Op-Eds

Published opinions and arguments by CFR fellows and experts.

The U.S. Government Should Pay Anonymous in Bitcoin to Fight ISIS

Author: Emerson Brooking
Foreign Policy

Writing in Foreign Policy, Emerson Brooking argues that, given ISIS’ strategically significant use of social media for recruiting and messaging, any comprehensive plan to defeat the terror network must also neutralize its online presence. He proposes the creation of a bounty system that would pay hacktivists in anonymized Bitcoin to flag ISIS social media accounts and disrupt its websites. 

See more in United States; Cybersecurity; Counterterrorism

Why the Oil Price Drop Matters

Author: Michael A. Levi
World Economic Forum

After three years of unusual stability around $100 a barrel, oil prices fell steeply in the second half of 2014, dropping from $115 a barrel in June to around $60 by December. With oil critical to national economies, international security and climate change, what does the apparent new world of oil mean?

See more in Global; Oil

Obama's Bay of Pigs

Author: Micah Zenko
Foreign Policy

The U.S. plan to arm Syrian rebels to fight the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria looks eerily similar to the infamous 1961 failed Bay of Pigs operation. Micah Zenko argues that a clarification of phase two—how the United States will support the armed rebels once they are trained and equipped—is needed before the United States proceeds.

See more in Syria; Defense Strategy; Conflict Assessment

The Murder of Yet Another Putin Critic

Author: Max Boot
Commentary

In 1934 Sergei Kirov, an old Bolshevik who had been head of the Party organization in Leningrad, was assassinated with a shot to the back. Most of his NKVD bodyguards had been mysteriously removed before the murder. Josef Stalin, the Soviet Union’s absolute dictator, expressed shock at the murder and promised to investigate personally.

See more in Russian Federation; Presidents and Chiefs of State

The Strategic Genius of Iran's Supreme Leader

Author: Ray Takeyh
Washington Post

On the surface, there is not much that commends Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. An anti-Semite, he has frequently questioned the Holocaust and defamed Israel in despicable terms. As a conspiracy theorist, he endlessly weaves strange tales about the United States and its intentions. As a national leader, he has ruthlessly repressed Iran’s once-vibrant civil society while impoverishing its economy.

See more in Iran; Presidents and Chiefs of State

Managing the ISIS Crisis

Author: Richard N. Haass
Project Syndicate
One day, historians will have their hands full debating the causes of the chaos now overtaking much of the Middle East. To what extent, they will ask, was it the inevitable result of deep flaws common to many of the region's societies and political systems, and to what extent did it stem from what outside countries chose to do (or not to do)?

See more in Middle East and North Africa; Terrorist Organizations and Networks

The Great Drone Contradiction

Author: Micah Zenko
Foreign Policy

The State Department released a new policy on military drone exports, opening the door to possible sales to countries other than close U.S. allies. Micah Zenko discusses implications of the policy for drone proliferation.

See more in United States; Drones

No Need to Declare War Against Our Current Enemy

Author: Max Boot
Hoover Institution

Congress is now debating President Obama’s proposed Authorization for the Use of Limited Military Force to fight the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. Yet the president’s request for this action from Congress comes more than six months after U.S. aircraft began bombing ISIS positions in Iraq and Syria, and even if passed it is merely an authorization for the use of force, not a full-fledged state of war, which Congress has not passed since World War II.

See more in United States; Wars and Warfare; Congresses, Parliaments, National Legislatures

Obama's Anti-ISIS AUMF: A Classic Muddle

Author: Max Boot
Commentary

Yesterday I wrote “here we go again” with President Obama agonizing over another major foreign-policy decision–whether or not to arm Ukraine–even as our enemies push ahead with great determination and cunning. Today we are seeing yet another Obama MO: the tendency, once endless administration deliberations are finished, to produce a split-the-difference solution that doesn’t accomplish as much as it should.

See more in United States; Military Operations; Presidents and Chiefs of State

The Ayatollah and the U.S. Embassy

Author: Ray Takeyh
Weekly Standard

It has long been the conceit of Iran specialists and political commentators that Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini was not informed that militant students intended to take over the U.S. embassy in Iran in 1979. The Western intelligentsia has vouched for the Islamic Republic and claimed that the hostage crisis was a product of an internal power struggle. It was not about America, but rather about a revolution sorting itself out. As such, the hostage drama should not stand in the way of a rapprochement between the two nations. 

See more in Iran; United States; History and Theory of International Relations