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Red Robots Rising: Behind The Rapid Development Of Russian Unmanned Military Systems
By Samuel Bendett, The Strategy Bridge, December 12, 2017
 

Over the last five years, the Russian Federation has made great strides in designing, testing, evaluating, and fielding a variety of unmanned military systems, including land, air, and sea-based models. Russian media is full of announcements and analyses of the use and specification of what I call red robots, while Russia's foray into Eastern Ukraine and Syria afforded Moscow a rare opportunity to field and operate such machines in combat

 
Reality In Jerusalem
By James S. Robbins, U.S. News & World Report, December 8, 2017
 

On Wednesday, President Donald Trump announced that the United States officially recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. "This is nothing more or less than a recognition of reality," he said. "It is right thing to do. It has to be done." He also said the U.S. will begin the formal process of moving the American embassy from Tel Aviv to the Holy City.

 
Beyond Super Soldiers and Battle Suits
By Richard Harrison, AFPC Defense Dossier, December 5, 2017
 

Science fiction is always fascinating to follow, because at least some of the ideas presented in the genre do become reality over time. The concept of "super soldiers" is a case in point. Although the protagonists in Marvel's iconic Avengers comic books (and now movies) are still a long way from being realistic, we are unquestionably trending in that direction. Thus, the character of Captain America is a soldier enhanced by the government using a special serum to make him stronger, faster and more resilient, while Iron Man is an operator encased in full body armor that affords him super human strength, advanced weapons, and extrasensory systems. Even though such enhancements are still a stretch, performance drugs, exoskeletons, and other new technologies are increasingly augmenting - and expanding - the capabilities of today's warfighters.

 
Egypt's Population Bomb
By Ilan Berman, Al-Hurra Digital, December 5, 2017
 

It's the most important Middle Eastern news story that no one is talking about.

Earlier this Fall, Egypt's state statistics agency, the Central Agency for Popular Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS), formally released the
findings of its 2016 national census. The results shed important new light on the challenges now confronting the government of president Abdel Fatah al-Sisi in Cairo.

 
US Would Be Wise To Prepare For EMP Attacks On Its Cities
By Ilan Berman, The Hill, November 29, 2017
 

Imagine that a hostile nation - say, North Korea - fires a nuclear-tipped missile at the United States. The missile detonates in the upper atmosphere above a major American city such as Los Angeles, releasing a cascade of charged electrons that damages and destroys all technology and electrical systems within line-of-sight of the explosion. Vital infrastructure on the country's Western seaboard is incapacitated. Large swathes of California and parts of Nevada lose power. Stores, social services and emergency functions that rely on electricity begin to break down, as disorder spreads and the death toll climbs.

 
Human Rights Hypocrisy
By Lawrence J. Haas, U.S. News & World Report, November 29, 2017
 

Seventy years ago today, with the Holocaust still fresh in the minds of global leaders, the United Nations General Assembly voted overwhelmingly to partition Palestine in two, with the goal of establishing one state for Jews to reclaim their historic homeland and another for the Arabs who were also living there.

 
Toward A New Uzbekistan
By Ilan Berman, U.S. News & World Report, November 22, 2017
 

You could call it "Extreme Makeover: Central Asian Edition." Today, among the five post-Soviet republics that make up the region, there are heartening signs of political dynamism and a newfound drive for integration.

At the center of these changes is the Republic of Uzbekistan, which has launched a far-reaching program to reform and modernize the state.

 
Iran's Imperial Project
By Ilan Berman, The Washington Times, November 21, 2017
 

Iran is on the march in the Middle East.

Over the past year, a steady drumbeat of news reports from the Persian Gulf, intelligence assessments regarding Syria's civil war, and firsthand accounts out of Iraq, Lebanon and beyond has pointed to an inescapable conclusion: Iran is erecting a new empire in the region.

