How Iran turns lemons into high-octane lemonade

by PSA Staff | July 10th, 2015 | |Subscribe

Robert C. “Bud” McFarlane served as President Ronald Reagan’s National Security Advisor from 1983-1985, and is a member of PSA’s distinguished Advisory Board. This post originally appeared in the Washington Times

In 2009, as intelligence reports confirmed that Iran — the world’s leading state-sponsor of terrorism — had resumed its nuclear weapons development program, the efforts of American policy officials to reverse it focused first on Iranian vulnerabilities. What critical commodity or service essential to daily life in Iran might be restricted by sanctions and thereby influence the government of Iran to change course? It didn’t take long to identify such a strategic commodity: gasoline.

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The means of coercing Iran

by PSA Staff | April 14th, 2015 | |Subscribe

Robert McFarlane is a PSA Advisory Board member and served as President Reagan’s national security adviser. The original article appeared in The Washington Times.

The means of coercing Iran

How would the prospects for stability in the Middle East be affected if Iran were to succeed in its effort to become a nuclear power? In what ways might we expect Iran to behave differently?

The behavior of the Soviet Union in the late 1970s is instructive on this point. Despite signing the 1972 SALT I Agreement with the United States, which put restraints on strategic nuclear forces, the USSR soon began to violate several of its tenets and to establish an advantage in ICBM warheads. Before long it had established a comfortable margin of superiority over the United States. Then, secure against any plausible threat, it became more willing to take risks to expand its influence in various parts of the world. We recall well those years from ‘75 to ‘80 in which the Kremlin’s support for so-called wars of national liberation enabled them to exert a prevailing influence in country after country — Angola, then Ethiopia, South Yemen, Mozambique, Afghanistan (following an invasion by more than 100,000 troops), and ultimately, Nicaragua. Not until the early ‘80s, as the United States restored its will to oppose Soviet expansion, did the Kremlin change course.

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The Iran Deal and Its Consequences

by PSA Staff | April 8th, 2015 | |Subscribe

George Shultz is a PSA Advisory Board member and former Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger is a former Secretary of State. The original article appeared in The Wall Street Journal.

The Iran Deal and Its Consequences

The announced framework for an agreement on Iran’s nuclear program has the potential to generate a seminal national debate. Advocates exult over the nuclear constraints it would impose on Iran. Critics question the verifiability of these constraints and their longer-term impact on regional and world stability. The historic significance of the agreement and indeed its sustainability depend on whether these emotions, valid by themselves, can be reconciled.

Debate regarding technical details of the deal has thus far inhibited the soul-searching necessary regarding its deeper implications. For 20 years, three presidents of both major parties proclaimed that an Iranian nuclear weapon was contrary to American and global interests—and that they were prepared to use force to prevent it. Yet negotiations that began 12 years ago as an international effort to prevent an Iranian capability to develop a nuclear arsenal are ending with an agreement that concedes this very capability, albeit short of its full capacity in the first 10 years.

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The Fantasy of a Better Iran Deal

by PSA Staff | April 7th, 2015 | |Subscribe

Samuel R. Berger is a PSA Advisory Board member and was national security adviser to President Bill Clinton from 1997-2001; he is also currently chair of Albright Stonebridge Group. The original article appeared in Politico.

The Fantasy of a Better Iran Deal

Some are insisting on a “better deal” than the framework nuclear agreement reached with Iran on April 2. But the idea of a better deal is a chimera, an illusory option, and it should not lull us into thinking there is another agreement to be had if only we were to bear down harder. The present agreement, which depends on important pieces to be resolved by the end of June, can substantially reduce the ability of Iran to develop a nuclear weapon over the next ten years or more and also creates a dynamic that could be a game changer in the combustible Middle East.

Senator Mark Kirk has postponed a vote on the Iran sanctions bill he wrote with Senator Robert Menendez, possibly until June 30. This is a constructive step, avoiding an action that would undercut negotiations toward a final agreement. But we need to keep the sanctions issue in mind because it is inextricably intertwined with the same calls for a better deal emanating from people in Congress, Israel, and other critics. No one can argue that a better agreement wouldn’t be better—3,000 Iranian centrifuges is better than 5,000; a 20-year deal is better than 10. The tough question is: How do you get there? Putting aside what the Iranians might do in response to additional pressure—dig in deeper, speed up their program–and looking just at our side of the equation, the notion of a better deal is unachievable.

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Russia’s Grab for its Neighbors

by PSA Staff | March 30th, 2015 | |Subscribe

Paula Dobriansky is a PSA Advisory Board member, former undersecretary of state for democracy and global affairs, and a senior adviser to the Bipartisan Policy Center’s National Security Program. Blaise Misztal is the program’s director. Original article appeared here in The Washington Times.

Russia’s Grab for its Neighbors

A bipartisan consensus is emerging that the United States should do more to address Russia’s continuing aggression against Ukraine. But Russian revanchism does not begin or end with Ukraine, nor are “little green men” its only foreign policy instrument. Moscow is actively engaged in subversive activities along Europe’s eastern flank, targeting the region’s economic and political stability. As Central European capitals grow increasingly concerned, Washington urgently needs to demonstrate its robust commitment not just to the region’s security but to its democratic future.

Moscow has long demanded that Western nations not encroach on its “sphere of influence,” defined by the borders of the old Iron Curtain. It is now seeking to regain its sway over its neighbors in order to, ultimately, control all aspects of their domestic, foreign and defense policies and separate them from the rest of Europe.

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SPECIAL REPORT: Did Maridia Conduct a Nuclear Test Explosion? On-Site Inspection and the CTBT

by PSA Staff | February 12th, 2015 | |Subscribe

Jenifer Mackby is a senior fellow at the Federation of American Scientists and a senior adviser to the Partnership for a Secure America. She was a technical observer in the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization Preparatory Commission’s Integrated Field Exercise 2014. She previously served as secretary of the negotiations on the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty in Geneva and secretary of the Working Group on Verification at the Preparatory Commission in Vienna. The article originally appeared in Arms Control Today.

