FPI Overnight Brief: June 8, 2017

The Must-Reads

Middle East/North Africa

Iran
 
Iran’s foreign minister denounced on Thursday the United States response to a pair of deadly assaults in Tehran as “repugnant,” as the death toll in the attacks rose to 17, with 52 others wounded. – New York Times
 
Several administration officials said it took most of the day for the White House to work out the terse, curt wording of a statement that sought to show sympathy for the Iranian public even as it pointedly suggested that the behavior of Tehran’s clerical leaders made its people a target. – New York Times
 
A video shared by Hezbollah’s Al Manar TV Wednesday purportedly shows footage of an American drone being tracked by an Iranian drone over Syria. The footage shows what appears to be a Predator drone in the sights of what is claimed to be an Iranian drone over Tanf, Syria, the site of a border crossing into Iraq.  – Military Times
 
Iran’s Revolutionary Guards ratcheted up the tensions with Saudi Arabia as it accused Tehran’s regional rival of involvement in Wednesday’s double terrorist attack in the capital, which left at least 13 people dead and wounded more than 50. – Financial Times
 
Analysis: The attacks in Tehran threatened to escalate the broader regional conflict between the two heavyweight powers, Iran and Saudi Arabia, at a time when the Western-allied gulf bloc is divided against itself. And Saudi Arabia, under the two-year-old reign of King Salman and his powerful son, Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, is demonstrating an unexpected willingness to plunge into risky multifront battles. – New York Times
 
Editorial: Having unleashed those murderous techniques on the world—and justified their use for years—Iran now finds itself a target of the same. That’s a tragedy for ordinary Iranians who, already victimized by their regime, are now at risk from its enemies. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
 
Will McCants writes: At a time when the Islamic State’s caliphate is crumbling and its morale flagging, the strike won’t reverse its ill-fortunes — Iran may decide to hasten the demise of the Islamic State in response. But it is a vital shot in the arm for the group as it transitions from a proto-state to an insurgency. – Foreign Policy
 
Tzvi Kahn writes: Rouhani’s tenure suggests that he remains a loyal foot soldier of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Tehran’s ultimate powerbroker. In this sense, Iran’s executions reflect its core revolutionary ideology, which seeks to enforce radical Islamic norms as a counter to the perceived secularism and rapaciousness of the West. – Foundation for Defense of Democracies
 
Iraq
 
Iraqi Kurdish officials announced Wednesday that Kurds in Iraq's autonomous northern region will hold a referendum on independence on Sept. 25. – Associated Press
 
Syria
 
The Defense Department said on Wednesday that its investigation of the American airstrike on a mosque complex near Aleppo, Syria, in March found that it was legal and appropriate, and that it resulted in one possible civilian casualty, not dozens as human rights groups had asserted. – New York Times
 
The Syrian government's allies will strike at American positions inside Syria if it crosses any "red lines," Hezbollah warned on Wednesday. – Associated Press
 
US-backed fighters gained ground against the Islamic State group in the streets of Raqqa on Wednesday, a day after their months-long offensive finally broke into the jihadists' Syrian bastion. - AFP
 
Syrian government warplanes struck Islamic State positions west of Raqqa city on the southern bank of the Euphrates river on Thursday, state media said. - Reuters
 
Saudi Arabia
 
President Trump has for weeks pressed disparate forces throughout the Middle East to band together with Saudi Arabia to fight terrorism and punish Iran, long viewed by hawks inside his administration as the main source of instability and terrorism in the region. But in his push to empower the Saudis, Trump may have unleashed problems, including increased sectarianism and regional strife, that are as bad as the one he was trying to fix, inflaming tensions that could imperil the battle against the Islamic State and other critical U.S. priorities. – Washington Post
 
The top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee revealed Wednesday he will vote against the $110-billion weapons deal President Trump signed with Saudi Arabia on his recent Middle East trip. – Washington Times
 
A proposed sale of $500 million worth of U.S. precision-guided missiles to Saudi Arabia is coming under growing scrutiny from Congress, with lawmakers poised to vote on a resolution Thursday that could prove embarrassing for Riyadh and the Donald Trump administration. – Foreign Policy’s The Cable
 
Qatar
 
Leading Arab states are drawing up a list of demands that Qatar must meet to return to normal diplomatic and economic relations, including steps to significantly scale back the Al Jazeera media network, said Arab and U.S. officials involved in the discussions. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
 
