National Security

Deterrence, and that Truck in Austria

Anyone serious about countering extremism in the Middle East should be doing much more for refugees.

AP Photo/Rick Wilking, Pool
AP Photo/Rick Wilking, Pool Secretary of State John Kerry, left, shakes hands with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif before a meeting in Geneva, Switzerland Wednesday, January 14, 2015. " Deterrence" is the hot word of the summer. Ex-diplomat Dennis Ross and ex-general David Petraeus wrote that they could support the Iran deal if President Obama supplies more deterrence against Iran breaking it. Columnist Thomas Friedman argued that Israelis should see the up side of the agreement, "especially if the U.S. enhanced its deterrence." Friedman didn't suggest how to do that. But ex-Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, coming out for the deal, gave details. The administration's "robust deterrence," she wrote in support of the deal, includes stepped-up "efforts to counter Iranian proxies" and provides Israel with the sophisticated, fabulously expensive F-35 warplane. Obama himself, in his letter to Representative Jerry Nadler, gave a long list of ways he's boosting deterrence...

What We Talk About When We Shout About Iran

The real argument isn't about the fine print. It's about Obama, Netanyahu, and the value of diplomacy.

(Photo: AP/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
(Photo: AP/Pablo Martinez Monsivais) President Barack Obama answers questions about the Iran nuclear deal during a news conference at the White House on July 15. I n the week since the Iran deal was announced, we’ve been watching the political theater of reactions to it. As with most theater, the first thing for the audience to remember is that the dialogue is deceptive. The characters skirt what's really on their minds. In the Iran drama, America and Israel have become virtually one stage. Ostensibly the argument in both countries and between them is whether the agreement is a success or a surrender. But if it were a real debate about the accord itself, there would have been a long silence after the Vienna press conference, as ex-diplomats, retired generals, and the Strangelove-ian community of nuclear arms experts pored over the dense 159-page text. Instead, a host of politicians, lobbyists, and talking heads responded almost immediately. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu...

The Limits of Rand Paul's Constitutional Convictions

Posing as defender of the Bill of Rights, the presidential hopeful steers clear of grandstanding on popular measures he deems unconstitutional.

AP Photo/Andrew Harnik
AP Photo/Andrew Harnik Republican presidential candidate, Republican Senator Rand Paul pauses during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, June 2, 2015, to call for the 28 classified pages of the 9-11 report to be declassified. I n the political world, legislative hijinks, oratorical grandstanding, and intramural savagery are nothing new. But when U.S. Senator Rand Paul, the Republican presidential candidate, scuttled the passage of a bill that would have renewed the USA PATRIOT Act on May 31, he brought those three methods together in the service of an electoral campaign the polls give him long odds of winning, and in a way that aimed fusillades of personal ambition even closer to the heart of American democracy than is customary—especially for a first-termer. As long as C-SPAN has existed, denizens of the U.S. Capitol have recognized the value of staging floor speeches designed for capture by the television cameras. But Paul upped the ante in 2013 with his 13-...

The Cyber Conundrum

Why the current policy for national cyber defense leaves us open to attack. 

Kristoffer Tripplaar / Sipa / AP Images
Kristoffer Tripplaar / Sipa / AP Images President Obama and Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson discussed efforts to improve government collaboration with industry to combat cyber threats at the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center in Arlington, Virginia, last January. This article appears in the Spring 2015 issue of The American Prospect magazine. Subscribe here . A follow-up to this article by Joshua A. Kroll will appear on June 4. Celebrate our 25th Anniversary with us by clicking here for a free download of this special issue . T he devastating cyberattacks against Sony Pictures in 2014 resulted in disabling of equipment, release of employees’ sensitive information, disclosure of company secrets and unreleased movies, and ultimately the departure of one of the studio’s top executives. The FBI blamed the Sony attacks on North Korea, and the attackers may have been operating in Sony’s systems undetected for more than a year. Many Americans were left...

Marco Rubio's Far-Right Foreign Policy Gambit

The GOP hopeful wants 2016 to be all about Iran and Cuba. 

AP Photo/David Goldman
AP Photo/David Goldman Republican presidential candidate Senator Marco Rubio speaks at the Georgia Republican Convention, Friday, May 15, 2015, in Athens, Georgia. I f the GOP field seemed obsessed with repealing the Affordable Care Act in 2012, there’s a good chance that 2016 will be all about undoing President Obama’s foreign policy. With the ACA now firmly entrenched in the American political psyche—not to mention American law—Republican frontrunners have taken aim on Obama’s record on Iran, Cuba, and Syria. Like the battle over who was more vigorously opposed to Obamacare, Republicans will first use foreign policy as a way to whittle down their own crowded playing field, writes Steve Inskeep at npr.org. Naturally, this strategy is a risky one. Competing to see who can go furthest right on foreign affairs may play well in the primaries, but it can make the GOP nomination that much less palatable come November 2016. If there’s a progressive silver lining in this story, it’s here:...

