Imagine for a moment that it is late 2010, perhaps a few weeks after the midterm elections. Barack Obama has scheduled a surprise prime-time televised statement from the Oval Office. Looking grave, even shaken, behind the presidential desk, Obama fixes his gaze into the camera and speaks: When I said that it would be unacceptable for Iran to produce a nuclear weapon, I meant it. Over the past several months, it has become clear that neither engagement nor isolation and sanctions have slowed Iran’s determination to build a bomb.
Call it the Obama doctrine. The central theme of Barack Obama’s foreign policy to date has been simple: He wants to lower the risk that a nuclear weapon will be exploded inside the United States. Think back. Obama’s first foreign policy address, delivered in Prague last April, called for a nuclear-free world—not a short-term practical goal, of course, but an ideal meant to shape our thinking and discourse. His top strategic priorities are stopping Iran from developing a nuclear bomb and stabilizing Afghanistan and Pakistan; Obama is investing billions of dollars and tens of thousands of U.S.
Ankara, Turkey Turkey may not be a totalitarian state, but the streets of its capital city are reminiscent of one. From tall buildings around Ankara hang enormous, colorful posters of the country’s founder, Kemal Ataturk, presenting an endless variety of noble poses and natty costumes. Here he is resplendent in a military uniform, there sporting formalwear with a white bow tie, here a dandy with a vest and a pocket watch—and always looming several stories above the street. His face also adorns every Turkish lira.
It’s too soon to know what the newly-released results of Iraq’s March 7 national election will mean for that country—or for America’s national security. At first blush, the outcome seems dramatic: the coalition of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has won fewer seats than the coalition of his rival and former prime minister Iyad Allawi. But that’s a far cry from saying that Allawi will govern Iraq.
In the late summer of 2007, Baghdad was buzzing with talk of a coup. Iraq was gripped by horrific civil war, and the government of Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki seemed at best unable to do anything about it. (At worst he appeared guilty of contributing to sectarian violence himself.) In November, U.S. national security advisor Steve Hadley had returned from a visit with Maliki and reported grave doubts about the prime minister’s competence.
“Let’s talk about why you plan to kill me.” It was March 1987, and Milt Bearden was sitting in a spare interview room at the Islamabad headquarters of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency. Bearden was then the CIA’s station chief in Islamabad, serving as the link between Washington and the U.S.-funded Afghan rebels bleeding the Soviets in Afghanistan. He had come to see the mujahedin’s most lethal warlord, a radical Islamist named Gulbuddin Hekmatyar.
Say what you want about Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, but “he knows how to work a room.” So claims Flynt Leverett, the contrarian Iran analyst who, with his wife Hillary Mann Leverett, paid a visit to the Iranian president in New York City last fall. During the sit-down at Manhattan’s InterContinental Barclay hotel with a group of invited academics, foreign policy professionals, and other Iranophiles, the Leveretts marveled at Ahmadinejad’s attention to detail as the Iranian took copious notes and strove to pronounce their unfamiliar names correctly. “He addresses every person by name.
A few years ago, few places on Earth were as hellish as Iraq’s Anbar Province. Spanning the country’s western desert, Anbar is best known by its major cities, Fallujah and Ramadi, both of which became home bases for Al Qaeda-linked terrorists who flooded across Iraq’s border with Syria and joined with Sunni insurgents to carry out bombings, executions, kidnappings, and torture across the country.
Hi everyone--Mike Crowley here. I'll be blogging throughout the State of the Union tonight. Not liveblogging, exactly (Update: I succumbed), but refresh this thread for regular updates on the latest Speech of Obama's Life. Then, stay tuned to tnr.com for more fully-baked reactions from your other TNR favorites. (Click here for a transcript of Obama's speech and see below to read Jonathan Cohn's live Twitter coverage.) 9:13pm Black Tuesday tested the courage of our convictions? Hmm.
On August 26, 2008, Michael Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, touched down for a secret meeting on an aircraft carrier stationed in the Indian Ocean. The topic: Al Qaeda and the Taliban. The summit had been arranged the previous month. Mullen had grown anxious about the rising danger from Pakistan’s tribal areas, which Islamic militants were using as a base from which to strike American troops in Afghanistan and to plot terrorist attacks against the United States. He flew to Islamabad to see the country’s army chief of staff, Ashfaq Parvez Kayani.