December 9, 2012 |
A new word defines the debate over Syria in Washington: endgame. Policymakers expect the regime in Damascus to fall soon, and their focus has shifted to what happens then. In a cold-blooded, pragmatic sense, the United States and its allies don't want Bashar Assad's government to collapse immediately. Nobody's ready - inside Syria or out - to pick up the pieces. A sudden collapse could produce the same kind of chaos that enveloped Iraq after the U.S.-led invasion in 2003. And with no U.S. Army units on hand in Syria to help restore order, there is fear that the regime's chemical weapons might fall into the hands of terrorists.
December 5, 2012
After 20 months and tens of thousands of deaths, the civil war in Syria may be reaching a turning point. The ragtag group of rebels that took up arms during the Arab Spring has advanced to the outskirts of Damascus and has a credible chance, if all goes well, of ousting the Assad dynasty that has ruled the country for more than 40 years. Should the United States, which mostly has confined its involvement to fruitless efforts to oust President Bashar Assad through economic sanctions, belatedly get involved militarily?
September 11, 2012 |
When it comes to "hard power," the West is in steep decline. Virtually every nation in Europe is cutting its defense budget. Japan refuses to spend more than 1% of its gross domestic product on defense. And Australia is slashing its military budget, leaving it at just 1.5% of GDP, the smallest ratio in more than seven decades. Now add in the cuts of more than $800 billion in current and planned spending on U.S. defenses, with the prospect of nearly $500 billion more over the next 10 years.
August 27, 2012
No manifestation of the "Arab Spring" was more dramatic than the popular uprising that ousted Egypt's longtime autocrat, Hosni Mubarak. Until recently, however, it was unclear whether a broad-based revolution would be sabotaged either by a military coup or by an elected Islamist government unwilling to govern in an inclusive way. There will be many opportunities still for this revolution to go awry, but the Egyptian military and President Mohamed...
June 27, 2012 |
Egypt's progress toward democracy over the last 15 months has been raucous, colorful and inevitably complicated. Its dismantling has been dizzyingly swift. Two weeks ago, the Supreme Constitutional Court dissolved the parliament, saying electoral rules had been broken. Then the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces exempted itself from civilian oversight and claimed a decisive role in lawmaking and in the drafting of Egypt's constitution. It also assigned a general to "advise" Egypt's new president.
June 19, 2012
From the moment it was announced that Egypt's authoritarian president, Hosni Mubarak, was stepping down, experts in that country and abroad warned that the Egyptian military wouldn't be content with a limited and transitional role. That prophecy has come to pass, posing a challenge not only for democrats in Egypt and for its newly elected president but for its ally and benefactor, the United States. The Obama administration, which earlier this year waived congressional restrictions in order to keep sending military aid to Egypt, should reconsider that decision if the armed forces continue to thwart democracy.
April 26, 2012
Weary as Americans are of the war in Afghanistan, it has been obvious for some time that the United States would continue to play a role in that country after Afghan forces assume full control of security in 2014. So it isn't surprising that Washington and Kabul have reached a draft "strategic partnership" agreement under which the U.S. will continue providing military, economic and other aid to Afghanistan for another decade. In principle, a continuing relationship is perfectly defensible, but it needs to be circumscribed to prevent a re-escalation ofU.S.
February 26, 2012 |
The criminal trial of 16 American pro-democracy workers opened in Cairo on Sunday as U.S. and Egyptian diplomats attempted to resolve a deepening crisis between longtime allies that have grown increasingly estranged since the uprisings that have swept the Arab world in the last year. The politically charged case, punctuated by bruising rhetoric on both sides, is a sign of Washington's ebbing influence in the region and a test of Egypt's ruling military council's ability to finesse an end to a drama that could result in the curtailment of $1.3 billion in annual U.S. military aid. Contradictory signals from the Egyptian government and perceived U.S. arrogance have hampered a resolution.
January 30, 2012
When Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak was overthrown last year, there was immediate concern in Washington about the future of U.S. relations with Egypt. Mubarak, though a tyrant, had been a reliable ally, which explained why the Obama administration temporized about whether he should step down. Once he was gone and a supposedly transitional military council promised elections, a new concern arose: that the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist groups would dominate a new elected government and - in the worst-case scenario - renounce the 1979 Egyptian-Israeli treaty.
January 26, 2012 |
The son of a U.S. Cabinetofficial and other Americans working for a democracy rights group have been stopped from leaving Cairo as part of a criminal investigation of foreign funding of nongovernmental organizations operating in Egypt. The move is certain to intensify a diplomatic rift between Cairo and Washington over American aid to human rights and democracy groups that are viewed with suspicion by Egypt's military rulers. The U.S. government said it was outraged by recent police raids on the Egyptian offices of three American-backed organizations.