The Great Debate

Better the dictator you condemn than the insurgents you can’t control

May 1, 2015
Fighters from Misrata fire weapons at Islamic State militants near Sirte

Fighters from Misrata fire weapons at Islamic State militants near Sirte, March 15, 2015. Militants loyal to Islamic State, the group which has seized much of Iraq and Syria, have established a larger presence in central Libya in recent weeks. REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic

Hostage deaths prove it’s time to rein in ‘signature’ drone strikes

April 28, 2015
American hostage Warren Weinstein is shown in this image captured from an undated video courtesy of SITE Intelligence Group

American hostage Warren Weinstein is shown in this image captured from an undated video courtesy of SITE Intelligence Group. Reuters/SITE/As-Sahab Media released by SITE Intelligence Group/Handout via Reuters

Who gets out when a U.S. embassy closes, and who gets left behind?

February 12, 2015
Police troopers secure the entrance of the U.S. embassy in Sanaa

Police troopers secure the entrance of the U.S. Embassy in Sanaa, Yemen, Feb. 11, 2015. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah

Why Yemen is tearing itself apart

January 23, 2015
 Army soldier stands near a building destroyed during recent fighting between the army and al Qaeda-linked militants in southern Yemeni city of Zinjibar

Yemen is witnessing another bout of instability, as Shi’ite Houthi rebels seized the presidential palace on Tuesday in the capital Sanaa demanding power-sharing concessions from President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who is being held as a virtual prisoner in his residence. In the ensuing chaos, some worry about whether the volatile political situation could end up strengthening al Qaeda.

‘Charlie Hebdo’: High-impact, low-tech tactics add chilling dimension to attacks

January 9, 2015

French soldier patrol near the Eiffel Tower in Paris as part of the highest level of "Vigipirate" security

In the aftermath of 9/11, the biggest fear that haunted U.S. counter-terrorism officials was that al-Qaeda or its allies would somehow get hold of a weapon of mass destruction: a biological agent or a nuclear bomb.

In 2015, Vladimir Putin may witness his empire’s death knell

December 16, 2014

Russia's President Putin chairs a meeting at the Bocharov Ruchei state residence in Sochi

The year ahead could see the outbreak of the third Chechen war, which, in turn, could be the death knell of the Russian Federation in its current borders. 

What’s between the covers of al Qaeda’s ‘Inspire’ magazine

September 3, 2014

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Inspire is an English-language online magazine published since 2010 by al Qaeda. I just read the latest issue and found a lot of what I expected, and some things I didn’t.

For once, the situation in Iraq wasn’t caused by an intelligence failure

August 14, 2014

Displaced people from the minority Yazidi sect, fleeing violence from forces loyal to the Islamic State in Sinjar town, walk towards the Syrian border, on the outskirts of Sinjar mountain, near the Syrian border town of Elierbeh of Al-Hasakah Governorate

President Barack Obama, in an interview earlier this year with New Yorker editor David Remnick, offered an unfortunate comparison. “The analogy we use around here sometimes, and I think is accurate,” the president said, “is if a jayvee team puts on Lakers uniforms that doesn’t make them Kobe Bryant.”

Obama’s impossible choices on Iraq

June 16, 2014

Volunteers who have joined the Iraqi Army to fight against the predominantly Sunni militants, chant slogans in Baghdad

Iraq was a bold U.S. experiment in nation-building. It turned out to be a flop.

Gitmo: Too dangerous to release? Not so fast.

May 15, 2014

File photo of detainees sitting in a holding area at Naval Base Guantanamo Bay

When the National September 11 Memorial & Museum opens Thursday, we will finally have a national institution dedicated to exploring the effects of the tragic events of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.