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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. 

 
The JCPOA Helps Iran's Elites And Hurts Rouhani
By Ilan Berman, Foreign Affairs, March 29, 2017
 

These are hard times for Hassan Rouhani. With fewer than two months to go until Iran's next national election, currently scheduled to take place on May 19, the long knives are out for the soft-spoken cleric who serves as the country's president. 

 
Science Fiction No Longer: Enhancing Military Readiness Through Synthetic Training
By Jennifer McArdle and Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Yvan Blondin, War On The Rocks, March 24, 2017
 

In 1965, the Vietnam War expanded over the 17th parallel into North Vietnam's panhandle and the Red River Delta. Despite its lead in hardware - with access to advanced radars, beyond visual range and close-in heat seeking ordnance, along with large numbers of heavy-bombers and fighter aircraft - the United States failed to achieve air superiority over North Vietnam. The People's Army of Vietnam, supported by its Communist allies, wielded a mixture of sophisticated air-to-air and surface-to-air weapons to devastating effect. By the summer of 1965, American fighters were being lost at a rate of an entire squadron every 45 days. By the end of that year, the U.S. Air Force had lost a total of 174 aircraft and 16 pilots, with another 35 aircrew members missing. 

 
Iran Emboldened
By Lawrence Haas, U.S. News & World Report, March 21, 2017
 

Tehran's new threat to ignore a key plank of the U.S.-led global nuclear agreement offers a timely reminder that, no matter what happens with Iran's upcoming presidential election, the regime is, and will remain, just as dangerous as it's ever been. It also hammers another nail in the coffin of the idea – so cherished by the last administration – that the 2015 deal, with its hundreds of billions in sanctions relief for Iran, would moderate the regime and spur a broader rapprochement between the Islamic Republic and the West. 

 
Israel's Self-Driving Future
By Avi Jorisch, Foreign Affairs, March 7, 2017
 

What will the car of the future look like? It may not be long before we know. In early February, Ford announced that it will allocate a staggering $1 billion over the next five years to develop the first fully autonomous vehicle, and almost every global automaker is working feverishly to create the ultimate self-driving machine. The consensus is that people will soon be using "Jetsons-like" cars powered not by humans but by smart computers. 

 

 
A Refreshing Change At The U.N.
By Lawrence Haas, The Daily Beast, March 7, 2017
 

Trump administration deliberations about whether the United States should quit the United Nations' Human Rights Council over its anti-Israel obsession reflect a welcome new U.S. approach to Turtle Bay. 

 
Where Is India on the One China Policy?
By Jeff M. Smith, The Diplomat, March 6, 2017
 

On February 13, India hosted a three-member, all-female delegation of parliamentarians from Taiwan. The visit was free of any major announcements or headlines. Nonetheless, it carried an abundance of geopolitical context at a time Beijing’s “One China Policy” (OCP) has attracted greater scrutiny in both Washington and Delhi.

 
Dezinformatsiya 2.0: Russia Heats Up Its Infowar With The West
By Ilan Berman, The Daily Beast, March 3, 2017
 

When it comes to Russian propaganda, we haven't seen anything yet. 

Over the past several months, Americans have become acutely aware of a phenomenon that Europeans were already all too familiar with: the pervasive, corrosive nature of Russian propaganda. Russia's purported attempts to meddle in the U.S. presidential election remain a major topic of national debate - one that could, even now, lead to fresh Congressional investigations and a political showdown between Capitol Hill and the new White House. 

 
We Can't Ignore Hamas
By Lawrence Haas, U.S. News & World Report, February 21, 2017
 

When Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman offered the other day for Israel to turn Gaza into "the Singapore of the Middle East," with a seaport, airport and industrial zones, if Hamas would stop firing rockets, building tunnels and seizing Israeli citizens, the terrorist group had a curt response. 

 
Assessing The Syria Situation
By James S. Robbins, U.S. News & World Report, February 15, 2017
 

The Obama administration's Syria strategy has left along with the former president. The question remains how the United States will continue to be involved in the conflict, if at all. 

 
Why Russia Won't Help Trump On Iran
By Ilan Berman, Foreign Affairs, February 10, 2017
 

By all appearances, the Donald Trump administration is preparing to attempt a historic reconciliation with Russia. In part, the strategy is aimed at driving a wedge into the long-running strategic partnership between Moscow and Tehran. With the proper incentives, the thinking goes, it might be possible to "flip" Russia. "There's daylight between Russia and Iran, for sure," one foreign official familiar with the White House's deliberations explained. "What's unclear is what [Russian President Vladimir] Putin would demand in return for weakening the alliance." 

