Heather Hurlburt

Heather Hurlburt is the senior fellow for national security at Human Rights First. She served as special assistant and speechwriter to President Bill Clinton, speechwriter and member of the State Department's policy planning staff, and has held senior positions on Capitol Hill and in several DC-based advocacy organizations. She cohosts the monthly Bloggingheads show Drezburt, and has a weekly column at World Policy Review.

Recent Articles

The Best Way to Deal With Putin? Take It Slow

AP Photo/RIA Novosti, Alexei Nikolsky, Presidential Press Service
(AP Photo/RIA Novosti, Alexei Nikolsky, Presidential Press Service) Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a nationally televised question-and-answer session in Moscow on Thursday, April 17, 2014. “A nd then, in an instant, everything changed forever.” It’s one of the great clichés of literature and public policy. Not only overused, it’s often deployed in an overly-deterministic way: “9/11 changed everything.” Well, no it didn’t, at least not until officials acted as if it did, and then decided to change everything: torturing innocent people, building black site prisons, starting (and failing to win) two wars, collecting information on everyone’s phone calls. Sometimes, though, U.S. foreign policy discourse has the opposite problem: Failing to absorb change, it continues to move its legs in mid-air, like Wile E. Coyote, without never looking down to notice that it’s already gone over the cliff. That’s where we are right now with Russia. Putin-huggers and old Cold Warriors...

Obama's Next Move in the Middle East

There are lots of possible courses of action that the president could take in his response to the fighting in Gaza, but which is the best?

(AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)
The fighting in Gaza over the past week tees up some difficult choices for the Obama administration. But not the choices you might think. The pundit-verse wants to argue—as it always does—about who is at fault, whose civilians are more innocent, whose targeting is more wicked. This is tapped-out domestic politics, and it is tiresome. More to the point, it does not help ; it encourages a short-term, tunnel-vision response that will wind up back in the same place—which is to say more deaths, more escalation, another Cast Lead, and loss of credibility and ability to make tough decisions stick. Yes, the administration must push hard, and help Egypt push Hamas hard, for a cease-fire. And no, no administration would choose this moment, in the middle of the Israeli election campaign and with Hamas rocket fire escalating in recent weeks, to “get tough” on Israel. Those are the easy choices, like them or not. The hard choices involve settling on a unified theory of what our core interests in...

Long Lives the Arab Spring

Many commenters are ready to declare that democratic movements through the Middle East are over. They are wrong.

(Rex Features via AP Images)
(Rex Features via AP Images) Jubilant Libyans who support the revolution in the town of Ajdabiyah after Libyan government forces retreated on March 26, 2011 Before a day had passed after the attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya—in which four Americans were killed, including J. Christopher Stevens, the U.S. ambassador to Libya, and as many as ten Libyans trying to protect them—some commenters declared an end to the Arab Spring. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney tried to use the Libya attack and attempted attack on the U.S. embassy in Egypt, both reportedly sparked by an American-made anti-Muslim video, to score political points. His statement darkly warned that the protests could represent the end of a trajectory away from authoritarianism and instead a turn toward an "Arab winter." Even those who weren’t as ready as Romney to declare the Arab Spring over were worried. Foreign Policy ’s Marc Lynch suggested that the fate of democracy hangs in the balance in the...

I’ve Got Some Assignments for Rachel Maddow

(AP Photo / Chris Pizzello)
Last week, the authorities here at the Prospect were calling me the substitute teacher. I got grumpy about that at first (all kinds of anti-woman and bad childhood associations). But I’ve decided to embrace it. Rachel Maddow, here’s your homework. When Leon Wieseltier wrote a snarky review trashing the snarky tone of Rachel Maddow’s Drift— and more important, suggesting that the nation had yet more wars to fight and that Maddow was foolish not to understand this—I pledged over on Alternet to pay retail, read the whole book, and comment. I’m delighted to say that the book came onto The New York Times bestseller list at No. 1 this past weekend, even though I allowed her publicist to tempt me into a free copy. So now I’ve read the book, and I’ve read half a dozen reviews of the book, from gushing to dismissive . I think I’ve now been through all the Elisabeth Kubler-Ross stages of reaction when a prominent person writes a book on a subject one knows well: Excitement, Pleasure at content...

Over at the Competition

(Flickr/ Michigan Municipal League (MML))
Over at the competition (am I in trouble, editors?), E.J.’s close-up look at the challenge facing Elizabeth Warren in Massachusetts provide s a deeper and more thoughtful, not to mention professionally-reported, rumination on the redness of a true-blue state than my blog post of yesterday. You’ll want to read it for a fix while she is lounging poolside, and also to sound smart the next time someone takes the Bay State for granted. However, in the same vein, she is dead wrong about the true-blue-ness of Ann Arbor. Ann Arbor is the liberal college-town stereotype you’ve read about, but grafted on top of a German farming town—a lovely German farming town. Also, most people don’t realize that the Michigan militia was founded just one town over. The day that the ladies in the gym we belonged to were having a spirited locker-room conversation about how glad they were that Mel Gibson had made a movie about the Crucifixion “just the way it happened” is seared in my memory. So is the day that...

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