Articles

Bottom Line Up Front:

• On February 7, Nigeria’s election commission announced a six-week postponement of the country’s tightly-contested presidential election (along with other federal and state polls); the decision came after the Nigerian military warned that it could not guarantee voter security in the four northeastern states hit hardest by the Boko Haram insurgency

Read More

The White House's National Security Strategy (NSS) was unveiled last Friday, the first since 2010. Against the backdrop of crises abroad and economic uncertainties at home, the NSS will attract little attention beyond Beltway policy aficionados. Despite the recurring mantra of American leadership, the NSS is long on ambition and citing lofty aims and very short on the substance of how to achieve them through well defined and thought out strategies.

Read More

With little fanfare, another taboo in U.S.-Iran relations has shattered.

Jim Slattery, a former six-term Democratic Congressman from Kansas, late last year became the first former or current American legislator to visit the Islamic Republic of Iran.

In Tehran to attend a conference on countering violent extremism, Slattery encountered a largely friendly reception from both officials and ordinary Iranians and came back equipped to present a more realistic and upbeat depiction of Iranians than is usually found on Capitol Hill.

Read More

Hillary Rodham Clinton’s remark that the NATO summit in Chicago in 2012 should be “the last summit that is not an enlargement [one]” raised expectations in Georgia that were already quite high.

Georgia is seeking the elusive Membership Action Plan (MAP), which is NATO’s program of advice, assistance, and practical support tailored to the individual needs of countries wishing to join the organization. 

A commitment such as MAP would be a powerful statement about the tangible rewards that can come from a democratic transformation like that in Georgia. NATO needs to overcome its ambivalence about Georgia’s credentials for Euro-Atlantic aspirations and rearticulate its strategy to ensure the credibility of its promises. Russia, by seizing sovereign Ukrainian territory, has already done much damage to Euro-Atlantic security.

Read More

Following the NATO Defense Ministers meeting in Brussels and the annual Munich Security Conference once known as Wehrkinde last week, the debate over whether or not to equip Ukraine with defense armaments such as anti-air and tank missiles is reaching a critical point. On the one hand, Vladimir Putin's annexation of the Crimea and outright support of Ukrainian separatists against the elected government in Kiev has altered the post-Cold War balance based on respect of borders and territorial integrity.

Read More

The group that calls itself the Islamic State (IS) is reportedly expanding its reach in the Middle East and North Africa. But it may start losing its appeal to potential recruits through actions that expose its extreme brutality.

The release of a gruesome video showing the burning to death of a Jordanian pilot– weeks before IS offered to trade him for a female terrorist jailed in Jordan – exposed the depths of the organization's cynicism and sadism. It also united Jordanians, who had been somewhat ambivalent members of a 60-nation anti-IS coalition, in demands for revenge. On Wednesday, Jordan executed two militants at dawn.

Read More

Atlantic Council Africa Center Director J. Peter Pham and Deputy Director Bronwyn Bruton contributed essays to a French Ministry of Defense study on US strategy in Africa.

Read More

New government risks undercutting ties with Europe and the US


GREECE HAS never been a leader in Europe's power institutions — NATO and the European Union. German, French, and British leaders alike considered it too small, poor, and geographically remote to be a major player. But all that changed with Sunday's landslide victory of the radical left-wing Syriza party in the most important Greek national election in four decades.

By Monday, Syriza's young, strong-willed leader, Alexis Tsipras, had been sworn in as prime minister. Within hours, his new government challenged the EU to renegotiate the terms of Greece's massive bailout package. Tsipras then threatened to block stronger EU sanctions against Russia over Ukraine. Suddenly, a new and very different government in Athens is back on the radar screen of Berlin, Paris, and London.

Read More

Georgia plays a growing, though little-known, role in the global economy. Strategically linked with Azerbaijan, it serves as a key element in the transportation network that connects landlocked, but resource-rich areas of Central Asia to world markets via its Black Sea ports and Turkey. Over one million barrels of oil and oil products cross Georgian territory daily using pipelines, the railways, and ports. For a decade, Georgian ports have also served as entry points for commercial and military cargo destined for Central Asia and Afghanistan. Azerbaijan and Georgia are expected to play a greater role in container transit between Asia and Europe in the years to come. A close ally of the US and NATO that has made significant troop contributions to Afghanistan, Georgia needs greater support for its security from the US as well as from multiple actors interested in Georgia’s growing transit potential.   

Read More

On the 70th anniversary of liberation, a survivor’s journey is a reminder to recall each victim’s story of strength

THIS WEEK marks the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz by the Red Army. And Thursday is the 83rd birthday of my wife's uncle, Bernie Rosner, who was hurtled into that Nazi death camp's cruel vortex as a 12-year-old in 1944. Bernie's ultimate survival and subsequent long and happy life is a lasting triumph over his Nazi tormentors.

Bernie's extraordinary story, like those of nearly every Holocaust survivor, is brutal, dramatic, courageous and, ultimately, life affirming. In June 1944, when he was studying for his bar mitzvah in the provincial Hungarian town of Tab, local authorities and their Nazi allies ordered the deportation of over 475,000 Jews. Given 24 hours notice, Bernie, his younger brother Alexander, and mother and father, Bertha and Louis, were marched with hundreds of other Jews through the streets of Tab on their way to the death camps. Seven decades later, Bernie recalled for Libby and me at his northern California house last weekend that some of his Christian neighbors jeered as he left his home forever.

Read More