 
Iraqi Kurdistan: Post-Independence Referendum
By Christine Balling, Small Wars Journal, November 17, 2017
 

On September 25th, against the urging of the United States and other allies, the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) held an independence referendum within the boundaries of its autonomous region and provocatively, without, in the city of Kirkuk. While the regional response was fast and furious, the United States did nothing, leaving the Iraqi Kurds at the mercy of a revengeful Baghdad: Erbil and Sulaimaniyah airports were closed to international commercial traffic. Turkey threatened to close borders and the Iranian and Iraqi militaries conducted joint exercises on the Iraqi Kurdish border.  Baghdad sent the Iraqi army and Iranian-backed Shia Popular Mobilization Front (PMF) militias to retake the disputed territories back from the Kurdish peshmerga. Then, on October 29th, KRG president Masoud Barzani stepped down and suspended the post of presidency, distributing control of the KRG to other branches.

 
Gaming To Victory: Synthetic Training For Future Combat
By Jennifer McArdle, War on the Rocks, November 15, 2017
 

It looked like a video game. From the comfort of a living room couch, with TV dinners in hand, families watched as precision-guided munitions rained down with seemingly perfect accuracy on Iraqi military and civilian targets. It was Jan. 17, 1991 - the start of Operation Desert Storm - and the combination of camera equipped high-tech weaponry and night vision equipment provided viewers an action-packed front-row view into the coalition's air war. What had seemed like science fiction was now a reality.

 
A Saudi Shake-Up At Last
By James S. Robbins, U.S. News & World Report, November 8, 2017
 

Saudi Arabia is in the midst of a long overdue housecleaning. The mass arrests of members of the government, royals and businessmen that have taken place in recent days are unprecedented in modern times, and the country's attorney general has promised that what has taken place so far is only "phase one."

 
The Russian War On Terror
By Ilan Berman, The National Interest, November 3, 2017
 

Which country ranks as the largest source of foreign fighters for the Islamic State's "caliphate" in Syria and Iraq?

That dubious distinction doesn't belong to a Middle Eastern state, despite the fact that countries such as Saudi Arabia have historically been major contributors of radicals to the Islamic State's ranks. Nor is it a North African nation, even though Tunisia had previously served as the preeminent supplier of fighters for the Syrian front.

 
President Trump Takes A Wise Middle Course On The Iran Nuclear Deal
By Ilan Berman, Orlando Sentinel, October 20, 2017
 

In his policy speech last Friday, President Trump did not scrap the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, as some prominent conservative thinkers had suggested he should. Nor did he simply leave the deal intact, as proponents of the agreement had previously counseled. Instead, the president charted a middle way intended to give America greater leverage over Iran's nuclear program and processes.

 
Trump Takes Aim At The IRGC
By Ilan Berman, Al-Hurra Digital, October 18, 2017
 

You wouldn't know it from the media coverage surrounding President Trump's October 13th speech on Iran, but the most notable element of the Administration's new, "comprehensive" strategy toward the Islamic Republic isn't its plan to revisit the 2015 nuclear deal formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

 
A Setback For Peace Prospects
By Lawrence J. Haas, U.S. News & World Report, October 17, 2017
 

Perhaps United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres, who called Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to congratulate him on the new unity deal between Abbas' Fatah Party and the terrorist group Hamas, simply didn't know what Hamas had said about it a day earlier.

 
Prague's Eastward Turn
By Ilan Berman, U.S. News & World Report, October 10, 2017
 

Since its emergence from the wreckage of the Soviet Union more than a quarter-century ago, the Czech Republic has consistently ranked as a success story of post-totalitarian transition. Unlike that of many of its neighbors in Central and Eastern Europe, Prague's path toward democracy has been more or less linear, cresting in the middle of the last decade when the country garnered the ranking of "full democracy" from the prestigious Economist Intelligence Unit. Today, however, Czech democracy is showing signs of erosion, while the country as a whole is in the process of making an alarming eastward turn.

 
Could Spain Go The Way Of Yugoslavia?
By Svante E. Cornell, The National Interest, October 5, 2017
 

In recent years, the European Union has been bogged down by one crisis after another - from Greece to the Euro to Brexit. But happily, none of these have endangered what has underpinned European integration since the late 1940s: securing lasting peace among European states. Europe has not been spared political violence, as residents of Northern Ireland and the Basque country can attest to. But to almost all Europeans, the notion of armed conflict within their midst is no longer even thinkable. While the Catalonia crisis is not destined to degenerate into large-scale violence, European and American leaders do not appear to take the potential for conflict seriously. They are mistaken.

