*Alex Braha is a Senior Associate at Andreae & Associates in Washington, DC, where she focuses on political and security issues in Africa and the Middle East. She received her M.A. in International Security from the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver.
The beginning of this month saw glimmers of hope quickly turn back to stalemate with the UN-led negotiations to solve the crisis in Libya. July began with Abdullah al-Thinni, the prime minister for the internationally recognized government currently in power in Tobruk, proclaiming his hopes that a peace deal could be signed at the latest round of talks. This was followed a few days later by the refusal of the rival government in Tripoli to show at the peace talks, expressing their rejection of the UN proposal and suggested amendments from the Tobruk government. The latest iteration of a peace plan is the fourth draft undertaken by UN envoy Bernadino Leon, and the closest he has been to consensus. But with the last minute refusal by the Tripoli government, how many more chances remain to get a deal?
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.
Lee Hamilton is director of the Center on Congress at Indiana University and current Advisory Board Co-Chair to the Partnership for a Secure America. He was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for 34 years. The article originally appeared in The Huffington Post.
Middle East Continues to Dominate U.S. Foreign Policy, but Our Strategy in Region Remains Largely Unclear
Like every U.S. president of the last half-century, I find it nearly impossible to avoid focusing most of my foreign policy attention on the continuingly chaotic and confusing region of the world that is the Middle East.
I have now spent five decades working on foreign policy in government, and I’m still struggling to make sense of the Middle East. It’s an extremely turbulent area, where tensions flare up regularly. Its economic growth has been tepid at best, and its overall governance is feeble. The region is currently flooded with refugees. And city after city is fraught with danger, destruction and devastation.
Jamie Metzl is a Co-Chairman of the PSA Board of Directors and Nonresident Senior Fellow for Technology and National Security at the Atlantic Council.
The Deal Involves Expanding the ‘Maritime Silk Road’
Xi Jinping’s just completed visit to Pakistan is a big deal for China, Pakistan, Afghanistan, India, and the United States. China has pledged $46 billion to develop the port, road, and pipeline infrastructure linking the Pakistani port at Gwadar to Western China’s Xinjiang province, to construct badly needed power plants, and to upgrade Pakistan’s submarines, presumable to carry nuclear weapons. In return, Pakistan is giving China essentially full access to the Gwadar port.
Everyone should wish for economic development in Pakistan, and it would be great if at least a significant portion of the Chinese aid and loans goes toward activities, like badly-needed infrastructure and energy-generating capacity, that benefits the ordinary Pakistani people. US aid to Pakistan over past decades has spectacularly failed in this regard.
Gary Hart is a PSA Advisory Board member and former senator, Timothy E. Wirth is a former senator. The original article appeared in The Denver Post.
Wirth and Hart: Don’t sabotage Iran nuke deal
“There is agreement on nothing until there is agreement on everything” is a bedrock principle of the pending nuclear negotiations with Iran. “Everything” means everything having to do with controlling Iran’s nuclear program, not everything having to do with the total U.S.-Iran relationship.
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.
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.
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.
Lee Hamilton is a PSA Advisory Board member, chairman of the Center on Congress at Indiana University, and served as congressman from Indiana’s 9th Congressional District from 1965-1999. The original article appeared in The Detroit News.
Hamilton: Congress feels left out on foreign policy
Congress has developed a fondness for open letters when it comes to Iran. First came the warning shot signed by 47 Republican senators that touched off a storm of criticism. Not to be outdone, the House checked in with its own bipartisan and more diplomatically stated letter to President Barack Obama, warning that its members must be satisfied with any agreement before they’ll vote to reduce sanctions.
What lies behind these moves? I think Congress feels left out of foreign policymaking.
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Lee Hamilton is director of the Center on Congress at Indiana University and current Advisory Board Co-Chair to the Partnership for a Secure America. He was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for 34 years. The article originally appeared in Your Houston News.
HAMILTON: Congress and the President need to consult – and not just on Iran
Congress has developed a fondness for open letters when it comes to Iran. First came the warning shot signed by 47 Republican senators that touched off a storm of criticism. Not to be outdone, the House checked in with its own bipartisan and more diplomatically stated letter to the President, warning that its members must be satisfied with any agreement before they’ll vote to reduce sanctions.
What lies behind these moves? I think Congress feels left out of foreign policy-making.
I have considerable sympathy for this impulse. Over the decades, too much power has drifted to the President when it comes to foreign affairs. The Congress has been deferential, even timid, in allowing this to happen. (more…)
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.