Syria: Peacemaking or prosecutions?

On October 30, representatives of Syria’s government, opposition, and civil society came together in Geneva at the inaugural meeting in Geneva of the Syrian Constitution Committee (SCC), the most promising effort yet to negotiate an end to the country’s hyper-destructive civil war. But just the day before the SCC opened, a court in Germany charged … Continue reading Syria: Peacemaking or prosecutions?

Can the Turkey-Russia Agreement Help Syrians End Their Civil War?

The United Nations’ Special Envoy for Syria, Geir Pedersen, recently expressed confidence that the Syrian Constitutional Committee (SCC), a key gathering of representatives of the country’s government, opposition, and civil society, can convene as planned in Geneva, October 30. If this does occur-even with, perhaps a slippage of a few days-it could mark the beginning … Continue reading Can the Turkey-Russia Agreement Help Syrians End Their Civil War?

U.S. forces (and policy) in Syria head south

Washington, DC — It took less than a week after President Trump announced the summary withdrawal of the tripwire U.S. force deployed in northeast Syria alongside the Kurdish-dominated “Syrian Democratic Forces” (SDF), before the SDF concluded a new alliance with the Syrian government. What happened between, of course, was the large-scale incursion of Turkish forces into the … Continue reading U.S. forces (and policy) in Syria head south

Mutual deterrence: Good for the Middle East, bad for the nuclear weapons industry?

Over the past three-plus months it has become increasingly clear that, despite the bombast that Pres. Donald Trump has hurled against the Islamic Republic of Iran (along with a full deck of extremely harmful sanctions and some cyber attacks), neither he nor his closest regional allies in the anti-Iran coalition have been willing to escalate … Continue reading Mutual deterrence: Good for the Middle East, bad for the nuclear weapons industry?

WaPo’s Ignatius gets “mugged by reality” on Iran

The Washington Post’s David Ignatius had a column in today’s paper that gave a muddled, fairly escalatory take on the continuing crisis in the Persian Gulf between the Iranian government and the forces lined up against it. His lede (intro) is fairly straightforward: It’s a good rule never to start a fight you’re not eager … Continue reading WaPo’s Ignatius gets “mugged by reality” on Iran

The Emperor’s New-Old Nuclear Clothes

How is it still possible to write a lengthy article about the military/strategic dynamic among the triad of Israel, Iran, and the United States while making zero mention of Israel’s robust nuclear-weapons capability? New York Times staffers Ronen Bergman and Mark Mazzetti, and their editors at the Times magazine clearly think this is quite okay. … Continue reading The Emperor’s New-Old Nuclear Clothes

Hizbullah Reminds Israel of Its Power

On September 1, Hizbullah fighters on Lebanon’s border with Israel fired two precision-guided missiles over the border, apparently hitting an Israeli “Wolf” armored personnel carrier (APC) and inflicting casualties of unknown severity on its occupants (see above). The strike came a day after Hizbullah head Hassan Nasrallah warned that the organization would retaliate for Israel’s … Continue reading Hizbullah Reminds Israel of Its Power

The Dogs of War That Have Not Barked

In May, President Donald J. Trump rolled out his policy of “maximum pressure” designed to force Tehran to concede to far-reaching demands. He tightened U.S. sanctions against Iran considerably and ordered the USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier and numerous other military units deployed to (or toward) the Persian Gulf. Then-especially after Iran shot down a large U.S. Navy drone in late June-the world braced for a showdown.

On “Humanitarian Intervention”

I am old enough to remember when a “humanitarian intervention” meant organizing collections of food and blankets to send to distant communities in distress. Heck, in my elementary school in England we knitted little 6-inch squares to make up such blankets: they were taken away, sewn together, and delivered to the Red Cross by the … Continue reading On “Humanitarian Intervention”

Reviving Westphalia

It is a time of great uncertainty in international affairs. U.S. troops are deploying to Saudi Arabia for the first time in 16 years, presaging an increasingly probable showdown with Iran. The Anglosphere is likely to soon see a second, intensely nationalistic and straw-maned populist rise to the seat of government. The U.S. president has … Continue reading Reviving Westphalia