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The Limits of Iranian Power

September 22, 2015 BY: Michael Wahid Hanna TOPICS: Foreign Policy, National Security

TCF senior fellow Michael Wahid Hanna, with Dalia Dassa Kaye of the RAND Corporation, has co-authored a new article in the journal Survival on Iranian ambitions.

The changing configuration of power in the Middle East today places serious constraints on Iran’s ability to project its influence. While there is no question Iran views itself as a regional power, and actively attempts to exert its influence well beyond its borders, far less attention has been paid to how receptive the region is to such ambitions, and to the challenges Iran faces. Fears of Iranian hegemony are exaggerated, even if Iran’s desire to project power in the region is real. 

Find Hanna and Kaye's article at Survival.

Tags: middle east, iran nuclear deal, iran and the us, iran

In Iran Speech, Clinton Reveals Her Hawkish Tendencies

September 16, 2015 BY: Michael Cohen TOPICS: Foreign Policy, National Security

During the course of his presidency, Obama has seen success in helping to change the American public mindset on foreign policy from a "hawkish" one to a more diplomatic one. Despite this shift, Hillary Clinton has continued to use militaristic language when it comes to foreign policy, with this being especially true of her recent speech on Iran, says TCF fellow Michael Cohen.

The politics of Clinton’s words are unmistakable: shore up support among hawkish supporters of Israel; show she’s “tough enough,” or perhaps reckless enough, to be commander-in-chief; and pledge U.S. leadership in the form of military, rather than diplomatic engagement. Indeed, what was perhaps most striking about Clinton’s speech was that the former secretary of state had very little to say about the actual practice of diplomacy if she were to become president. In short, this speech can easily be seen as a reversal on what are often portrayed by Obama’s Republican opponents as his worst foreign policy liabilities: his poor relationship with Israel; his emphasis on diplomacy over the use of force, at least in his second term; and his alleged lack of leadership and attention to close allies.

Find out more about Clinton's "hawkish" tendencies in his World Politics Review column.

Tags: iran and the us, iran, hillary clinton, foreign relations, foreign policy

Iran Deal Loss Highlights Limits of AIPAC’s Influence

September 9, 2015 BY: Michael Cohen TOPICS: Foreign Policy, National Security

The powerful pro-Israel lobbying group AIPAC has emerged as a major loser in the debate over the Iran nuclear deal. As TCF fellow Michael Cohen discusses in his World Politics Review column this week, challenging President Obama on the deal was a losing battle, but that doesn't mean that the United States is no longer interested in Israel's national security.

While AIPAC and, in turn, the Israeli government might have lost the fight over the Iranian nuclear deal, and while the relationship between Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu could not be more poisonous, the U.S. is not about to fundamentally change its relationship with Israel. Domestic politics in the United States simply wouldn’t allow for such a thing.

Check out the rest of Cohen's column on the AIPAC in World Politics Review.

Tags: iran nuclear deal, iran and the us, iran

Iran Deal Critics’ Pending Defeat Shows the Downsides of Hawkishness

September 2, 2015 BY: Michael Cohen TOPICS: Foreign Policy, National Security

In the past, many Democrats felt pressure to appear "hawkish" in order to insulate themselves from Republican criticisms of insufficient vigilance in the fact of foreign threats. This sentiment has slowly changed, writes TCF fellow Michael Cohen, with Democrats' response to the Iran deal exemplifying this ideological shift.

For years, fear of political attack drove Democrats into dangerous positions on the use of military force, most of all with the 2002 Iraq War vote. With the Iran vote, Democrats are discovering that support for diplomacy rather than war is the more fertile political terrain. If anything, Democrats may have the opportunity now to put Republicans on the defensive for their insufficient dovishness and “shoot first, ask questions later” approach to the use of military force. If that were to happen, the Iran deal might represent more than an historic nonproliferation agreement—it might actually put America on the path to a sane foreign policy.

Read Cohen's full discussion of the shift among Democrats towards more diplomatic policies at World Politics Review.

Tags: republicans, military, iran nuclear deal, iran and the us, democrats

Chicago Survey Finds Crooks Get Guns from Pals, Don’t Keep Them Long

August 29, 2015 BY: Harold Pollack TOPICS: Foreign Policy, National Security

TCF fellow Harold Pollack shares the surprising findings of a Chicago survey that reveals how guns make their way into the hands of criminals. Pollack says that for many of those caught with guns, their weapon possession is more centered on self-defense than the consequences of getting caught and locked up. 

Pollack says: "About 70 percent said they got their guns from family, fellow gang members or through other social connections. Only two said they bought a gun at a store. It’s unclear how many of those surveyed were felons, but they can’t hold a state firearm owner’s permit — so they can’t legally purchase a weapon at a store."

Pollack's article on gun posession and misuse is featured in the Chicago SunTimes.

Tags: gun violence, gun safety, gun reform

What Went Wrong: Republicans Keep Ignoring the Lessons of Iraq

August 26, 2015 BY: Michael Cohen TOPICS: Foreign Policy, National Security

Recently, several Republican presidential candidates have blamed the actions of President Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for Iraq's current instability. TCF fellow Michael Cohen says that these arguments refuse to recognize President George W. Bush's original decision to withdraw forces from Iraq—and that this policy option was overwhelmingly preferred by the American public. In the end, writes Cohen, Republicans are "missing the larger lessons of what went wrong in Iraq."

This is the clear lesson of the war in Iraq: Even with the best of intentions, even with overwhelming U.S. military force, even with billions of dollars in national treasure, the U.S. can only do so much to influence and shape international events. It’s hard to imagine anything that teaches that better than Iraq.

Check out Cohen's full piece in World Politics Review.

Tags: republicans, obama, jeb bush, iraq war, iraq, hillary clinton, gop


Foreign Policy

Foreign Policy

In the first years of the new century, an assertive foreign policy took a toll on the cultivated role of the U.S. as a responsible global leader. The Century Foundation's work in this area provides perspective on the international difficulties the U.S. is facing today, while providing policy recommendations to promote the nation's security interests. Our research and analysis focuses on effectively responding to challenges in the Middle East and Pakistan, as well as responding to international crime.

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