A Loveless Diplomatic Marriage With No Future

by Amanda Ufheil-Somers | published April 16, 2014

Among the would-be therapists of the foreign policy world, the alliance between the United States and Saudi Arabia is a textbook case of a “loveless marriage.”

Though the values of the two states are at odds, or so the thinking goes, the great democracy and the absolute monarchy are bound together by mutual interest in the stability of the Persian Gulf, home to almost half of the world’s proven oil and natural gas reserves.

The Diplomatic Dance with Iran

by Chris Toensing | published March 26, 2014

A six-month diplomatic dance with Iran is underway—each step as dainty as a minuet because any misstep is weighted with danger.

The issue is Iran’s nuclear research program and the UN inspections that are taking place as a result. And while each side has its own agenda, they’re suspicious of the other’s motives.

Seeing Through the Fog

by Amanda Ufheil-Somers | published January 3, 2014

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel was full of tough talk when he visited the island kingdom of Bahrain in early December.

The United States, he vowed, will continue to guard “the free flow of energy and commerce” from the Persian Gulf and keep Iran nuclear-free, through the presence of 35,000 US military personnel or the (as yet unproven) regional missile defense system.

Hagel also trumpeted the American commitment to “political reform” in the Gulf region. But the Pentagon chief uttered not a word about the hundreds of Bahrainis languishing in prison -- many without adequate medical care -- for demanding the very rights he says they deserve.

What Comes Next

by Chris Toensing | published October 17, 2013

Whatever comes next in the land between the Jordan and the Mediterranean, the State of Israel is here to stay.

To acknowledge this fact is not to nod to Israel’s “right to exist” -- people have rights, states are supposed to protect them -- but to bow to the one-state reality in historical Palestine. There is but one sovereign entity in that territory and there is presently no combination of political forces that can produce a second or compel the first to surrender its sovereignty. Anyone who would see peace in Israel-Palestine must first grapple with the many implications of the one-state reality.

Rays of Hope in Egypt

by Ahmad Shokr | published July 17, 2013

Three days before the coup that removed Muhammad Mursi from the presidency, I marched with tens of thousands of Egyptians to the presidential palace. A sea of protesters had filled Cairo’s streets, waving flags and chanting for the downfall of the regime.

As we passed a military compound, two soldiers leaned out a window and waved to the crowds. A man next to me joked, “The state is revolting against itself.”

True Democrats Don't Bankroll Juntas

by Joshua Stacher | published July 12, 2013

The military’s coup in Egypt has placed the American political establishment in a bind. Many observers insist that the Obama administration must either formally condone the military takeover or call it a “coup,” which would require a cutoff of American aid, as Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) has advocated.

How to Help Syria Now

by Chris Toensing | published May 29, 2013

The appalling civil war in Syria is well into its third year. With upwards of 70,000 dead, countless numbers maimed and injured, and millions of refugees, there are recurrent calls for the United States to “do something” to end the mayhem. That “something” is usually defined as military intervention -- imposing a no-fly zone, arming the rebels, even sending the Marines.

The Obama administration should have the wisdom to resist these calls. There are other “somethings” that have a better chance of doing good.

Futile Military Financing

by Chris Toensing | published April 3, 2013

One of the more regrettable things that Uncle Sam does with your tax dollars is sending $3.1 billion in military aid to Israel every year. He’ll be doing that until 2018 -- and probably after, unless Americans decide enough is enough.

When President Barack Obama traveled to Israel in March, he was keen to “reaffirm the unbreakable bond between our nations” and “to restate America’s unwavering commitment to Israel’s security.” Over the years, Washington has displayed this resolve in several ways. One of the most consequential has been the continuous stream of taxpayer dollars that has kept Israel armed to the teeth and reduced the prospects for Middle East peace.

State of the Drones

by Lisa Hajjar | published February 13, 2013

During his State of the Union Address last night, President Barack Obama said:

We don’t need to send tens of thousands of our sons and daughters abroad, or occupy other nations. Instead, we will need to help countries like Yemen, Libya and Somalia provide for their own security, and help allies who take the fight to terrorists, as we have in Mali. And, where necessary, through a range of capabilities, we will continue to take direct action against those terrorists who pose the gravest threat to Americans.

Zero Dark Thirty's Losing Premise

by Chris Toensing | published February 6, 2013

Zero Dark Thirty is a movie the CIA wants you to see.

It tells a tale of the search for Osama bin Laden wherein the key lead comes from a man softened up by waterboarding, sleep deprivation, confinement in a coffin-like box and other forms of pain and humiliation. It shows CIA agents extracting subsequent clues by similar means or the threat thereof. It alludes to other evidence supplied by “the Paks” and “the Jords” that was also obtained from detainees under duress. It twice depicts CIA officials asking the higher-ups how they are to find bin Laden when, after Barack Obama’s election, “the detainee program” is taken away.