To Win the War on Terror, We Must Win the War of Ideas

by PSA Staff | February 24th, 2015 | |Subscribe

Lee H. Hamilton is Professor of Practice, Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs; Distinguished Scholar, IU School of Global and International Studies; Director, Center on Congress at Indiana University. He served as U.S. Representative from Indiana’s 9th Congressional District from 1965-1999 and is a current Advisory board member for the Partnership for a Secure America. The article originally appeared in the Huffington Post

To Win the War on Terror, We Must Win the War of Ideas

What is ISIS?

This time a year ago, most Americans wouldn’t have been able to answer that question. Today, the Islamic State group dominates the news headlines through its terrorist actions across the Middle East and in European countries such as France and Denmark.

The sudden ascendancy of a group that, 12 months ago, had yet to pervade the nation’s subconscious offers a chilling reminder of just how rapidly threats to our national security can change. It also signals just how challenging it can be to develop a coherent, comprehensive and, most importantly, effective counterterrorism strategy that ensures the safety of Americans and stays a step ahead of those who wish to do us terrible harm.


Children of war need help

by PSA Staff | January 20th, 2015 | |Subscribe

Anthony Lake is executive director of the United Nations Children’s Fund and former member of PSA’s Advisory Board. The article originally appeared in the Mail & Guardian.

Children of war need help

Innocent children, women and elderly people – who cannot protect themselves – were massacred. Village after village has been burned to the ground. And three young girls were sent to their deaths with explosives strapped to their bodies in so-called suicide bombings that killed scores of civilians.

Over the past week I hope you saw these news reports from northern Nigeria. And I hope you did not flip or click away to the next article – horrified, yes, but hoping these were only isolated incidents happening in some difficult-to-reach place in some other African country.


Operation Lifeline Syria: Why the international community could be on the cusp of a humanitarian breakthrough in the Syrian conflict.

by PSA Staff | July 24th, 2014 | |Subscribe

Madeleine Albright served as secretary of State in the Clinton administration. She is chair of the Albright Stonebridge Group and a member of the Leadership Council of the Franklin Project. This post originally appeared in Foreign Policy . Madeleine Albright is also a member of PSA’s Advisory Board.

Operation Lifeline Syria

Middle East suffers a new trauma every week. Iraq is disintegrating, as the Syrian conflict crashes across its borders. Gaza is in flames, as long-term neglect takes its toll. No wonder it seems difficult for policymakers, never mind the public, to get their priorities straight.  (more…)

Sochi is Putin’s moment to show true Olympic leadership on Syria

by PSA Staff | February 7th, 2014 | |Subscribe

Madeleine Albright served as United States Secretary of State and is a current member of PSA’s Board of Advisors . This article was co-authored by Lord Malloch-Brown, Sir John Holmes, Mr Javier Solana, Mr George Soros, and others. Originally posted at the Financial Times.

Sochi is Putin’s moment to show true Olympic leadership on Syria

Sir, The Sochi Winter Olympics will deliver a dazzling spectacle, breathtaking athleticism and shimmering winter beauty. We will witness extreme feats of human bravery and see in the faces of the world’s best athletes the sheer tenacity and commitment that has gone into training for the games. Only 1,000 miles away, a very different spectacle unfolds.


Face the Assad Reality In Syria

by PSA Staff | January 31st, 2014 | |Subscribe

Frank G. Wisner is a member of PSA’s Board of Advisors as well as a former Under Secretary of State and of Defense and a former Ambassador to Zambia, Egypt, the Philippines, and India. The article was co-authored by Leslie H. Gelb, a former New York Times columnist and senior government official. Original article posted at the Daily Beast.

Face the Assad Reality In Syria

U.S. policy is going down the drain in Syria diplomatically and militarily. The choice: deal with Assad or fail.

The Syria conference underway in Geneva to transition from the rule of President Assad will fail, and the Obama team knows it. There is no incentive now in the Assad or rebel camps for diplomatic compromise, and the U.S. knows that. Nothing the U.S. and its allies are doing or planning on the military front will compel President Assad to step aside, and the White House understands that full well. The reality on the ground today is that American-helped moderate rebels continue to flounder, while Assad’s forces and those of the jihadi extremists prosper. Obama officials see this as well and realize that nothing they are doing or are likely to do will alter those facts.

So, if President Obama understands what he is doing will fail, why is he doing it?


Limited Options, Influence for U.S. in Syria

by PSA Staff | September 30th, 2013 | |Subscribe

Lee Hamilton is director of the Center on Congress at Indiana University. He is a member of the PSA Advisory Board.  He was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for 34 years.  This article originally appeared in the Huffington Post.

Limited Options, Influence for U.S. in Syria

Presently, the national conversation about Syria has centered on possible prescriptions for an international crisis that has the U.S. tied up in a considerable conundrum.

Should President Obama punish Syria’s apparent use of chemical weapons? Did Syria and its president, Bashar al-Assad, cross the “red line” that would warrant U.S. military intervention? Can new diplomatic efforts end the chemical weapons impasse? How can the killing be stopped?

Missing from much of what’s been written and said about the crisis in Syria over the last several weeks, however, is a realistic assessment of the state of that nation today, as well as that of the United States’ capacity to influence events in this extremely volatile and complex country. This assessment is key to answering the question: What kind of a solution in Syria is possible?