Turkey signaled support for Qatar on Wednesday after the tiny Gulf country was isolated by several of its neighbors in a major rift among Arab nations. – New York Times
 
Freedom of speech may be on the back burner for the moment in the United Arab Emirates, which is threatening stiff fines and up to 15 years in prison for anyone who expresses sympathy or any other kind of public support for Qatar. – Washington Times
 
The Trump administration is offering to mediate a percolating crisis in the Middle East that has seen several key Arab nations break relations with Qatar, a top U.S. military ally that has played a central role in American counter-terrorism operations, according to multiple U.S. officials who spoke to the Washington Free Beacon about the situation. – Washington Free Beacon
 
Pentagon officials do not expect Qatar to revoke US access to a key base in the country amid a spiraling diplomatic spat in the Gulf. – Buzz Feed
 
Before Qatar was gripped in a diplomatic crisis, a fake video was slipped onto a government media site, touching off immense political fallout. According to published reports, the U.S. intelligence community believed the Kremlin may be the culprit. – Defense One
 
A top Emirati diplomat said Wednesday "there's nothing to negotiate" with Qatar over a growing diplomatic dispute about the energy-rich nation's alleged funding of terror groups, signaling Arab countries now isolating it have no plans to back down. – Associated Press
 
Editorial: Mr. Trump can’t seem to resist giving himself credit for everything. But the goal of U.S. policy now should be to restore Arab unity to forge a common front against Sunni radicals and Iranian imperialism. The aim of the current pressure shouldn’t be to permanently isolate Doha but to bring its conduct into line with what is expected of a Western ally. The diplomatic brawl has put Qatar on notice that it must stop supporting radicals, but the country will be an even larger problem if it joins arms with Iran. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
 
Roula Khalaf writes: If recent history is any judge, Sheikh Tamim will protest and then fold, hoping another tactical retreat will do the trick. The ferocity of the Saudi attack this time and the support of Mr Trump suggest that it will not. – Financial Times
 
Israel
 
The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, said in Jerusalem on Wednesday that Israel faces bullying at the United Nations — and that she has no patience for it. – Washington Post
 
House Speaker Paul D. Ryan said Wednesday that Jerusalem will “never be divided again,” remarks he made at a celebration of Israel’s reunification. – Washington Times

 

Asia

South Asia
 
Lawmakers in Nepal on Tuesday elected a veteran politician as the country’s 10th prime minister in 11 years. – New York Times
 
A letter drafted by a senior Islamic State militant and obtained by The Associated Press points to a growing power struggle within the group's Afghan affiliate, pitting notoriously fierce Uzbek fighters against Pakistanis seen as too close to that country's powerful intelligence service. – Associated Press
 
East Asia
 
North Korea fired another salvo of missiles Thursday morning, keeping up the relentless pace of testing as it advances toward its goal of producing an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of reaching the mainland United States. – Washington Post
 
SpaceX celebrated a successful rocket launch on Saturday, sending a reused cargo spacecraft to resupply the International Space Station in orbit approximately 250 miles above the earth. But Elon Musk’s California-based company kept quiet about the spacecraft’s stowaway — a Chinese science experiment now installed in the Space Station. It’s a sign that aerospace’s swiftly-advancing private sector may have found yet another innovation: A way to evade the years-long ban on official cooperation in space between the United States and China. – Foreign Policy’s The Cable
 
Japan’s gross domestic product grew markedly less than originally thought in the first quarter but the underlying pace of expansion remained strong. – Financial Times
 
The head of the U.S. Missile Defense Agency, Vice Admiral James Syring, said on Wednesday that technological advances demonstrated by North Korea in its ballistic missile program in the past six months had caused him "great concern." - Reuters
 
Ben Bohane writes: Unless Washington starts in earnest to engage the Pacific islands—vital bases during World War II—its lack of investment, diplomacy and financial inclusion will inevitably see the region swing to China. The U.S. will have ceded the entire board, one piece of the Pacific at a time. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
 
Southeast Asia
 
A military transport plane with 104 people on board disappeared after taking off Wednesday afternoon from an air base in the southern part of the country, military officials said. Most of the passengers were relatives of Myanmar soldiers, including children, as well as 14 crew members. – New York Times
 