 
Sinjar After ISIS: What The Peshmerga's All-Female Unit Can Do
By Christine Balling, Foreign Affairs, February 9, 2017
 

When I first met Captain Khatoon Ali Krdr, at a peshmerga military base near Dohuk, in Iraqi Kurdistan, last June, her all-female Yazidi peshmerga unit, the Hezi Roj, or "Sun Force," was weeks away from graduating from its first basic infantry training course, which involved military discipline, physical conditioning, and the handling of weaponry such as selective-fire rifles and rocket-propelled grenade launchers. Khatoon had formed the Sun Force, the only all-female, all- Yazidi unit in the Kurdish peshmerga, in response to the horrors that the Islamic State (or ISIS) had inflicted on Sinjar, a majority-Yazidi district of Iraqi Kurdistan. In August 2014, ISIS had slaughtered over 5,000 Yazidi men in the district. And in Snuny, a town at the base of Mount Sinjar, where the Sun Force is currently deployed, ISIS had killed unknown numbers of Yazidi residents, dumping their bodies into mass graves before the peshmerga retook the town in 2015. 

 
How Trump Enables Democracy's Decline
By Lawrence Haas, U.S. News & World Report, February 8, 2017
 

President Donald Trump's unnerving failure to distinguish the free and democratic nation he leads from the autocratic and menacing Russia of strongman President Vladimir Putin has generated two notable sets of concerns - but the implications of Trump's rhetorical excesses expand far beyond current story lines. 

 
China's Aircraft Carriers: Full Steam Ahead?
By Jeff M. Smith, The Diplomat, February 7, 2017
 

I first visited Hainan Island six years ago, part of an annual exchange of delegations my think tank, the American Foreign Policy Council (AFPC), has been conducting with China since 1994. Led by former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Richard Myers, the January 2011 delegation chose Hainan Island for the customary "second province" visit following the obligatory deluge of meetings in Beijing. 

 
Trump's Ukraine Dilemma
By Ilan Berman, U.S. News & World Report, February 6, 2017
 

What's behind the renewed fighting in Ukraine? Over the past week, the country's eastern Donbas region - which has been a hotbed of separatist activity since the start of military hostilities between Russia and Ukraine in early 2014 - has been rocked by new, and intense, clashes between the Ukrainian military and Russian-supported rebels. The violence has already ravaged Avdiivka, a Ukrainian town of some 20,000, and left international observers scrambling to re-impose some sort of ceasefire. The situation, in the words of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, is now "an emergency situation verging on a humanitarian disaster." 

 
Will Trump Fire Back At Iran?
By James S. Robbins, U.S. News & World Report, February 1, 2017
 

On Sunday, Iran reportedly test-fired a Khorramshahr medium-range ballistic missile from a test site near Semnan, 140 miles east of Tehran. Iran began production of what it calls the "high-precision" weapon in 2016. The missile flew 600 miles before detonating in what U.S. officials called a "failed test of a reentry vehicle." 

 
Trump's Troubling Retreat
By Lawrence J. Haas, U.S. News & World Report, January 24, 2017
 

At this historical turning point, with the free world hungry for renewed American leadership, President Donald Trump's foreboding inaugural address was as troubling for what it didn't say as what it did. It was the mirror image of John Kennedy's stirring address of 1961, which focused almost entirely on America's struggle to defend freedom around the world and mentioned domestic policy only in passing. More than half a century later, with America's global leadership just as vital and far more widely doubted, Trump focused overwhelmingly on domestic affairs, citing foreign policy only in passing. 

 
Peril In Peru: Islamist Terror Shifts South
By Ilan Berman, Foreign Affairs, January 19, 2017
 

It might just be the most important terrorism case you've never heard of. Last fall, prosecutors in the Peruvian capital of Lima launched formal legal proceedings against a 30-year-old alleged Hezbollah operative named Mohammed Hamdar. The trial, now underway, has major regional - indeed, global - implications for the fight against international terrorism. 

 
Move The Embassy
By Lawrence Haas, U.S. News & World Report, January 10, 2017
 

President-elect Donald Trump's promise to move the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem provides a timely opportunity for the new president to make a sharp break with President Barack Obama's unwise, unjustified and ultimately ineffective hostility toward America's closest ally in the turbulent Middle East. 