Syria, as currently constituted, is a chaotic, confusing and challenging country, one partitioned into multiple centers of power and plagued by a brutal civil war that has killed approximately 100,000 people according to United Nations estimates and that, sadly, seems to have no end in sight. Over 6 million Syrians have been displaced, with prospects of more to come in what is the world’s most daunting humanitarian crisis. (more…)

Our Shared Responsibility to Protect

by PSA Staff | July 23rd, 2013 | |Subscribe

This article was co-authored by Madeleine Albright and Richard Williamson. Madeleine K. Albright is a member of the PSA Advisory Board and was the 64th Secretary of State of the United States. Richard S. Williamson served as presidential envoy to Sudan under President George W. Bush. They recently co-chaired a working group on the Responsibility to Protect organized by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the United States Institute of Peace, and the Brookings Institution. This op-ed was originally published in Politico.

Our Shared Responsibility to Protect

In less than a decade, the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) has emerged as a widely shared doctrine of international relations, an amazingly rapid development for a concept that did not exist at the time of the Rwandan genocide or Balkan wars of the 1990s. Every nation in the world, including the United States, has recognized a responsibility to protect civilians anywhere from genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, or ethnic cleansing, and — at least in theory — has pledged to act accordingly.

Sadly, the promise of R2P has been more noteworthy in the breach than in the honoring of our commitments. The current crisis in Syria, where Basharal-Assad’s regime has declared all-out war on its own people, is the most visible case of our collective failure to protect vulnerable populations from the most serious crimes. Less noticed is the ongoing struggle to protect the many million citizens of Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and other places where political leaders and their allies regularly employ violence against the defenseless.

Yet the gap between our words and deeds should not serve as an excuse to scrap the whole R2P enterprise, which remains a rallying point around the world to try to prevent the conscience-shocking atrocities that did not stop after the Holocaust.


Situation in Syria: Why the U.S. Needs to Move Beyond Iraq

by PSA Staff | May 28th, 2013 | |Subscribe

Alyson Brozovich is an intern at PSA and a graduate of Whitman College where she received a Bachelor’s Degree in History.

Situation in Syria: Why the U.S. Needs to Move Beyond Iraq

Mark Twain said, “History never repeats itself, but it does rhyme.”  Senator Angus King (D-ME) reiterated this notion during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing last month on the situation in Syria.  Twain’s quote illuminates the core of the Obama administration’s reluctance to get involved in Syria— the points of similarity between the current Syrian state and the Iraq War. Many aspects of the situation in Syria mimic Saddam Hussein’s Iraq— a minority ruled the majority, Iran’s interest in the nation’s future, and the menace of chemical weapons.  However, the Syrian conflict has the potential to destabilize its neighbors, posing a potential threat to broader U.S. national security interests in the region.  This distinction between the two situations delineates why Obama should recognize that Syria is only an echo—not a repeat—of Iraq.  In order to respond to the circumstances appropriately, the administration must get beyond the foreign policy missteps of the preceding presidency. (more…)

Syria: A Moment of Momentum?

by Laurie Dundon | April 5th, 2012 | |Subscribe

by Laurie Dundon

Senior Fellow, Partnership for Secure America


Policy-makers have been looking for some good leverage to affect the situation in Syria for months. Americans, and those around the world, are watching in horror at the violence. The moral imperative to do something is clear: each day the atrocities continue; each day the disproportionate use of force affects innocent civilians; and the situation is going from bad to worse. However, decisions about what course of action to take are complex. Experts point to the complications of a campaign against Syria’s sophisticated air defenses, the practical challenges of training and equipping the Free Syria Army (FSA), the limitations of implementing safe-zones without significant ground force protection, and the risk of getting drawn into a messy proxy-war with very real effects throughout the region and direct effects for Americans. On top of that, the majority of Americans are weighted with  “intervention exhaustion” and extremely hesitant to get involved in another military conflict in the Middle East.


The Value of Being There in Syria

by Jessie Daniels | October 5th, 2011 | |Subscribe

If there were Foreign Service action figures (and budding toddler foreign policy wonks out there, you know you would want one of these), then the Robert Ford one might well be the hot toy for this holiday season.  For the last six months, Ford, the US Ambassador to Syria, has brought increased attention to President Bashar al-Assad’s escalating campaign of violence against anti-regime demonstrators.  The toll has become harder and harder to ignore; to date, at least 2,700 have been killed and more than 20,000 have been detained.  But so have Ford’s actions, meeting with activists and documenting the unrest, all the while facing blowback (sometimes severe) from those loyal to the regime.  Until recently, though, he had been serving on a one-year recess appointment.  Now, in lieu of an action figure, Ford has gotten the next best thing: on Monday, he was finally confirmed by the Senate to serve a full term as the Ambassador in Damascus.

Ford’s actions certainly eased his road to Senate confirmation, but it is worth remembering that the idea of sending an Ambassador back to Syria was a contentious one only less than a year ago.  The post had been vacant since 2005 after Washington withdrew its ambassador following the assassination of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, and some contended that filling the post again was a bad move.  When President Obama appointed Ford to a recess appointment last December, incoming Foreign Affairs Committee Chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen argued that it sent the “wrong message” and that “making undeserved concessions to Syria tells the regime in Damascus that it can continue to pursue its dangerous agenda and not face any consequences from the US.”  Rather than a sign of strength, an American ambassador there was seen as a sign of weakness.

Next Page »

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.