The Islamist militants holed up in the southern Philippines town of Marawi have been reduced to a "small resistance" after troops crippled their logistics and some fighters have fled from the battle, military officials said on Thursday. - Reuters
 
Australia
 
Police in Australia's most populous state will be allowed to shoot suspects in "terrorist related" incidents even if the attacker does not pose an imminent threat, under a proposed law, New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian said on Thursday. - Reuters

Security

Defense
 
Just how many fighter jets does the Air Force need? It depends on whom you ask. The service is looking to grow its fighter fleet to stay competitive against near-peer threats such as Russia and China. To do so, it believes it needs to increase its number of fighter squadrons from 55 to 60. – DOD Buzz
 
Rep. Martha McSally said Wednesday newly announced Air Force plans show it will cut three A-10 Thunderbolt II squadrons. – Washington Examiner
 
Marine Corps leaders have complained about contending with a shortage of certain missiles, rockets and artillery rounds for years. But with new funding allotted in the president’s fiscal 2018 budget request, they may be close to fixing the problem. – DOD Buzz
 
Closing unneeded bases and relocating troops is the best way to make the most of limited military construction funding, a panel of top Pentagon installation officials told lawmakers Tuesday. – Military.com
 
The Navy is laying the groundwork now for more complex Littoral Combat Ship operations in Asia and the Middle East, preparing to deploy two simultaneously to Singapore and one to Bahrain in 2018, the program executive officer for LCS told USNI News. – USNI News
 
Air Force officials say the service will award some contracts as part of its ongoing evaluation of formal proposals from three vendors competing to build hundreds of new, next-generation Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles designed to protect the US homeland well into the 2070s and beyond, service officials said. – Scout Warrior
 
Army
 
The Army’s chief of staff hinted to Congress on Wednesday that the service has decided to equip its armored vehicles with Israeli-made anti-missile technology. – Defense Tech
 
The Army is conducting a wide-ranging review of “a whole series of vulnerabilities” in its communications systems that extends far beyond the troubled WIN-T program, the Chief of Staff and acting secretary told reporters today. – Breaking Defense
 
Struggling to expand its ranks, the Army will triple the amount of bonuses it's paying this year to more than $380 million, including new incentives to woo reluctant soldiers to re-enlist, officials told The Associated Press. – Associated Press
 
Missile Defense
 
Nuclear defense experts called for a bipartisan effort to revitalize the U.S. ballistic missile programs at this year's nuclear posture review in a report discussed at the Center for Strategic and International Studies on Tuesday. – Washington Free Beacon
 
The three-star admiral who heads America's missile defense program said despite last month's successful test against a mock North Korean warhead, U.S. missile defense technology is not yet mature. – Washington Examiner
 
The War
 
Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley said he supports additional troops in Afghanistan and keeping a residual force in Iraq should Mosul be retaken from the Islamic State during a Senate Appropriations defense subcommittee hearing Wednesday. – Defense News
 
Attorneys for a detainee at Guantanamo Bay are suing the psychologists who created the CIA’s harsh interrogation techniques used in the war on terror, aiming to compel them to provide information to Polish officials who are investigating a former CIA jail in that country. – Associated Press
 
Intelligence
 
Just months after President Trump complained about being spied on by the Obama administration, his administration is embracing a full permanent extension of the secret snooping powers the government used to track conversations between his campaign aides and Russian operatives. – Washington Times
 
Officials from the nation's top four intelligence and law enforcement agencies urged the Senate Intelligence Committee on Wednesday to support section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which expires this year and is at risk of not being reauthorized after Republican complaints about leaks against the Trump administration. – Washington Examiner
 
National Security Agency Director Mike Rogers said Wednesday the NSA would not have been able to "recreate the insights" on Russia's meddling in the 2016 election without the program allowing the government to monitor communications generated by foreign nationals. – Washington Examiner
 
In a stark speech clearly intended to get people off their complacent butts, the Marine general who leads the Defense Intelligence Agency told an approving audience here that the Intelligence Community risks becoming as irrelevant as the Kodak film company became with the advent of digital photography. – Breaking Defense

Russia/Europe

London Attacks
 
After three years of attacks in Europe in which security services frequently struggled to explain how the perpetrators were able to avoid detection, Britain is wrestling with a different question in the wake of Saturday’s attack: How could three extremists strike in the heart of London when at least two of them had been known to authorities? – Washington Post
 