 
China's New Silk Road Is Getting Muddy
By Joshua Eisenman and Devin T. Stewart, Foreign Policy, January 9, 2017
 

 With the future of U.S.-China relations an open question for the incoming Donald Trump administration, many have focused on whether the president-elect's promise to withdraw from negotiations over the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) will enhance Beijing's growing influence in East Asia. But rather than hand-wringing over TPP's ignominious failure, Asia watchers should turn their attention to China's unprecedented $1 trillion strategic gambit: the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road, aka "One Belt, One Road" (OBOR). Launched in 2013 as President Xi Jinping's signature initiative, OBOR holds great promise, as well as potential pitfalls, for both China and its neighbors. 

 
Trump's Arsenal Against Iran
By Ilan Berman, USA Today, December 29, 2016
 

What will the new president do about Iran? 

While still on the campaign trail, President-elect Donald Trump railed repeatedly against President Obama's "disastrous" nuclear deal with Iran. He pledged to tear up the agreement, or at least amend it substantially, as one of his first acts in office. Yet, for a host of reasons, the nuclear pact concluded between the Iran and the P5+1 powers (the U.S., U.K., Russia, China, France and Germany) last summer is likely to prove more resilient than either the president-elect or his advisers hope. 

 
Next Year In Jerusalem?
By James S. Robbins, U.S. News & World Report, December 21, 2016
 

In his March 2016 speech at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee policy conference, then-candidate Donald Trump promised that his administration would "move the U.S. embassy to the eternal capital of the Jewish people, Jerusalem." Last week, ambassador to Israel designate David Friedman said he looks forward to working "from the U.S. embassy in Israel's eternal capital, Jerusalem." Senior aide Kellyanne Conway has confirmed that the move is a "very big priority for this president-elect, Donald Trump." 

 
China's Drone Grab and the Dangers of 'Strategic Ambiguity'
By Jeff M. Smith, The Diplomat, December 20, 2016
 

Last week the USNS Bowditch, an unarmed U.S. Pathfinder-class survey ship manned by a civilian crew, was shadowed by a PLA Navy (PLAN) Dalang-III-class salvage and rescue vessel as it operated 50 nautical miles (nm) northwest of the Philippines’ Subic Bay. As the Bowditch maneuvered to recover an unclassified “ocean glider” Unmanned Underwater Vehicle (UUV) gathering hydrographic data, a smaller ship was launched by the PLAN vessel to capture the UUV. Just 500 meters away, the Bowditch established radio contact but the Chinese vessel left the area with a simple reply: “We are returning to normal operations.”

 
Trump Should Read Indias Playbook for Taunting China
By Jeff M. Smith, Foreign Policy, December 20, 2016
 

Donald Trump’s decision to break protocol and become the first president-elect in decades to speak by phone with a Taiwanese president was either a colossal blunder or a shrewd strategic coup, depending on which Beltway insider you ask. At the least, Trump’s divisive exchange with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen has sparked a substantive debate about the nature of U.S.-China-Taiwan relations and the sanctity of Beijing’s version of the “One-China” policy, which codifies China’s inalienable sovereignty over Taiwan and Tibet.

 
Waking The Beast: India's Defense Reforms Under Modi
By Jeff M. Smith, The Diplomat, December 16, 2016
 

“India has done enough to simplify its defense procurement and other norms,” opined Indian Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar at a speech in Washington last December. “It is time for U.S. Government and Industry to reciprocate. It is easy to blame Indian bureaucracy but in some cases, U.S. bureaucracy is much worse.’’

 
The End Of The Iran Deal?
By James S. Robbins, U.S. News & World Report, December 7, 2016
 

President Barack Obama believed that reaching a deal with Iran over its nuclear weapons program would be a historic diplomatic breakthrough that could lead to a fundamental transformation in U.S.-Iranian relations and, more importantly, to significant changes in Iran's international behavior. But, nearly a year after the deal's implementation, there are no signs of change in Iran, and good reason to believe that the deal is in its final days. 

 
China And Sri Lanka: Between A Dream And A Nightmare
By Jeff M. Smith, The Diplomat, November 18, 2016
 
My previous article for The Diplomat examined Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte's trip to Beijing and the security and economic implications of the deals he sealed with China to construct ports and artificial islands in the Philippines. 
 
In Foreign Affairs this May, I wrote about the implications of China's investments in the Sri Lankan ports of Colombo and Hambantota, which had not only plunged Sri Lanka into debt, but raised questions about the security and defense consequences of Beijing's use of economic statecraft, including in rekindling Sino-Indian rivalry. 
 