 
Defending The Indefensible
By Lawrence J. Haas, U.S. News & World Report, October 3, 2017
 

Like an all-too-proud father rejecting a teacher's legitimate criticism of his child, former Secretary of State John Kerry is defending the U.S.-led global nuclear agreement with Iran that he engineered from the legitimate concerns of Iran-watchers in the Trump administration, Congress and the private sector.

 
Political Power Is Dividing a Germany That Was Once Unified
By E. Wayne Merry, The National Interest, October 2, 2017
 

All politics may be local, but the German national election reflected major trends in the political culture of a country at the center of both the European Project and the Transatlantic relationship. These trends need to be understood by Americans who casually assume that Angela Merkel won again. In fact, her party received one vote in three, hardly a mandate. More broadly, the election demonstrated the continuing fragmentation of political power in unified Germany, the sustained alienation of its eastern population from the political cultures of both Germany and Europe, and the increasing delegitimization of German political and economic elites.

 
Why Trump Will Not Allow The Iran Deal To Stand
By Ilan Berman, The Hill, September 29, 2017
 

Those who support the Obama administration's landmark nuclear deal with Iran are nervous, and for good reason. In his Sept. 19 address to the United Nations General Assembly, President Trump gave what was perhaps the clearest signal to date that he has no plans to recertify the agreement (formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA) next month, as mandated by Congress.

 
Kim Would Regret War
By James S. Robbins, U.S. News & World Report, September 27, 2017
 

North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un seems bent on making it easier for the United States to go to war. If he draws first blood, it may be the last thing he ever does.

On Monday, North Korea's foreign minister Ri Yong Ho said that his country has "every right to make countermeasures, including the right to shoot down United States strategic bombers even when they are not inside the airspace border of our country." Pyongyang has reportedly moved interceptor aircraft closer to the flight path of U.S. bombers that have been patrolling North Korea's periphery. Ri said that attacking U.S. forces was legal since "it was the U.S. who first declared war on our country," apparently referring to statements from President Donald Trump.

 
Angela Merkel's Bitter Victory
By E. Wayne Merry, The National Interest, September 25, 2017
 

In Sunday's national elections in Germany, Angela Merkel presided over a major political failure for her party and her country. Yes, Merkel will remain chancellor for a fourth term, probably in a fragile three-party coalition. However, a historic mission of her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) has been to prevent the emergence of a viable political party on the far right at the national level. Chancellors and CDU leaders from Konrad Adenauer through Helmut Kohl understood this mission and fulfilled it. Merkel has failed, largely due to her pursuit of an ever-larger political center through coopting leftist policies and programs. She thus left ample space on the right for the new Alternative for Germany (AfD) which gained 13 percent of the vote on Sunday.

 
Making Sense Of Russian Strategy In Syria
By Ilan Berman, Al-Hurra Digital, September 22, 2017
 

What shapes Russia's calculus in the Syrian theater? Since its formal decision to intervene in the Syrian civil war in September 2015, the government of Russian President Vladimir Putin has become a guarantor of the stability of the Assad regime, as well as a key power broker in any conceivable solution to the ongoing crisis. Yet, two years on, Moscow's motivations for its continued presence in Syria are still not well understood by most observers, either in the Middle East or in the West.

 
Punish North Korea By Sanctioning China
By James S. Robbins, Inside Sources, September 19, 2017
 

If the definition of insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results, then the United Nations has gone 'round the bend.

On Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously passed Resolution 2375, which imposed fresh sanctions on North Korea in response to that country's September 3 nuclear test. President Trump, who had pushed for much starker sanctions, called the resolution "not a big deal."

 
Iran's Big Move
By Lawrence Haas, U.S. News & World Report, September 5, 2017
 

The western Asian nation of Iran is on the cusp of expanding its reach all the way to the Mediterranean Sea and Israel's northern border - a drive that will make its nuclear pursuit, ballistic missile development and terror sponsorship that much more dangerous to the United States and its regional allies.

