Articles

HE INVADED Crimea a year ago and then formally annexed it in a brazen, illegal act of aggression not seen in Europe since the Second World War. He sent thousands of Russian soldiers across the border to tilt the balance of Ukraine's civil war in favor of pro-Moscow separatists and then refused to own up to it in a Big Lie reminiscent of Stalin's days.

He gave rebels the sophisticated weapons that shot the Malaysian airliner out of the sky in July and have pulverized Ukrainian villages and towns.

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Friction between the United States and Israel is not uncommon.

On issues ranging from the 1956 Suez war to the expansion of settlements in the occupied West Bank, the leaders of the U.S. and Israel have often clashed in ways that reflected different perceptions of their national interests.

Still, there is something particularly disturbing and counterproductive about the current disagreement over Iran.

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This morning, a legend and giant in journalism died. There will be no more like him. Arnaud de Borchgrave would have been eighty-nine this Fall. And his career was the stuff of Hollywood movies not the least of which was marrying his stunning and glamorous wife Alexandra with more than enough of the "right stuff" to keep pace with her formidable and much admired husband and his extraordinary wit and sense of humor.

Born to Belgium aristocrats in Brussels in 1926, his parents were Countess Audrey Dorothy Louise Townshend, daughter of Major General Sir Charles Vere Ferrers Townshend, KGB, DSO, and Belgian Count Baudouin de Borchgrave d'Altena, head ofBelgium's military intelligence for the government-in-exile during World War II. De Borchgrave would renounce his title in 1951 for American citizenship.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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