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Obama faces a tragic choice between restraint against ISIS to avoid entanglement in Syria’s civil war or full engagement against ISIS with an eye to regime change and the reconstruction and stabilization of a devastated country. After Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya, we have a rough idea of what such an effort would entail and of the elusiveness of lasting gains.
Despite the pandemonium in the Middle East, Sykes-Picot seems to be alive and well. That shouldn’t be surprising. Land borders settled via negotiation, especially when sealed by treaty, tend to be stable, even where relations between the neighboring states remain volatile or even hostile.
Air strikes in Iraq might be necessary for the narrow purposes stipulated by Obama. But they will have a wide range of unintended consequences -- some relatively manageable, others less so.
Allin and Simon have organized all the complexities of Iran's movement toward nuclear capability and produced a readable, short book that fairly presents the positions of all involved.
Demilitarizing Hezbollah is a daunting proposition, but it is a worthy one. The Obama administration should reconsider its hesitance to join British efforts already underway and suspend its ban on official contact with Hezbollah.
Two new books offer insightful analyses of how to succeed in Afghanistan. But the sheer difficulty of the task points to the need for an alternative strategy -- one that defends U.S. interests without trying to rebuild a shattered country.
Stephen Biddle and Steven Simon how to ensure stability continues in Iraq in this inaugural Foreign Affairs Live debate.
The Bush administration's new strategy in Iraq has helped reduce violence. But the surge is not linked to any sustainable plan for building a viable Iraqi state and may even have made such an outcome less likely -- by stoking the revanchist fantasies of Sunni tribes and pitting them against the central government. The recent short-term gains have thus come at the expense of the long-term goal of a stable, unitary Iraq.
See also: "When to Leave Iraq: Today, Tomorrow, or Yesterday?" a response package including Colin H. Kahl and William E. Odom.
The Next Attack's authors argue that Washington's mistakes in Iraq and at home have weakened U.S. security; Falkenrath responds.
Policymakers need a guide to the complexities and challenges of the struggle against terrorism. Unfortunately, two authors who could have written one have chosen instead to rehash the Bush administration's mistakes.
This article appears in the Foreign Affairs eBook, "The U.S. vs. al Qaeda: A History of the War on Terror." Now available for purchase.
The Bush administration has shrugged off the Syrian president's recent attempts at rapprochement with the West. It should think again. With Syria's old ally Saddam Hussein gone, Damascus is trapped in a strategic quandary that makes it highly receptive to coercive diplomacy--of the kind that worked on Libya. And by engaging Syria sooner rather than later, the United States could give the Middle East peace process a shove in the right direction.
The Age of Sacred Terror vividly recounts how al Qaeda emerged and how America responded. This sobering history reveals the true difficulty of the war on terror.