The Obama administration's stated policy since 2011 has been to capture suspected terrorists—such as U.S. citizen Mohanad Mahmoud Al Farekh in Pakistan—rather than target them with drone strikes. However, as Micah Zenko points out, Al Farekh’s case is the rare exception and, since 2011, the United States has conducted an estimated 215 drone strikes, killing 1,271 individuals.
The United States is now engaged in yet another military intervention in the Middle East—this time in Yemen. Micah Zenko argues that what has become the standard operating procedure for how the United States goes to war should be alarming, particularly when the latest intervention “lacks clear courses of action, coherent objectives, or an intended end state.”
U.S. military and intelligence officials often conceive of the complexity of the world in terms of the volume of total issues, rather than evaluating the prioritization of those issues. CPA's Micah Zenko examines how the U.S. military thinks about complexity.
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.
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.
Counterterrorism strategies of the past thirteen years have relied upon a myth of 9/11: terrorists require safe havens to conduct international terrorist attacks. Micah Zenko and Amelia M. Wolf argue that there is no evidence to support this assumption, which most recently served as the basis for launching a war against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.
The rise of purported threats such as Ebola and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, military intervention in Syria, and shifting military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq in 2014 resulted in numerous notable quotes—whether puzzling, hypocritical, factually incorrect, or revealing—from U.S. officials and policymakers. In his annual article, Micah highlighted the top twenty foreign policy quotes of the year.
Senior administration officials have discussed the possibility of placing North Korea on the State Sponsor of Terrorism list after the hack of Sony Pictures Entertainment. Micah Zenko argues that North Korea is not a state-sponsor of terrorism and “rather than misapplying this outdated punishment against countries that the United States has non-terrorism-related disagreements with, an entirely new designation is necessary.”
Though the release of the executive summary of the Senate’s report on the CIA’s post-9/11 detention and interrogation program is a worthwhile effort, this report will cover little new ground, Micah Zenko argues. Rather, a more public account, including interviews with torture victims and interrogation technique used by the Department of Defense, is needed. Zenko provides guidelines for and questions to think about while reading the report.
The United States has now conducted 500 targeted killings, which have killed an estimated 3,674 people, including 473 civilians. However, as Micah Zenko points out, these operations have not diminished the size of targeted terrorist groups.
The threat posed by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is being overblown to a dangerous and untruthful degree by U.S. government officials, who are getting away with it without question. Micah Zenko argues that U.S. officials must envision America’s enemies “more accurately and honestly.”
Who leaked the New York Times story claiming that Obama was thinking of shaking up his foreign policy team? Leslie H. Gelb suggests how we might solve this mystery and think about the importance of the tale.
President Obama can't move on domestic policy, but still has the power to make headway abroad—especially with Iran (to explore a Mideast strategic overhaul), China (to emplace a viable and critical Asia pivot), and Russia (to prevent a new little Cold War). He shouldn't throw this last chance away.
Despite perceptions among Americans that the country is unsafe and a terrorist attack is "likely," the real threats don't emanate from actors like the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. Rather, as Micah Zenko argues, self scrutiny is needed among U.S. policymakers to recognize the true threat of terrible domestic crimes, generally not labeled as "terrorism," as they are more likely to occur, and do so frequently.
Panetta's recent, uncharacteristic, and very public criticisms of Obama's Syria/Iraq policy actually get scant attention in his new memoir, Worthy Fights. It is very sad that this typical Washington memoir is probably the final act of a truly noble and effective public servant, says Leslie H. Gelb
In this CSR, coauthored by Paul B. Stares and Micah Zenko sponsored by the Center for Preventive Action, evaluates the U.S. system for foreseeing and heading off crises and assesses in detail current U.S. practices with regard to different types of preventive action. More
This report, authored by Bronwyn E. Bruton and sponsored by the Center for Preventive Action, argues that the current U.S. policy of supporting the TFG is unlikely to succeed and ineffective foreign meddling threatens to prolong and worsen the conflict. Instead, the United States should pursue a strategy of "constructive disengagement" while still maintaining support for localized development initiatives and humanitarian assistance. More