Middle East Articles

Before the US interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the subsequent outbreak of insurgencies in those countries, counterinsurgency was a badly neglected part of the US defense establishment’s security repertoire. During the 1990s, civilian leaders, academic specialists, and the officer corps convinced themselves that insurgency was essentially a Cold War phenomenon. Instead of understanding it as enduring political-military strategy, they perceived insurgency as an operationalized form of Marxism-Leninism (and Maoism, in particular) made irrelevant by the decline of the Soviet and Chinese communist projects.

By William Rosenau  |  July 6, 2009

In 1952, Sir Hersch Lauterpacht, then the Whewell Professor of International Law at the University of Cambridge, opined in the British Yearbook of International Law that “if international law is the vanishing point of law, the law of war is at the vanishing point of international law.” The renowned scholar, who later served on the International Court of Justice, was merely echoing Cicero’s famous dictum that inter arma leges silent—in war the law is silent. Today, echoes of Luterpacht and Cicero pervade discourse on the law of war. Has post-World War II history merely confirmed their dismissive observations?

By Michael N. Schmitt  |  July 6, 2009

Mark Osiel’s provocative new book, The End of Reciprocity: Terror, Torture and the Law of War, provides detailed discussions of a number of important moral and legal issues arising for the United States in its ongoing response to the threats posed by the Al Qaeda terrorist network. The specific focus is the US-deployed counter-terrorist methods of sustained detention, torture, and targeted killing of suspected terrorists. The author, Mark Osiel, displays a wide knowledge of relevant literature in a number of fields, including international law, philosophy, sociology and cultural studies.

By Seumas Miller  |  July 6, 2009

There is a part of our brain which firmly believes that disaster begets disaster. This intuition probably comes from daily life—for example, we see gambling misadventures lead to a job loss, a painful divorce, and so on. It is also natural to apply this dogma on a macro-level, and the current economic crisis is no exception. A chorus of doomsayers loudly predict that today’s economic ailments will usher in a dark “age of upheaval.” Not surprisingly, these pessimists rush to embrace the 1930s as the empirical centerpiece of their argument.

By Gustavo de las Casas  |  July 6, 2009

You have stated that the “clash of ideas” in negotiation is valuable to diplomacy. But are there boundaries to the value of negotiation? When is a clash of ideas no longer positive, but destructive, and at what point does negotiation cease to be reasonable?

The only time when discussions and negotiations are destructive is if they are a substitute for effective action—when they become a means by which one is prevented from doing what needs to be done to achieve positive goals.

By Zalmay Khalilzad  |  April 25, 2009

The United Nations has several bodies that address the issue of human rights either directly or indirectly. What is the role of the Human Rights Council within this bureaucratic structure?

By Blaise Godet, Owen Barron  |  April 25, 2009

The Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) has been quasi-independent since its formation in the northern “no-fly” zone of Iraq following the 1991 Iraq War. Since the 2003 US-led invasion, it has been a relatively peaceful and stable region in a nation torn by sectarian violence. Today, the KRG has all the trappings of a democracy with a functioning governmental structure and Kurds worldwide view the KRG as the best hope for an eventual independent Kurdistan.

By Commander Norman "Rick" Denny, USN-Retired  |  April 19, 2009

The most salient issue of those concerned with the international financial architecture back in mid-2007 was “governance,” in particular governance of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). This involved, among other things, the selection of future Managing Directors (by convention since 1946 always a European), representation on the Executive Board (which is responsible for the operating decisions of the IMF), and voting rights, which were based on out-dated formulae. The “legitimacy” of the IMF was said to be in doubt. This concern with governance was against a backdrop of excellent performance of the world economy since 2002, high and widespread growth, and low inflation but rising commodity prices, which helped exporters of primary products.

By Richard N. Cooper  |  March 22, 2009

Often considered an oasis of limitless growth in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the emirate of Dubai is widely known for its rapid expansion and lavish extravagance, which is nowhere as evident as in its market for housing and hotel development projects. Luxury is a priority, and as contractors struggle to outdo one another, the cost of projects often reaches billions of dollars. This process has led to the construction of the world’s tallest building, the Burj Tower, and the world’s largest shopping mall, the Dubai Mall, all within the small emirate.

By Filip Zembowicz  |  March 21, 2009

The recent terrorist attacks in Mumbai raise four questions for an educator. First, how did the education of these perpetrators shape such hatred that they could take the lives of hundreds of unarmed civilians? Second, how were the individuals who enabled these perpetrators’ actions educated, and why would they turn a blind eye or enable these terrorists to plan their attacks? Third, in what ways do the teachings of history and geography foster limited and intolerant views between India and Pakistan? As the responses of ordinary citizens in both of these countries demonstrate, biased national views constrain the options for leaders to pursue negotiated avenues of cooperation and perhaps increase the risk of military conflict between these nations.

By Fernando M. Reimers  |  March 21, 2009