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A Win-Win For Assad
By James S. Robbins, U.S. News & World Report, June 21, 2017
 

The United States and Russia seem to be on a collision course in Syria, which is just fine for the regime in Damascus.

On Sunday, a U.S. Navy F/A-18E Super Hornet shot down a Syrian Su-22 fighter bomber that was conducting operations near positions held by the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces outside the besieged Islamic State stronghold of Raqqa. The shoot-down took place after repeated warnings for the Syrian aircraft to disengage, and the Coalition justified the action as being "in accordance with rules of engagement and in collective self-defense of Coalition partnered forces." The next day, a U.S. Air Force F-15E downed an Iranian-made Shahed 129 armed drone near the site of a U.S.-backed training base at al Tanf for rebels opposed to Syrian President Bashar Assad.

 
Central Asia: All Together Now
By Bilahari Kausikan, S. Frederick Starr, and Yang Cheng, The American Interest, June 16, 2017
 

After a quarter century of independence, the fragmentation of Central Asia is evident to all. A senior official there might justifiably complain about how each country "[is] pursuing its own limited objectives and dissipating its meager resources in the overlapping or even conflicting endeavors of sister states." He might conclude that such a process, "carries the seeds of weakness in [the countries'] incapacity for growth and their self-perpetuating dependence on the advanced, industrial nations." One can also imagine that another Central Asian official, seeking an alternative, might propose that "we must think not only of our national interests but posit them against regional interests: That is a new way of thinking about our problems."

 
The Kremlin Needs to Address Russia's Demographic Crisis
By Ilan Berman, The Moscow Times, June 13, 2017
 

The latest numbers are in, and the forecast for Russia's demographic health is bleak. According to official figures released by the country's state statistics agency, Rosstat, in late May, Russia had 70,000 fewer births during the first four months of 2017 than it did a year earlier.

 
No One Wins The Fight Over Qatar
By James S. Robbins, U.S. News & World Report, June 9, 2017
 

The diplomatic row between Qatar and seven mostly Sunni Arab countries is being called a stumbling block for U.S. efforts to promote a united front against Islamic extremism in the region. But it won't be - because it is not in any country's interest for the rift to become permanent.

 
Saudi Arabia Has Backed Qatar Into A Corner
By Ilan Berman, The National Interest, June 8, 2017
 

To say that this has been a bad week for Qatar would be an understatement.

Over the weekend, five separate Arab states (Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt) cut their ties to the Gulf kingdom, citing as causes its extensive support for Islamic extremist groups and its cozy relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran. The rupture takes the form of a cessation of air travel, a closure of borders, and a call those countries' citizens and businesses to vacate the country.

 
Qatar Was A Double Agent In War On Terror
By Ilan Berman, USA Today, June 6, 2017
 

Just weeks after the President Trump's inaugural tour of the Middle East, which included significant pressure on the Arab Gulf states to build a regional security architecture to combat the Islamic State terrorist group (ISIS) and counterbalance Iran, the prospects for such a construct appear more distant than ever, at least at first glance. Over the weekend, five separate Arab states - Saudi Arabia, Yemen, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain - all formally severed their diplomatic ties to the Emirate of Qatar over the latter's support of Islamic extremism in various forms.

 
Why Is India Excluding Australia From Naval Drills?
By Jeff M. Smith, The Diplomat, June 1, 2017
 

Over the past quarter-century, the Malabar naval exercises have blossomed from a relatively mundane, low-level Indo-U.S. naval drill into a robust demonstration of geopolitical force joining the Indo-Pacific's three most powerful democracies. The history and significance of Malabar, which Japan joined as a permanent participant in 2015, have received ample attention elsewhere. But let me focus this piece on the geopolitical context and significance of Australia's request to join the 2017 Malabar exercises and India's recent response.

 
JFK's World Of Wisdom
By Lawrence J. Haas, U.S. News & World Report, May 29, 2017
 

John F. Kennedy would have turned 100 on Monday, and his life's work on foreign policy provides compelling insights into how we might approach our own challenges in an increasingly unstable world.

 
The Art Of The Middle East Peace Deal
By James S. Robbins, U.S. News & World Report, May 25, 2017
 

Can President Donald Trump broker the Israeli-Palestinian deal of a lifetime? After his trip to Israel, there is certainly cause for hope.

 
Turkey & Qatar's Support For Extremist Groups
By Lawrence Stutzriem and Svante Cornell, RealClearDefense, May 23, 2017
 

President Trump made clear in Sunday's Riyadh speech that America stands by countries willing to fight Islamist extremism. A welcome opportunity to revisit our relationship with two ostensible allies, Turkey and Qatar. Both host significant American military bases and Turkey is a NATO member, yet for too long they have been American partners in name while providing material support to extremist groups, including the Muslim Brotherhood and Al-Nusra front. President Trump's serious intent to confront Islamic terrorism means he must redefine the terms of our alliances with Turkey and Qatar. The United States can no longer allow them to have it both ways.