 
All Eyes On Kim Jong Un
By James S. Robbins, U.S. News & World Report, August 30, 2017
 

The old saying goes that it's not paranoia if they really are out to get you. So if you are North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, taking extraordinary steps to ensure your personal security is not crazy, it's simply common sense.

 
Common Cause Against The Kurds
By Ilan Berman, Al-Hurra Digital, August 30, 2017
 

An odd partnership is taking shape in the Middle East, where Iran and Turkey - two countries that have historically been strategic competitors - are suddenly making common cause.

 
President Trump Puts Pakistan On Notice In Afghanistan Speech
By Ilan Berman, USA Today, August 23, 2017
 

President Trump's prime time address on Monday did more than simply chart a new course for America's military engagement in Afghanistan. It also marked a fresh approach to one of the most intractable problems that has confronted the United States since the start of the "war on terror": the duplicitous and dangerous role played by the nation of Pakistan.

 
Trump's Nuclear Credibility
By James S. Robbins, U.S. News & World Report, August 18, 2017
 

When President Donald Trump threatened "fire and fury" in response to potential nuclear aggression from North Korea, the world held its collective breath. But a week later, the brewing calamity had abated, in large part due to the Trump administration's no-nonsense style of crisis management.

 
Beware Iran's Jihadi Legion
By Ilan Berman, Al-Hurra Digital, August 14, 2017
 

Today, the fight against the Islamic State terrorist group has become a top strategic priority of the United States and its allies in the region. In turn, the efforts of Washington and Middle Eastern partners have begun to pay real dividends, with recent months seeing a significant rollback the group's self-declared "caliphate" in Iraq and Syria. But lurking in the background of the current counterterrorism fight is another, and potentially even more significant, long-term threat.

 
The Sorry State Of The Ukrainian Navy - And Why It Should Matter To America
By Ilan Berman, The National Interest, August 11, 2017
 

Although it has come at enormous human and financial cost, the conflict between Russia and Ukraine that has raged in the latter's eastern territories since 2014 has helped spark a fundamental transformation of the Ukrainian military. The country now boasts the second-largest standing army in Europe (behind that of Russia), while a newfound sense of national unity - together with new training and greater readiness - has forged an increasingly capable fighting force. Nevertheless, at least one notable weak spot in Ukraine's current military posture remains.

 
Russia Has Weaponized Energy
By Philip Decker, U.S. News & World Report, August 10, 2017
 

In January 2009, Eastern Europeans were rudely reminded of a very blunt fact: If Russia wants to shut off the gas, it can.

Angered by backlogged debts, Gazprom, Russia's massive state petroleum and natural gas corporation, cut off its supply of gas to neighboring Ukraine - and, through it, to parts of the European Union. For weeks in the dead of winter, millions of Europeans were stranded without power, as Gazprom and its Ukrainian counterpart Naftogaz blamed one another for the crisis. While the flow of gas eventually resumed, European governments emerged from the experience shaken, and for good reason.

 
Central Asia's Encouraging Development
By Ilan Berman, Foreign Affairs, August 8, 2017
 

Something is stirring across the vast expanse encompassing the Caucasus and Central Asia, an area of nearly 1.6 million square miles and more than 86 million people. Throughout the region, political momentum is gathering for deeper cooperation, engagement, and coordination.

 
Can Pakistani Technology Fight Pakistani Terror?
By Robert Bole, The Diplomat, August 3, 2017
 

Pakistan has a long and troubled history of supporting extremists as a tool of statecraft - a policy that has, among many other things, inflamed tensions with regional rival India and roiled Islamabad's relations with Washington. Of late, however, this strategy of supporting proxies to maintain a zone of influence in the region has turned inward, with grievous consequences for the country's internal security and the cohesion of the Pakistani state itself.

