Blog Post by: Jeffrey Laurenti, on May 16, 2013
As pressures mount in Washington for a more aggressive American involvement on behalf of at least some rebel groups in Syria, President Obama has seemed intent on proving the Nobel committee was farsighted in awarding him its peace prize four years ago.
He sent Secretary of State John Kerry to Moscow this month with an initiative to re-engage diplomatically with Russia to end the war, through an international conference in June. It could not come soon enough. The Syrian government has, by all accounts, begun to win back some of its lost ground, worries are mounting about an increasing dominance of rebel militias by Islamic extremists, and a United Nations vote yesterday shows eroding support for the rebel side in notable quarters of the international community.
Today, after meeting with Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in the White House, Obama turned aside calls for arming Syrian rebels, noting, "There is no magic formula for dealing with an extraordinary violent and difficult situation like Syria's." His view was echoed during the day by Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper, normally a conservative darling. "I would urge on the president extraordinary caution," Harper told a New York audience at the Council on Foreign Relations. "Arming unnamed people is extremely risky."
Blog Post by: Thérèse Postel, on May 14, 2013
Yesterday in Foreign Policy, Thanassis Cambanis discussed the possibility that the civil war in Syria may become Iran’s Vietnam.
Cambanis’ argument is twofold. Iran, already suffering from sanctions, is spending untold millions propping up the al-Assad regime. Outside of monetary concerns, and its loss of an IRGC member in mid-February, Iran has squandered much of its influence in the region. Arab allies, like Hamas, have distanced themselves from Tehran while Hezbollah, Iran’s most potent ally in the region, is losing some of its credibility as a resistance force and is becoming viewed more and more as a Shia sectarian outfit.
Blog Post by: The Century Foundation, on May 6, 2013
This week’s #TCFBest winner comes to us from Foreign Policy’s David Rothkopf (@djrothkopf), whose essay, “The Balance of Power” laments the “epoch-long war on a people here, an effort to hold back the economic—and social—progress of the majority of humanity.”
Blog Post by: Michael Cohen, on May 2, 2013
The thriving metropolis of Boston was turned into a ghost town on an otherwise lovely Friday afternoon. Nearly a million Bostonians were asked to stay in their homes—and willingly complied. Schools were closed; business shuttered; trains, subways and roads were empty; usually busy streets eerily resembled a post-apocalyptic movie set; even baseball games and cultural events were canceled—all in response to a 19-year-old fugitive, who was on foot and clearly identified by the news media. While Boston officials appeared to be acting out of an abundance of caution—and it's appropriate for residents to be asked to take precautions or keep their eyes open—by letting one fugitive terrorist shut down a major American city, Boston not only bowed to outsize and irrational fears, but sent a dangerous message to every would-be terrorist. If you want to wreak havoc in the United States, intimidate its population and disrupt public order, here's your instruction booklet.
In April, I wrote a piece for the Guardian arguing that the reaction to the marathon bombing was dramatically at odds with American inertia over arms control. The infographic below illustrates some of my main points. (Click the image to see the full-sized version.)
Blog Post by: Thérèse Postel, on April 26, 2013
Currently, 97 of the 166 prisoners at Guantanamo Bay are refusing food, 19 are being force fed, and 5 are hospitalized. The numbers grow daily.
Blog Post by: Stephen Schlesinger, on April 25, 2013
Obama raised the bar when he said that any use of chemical weapons by Syria could be a “game-changer.” Given the seriousness of a decision by the United States to intervene in Syria—whether it be by bombing raids to wipe out chemical weapons depots or the dispatch of Special Forces to seize chemical weapons caches—Obama has a duty to carefully assess all the evidence and go the extra mile to ascertain the authenticity of these reports.
Blog Post by: Thanassis Cambanis, on April 25, 2013
Chemical weapons hold a special kind of horror. Ever since the widespread and horrifying use of chlorine and other poison gases in the trenches of the First World War, most nations have agreed not to use any of the increasingly sophisticated agents they have concocted.
It is because of this well documented taboo and the Chemical Weapons Convention that the United States government has said that it “would not tolerate” any deployment of chemical weapons in the Syrian conflict.
Blog Post by: Thérèse Postel, on April 15, 2013
This weekend, U.S. forces at Guantanamo Bay cleared communal cell blocks and placed many detainees in single, “maximum-security style” cells. According to Carol Rosenberg of the Miami Herald, about 130 detainees lived in this community-style block until Saturday. Now, approximately 60 of them have been returned to single cells, and guards are back in control of the communal blocks.
Yesterday, the New York Times published an op-ed by Samir Naji al-Hasan Moqbel, a Guantanamo detainee who has been on hunger strike since February 10 and is currently being force-fed to keep him alive. As of today, 43 detainees are on hunger strike. The move to place detainees back in single cells makes it easier for guards to force feed the detainees.
As I argued today in an article for the Atlantic, “How Guantanamo Bay’s Existence Helps Al-Qaeda Recruit More Terrorists,” the continued existence of Guantanamo Bay detainment camp is not only a stain on our human rights record, but it also harms our national security.
I’ve also teamed up with Century Foundation creative associates Abby Grimshaw and Hannah Barley to produce a new infographic detailing the plight of prisoners being held at Guantanamo Bay. Click the image below for the full version.
Click image for the full version.
Blog Post by: Michael Wahid Hanna, on April 8, 2013
This post is excerpted from “The Seven Pillars of the Arab Future.” The full version is available at Democracy, and is reprinted here with permission.
The early days of the Arab uprisings were uncomplicated and inspiring, as they reaffirmed many Westerners’ long-held beliefs regarding universal values, human rights, and democratization. With the fall of long-standing dictators and the spread of unrest and protest, historical parallels were quickly drawn to the transformative events of 1989, which witnessed the fall of the Communist dictatorships of Eastern Europe and the acceleration of events that soon thereafter led to the dissolution of the Soviet Union.
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