 
Trump Needs To Examine The Gaping Hole In The Colombia Peace Deal
By Christine Balling, The National Interest, May 17, 2017
 

President Donald Trump is scheduled to meet with Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos at the White House on May 18. The subject of their conversation will undoubtedly have a great deal to do with the peace accord concluded last fall between the Santos government and Colombia's most notorious guerrilla group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).


 
Counter All Extremism
By James S. Robbins, U.S. News & World Report, May 10, 2017
 

President Donald Trump's administration is currently undertaking a review of federal programs established under the rubric of "countering violent extremism." The White House, however, should take note that it is just as important to counter nonviolent extremism. 

 
How Qatar Helped Hamas Get Its Groove Back
By Ilan Berman, The National Interest, May 2, 2017
 

On Monday, Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood offshoot that rules the Gaza Strip, thrust itself back into the international spotlight when it formally unveiled a new organizational charter. The long-discussed and much-debated document - launched with great fanfare by Hamas politburo chief Khaled Meshal at the upscale Sheraton Hotel in the Qatari capital of Doha - represents a new bid for relevance by the world's premier Palestinian Islamist movement. 

 
The Real Significance Of The US Carrier Group Fiasco
By Jeff Smith, The Diplomat, May 2, 2017
 

The USS Carl Vinson, one of ten American 100,000-ton nuclear-powered supercarriers, was a regular feature of international headlines last month - and for all the wrong reasons. It was the source of an embarrassing, if overhyped, mishap when the Donald J. Trump administration announced on April 8 the carrier was being ordered to the Korean peninsula amid a bout of escalating tensions with Pyongyang. You can imagine the uproar when the Carl Vinson was spotted sailing away from the Korean Peninsula more than a week later. 

 
The Raucous Caucasus
By Svante E. Cornell, The American Interest, May 2, 2017
 

The news from the Caucasus that reaches the United States these days is mainly bad news. We hear reports of widespread corruption, human rights violations, or clashes between warring nations. In the case of the Russian North Caucasus, jihadi terrorists fight regional governments run by pro-Russian thugs. Why, then, should such a small sliver of territory, with perhaps 20 million people, deserve treatment in a net assessment survey? The answer is that the importance of the Caucasus has never lain in its numbers or size, but rather in its role as a geographic, cultural, and geopolitical crossroads. As in the days of the Mongols or Tamerlane, or of the rivalries between the Czarist, Ottoman, and Safavid empires, so today the Caucasus is a meeting point, a bridge or a barrier, between east and west and north and south - between Europe and Asia, and between Russia and the Middle East. 

 
Israeli-Palestinian Peace Perspectives
By Lawrence J. Haas, U.S. News & World Report, May 2, 2017
 

The "moderate" Palestinian Authority, which runs the West Bank, continues to provide generous lifetime stipends, lump-sum payments, health care, tuition and other benefits to Israeli-killing terrorists and their families. 

At the same time, that same entity is threatening to sue Britain's government for rejecting its request that London apologize for issuing the Balfour Declaration in 1917, paving the way for Israel's creation. 

 
Blacklist The IRGC
By Ilan Berman, U.S. News & World Report, April 25, 2017
 

What should President Trump do about Iran? Campaign rhetoric about a rapid dismantlement of the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and the P5+1 powers has given way of late to policy inertia, as the new White House focuses on domestic challenges (like health care) and foreign irritants, such as Syria and North Korea. But there are now fresh signs that the White House could soon seriously rethink its Iran strategy. As it does, it would be wise to revisit one of its earliest foreign policy concepts, and one with the potential to dramatically alter the strategic equation vis-a-vis Iran: a comprehensive blacklisting of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. 

 
Terror In Stockholm
By Svante Cornell, The American Interest, April 11, 2017
 

Last Friday, an ISIS supporter rammed a truck into a department store in the heart of Stockholm, Sweden, killing four people and injuring 15. That same evening, news broke that Swedish police had arrested a 39-year old man from Uzbekistan for complicity in the attack. By Sunday morning, Swedish media reported that the man's social media account indicated his support for both the Islamic State and the Islamic Party of Liberation, Hizb-ut-Tahrir. 

 
Terrorism In Russia: Why The Problem Is Set To Worsen
By Ilan Berman, Foreign Affairs, April 5, 2017
 

On Monday, the subway system of St. Petersburg, Russia's second city, was the site of a massive bomb blast that killed 14 commuters and wounded more than 50 others. (A second, unexploded device was subsequently found and defused by authorities.) The attack marked the most significant terrorist incident to hit the Russian Federation since December of 2013, when a female suicide bomber blew herself up in the main train station of the southern Russian city of Volgograd ahead of the 2014 Winter Olympics in nearby Sochi. 

 
Intellectual Whiplash On Israel
By Lawrence J. Haas, U.S. News & World Report, April 4, 2017
 

The same administration that's defending Israel in refreshingly bold fashion at the United Nations is discussing Israeli-Palestinian peace this week with a Palestinian leader who promotes the murder and kidnapping of Israelis and who spent 15 years in prison for throwing a grenade at an Israeli Army truck.