The Soldier's Story

What happens when one corporal speaks out about how the occupation corrupts Israel.

AP Photo/Ariel Schalit
AP Photo/Ariel Schalit Members of an Israeli military honor guard conduct a rehearsal ahead of a Memorial Day ceremony at Kiryat Shaul military cemetery in Tel Aviv, Israel, Monday, April 20, 2015. C orporal Shachar Berrin's commander in the Israeli army sentenced him to a week in prison. His brother emailed me to let me know so I wouldn't be surprised when the story eventually broke in the news. Shachar's offense, as handwritten on a disciplinary form, was participating "in a political meeting, while in uniform, in the presence of the media." That's partly true: He was in uniform, and TV cameras were recording. But it wasn't a political meeting. And judging from circumstances, the real reasons for his quick trial and sentence were the presence of right-wing activists and what he said about serving in the West Bank in daily interaction with Palestinians. "When soldiers, when we, are conditioned and persuaded on a daily basis to subjugate and humiliate people... I think that seeps in...

Honor Our War Dead On Memorial Day -- They Won't Be the Last

AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana
AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana Visitors look at the names on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall, ahead of Memorial Day in Washington, Sunday, May 24, 2015. T his Memorial Day, the day set aside to honor those who died in America's many wars, we find ourselves still debating the last war we fought, arguing over what the nation consented to in 2003 and what its leaders delivered. Just imagine if George W. Bush had come before the American people then and said, "I want to invade Iraq, and here's what's going to happen. The war will last over eight years, during which time just short of 4,500 American servicemembers will die. It'll cost us a couple of trillion dollars, and the justifications I'm offering for the war will all turn out to be false. It will result in a huge wave of anti-Americanism, and it will greatly increase Iran's influence in the Middle East. After my successor finally gets us out, Iraq's government will be so fragile and riven by corruption and sectarianism that it won't be...

Why Everyone Wants the Military Budget to Be Bigger

It's not about "defense." 

Vito Palmisano/Getty
Vito Palmisano/Getty N ow that we've finally ( almost ) clarified who would have invaded Iraq and who wouldn't have, it's time for a little perspective. Yes, it's a good thing that elite Republicans are moving toward agreeing with the rest of us that invading Iraq was a mistake, even if they base their argument on the myth of "faulty intelligence." But there's another consensus in Washington, one that says that our military should never be anything short of gargantuan, ready to start more wars whenever a future George W. Bush wants to. At the end of last week, the House passed a defense authorization bill worth $612 billion, a number that was possible to reach only with some budgetary hocus-pocus involving classifying $89 billion of it as "emergency" spending, thereby avoiding the cuts mandated by sequestration. While the White House has objected to the way the bill moves money around, that $612 billion number is exactly what President Obama asked for. Even the guy who's supposedly...

Should We Relitigate the Iraq War in the 2016 Campaign? You Bet We Should

(Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images News)
View image | gettyimages.com I f all goes well, in the 2016 campaign we'll be rehashing the arguments we had about the Iraq war in 2002 and 2003. You may be thinking, "Jeez, do we really have to go through that again?" But we do—in fact, we must. If we're going to make sense of where the next president is going to take the United States on foreign policy, there are few more important discussions to have. On Sunday, Fox News posted an excerpt of an interview Megyn Kelly did with Jeb Bush in which she asked him whether he too would have invaded Iraq, and here's how that went : Kelly : Knowing what we know now, would you have authorized the invasion? Bush : I would have, and so would have Hillary Clinton, just to remind everybody, and so would have almost everybody that was confronted with the intelligence they got. Kelly : You don't think it was a mistake? Bush : In retrospect, the intelligence that everybody saw, that the world saw, not just the United States, was faulty. And in...

Netanyahu's New Government: Weak, Extreme, and Unpredictable

To stay in power, Israel's prime minister created a government even further right than he is.

(Photo: AP/Sebastian Scheiner)
(Photo: AP/Sebastian Scheiner) A s the minutes and seconds left for Benjamin Netanyahu to form a government flashed on my screen Wednesday night, I passed the time by reading Daniel Kahneman on the futility of political predictions. "Reality emerges from many different agents and forces. ... Short-term trends can be forecast with fair accuracy from previous behaviors," writes the Israeli-American psychologist and Nobel laureate in economics. "You should not expect much from making long-term forecasts." Kahneman seems overly optimistic about even short-term predictions when it comes to the politics of his native land—though he could fairly answer that in Israel seven weeks is long-term. That's how long it's been since the Israeli election, when Netanyahu defeated both his left-wing challenger and all of the country's pollsters. Immediately after the vote, the impression among the public and most of the expert class was that his way was paved to a new coalition, stronger than the one...