Authorities on Wednesday raised the death toll in the weekend car-and-knife rampage to eight after recovering a body from the Thames. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
 
The son of a Pakistani immigrant who worked as a bus driver, from the Tooting borough of London, Khan has been a steady fixture on television screens and social media since the attack, channeling the city’s anger, sorrow and defiance. Under dark clouds at a vigil at Potters Fields Park on Monday, Khan directly addressed who he is and where he comes from. – Washington Post
 
British police investigating the deadly attacks on London Bridge on Saturday said they had arrested three more suspects, as footage of the moment officers shot the assailants dead appeared online. - Reuters
 
The youngest of the London Bridge attackers pleaded with his mother to settle with him in Syria but instead moved to Britain where his extremist views hardened and he fell into the company of a bloodthirsty gang that launched the latest attack on British streets, his mother said Wednesday. – Associated Press
 
U.K. Election
 
Britain’s seven-week sprint to an election that few expected began in April with forecasts of a landslide victory for the Conservatives, and a Margaret Thatcher-esque grip on power as far as the political eye could see for Prime Minister Theresa May. It ended Wednesday in a way that no one could have predicted — with a rattled May being heckled during one of her few and characteristically awkward attempts to meet voters, while her once-hapless opponent, Jeremy Corbyn, spoke to large and adoring crowds that were earning him comparisons to Winston Churchill. – Washington Post
 
The spirited bid of the Liberal Democrats, a center-left party punished two years ago for joining a coalition with the Conservatives, has run aground on the foibles of its leader, the peculiarities of the British electoral system and the decisive — if highly contested — choice of voters last year to leave the European Union. The party’s difficulty gaining ground, despite apparent advantages, offers a case study of how political alternatives wither, even as distrust for politics as usual mounts. – Washington Post
 
Prime Minister Theresa May is on course to increase her majority in parliament in Britain's election on Thursday, opinion polls showed on Wednesday, suggesting her gamble to call the vote to bolster her position in Brexit negotiations will pay off. - Reuters
 
FPI Fellow James Kirchick writes: Jeremy Corbyn is a fundamentally indecent person. Making common cause with those who wantonly killed and wounded innocents during the Troubles, taking blood money from the propaganda outlet of a theocratic dictatorship, defending the North Korean slave state, and being utterly oblivious to the point of tacitly endorsing hatred of Jews in his own ranks, Corbyn is a sinister man with a credulous following. – Foreign Policy
 
Ukraine
 
Matthew Schaaf writes: Civil society must maintain its own clarity of purpose and keep pressing for democratic change, insisting on its role in advising and pushing Ukraine’s leaders. For their part, Ukraine’s leaders should take activists’ input for what it is—a genuine effort to make Ukraine a better and freer country. – Freedom House’s Freedom at Issue
 
Russia
 
Ongoing Senate talks on a bipartisan Russia sanctions proposal are testing the ability of powerful GOP chairmen to work together on a package that can avoid imperiling passage of the Iran sanctions bill it could hitch a ride to. - Politico
 
A bipartisan group of senators is warning the Trump administration against returning U.S.-based diplomatic compounds to Russia that were seized in response to Moscow’s election meddling. – The Hill
 
Bill Gertz reports: Russia carried out the latest test of a new high-speed cruise missile last week as part of a program that is raising concerns in the Pentagon about the threat the missile poses to American warships. – Washington Times’ Inside the Ring
 
Interview: Kasparov spoke recently with RFE/RL Russian Service correspondent Mikhail Sokolov about the West's relations with Russia since the 2016 election of U.S. President Donald Trump. – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
 
Evelyn Farkas writes: Russian banks conduct legitimate business with law-abiding companies around the world, including American banks. But their close ties to the Russian government make Mr. Kushner’s meeting with Mr. Gorkov worthy of deeper scrutiny. Mr. Gorkov is part of the Putin power vertical. When Mr. Kushner spoke to him, he was also talking to the Kremlin, and we should know what they discussed. – New York Times
 
Europe
 
Facebook provides little information on how political parties use ads to reach undecided voters on the site. And concern has been growing since the American presidential election about the company’s role in campaigns, including about how politically charged fake news is spread online. Now, as voters head to the polls across Europe, groups in Britain, Germany and elsewhere are fighting back, creating new ways to track and monitor digital political ads and misinformation on the social network and on other digital services like Twitter and Google. – New York Times
 
