-Pakistan Relationship: Toward a Complementary Strategy”