 
Our Climate Is Our Security
By Chloe Thompson, U.S. News & World Report, August 1, 2017
 

Climate change has historically been a controversial topic, and former President Barack Obama was sharply criticized for addressing it during his time in office. However, the issue may be losing some of its political toxicity of late. More and more professionals and politicians on both sides of the aisle have begun speaking openly about the linkage between the environment and America's national security.

 
Still A Bad Deal
By Ilan Berman, U.S. News & World Report, July 18, 2017
 

Last Friday marked the two-year anniversary of the Obama administration's signature foreign policy achievement: the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. Formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, that agreement was intended as a solution to Iran's persistent nuclear ambitions, and as a vehicle to reboot the Iranian regime's relationship with the world.

 
High Noon In The Himalayas
By Jeff M. Smith, War on the Rocks, July 13, 2017
 

If you're struggling to make sense of the latest standoff between the Chinese and Indian militaries 10,000 feet in the Himalayas, don't fret: You're in good company. The showdown at Doka La is the product of a multi-layered, multi-party dispute steeped in centuries-old treaties and ambiguous territorial claims. Only recently have sufficient details emerged to piece together a coherent picture of the crisis and we're still left with more questions than answers. However, one thing is clear: While stare-downs at the disputed China-India border are a common affair, the episode now underway is an altogether different, potentially far more dangerous, beast.

 
How Russian Rule Has Changed Crimea
By Ilan Berman, Foreign Affairs, July 13, 2017
 

Since Russia annexed Crimea in March 2014, the Ukrainian peninsula has become something akin to a "black box," with little verifiable data on conditions available to counterbalance the official Russian narrative that all is well in the Kremlin’s newest territorial holding. Now, however, a new study has provided perhaps the most detailed look to date on the true state of political and economic play on the peninsula. Published by the Ukrainian Institute for the Future, a new but well-connected think tank based in Kiev, the report - entitled "Crimea: Three Years of Occupation" - draws on data from local sources and the analysis of seasoned specialists to paint a damning picture of the human and economic costs of Russian rule, and to make a compelling case that the Kremlin's Crimean project is a threat to Crimeans themselves, as well as to everyone else.

 
Iran Raises The Stakes
By Lawrence J. Haas, U.S. News & World Report, July 11, 2017
 

With America's global attention largely focused elsewhere, Iran continues to expand its military capabilities - legally and otherwise - forcing the question of what Washington and its regional allies plan to do about it.

 
The Basis Of The Trump Doctrine
By James S. Robbins, U.S. News & World Report, July 7, 2017
 

President Donald Trump spoke Thursday in Warsaw, Poland, to an enthusiastic crowd in historic Krasinski Square. He discussed the longstanding history of the U.S./Poland relationship, and the heroism of the Polish people during the 1944 Warsaw uprising against Nazism. He also laid the groundwork for what might be an emerging Trump doctrine of U.S. and European national security.

 
Trump's Opportunity To Arm Ukraine
By Stephen Blank, The Wall Street Journal, June 30, 2017
 

President Trump's trip to Poland next week is an exceptional opportunity to reassert U.S. leadership and American greatness. In Warsaw Mr. Trump can reaffirm the U.S. commitment to European security by giving Ukraine the weapons it urgently needs to defend itself against Russia's continuing aggression.

 
Engulfed In The Gulf: Erdogan And The Qatar Crisis
By Svante Cornell, The Turkey Analyst, June 29, 2017
 

The Gulf crisis over Qatar is once again catapulting Turkey into the politics of the Middle East, for which it is woefully unprepared. After a brief attempt at neutrality, Ankara threw in its lot with Doha, condemning the sanctions imposed by a Saudi-led coalition and accelerated its deployment of troops to a new base in Qatar. This decision risks upsetting President Erdogan's tenuous rapprochement with Saudi Arabia, and reflects the continued ideological prism guiding Turkish foreign policy. But it also reflects a concern with regime security. At least in part, Erdogan's embrace of Qatar reflects a belief that the same forces that supported the overthrow of Egypt's Muhammad Morsi welcomed the July 2016 failed coup in Turkey and now seek regime change in Doha. If so, Turkey's stance is unlikely to change, indicating a standoff may in the making.

 
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.