The West's Regard for Charlie Hedbo Victims Not Extended to African Targets of Extremist Violence

Massacres in Nigeria and Garissa, Kenya, did not draw nearly as much worldwide attention or grief as Charlie Hebdo. What does that say about how we value African lives?

(AP Photo/Lionel Cironneau)
(Photo: AP/Lionel Cironneau) People in Nice, France, hold "I am Charlie" signs while participating in a silent march on January 10, commemorating the victims of the Charlie Hebdo shooting in Paris. O n May 5, the French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo will receive the PEN American Center’s annual Freedom of Expression Courage Award. As of May 1, 145 writers have signed a letter of protest, on the grounds that the award would endorse the Islamophobia many associate with the magazine. Yet beyond a criticism like this, the fact that the Charlie Hebdo attack still occupies so much worldwide attention speaks to a selective memory of human rights abuses. In the months since, atrocities elsewhere have not inspired the same humanitarian response. And this is cause for concern. As it should be, the savage attack on Charlie Hebdo ’s Paris headquarters in January in which 12 were killed threw many of us into a deep stupor. The world stopped. Then, the world moved immediately to demonstrate...

Pity the Purist in the GOP Primaries (A Tear for Bobby Jindal)

(AP Photo/Nati Harnik)
I t's the season for pandering to the base, which is as good a time as any to ask whether the glorious, fascinating mess that is today's Republican Party can ever unify enough to win back the White House—or whether unity is something they should even be after. Because it may well be that a fractured, contentious GOP is the only kind that can prevail next November. You probably missed it, but over the weekend nearly all the Republican presidential candidates (with the notable exception of Jeb Bush) hotfooted it back to Iowa to participate in the Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition Forum, where they testified to the depths of their love for the Lord and their hatred for His enemies, particularly Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. The entreaties to this band of the base—important in primaries everywhere, but critically so in Iowa, where 57 percent of the attendees at the Republican caucuses in 2012 identified as born-again or evangelical Christian—are a good reminder of the internal and...

The Sensible, Risky Option

The Iran deal is a gamble, but the best one available. 

(AP Photo/Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader)
(AP Photo/Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader) In this picture released by an official website of the office of the Iranian supreme leader, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei attends a meeting with a group of religious performers in Tehran, Iran, Thursday, April 9, 2015. "There are only bad options. It's about finding the best one." "You don't have a better bad idea than this?" "This is the best bad idea we have, sir." T hat snippet of dialogue is from the film Argo , set just after the Iranian revolution in 1979. It's the scene in which CIA Director Stansfield Turner is listening to the out-of-any-box scheme of two CIA men for smuggling six American diplomats out of Teh e ran. Turner is sensible. Since this is the best bad plan available, he approves it. Risky as it is, it even turns out to be a good plan. Thirty-six years later, the same script would be appropriate for calmly discussing the framework agreement with Iran on limiting its nuclear program. Calm, though, has been in...

How Schumer's Iran Gamble Threatens Democrats' Chances in 2016

If enough senators in the minority party follow the lead of their next likely leader, the minority may be where they stay.

(Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call) (CQ Roll Call via AP Images)
(Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call) (CQ Roll Call via AP Images) Democratic Senator Charles Schumer, left, has pledged support to Republican Senator Bob Corker, right, for a bill designed to scuttle the Obama administration's agreement with Iran over the development of nuclear technology. Here, the two are pictured in the House chamber before Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's address to a joint meeting of Congress, March 3, 2015. A week and a half ago, Chuck Schumer, currently third in the leadership of the minority party in the U.S. Senate, moved quickly to solidify his position as the next leader of Democrats, securing the support of his caucus. This week he endorsed Republican Senator Bob Corker’s bill, which, on paper, gives Congress the right to approve the nuclear agreement hammered out with Iran by the U.S. and its allies (collectively known as the P5+1). In reality, this bill is yet another carefully crafted attempt to thwart a negotiated end to this nuclear...

This Is No Time for Liberals to Give Up on Israel

Because of Netanyahu's bellicosity—and Republican support for it—it's now possible in Washington to argue about Israel. With so much at stake, liberals must.

(Photo: EdoM via Wikimedia Commons)
T onight most American Jews will sit down with family and friends for the Passover Seder. Whether they tell the story of redemption from slavery according to the Hebrew traditional text, a radical rewriting, or not at all, they'll eventually get to a sumptuous holiday meal and to conversation, often including politics. Judging from the reaction of some of my close friends and respected colleagues to the Israeli election, one subject that liberal Jews—that is, most American Jews—won't want on the menu is Israel. The re-election of Benjamin Netanyahu has spoiled the taste beyond redemption. The manner of his victory—a lurch rightward, an unholy alliance with the GOP, a last-minute scare video about "droves" of Arab voters "advancing" on the polling places—has made talk of Israel even more bitter to the tongue. The tension in American Jewry between being liberal and being Zionist has been growing for years. But the election on March 17, 2015, may have been a breaking point. Believe me, I...

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