Category Archives: Defense Policy

Iran’s Permanent Revolution

Iranians’ revolt against the Islamic republic is here to stay

Iran, said President Carter in 1978, “is an island of stability in one of the most troubled areas of the world.” It didn’t take long for this confident avowal to prove erroneous. Just over a year later, Iran’s shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, would be forced into exile, with a clutch of hysterical mullahs led by Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini taking his place. Iran’s vaunted stability turned out to be a mirage, and the Islamic revolution has been a source of trouble in the region ever since.

A little more than 40 years later a similar conviction has taken hold regarding the staying power of the regime seated in Tehran. This fashionable fatalism claims that, whatever its problems or the designs of its enemies, the Islamic republic is here to stay.

But there is ground for skepticism about this reigning complacency, and not only because the stability of an autocratic government is fiendishly difficult to gauge. Continue reading

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A Pyrrhic Victory?

Justice was served to Soleimani, but its strategic payoff is uncertain

In my latest article I registered deep ambivalence concerning last week’s operation that eliminated Qasem Soleimani, Iran’s chief imperial strategist whose career was devoted to the violent export of the Islamist revolution. The dilemma at hand is that the Islamic republic is manifestly incompatible with a civilized order in the Middle East while President Trump’s deranged character is incompatible with inspired or effective U.S. global leadership. Continue reading

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A righteous strike—But an ominous one

The Hellfire missile that dispatched Qasem Soleimani has been a mighty long time in coming. At the direction of the American president, a drone strike outside the Baghdad airport has killed the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force commander and another senior Iranian-linked figure in Baghdad, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, an Iraqi militia commander. Continue reading

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Present at the Destruction

Tension in NATO has flared into the open, presaging the death of Pax Americana

As NATO leaders gathered in London this week to mark the 70th anniversary of history’s most venerable military alliance, it has been widely forgotten that not so long ago the specter of armed conflict haunted the European continent. When the Washington treaty establishing NATO was signed in April 1949, the Soviet Union occupied the captive nations of Eastern Europe and an invasion of Western Europe by the Red Army was not a remote possibility. On current trends, the Atlantic alliance may well suffer a premature demise as the world moves into another great power rivalry that is also an ideological contest between democracy and autocracy. Continue reading

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The Unnecessary Peace

America’s enlightened foreign policy after World War Two prevented World War Three

A great historical anomaly came to pass 30 years ago with the collapse of the Berlin Wall: the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union effectively ended without going hoteven if it was not quite, as Margaret Thatcher liked to say, without a shot being fired.

The historical record, to say nothing of international relations theory, suggested that this long twilight struggle would only culminate not with something resembling a whimper but with a deafening banga debilitating global war that would ravage the earth until one of the rival empires emerged triumphant. Continue reading

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Going Wobbly in Syria

Trump’s betrayal of Syria’s Kurds is unpardonable. It’s also a strategic blunder that will hasten American decline.

It looks as if the opponents of American hegemony, including the American president, have conclusively had their way in the matter of Syria. One might say of President Trump’s fiasco that, to modify Churchill only slightly, the United States has sustained a total and unmitigated defeat, and the Kurds have suffered even more than we have. Continue reading

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A Shameful Betrayal

Trump’s betrayal of Syria’s Kurds is morally unpardonable. It’s also a strategic blunder that will hasten American decline

For the sake of America’s national interest, all communications between President Trump and Turkish strongman Tayyip Erdogan ought to be severed forthwith. Such conversations tend to spur flippant and ignominious decisions by the American president to diminish the American position in the Levant that simultaneously endangers loyal friends and its strategic interests. Continue reading

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