Middle East and North Africa

Article

The Need to Change Palestinian Political Culture

Author: Elliott Abrams
Mosaic Magazine

Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas will be visiting Washington soon and will call for a renewed commitment to the creation of a Palestinian state. But both opinion polls, and actions by the Palestinian Authority glorifying terrorism and terrorists, suggest that Palestinian political culture is oriented to violence and revanchism, not to peace. Elliott Abrams argues that a change in Palestinian political culture is a necessary precondition for real peace.

See more in Palestine; Politics and Strategy; Peace, Conflict, and Human Rights

Article

Stop Supporting Palestinian Terror

Author: Elliott Abrams
National Review

Should Congress cut aid to the Palestinian Authority unless it ceases payments to terrorists and their families? In the new issue of National Review magazine, Elliott Abrams argues that Congress should pass the Taylor Force Act, cut the aid, and try to force a change in Palestinian political culture.

See more in Palestine; Israel; Conflict Assessment

Op-Ed

How Will Trump Get Us From Tomahawks to the Peace Table?

Author: Gayle Tzemach Lemmon
Defense One

While numerous questions remain as to how the Syrian conflict will end, all sides agree that talks should continue in Geneva. “The Geneva process is exhausting and frequently has felt futile,” writes Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, “…but it still exists and offers a framework to end these wars.”

See more in Syria; Russian Federation; Peace, Conflict, and Human Rights; Treaties and Agreements

Article

Small Footprint, Small Payoff

Authors: Stephen D. Biddle, Julia Macdonald, and Ryan Baker
Journal of Strategic Studies

Stephen Biddle, Julia McDonald, and Ryan Baker argue that training, equipping, and advising partner militaries is an increasingly popular alternative to large U.S. ground force deployments in places like Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Ukraine, and many other places where the United States has real but limited interests at stake. Yet SFA has often yielded disappointing results in actual practice. The authors explain this pattern as the result of systematic interest misalignment between the United States and the partners it must work with in these kinds of missions—and argue that these problems are only partly remediable. The authors present ways to do better at the margin, but also argue that underlying interest misalignment will limit this tool's likely utility in the future, and that U.S. decision makers must take this into account when deciding when, where, and how to use it. 

See more in Iraq; Afghanistan; Defense and Security; Conflict Assessment

Op-Ed

The Trump Doctrine Was Written By CNN

Author: Max Boot
ForeignPolicy.com

Far from decisive, Trump’s decision to fire cruise missiles against a single air base in Syria was reminiscent of the kind of low-risk cruise missile attacks that Republicans have mocked in the past for their symbolic, ineffectual nature. While it is a good thing Trump did act, it is hard to know what larger lessons about U.S. policy in the world or in Syria itself one can draw from this decision. The Trump doctrine appears to be: The United States reserves the right to use force whenever the president is upset by something he sees on TV.

See more in Syria; Defense and Security; Media and Foreign Policy

Op-Ed

How Trump Can Help Cripple the Iranian Regime

Authors: Reuel Gerecht and Ray Takeyh
Washington Post

The United States can cripple the Iranian regime if it doesn’t compromise the battle on the ground for fear of compromising arms control, argue Reuel Gerecht and CFR’s Ray Takeyh. America should fight Iran’s proxy militias in the regions, support popular movements against the Islamic Republic, and make human rights a priority for its Iran policy.

See more in Iran; Human Rights; Politics and Strategy

Article

Forget the Subs: What Taipei Can Learn From Tehran About Asymmetric Defense

Authors: Colin Carroll and Rebecca Friedman Lissner
War on the Rocks

Ahead of the Donald Trump-Xi Jinping summit this week at Mar-a-Lago, Taiwan is understandably anxious. Trump’s ascendance to the American presidency has injected uncertainty into the U.S. approach to China and Taiwan — an element of foreign policy that is traditionally carefully calibrated to avoid upsetting the precarious cross-strait arrangement.

See more in Taiwan; Iran; Defense Strategy

Op-Ed

What Was the Legal Basis for the U.S. Air Strikes Against Syria?

Author: John B. Bellinger III
Lawfare

The United States has just launched a missile attack against Syrian air bases, apparently in response to the Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons against Syrian civilians.  (The attack apparently was launched in the middle of President Trump's dinner with Chinese President Xi, and is not likely to make the Chinese very happy.) 

See more in United States; Syria; Defense Strategy; Military Operations