Romanian President Klaus Iohannis, in town to meet President Donald Trump on Friday. A White House meeting is always a big deal, especially for leaders from smaller countries. But Iohannis has a clear message about defense and closer ties. – Foreign Policy’s The Cable
 
Poland’s clash with its European partners over the rule of law is set to deepen as the nationalist Law and Justice government pushes through reforms that experts say threaten to undermine the independence of the judiciary and separation of powers. – Financial Times
 
The European Union on Wednesday unveiled a new defense fund to get better value for money on high-tech projects like drones or robotics, as European allies at NATO come under U.S. pressure to boost their military budgets. – Associated Press
 
Jeffrey Gedmin writes: The Obama Administration did what it could by canceling missile defense and failing to arm Ukraine, for example. Now the clumsy and bullying way our latest President has carried himself, including squabbling out in the open with our closest allies, gives comfort to our adversary. But we face a deeper problem: we lack a positive vision of our own. Do we have a bigger picture or end game in mind for Europe and the transatlantic relationship going forward, beyond improving this or that bottom line? – The American Interest
 
Jason Furman writes: President Trump is right: Germany’s trade balance is out of whack, and this ought to be called out. Although it’s a fool’s errand to condemn bilateral imbalances in specific industries—such as auto manufacturing—the important truth remains that Germany overall has the world’s largest current-account surplus. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)

Americas

United States of America
 
Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly sounded a loud alarm Tuesday over an “unprecedented spike in terrorist travel” including to the U.S., moving to shore up the defense of the administration’s travel ban one day after President Trump’s tweets seemed to undercut his case before the Supreme Court. – Washington Times
 
Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly defended President Donald Trump’s stalled travel ban on Tuesday, saying that without it, he was “not fully confident” the federal government could stop terrorists from “taking advantage of our generous visa and immigration system” and entering the United States. – Defense One
 
President Donald Trump’s choice for FBI director was notified months before the public knew about the death of a detainee at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq in 2004, and was at the very least on the fringes of discussions on the legality of military interrogation techniques in 2003, documents from Wray’s time in the post- 9/11 Bush administration show. – Miami Herald
 
Comey
 
As Mr. Comey described Wednesday in written testimony prepared for the Senate Intelligence Committee, Mr. Trump’s entreaties continued for months, in unexpected phone calls and awkward meetings. As Mr. Comey’s discomfort grew, so did the president’s persistence and his frustration with Mr. Comey’s unwillingness to help. – New York Times
 
Two top intelligence officials refused to answer senators’ questions on Wednesday about whether President Trump had asked them to intervene in the F.B.I. investigation into Russian election interference, saying only that they had never felt “pressured” by the White House to do anything improper. – New York Times
 
While former FBI Director James B. Comey intends to speak at length about his strange and strained relationship with President Trump when he testifies before Congress on Thursday, former bureau officials said he is unlikely to shed new light on the ongoing investigation into Russian interference in the presidential election and any links with members of the Trump campaign. – Washington Times
 
A source close to James Comey tells Fox News the former FBI director’s Senate testimony has been “closely coordinated” with Robert Mueller, whom the Justice Department appointed as special counsel to oversee the Russia investigation. – Fox News
 
The ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee said James Comey's just-released written account of President Trump's actions was "certainly evidence of interference or obstruction." – The Hill
 
Editorial: Thursday’s testimony from Mr. Comey may bring more troubling revelations that will add to the pressure on Mr. Wray. Never before has a nominee for FBI director borne such a high burden to show that he will put the FBI’s independent application of the law above all other considerations. – Washington Post
 
Editorial: The Senate Intelligence Committee released James Comey’s prepared testimony a day early on Wednesday, and it looks like a test of whether Washington can apprehend reality except as another Watergate. Perhaps the defrocked FBI director has a bombshell still to drop. But far from documenting an abuse of power by President Trump, his prepared statement reveals Mr. Comey’s misunderstanding of law enforcement in a democracy. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
 
Eli Lake writes: So it's strange that Comey's devastating testimony before the Senate on Thursday will end up vindicating in part something Trump and his advisers have been saying for months: The FBI was not investigating the president as part of its probe into Russian election interference. – Bloomberg View
 