The emergence of new details about China's endeavors in Sri Lanka merit revisiting what is quickly becoming a case study for China's emerging One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative. 
 
Trump And Iran: What The Next Administration Can Do
By Ilan Berman, Foreign Affairs, November 16, 2016
 

The United States’ relationship with Iran tops the list of foreign policy issues that will confront President-elect Donald Trump when he takes office in January. Like many of the other Republican presidential candidates, Trump was an early and staunch opponent of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the controversial nuclear deal concluded last summer between six world powers and Iran. But Trump took up contradictory positions on the deal over the course of his campaign, at times promising to tear it up and at others suggesting he would simply amend it.

 
When Modi Met Abe: Asia's Strongest Democracies Are Joining Forces
By Jeff Smith, The National Interest, November 16, 2016
 

Like every news event that shared last week with the U.S. presidential elections, Indian prime minister Narendra Modi's visit to Japan was swallowed up by American electoral headlines. What attention his summit with Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe did attract centered on the consummation of a long-pending nuclear cooperation deal. For a host of reasons covered extensively elsewhere, the deal is symbolically and practically significant for both countries. 

 
Lead From Behind No Longer
By James S. Robbins, U.S. News & World Report, November 11, 2016
 

The United States faces critical challenges in the Middle East. Whether instability in Syria fomenting a refugee crisis, the spread of the Islamic State group and its extremist ideology, or the rising power of Iran, conditions in the region are more threatening than they were when President Barack Obama took office. The new Trump administration will have its work cut out for it. 

 
Why Dutertes Deals With China May Be Security Concerns
By Jeff M. Smith, The Diplomat, November 2, 2016
 

When Roridgo Duterte, the impish and combustible president of the Philippines, paid a state visit to China last month the press contextualized the trip as part of his jarring U-turn away from the U.S. alliance and toward China’s lucrative embrace. That narrative, and Duterte’s apparent determination to restructure the regional order, have received no shortage of coverage and analysis in The Diplomat and beyond.

 
Russia's Road To Economic Ruin
By Ilan Berman and Amanda Azinheira, Forbes.com, November 2, 2016
 

You might not know it, but Russia is losing. The official narrative, promulgated by the Kremlin via its extensive propaganda machine, is that Russia is resurgent on the world stage, and that its status as a global power is increasingly unassailable. Over time, this take has become embraced in official Washington, to the point where it is now more or less conventional wisdom, at least on the presidential campaign trail. 

 
Iran And China Get Cozy
By Ilan Berman and Jonathan Schanzer, Foreign Affairs, October 28, 2016
 

Scattered among the hundreds of kiosks that made up the massive China-Eurasia Expo held in the western Chinese city of Urumqi in late September were a handful of Iranian rug merchants plying their wares. They didn't seem to sell much, but they weren't worried. The merchants, like the Iranian government itself, were looking ahead - and there are plenty of opportunities these days, particularly in China. 

 
Getting Serious On The Information Battlefield
By Robert Bole, U.S. News & World Report, October 25, 2016
 

Today, the power of the United States to communicate with global audiences is being directly challenged by the Islamic State group. Over the past year, political and policy leaders have been amazed at how what was once described by President Barack Obama as a "JV" league terrorist organization could produce a polished magazine and high quality recruiting videos, modify online games and generate a handful of mobile apps, including one targeting children. Moreover, much of this media activity continues to take place, despite recent battlefield setbacks suffered by the group in both Iraq and Syria. 

 
Our Predictable Faceoff With Iran
By Lawrence J. Haas, U.S. News & World Report, October 18, 2016
 

We now face the ironic, yet all-too-predictable, result of years of U.S. appeasement of Iran in order to secure a global nuclear deal: U.S. military involvement in a proxy war with the Islamic Republic in Yemen. 

 
A Strategic Muddle In Syria
By James S. Robbins, U.S. News & World Report, October 12, 2016
 

In October 2015, Russia intervened directly in the conflict in Syria, seeking to prop up its beleaguered ally in Damascus and push back rebel groups that had plunged the country into civil war. The United States, which was backing several insurgent groups fighting Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime, was not impressed. 

 
Assessing US-India Defense Relations: The Technological Handshake
By Jeff Smith and Alex Werman, The Diplomat, October 6, 2016
 

In the words of U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, two “handshakes” now define the increasingly intimate Indo-U.S. defense partnership. The “strategic handshake” was examined in detail in my last article for The Diplomat. We will now turn our attention to the “technological handshake,” shorthand for the growth in arms sales, technical cooperation, and defense co-production and co-development.

