Monday, September 28, 2009

Russia's Price?

Some thoughts, over at, on what game-changing events might need to occur to change Moscow's calculus on Iran. For your discussion.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

So Does Obama-Medvedev Meeting Prove Me Wrong?

Readers of TWR know that I am not particularly sanguine about getting major Russian help on Iran. Does tonight's Obama-Medvedev meeting prove me wrong? Medvedev acknowledged that sometimes sanctions are needed and that Iran cannot have a nuclear weapon. We also have the draft resolution for the UN Security Council on countries that seek to use civilian nuclear programs as the basis for weapons development.

But the crux of the matter for the U.S. is not when Tehran crosses the line and has a working bomb, it is trusting Iran to have a nuclear infrastructure like Japan's. I think that Russia will be far more supportive of "trusting" Iran with nuclear technology than a U.S. which would prefer a much higher degree of Iranian denuclearization. And I think it is here that we will still have daylight between the positions, unless something else changes the calculus.

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Passing of Irving Kristol

Irving Kristol, who founded The National Interest in 1985--the magazine I had the honor of editing for several years--has passed away.

He created a forum for debate on foreign policy--particularly on first assumptions--and then let it take off from there.

I always found that first essay he did for TNI--"Foreign Policy in an Age of Ideology"--to be a useful and even twenty-five years later prescient warning (minus the references to the USSR).

The conversation goes on ...

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Two Timetables

Thoughts on the two timetables that seem to guide American and Russian approaches to the Eurasian space. With the likely cancellation of the missile defense system for Poland and the Czech Republic, will this change the equation?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Iran Wants to Talk ... So What?

The debate on Iran continues, and Geoff Kemp tells us why not to get any expectations up about the six-power talks (for Iran).

Meanwhile, two interesting pieces from David Rothkopf over at FP--on the "unused" reset button with Russia and the strange timing of the trade sanctions on China--both of which seem to prove the point that Iran is not at the center of U.S. foreign policy concerns (and that domestic concerns are still tops) ...

Friday, September 11, 2009

Well, I Knew It Was a Drill ...

I am still receiving "Arlington Alert" messages even though I am now in Newport, and there was one this morning about a coast guard exercise taking place on the Potomac. Deleted it, moved on with my day. Then I check in late this afternoon to hear a whole media frenzy about terrorists on the river and gunfire and the president threatened at the Pentagon.

Guess the national news desks don't check with their Arlington affiliates?

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

What are We Prepared to Do (on Iran)?

John Bolton lays out a persuasive case today in the Wall Street Journal as to why sanctions against Iran won't work to alter the behavior of the current government when it comes to acquiring a complete nuclear infrastructure. As long as Russia, China, Japan, India and some European countries do not fully commit to "strong sanctions", then enough loopholes remain for Iran to mitigate the full impact of sanctions.

So what to do? Is preventing Iran from completing its nuclear infrastructure the guiding point of American foreign policy--and are we going to put this at the center of our bilateral relationship with other powers? Are we credible when we suggest that we might act unilaterally (with potentially unpleasant consequences for the interests of others)?

Are we having the equivalent of the discussion between Officer Malone and Elliot Ness in the Untouchables?

- What are you prepared to do?
- Everything within the law.

- And then what are you prepared to do? If you open the ball on these people, you must be prepared to go all the way.

Or not--if you think that containment works and is feasible.

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