Latin America
 
Mexico agreed to demands from the United States to cut exports of refined sugar, striking a deal on Tuesday in a contentious trade negotiation that was closely watched as a prologue to talks on renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement. – New York Times
 
Colombia's Marxist FARC rebel group said on Wednesday it has handed in 30 percent of its weaponry to the United Nations, part of a peace deal signed with the government last year to end more than 52 years of war. - Reuters
 
Mike Gonzales writes: If “America First” means anything, it must mean preventing a virulently anti-American criminal enterprise from perpetuating its existence next door and reproducing itself throughout the hemisphere. And since this is precisely what President Obama’s opening to the Castros accomplished, President Trump is duty-bound to reverse this mistake. – The National Interest
 
Venezuela
 
A 17-year-old Venezuelan protester died in ferocious clashes between security forces and protesters in Caracas on Wednesday, taking the death toll from unrest since April to at least 66. - Reuters
 
President Nicolas Maduro has greatly expanded the military’s authority and is leaning on the armed forces as his own grip on power weakens. The military has helped hold up the socialist administration for more than a decade, but never before was it the government’s main crutch. And despite the outward loyalty of top officers, cracks are beginning to appear. – Associated Press
 
Slum residents who oppose Venezuela's unpopular Socialist leader are organizing behind closed doors. They hold discrete meetings in apartments and offer social services to those suffering from the country's brutal economic crisis. They say that winning the support of Venezuela's traditionally pro-government poor could prove a tipping point for the opposition as it seeks general elections, freedom for jailed activists and autonomy for the opposition-controlled National Assembly. - Reuters

Africa

Suspected Boko Haram fighters attacked the city of Maiduguri in northeast Nigeria on Wednesday, the Islamist militant group's most serious assault on the regional capital in a year and a half. - Reuters
 
A northern Nigerian state's governor on Wednesday ordered the arrest of activists for demanding the eviction of eastern Igbo people, amid rising tensions between ethnic groups that hark back to the country's Biafra civil war. - Reuters
 
The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has had to scale back plans for emergency feeding of 400,000 people in Boko Haram-hit northeast Nigeria due to funding shortfalls, a top U.N. official said on Wednesday. - Reuters
 
Al Shabaab militants captured a town in Somalia's semi-autonomous Puntland region on Thursday, a senior official said, and the group said it had killed at least 61 soldiers in the fighting. - Reuters
 
Zambia's opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema will go on trial at a high court on treason charges, a magistrate said on Thursday, in a case that has stoked political tensions following a contested election last year. - Reuters

Trump Administration

Eighty-two days after being announced as President Donald Trump’s pick for deputy secretary of defense, Patrick Shanahan has been formally nominated for the position. – Defense News
 
The White House advanced its nominee for Navy secretary and two other Defense Department officials to the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday. – Defense News

Democracy and Human Rights

Judy Shelton writes: As someone who has thought deeply about democracy promotion, I take this as evidence that America’s leader—an admirer of Reagan—has the head and the heart to act with fundamental decency. American decency is born of gratitude for what this nation’s founders had the courage and vision to establish. It is what compels Americans to stand for the rights and liberties of those who can’t stand for those rights and liberties themselves. It is what drives the aspiration to share the American values that have made the U.S. not only successful but honorable. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
 
Carl Gershman writes: The robust optimism of Reagan may not suit the times. But Havel’s more restrained statement of hope still resonates. “Even a purely moral act that has no hope of an immediate or visible political effect,” he said after the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, “can gradually and indirectly, over time, gain in political significance.” A better future is possible, therefore, but only if we are prepared to take moral actions and, as Havel said, live in truth. The time for such action has now arrived. – World Affairs Journal

Ideas

Frederic Hof writes: If American political leaders cannot demonstrate competence in decision-making and communicating, a sustained commitment to the region will itself be unsustainable, and the ‘balance’ will swing decisively in a direction not good for American security. The great asset of American pragmatism is not necessarily a self-correcting mechanism for American foreign policy. Under conditions of bad leadership it can impose 'cures' more deadly than the 'illness.' Retreat from the Middle East could be one such 'cure.' – Atlantic Council

Mission Statement

The Foreign Policy Initiative seeks to promote an active U.S. foreign policy committed to robust support for democratic allies, human rights, a strong American military equipped to meet the challenges of the 21st century, and strengthening America’s global economic competitiveness.
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