 
Morocco's Liberal Challengers
By Ilan Berman, Foreign Affairs, October 5, 2016
 

Ilyas El Omari is on the offensive. The bespectacled 49-year-old activist who heads Morocco's Party of Authenticity and Modernity (PAM) has spent years honing PAM's political message and worldview. Now, with the Kingdom heading into what is shaping up to be a decisive general election on October 7, Omari senses a political opening. 

 
Collapse Over Iran's Missiles
By Lawrence J. Haas, U.S. News & World Report, October 4, 2016
 

The revelation of recent days that, back in January, President Obama agreed that the United Nations should lift its sanctions against two Iranian state banks which financed Iran's ballistic missile development puts the lie to Washington's claims - stubbornly maintained for more than a year - that it was determined to rein in the Islamic Republic's expanding missile program. 

 
Mother Russia Is Still Struggling With Demography
By Ilan Berman, The Moscow Times, October 3, 2016
 

How healthy is Russia, really? Over the past several years, the official narrative of Vladimir Putin's government has been clear and consistent: thanks to firm leadership, the demographic problems that once plagued Russia and the Soviet Union are now effectively a thing of the past. 

 
A Better Plan for Internet Governance
By Richard Harrison and Liam Bobyak, U.S. News & World Report, September 29, 2016
 

The problem with high technology is that it can be difficult to understand, leading to what are often confused policy prescriptions. A perfect example is the proposed upcoming transition of the internet-naming function from U.S. to private control - an event that's scheduled to take place just a few days from now, on Sept. 30. While the transition itself isn't necessarily a bad idea, the Obama administration's current plan has definite flaws. 

 
Egypt's Economy Is In Big Trouble
By Ilan Berman, The National Interest, September 29, 2016
 

Three years ago this summer, Egyptians took to the streets en masse to vent their frustration at the government of then president Mohamed Morsi. The source of their discontent was the widespread economic stagnation and ideologically driven policies that came to punctuate Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood-dominated government. The result was nothing short of a counterrevolution, as Morsi was ousted by the country's powerful military in an almost-coup led by his then minister of defense, Gen. Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. 

 
Assessing US-India Relations: The Strategic Handshake
By Jeff M. Smith, The Diplomat, September 16, 2016
 

Last month, U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter reflected on the remarkable progress he and his Indian counterpart, Manohar Parrikar, have overseen in bilateral defense ties over the last two years. With his gift for memorable analogies, Carter insisted the budding Indo-U.S. defense partnership was built atop two “important handshakes.” One was a “technological handshake,” a reference to the rapid growth in arms sales, co-development, and technology-sharing. A companion piece to follow this article will explore the technological handshake in greater detail, and the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead.

 
Accepting The Unacceptable
By James S. Robbins, U.S. News & World Report, September 14, 2016
 

The nuclear threat from North Korea continues to grow, despite numerous strong statements of concern from the United States. But Pyongyang knows that talk is cheap. The more powerful message from American inaction is: keep building. 

 
How Xi Jinping Undermines China
By Joshua Eisenman, Wall Street Journal, September 13, 2016
 

"We shall proceed with reform and opening up without hesitation," China's President Xi Jinping told his country's top leaders in August 2014 during a symposium marking the 100th anniversary of the birth of former leader Deng Xiaoping. At the time, this pledge appeared sincere. Since taking office in March 2013, Mr. Xi had consistently advocated a reform agenda intended to continue the economic restructuring and national revitalization that Deng had started in 1978. Now, two years later, and despite his consolidation of power, Mr. Xi's reforms are mired in a morass of bureaucratic hurdles and official foot dragging. 

 
The Uncomfortable Alliance
By Herman Pirchner, Jr., The Washington Times, September 6, 2016
 

Greater cooperation with Russia in the struggle to defeat the Islamic State terrorist group (ISIS) and other extremist elements in the Muslim World is now being urged by a number of prominent Americans. Russia and America both have a problem with Islamists, goes the argument, so we should work together to defeat the common enemy. 

 
Iran And The New Monroe Doctrine
By Ilan Berman, Foreign Affairs, September 2, 2016
 

In Washington, conventional wisdom has long held that Iran's presence south of the U.S. border constitutes little more than an axis of annoyance. In this telling, Iran's activities in Central and South America - from numerous commercial and trade deals with various nations to the establishment of cultural centers throughout the region - are disorganized, opportunistic, and ultimately of little consequence.