The author, Christina Vachon, is a graduate student at George Washington University where she is pursuing her Master’s degree in International Affairs with a concentration in International Security Studies. She is currently an intern at the Partnership for a Secure America and has a research interest in security policy in the Middle East.
When Iran Gets the Bomb
Even though a short term deal with Iran has been reached, the US should prepare for the chance that Iran will cheat. As talks continue toward a long term agreement, the US should assess what Iran, the Middle East, and the world will look like if Iran gets the bomb. There is a lack of consensus on what happens if and when Iran gets the bomb. Due to the uncertainty that exists about Iran and its program, continued diplomatic efforts are important in order to gain more information about the situation, to better relations, and to prepare for a nuclear Iran. It is important though that all options remain on the table in order to protect US interests.
Jayson Browder is a decorated Air Force and Iraq Veteran. A recent graduate of Fordham University, Jayson was named a National Finalist for the Harry S. Truman Scholarship in 2012 and was recently awarded the William J. Fulbright Scholarship for 2013 to Turkey. Currently Jayson holds a position as a Military Legislative Assistant for Congressman Beto O’Rourke in the United States House of Representatives. This article originally appeared on PolicyMic.
Congress’ Iran Policy: Short Sighted and Irrational
Clear thought, rational thinking, and innovative ideas are desperately needed in the 113th Congress. Unfortunately, a large number of members of the House of Representatives have let short-term priorities and easy political points cloud their judgment. This has made for some poor and unfortunate votes that, for some partial short-term gains, will have long-term repercussions for the United States and our allies abroad. Examples of this include the failure to pass a budget for four years, the failure to solve the sequester, the failure to solve the debt ceiling, and most recently, the votes to place more stringent sanctions than ever on Iran.
Tom Kean, former governor of New Jersey, and Lee Hamilton, a former congressman from Indiana, are co-chairs of the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Homeland Security Project. Both are members of PSA’s Advisory Board. Kean was chairman and Hamilton was vice chairman of the 9/11 Commission. This article originally appeared in The Plain Dealer.
U.S. must adapt, prepare for future terrorist attacks
It’s hard to believe that more than 11 years have passed since the devastating terrorist strike to our homeland on 9/11. Overnight, homeland security became a top priority. Yet, until last month’s Boston Marathon bombings, the issue of terrorism had faded from the front pages. The terrorist threat barely surfaced in the debates leading up to last November’s presidential election. While we have long been warning of it, the tragic events in Boston have jolted others, including those running in today’s Cleveland Marathon, to realize that the threats to our homeland have not disappeared — rather, they have evolved. Our public debate needs to evolve along with them.
The killing of Osama bin Laden and many other terrorist leaders seriously damaged al-Qaida, but did not destroy it. Today, smaller al-Qaida offshoots flourish in South Asia, Yemen and North Africa, and are dreaming up diabolical new ways to hurt us. The Christmas 2009 “underwear bomber,” who nearly killed 290 people on a Northwest Airlines flight into Detroit, and the 2010 plot to use explosive printer cartridges to blow up cargo planes over American cities are just two examples. Serious concerns remain about terrorists acquiring nuclear or biological materials and directing them against one of our cities. While the likelihood of such an attack might be remote, it would inflict catastrophic damage. Continued chaos in countries like Syria and Pakistan increases the risk that these weapons could fall into the wrong hands. (more…)
Congressman Hamilton (D-IN) and Governor Kean (R-PA) are members of PSA’s bipartisan Advisory Board. They co-chaired the 9/11 Commission and are now co-chairs for the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Homeland Security Project. This op-ed originally appeared in The Hill newspaper.
We can’t forget national security
During the presidential campaign, there was a striking lack of debate on homeland security. Given the country’s economic problems, the public understandably wasn’t focused on terrorism, and President Obama and GOP nominee Mitt Romney may have been satisfied that the government’s reforms since the 9/11 attacks enhanced our safety and left little to debate.
The silence is eerily reminiscent of the 2000 presidential campaign, when, despite a horrific attack on a U.S. warship during the height of the campaign and the bombings of two U.S. embassies only two years before, neither candidate had much to say about terrorism. As then, we cannot afford to forego an ongoing debate on our security.
This article was written by Caitlin Poling, a Participant in PSA’s Congressional Partnership Program.
