Ambassador James B. Cunningham

  • A State of Mind: Tillerson vs. Pompeo on the Issues, and What that Means for US Foreign Policy

    Newly former US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and his replacement, former Central Intelligence Agency Director Mike Pompeo, do not necessarily see eye to eye on every major foreign policy issue. Their divergent views raise serious questions as to how the shake-up in leadership at Foggy Bottom will alter the course of US foreign policy around the world.

    In particular, Pompeo has a history of disparaging the Iran nuclear deal and remains supportive of US President Donald J. Trump’s harsh rhetoric on North Korea. As the White House prepares for Trump to sit down with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un sometime this spring and threatens to withdraw from the Iran deal, Pompeo could tip the policy scales and pivot away from the work done by Tillerson’s State Department.

    Read More
  • Why Trump's Vow to Cut Off Cash to the Palestinians Could Be Dangerous

    At a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland on January 25, US President Donald J. Trump suggested that he would withhold more aid from the Palestinians and that Israel “will pay” for his decision to agree upfront to recognize Jerusalem as its capital.

    The Trump administration has already withheld $65 million in funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which helps Palestinian refugees.

    Read More
  • Mike Pence Just Said that the United States Will Open an Embassy in Jerusalem in 2019. Can That Happen?

    US Vice President Mike Pence made news in his address to the Israeli Knesset in Jerusalem on January 22 when he declared that the Trump administration would open the US Embassy in Jerusalem before the end of 2019.

    Read More
  • Trump’s ‘Pretty Serious Mistake’ in the Middle East

    Recognition of Jerusalem as Israeli capital does not advance the interests of the United States or the region, said James Cunningham, a former US ambassador to Israel

    US President Donald J. Trump’s decision to reverse almost seven decades of US policy and recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel is “potentially, a pretty serious mistake,” said James B. Cunningham, a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council.

    If you’re going to upend decades of US policy, it ought to be for a good reason and for a significant political and diplomatic gain. I don’t see that either of those two are attained here,” said Cunningham, who served as the United States' ambassador to Israel from 2008-2011.

    Trump’s announcement will boost the Israeli position, “but it doesn’t change the reality...

    Read More
  • Trump's Debut at the United Nations

    In his first address to the United Nations General Assembly in New York on September 19, US President Donald J. Trump threatened to “totally destroy” North Korea, called Iran a “rogue nation” and the nuclear deal with that country “an embarrassment,” said the United States was “prepared to take further action” on Venezuela, and lashed out at what he called a “corrupt, destabilizing” regime in Cuba.

    Atlantic Council experts provided their analysis on the speech. Here is what they had to say:

    Read More
  • Trump’s Commitment to Afghanistan

    US president’s policy will send a clear message to the region, said Atlantic Council’s James B. Cunningham

    US President Donald J. Trump’s approach to Afghanistan—marked by an indefinite US troop presence—sends a clear signal of the United States’ commitment to ending the war in that country, said James B. Cunningham, a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council.

    “This is the first time that it is clear that the United States and its international partners are in this for the long term, and that we are going to make our future decisions based on events that are happening on the ground and in the region and not against a timeline,” he said.

    Trump’s August 21 speech, in which he outlined his policy on Afghanistan, also sends an important message to Pakistan, which, by providing safe haven to terrorist groups like the Taliban and the Haqqani Network, has been an impediment to ending the nearly...

    Read More
  • Cunningham Quoted in The Atlantic onTrump's Afghanistan Strategy

    Read More
  • What in the World is Vladimir Putin Up To?

    Russia has decisively expanded its global footprint in a way that analysts say challenges the West and will force US President Donald J. Trump to rethink his “America First” strategy.

    This challenge extends well beyond Russia’s neighborhood—Ukraine, Georgia, and the Baltic States—to Syria, Libya, and even Afghanistan. Western governments and intelligence agencies have also accused Russia of meddling in elections in the United States and Europe.

    John E. Herbst, director of the Atlantic Council’s Dinu Patriciu Eurasia Center, said Russian President Vladimir Putin is “pursuing a clear revisionist agenda designed to change the post-Cold War order in Eurasia; permit Moscow to establish a clear sphere of influence in the post-Soviet space; weaken NATO and the EU; weaken the transatlantic relationship; diminish American prestige and power; and project Russian...

    Read More
  • Cunningham in The National Interest: I Was U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan. The Military Can't Fix This Mess Alone.

    Read More
  • Trump Sends a Clear Message in Afghanistan

    By dropping the ‘mother of all bombs’ on an Islamic State target, the United States reaffirmed its commitment to fighting terrorism, said the Atlantic Council’s James B. Cunningham

    The United States sent a clear message of its commitment to fighting terrorism when it dropped the so-called mother of all bombs on an Islamic State target in Afghanistan on April 13, said James B. Cunningham, a nonresident senior fellow with the Atlantic Council’s South Asia Center.

    “It really is a military instrument used to accomplish a military task,” said Cunningham, a former US ambassador to Afghanistan, adding, “there is a political element to it as well in terms of showing our commitment and determination in this particular fight.”

    The US military dropped the largest non-nuclear bomb in its arsenal on an Islamic State cave and tunnel complex in Achin district in Afghanistan’s eastern Nangarhar province. The GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast (MOAB),...

    Read More