SPECIAL REPORT: Did Maridia Conduct a Nuclear Test Explosion? On-Site Inspection and the CTBT

The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) Preparatory Commission launched a large-scale simulation of an on-site inspection in Jordan on November 3, 2014, to test the organization’s ability to find a nuclear test explosion site. The exercise, involving two fictitious countries, lasted for five weeks and used 150 tons of equipment to comb a large swath of land next to the Dead Sea.

The inspection area encompassed 1,000 square kilometers, the maximum area allowed by the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), although the 30-day inspection period for the exercise was much less than the potential 130 days that the treaty allows. Searching for clues of a nuclear explosion in such an expanse and in such a shortened time period was a daunting task. It required the international teams, comprising 200 scientists and experts in on-site inspection technologies from 44 countries, to focus on their respective tasks for 12- to 14-hour days.

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The United States and Russia must repair their partnership on nuclear security

by PSA Staff | January 27th, 2015 | |Subscribe

Sam Nunn is co-chairman of the Nuclear Threat Initiative, a former U.S. senator from Georgia and member of PSA’s Advisory Board. Richard Lugar is president of the Lugar Center and a former U.S. senator from Indiana. The article originally appeared in The Washington Post.

The United States and Russia must repair their partnership on nuclear security

For more than two decades, the United States and Russia partnered to secure and eliminate dangerous nuclear materials — not as a favor to one another but as a common-sense commitment, born of mutual self-interest, to prevent catastrophic nuclear terrorism. The world’s two largest nuclear powers repeatedly set aside their political differences to cooperate on nuclear security to ensure that terrorists would not be able to detonate a nuclear bomb in New York, Moscow, Paris, Tel Aviv or elsewhere.

Unfortunately, this common-sense cooperation has become the latest casualty of the spiraling crisis in relations among the United States, Europe and Russia.

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Jamie Metzl: Is Kim Jong Un More Dangerous than His Dad?

by PSA Staff | November 12th, 2014 | |Subscribe

PSA Board Director and former Clinton administration National Security Council official Jamie Metzl weighs in on the changing calculus for the North Korean leadership. For further information about Kim Jong Un, check Dr. Metzl’s CNN commentary.

North Korea’s Changing Calculus

It is no coincidence in my opinion that American detainees Kenneth Bae and Matthew Miller were released by North Korea just as President Obama is arriving in Beijing for the APEC Summit. With North Korea-China relations more strained than they have been in years, the US moving towards a potential deal with Iran, the North Korean economy in shambles, and a resolution just being introduced to the UN General Assembly calling for North Korea’s leaders to be referred to the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity, Kim Jong Un and his cabal are being squeezed as never before. Absolute terror remains a very effective means for North Korea’s leaders to maintain control of their population, but it’s hard to see how the status quo can be maintained for too long. It may be that North Korea sees this too, and has come to realize both that the costs of its global pariah status is increasing and that an Iran-like deal (where they negotiate over a long time and ultimately give up enough of their nuclear program to make the world happier and secure aid but not enough to limit deterrence) could be to their advantage. Don’t expect a Burma-like about face any time soon, but a lot seems to happening in North Korea and Asia more generally (including the new Xi Jinping-Vladimir Putin alliance) that will pose new challenges to America and our allies, but could also create new opportunities.

PSA Advisory Board Member George P. Shultz On The Opportunity Presented By The American Energy Revolution

by PSA Staff | November 6th, 2013 | |Subscribe

George Pratt Shultz has had a distinguished career in government, in academia, and in the world of business.  He is one of a handful of individuals who has held four different federal cabinet posts.  Mr. Shultz is a member of the PSA Advisory Board.  This article originally appeared in the Wall Street Journal.  It was co-authored with Frederick W. Smith.

Making the Most of the U.S. Energy Boom

Tuesday, November 4, 2013 – In November 1973, members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries implemented an oil embargo against the United States that imperiled the nation’s prosperity and international influence. Forty years later, de-linking America’s economy and security from high and volatile global oil prices is even more essential to protecting our domestic and international interests. And the U.S. now has the means to achieve true energy independence.

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The North American Global Powerhouse

by PSA Staff | July 22nd, 2013 | |Subscribe

George Shultz is a PSA Advisory Board Member and a former secretary of labor, Treasury and state, and is a distinguished fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. This article was originally published in the Wall Street Journal.

The North American Global Powerhouse

Discussions of rising economies usually focus on Asia, Africa and the BRIC countries—Brazil, Russia, India and China. But what may well be the most important development of all is often overlooked: the arrival of North America as a global powerhouse. What’s going on?

The North American Free Trade Agreement was signed by U.S. President George H.W. Bush, Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney and Mexican President Carlos Salinas in 1992. It was ratified in the U.S. thanks to the leadership of President Bill Clinton in 1993. Since then, the integration of the three economies has proceeded at a sharp pace. Consider:

The three countries constitute around one-fourth of global GDP, and they have become each other’s largest trading partners. Particularly notable is the integration of trade. A 2010 NBER study shows that 24.7% of imports from Canada were U.S. value-added, and 39.8% of U.S. imports from Mexico were U.S. value-added. (By contrast, the U.S. value-added in imports from China was only 4.2%.) This phenomenon of tight integration of trade stands apart from other major trading blocks including the European Union or East Asian economies.

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All blog posts are independently produced by their authors and do not necessarily reflect the policies or positions of PSA. Across the Aisle serves as a bipartisan forum for productive discussion of national security and foreign affairs topics.