The U.S. Needs a More Broad-based Strategy to Combat Al Qaeda in Yemen
For most of the past decade, Yemen has remained on the periphery of American national security policy. During this time, officials in the administration, Department of Defense, State Department, and Intelligence Community have been unable to devote as much attention as needed to Yemen due to American engagement in Iraq and Afghanistan. However, the Arab Spring uprisings that began in 2011 along with the September 2012 protests and embassy attacks in response to an American-made anti-Muslim video have demonstrated the importance of security in states like Yemen.
This article was written by two Spring 2012 Participants in PSA’s Congressional Partnership Program. All CPP articles are produced by bipartisan groups of Democrat and Republican Hill Staff who were challenged to develop opinion pieces that reach consensus on critical national security and foreign affairs issues.
Complications in US – Pakistan Relations
Since September 11, 2001 no relationship has been more contentious, or more vexing, than the one shared between the United States and Pakistan. It is a relationship that despite obvious mutual benefits is often viewed through a lens of distrust by both countries. This consociation began during the regime of Muhammad Zia Al Huq as both nations stood side by side stemming off the Soviet invasion of the1980′s. Low points during the A.Q. Kahn and Raymond Davis affairs tested the limits of both nations; and of course, in the wake of the final reckoning of Osama Bin Laden relations took on a life of its own. Rather than being seen as testaments to the strong foundation of the U.S.-Pakistan relationship ideally working well together, each incident, in its time, has been construed by many pundits, in both nations, as the beginning of the end. The lowest watermark viewed by Pakistan as an infringement on sovereign territory, the bin Laden mission, sent tenuous diplomacy on a collision course with conflict and distrust. This dysfunctional juxtaposition between the U.S. and Pakistan has become more glaringly apparent this summer during the talks associated with the re-opening of NATO Supply Routes running through Pakistan.
Anthony Scavone is a recent graduate of Boston University where he studied International Relations focusing specifically on International Development and Sub-Saharan Africa. He served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Mali from October until they were evacuated in mid-April. You can read more about his personal experiences as a Peace Corps Volunteer in his personal blog, Anthony in Africa. This is the second post in a two-post series about the motivations and impact of the recent military coup in Mali.
Reflections on the Coup, Part 2
Although the situation at hand is most tragic for the citizens of Mali, the current situation could have significant repercussions for those of us both fortunate to escape, and even those of us who have never been.
This article authored by former Senator Alan Simpson originally appeared in the McClatchy Company news service.
The U.S. Needs the U.N., and the U.N. Needs the U.S.
Jan. 12 marked the second anniversary of the horrific earthquake that ripped Haiti apart. While we quite properly remembered the unthinkable loss of Haitian lives that day, less well remembered were the deaths that same day of more than 100 U.N. officials in the collapse of the building that housed the headquarters of the U.N. mission in Haiti.
They were there in an effort to help the process of nation building in Haiti and to assist with humanitarian relief efforts there. Their deaths remind us that the United Nations and its staff members serve in many difficult places working on the most difficult issues. Their efforts serve us all.
Advisory Board Member and former Secretary of Defense, William Cohen, discusses his recommendations for U.S. Policy in Iran. His recommendations include greater cooperation with the United Nations, collaboration with regional partners, and intelligence sharing in addition to many other points of leverage and influence the United States could use. The article originally appeared here on CNN.
Washington (CNN) — Longtime observers of the Middle East are baffled by allegations that high-ranking officials in the Iranian government approved a plan to assassinate Saudi Arabia Ambassador, Adel al-Jubeir, and blow up the Saudi and Israeli embassies in Washington. Commentators have described the plan as “brazen,” but “bizarre” and ‘bone-headed” might be more appropriate adjectives.
It’s difficult to comprehend either the motives or the means selected to carry out the plan outlined by the Justice Department in its criminal indictment of Manssor Arbabsiar and Gholam Shakuri. Tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia are not new, but Iran has been both cautious and clever enough to restrain its ambitions for regional dominance.
If the allegations of the assassination and bombing plot are true, and the covert operation had proved successful, Iran’s leaders would have invited retaliation on a scale far more vigorous than any they might have contemplated. Indeed, I think it’s fair to say that the Iranian landscape would likely have been substantially altered.
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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.
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.