A Vital Primer on the Push for War in Iran

Want another thing to keep you up at night? Consider a conversation between longtime Middle East reporter Reese Erlich and former U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Charles Freeman, Jr. on the people currently directing the Trump administration’s policy toward Iran. Commenting on National Security Advisor John Bolton’s defense of the invasion of Iraq, Freeman says … Continue reading “A Vital Primer on the Push for War in Iran”

Unwrapping Armageddon: The Erosion of Nuclear Arms Control

The decision by the Trump administration to withdraw from the Intermediate Nuclear Force Agreement (INF) appears to be part of a broader strategy aimed at unwinding over 50 years of agreements to control and limit nuclear weapons, returning to an era characterized by the unbridled development weapons of mass destruction. Terminating the INF treaty – … Continue reading “Unwrapping Armageddon: The Erosion of Nuclear Arms Control”

The Syrian Chess Board

The Syrian civil war has always been devilishly complex, with multiple actors following different scripts, but in the past few months it appeared to be winding down. The Damascus government now controls 60 percent of the country and the major population centers, the Islamic State has been routed, and the rebels opposed to Syrian President … Continue reading “The Syrian Chess Board”

As Washington Vacillates, Asia’s Alliances Are Shifting

“Boxing the compass” is an old nautical term for locating the points on a magnetic compass in order to set a course. With the erratic winds blowing out of Washington these days, countries all over Asia and the Middle East are boxing the compass and reevaluating traditional foes and old alliances. India and Pakistan have … Continue reading “As Washington Vacillates, Asia’s Alliances Are Shifting”

It’s Time for NATO to Go the Way of the Warsaw Pact

The outcome of the July 11-12 NATO meeting in Brussels got lost amid the media’s obsession with President Donald Trump’s bombast, but the “Summit Declaration” makes for sober reading. The media reported that the 28-page document “upgraded military readiness,” and was “harshly critical of Russia,” but there wasn’t much detail beyond that. But details matter, … Continue reading “It’s Time for NATO to Go the Way of the Warsaw Pact”

Erdogan Wants to Be Turkey’s Lone Strongman. What If He Gets What He Wants?

When Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called for a presidential and parliamentary election June 24 – jumping the gun by more than a year – the outcome seemed foreordained. After all, the country is under a state of emergency. Erdogan has imprisoned more than 50,000 of his opponents, dismissed 140,000 from their jobs, jailed a … Continue reading “Erdogan Wants to Be Turkey’s Lone Strongman. What If He Gets What He Wants?”

The US Returns to ‘Great Power Competition,’ With a Dangerous New Edge

The Trump administration’s new National Defense Strategy is being touted as a sea change in US foreign policy – a shift from the “war on terrorism” to “great power competition,” a line that would not be out of place in the years leading up to World War I. But is the shift really a major … Continue reading “The US Returns to ‘Great Power Competition,’ With a Dangerous New Edge”

Nuclear War: A Thousand Buttons

When President Donald Trump bragged that his nuclear “button” was bigger and more efficient than North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un’s “button,” he was perpetuating the myth that the leaders of nuclear-armed nations control their weapons. But you do not have to be Trump, Kim, Vladimir Putin, Theresa May, Xi Jinping, Narendra Modi, Mamnoon Hussain, or … Continue reading “Nuclear War: A Thousand Buttons”

Asia’s Other Nuclear Standoff

With the world focused on the scary possibility of war on the Korean Peninsula, not many people paid much attention to a series of naval exercises this past July in the Malacca Strait, a 550-mile long passage between Sumatra and Malaysia through which pass over 50,000 ships a year. With President Trump and North Korean … Continue reading “Asia’s Other Nuclear Standoff”

The Tortured Politics Behind the Persian Gulf Crisis

The splintering of the powerful Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) into warring camps – with Qatar, supported by Turkey and Iran, on one side, and Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), supported by Egypt, on the other – has less to do with disagreements over foreign policy and religion than with internal political … Continue reading “The Tortured Politics Behind the Persian Gulf Crisis”