National Security Network

Obama

Obama

Afghanistan

Fraudulent Afghan Elections Demonstrate Need to Reassess Strategy

Report 16 October 2009
Reports this morning that election oversight officials in Afghanistan put President Hamid Karzai’s vote total below 50 percent make it increasingly likely that a runoff election between him and his nearest challenger Abdullah Abdullah will take place. This revelation not only confirms that extensive fraud occurred on Karzai’s behalf, but severely undercuts the legitimacy of the election process and potentially the future government.
More »
Diplomacy

Cynics Miss Forest for the Trees – Nobel Recognizes Importance of Renewed American Global Engagement and Leadership

Report 9 October 2009
Domestic reaction to President Barack Obama’s winning the Nobel Peace Prize has been a classic case of missing the forest for the trees. While cynical domestic commentators have obsessed over the daily political ups and downs of a new President, observers should recognize this award for what it is: a clear recognition that President Obama has dramatically changed the direction of American engagement with the world, putting forward an agenda that the world supports and shares.
More »
Military

A Better Way on Missile Defense

Report 8 October 2009
Conservatives were up in arms following the Obama administration’s decision to scrap ground-based missile defense in Europe in favor of a largely sea-based system. Yesterday, Ellen Tauscher, the Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security, took on the opponents of this decision. She explained that the Administration will instead deploy proven missile defense systems that can defend against short and medium range missiles – the missiles that Iran actually possesses – as opposed to wasting multiple years and billions of dollars developing a Bush era ground based long-range missile defense system to counter a threat that doesn’t exist.
More »
Diplomacy

Conservatives Go Off the Water’s Edge on National Security

Report 5 October 2009
The mythical “water’s edge” beyond which politics plays no part in US national security policy receded further this weekend, as Senator Jim DeMint personally worked to undermine US policy toward Honduras and other Senators sought to go around the chain of command on Afghanistan and called for military strikes on Iran. It is fair to advocate these positions; it is another thing to actively lobby for them in a political manner that undercuts our country’s ability to navigate the already difficult terrain of national security policy.
More »
Iran

Negotiations Take a Step Forward

Report 2 October 2009
Yesterday in Geneva negotiations between Iran and diplomats from the United States, France, Britain, Russia, China, and Germany--the so-called P5+1-- got off to a promising start. Iran preliminarily agreed to: let international inspectors into the previously-secret enrichment facility and Qom within two weeks; give up most of its stockpile of uranium; and intensify talks in the coming weeks. The results from yesterday’s meetings demonstrate that the administration’s broader efforts to strengthen the global nonproliferation regime are also building support for its hardheaded policy towards Iran. Yet despite robust evidence of international legitimacy and support for the administration’s approach – as well as real results – conservatives are fuming.
More »
Iran

Amidst Conservative Hysteria, U.S. Talks to Iran

Report 1 October 2009
Today, Iran and the international community are finally sitting down for much anticipated talks. The meeting in Geneva between Iran and the U.S, Britain, France, Russia, China, and Germany, also known as the “P5 + 1,” comes at a momentous time. Since President Obama’s inauguration nine months ago, the administration has made strong efforts to draw Iran into negotiations. This has occurred against a tumultuous backdrop that has included unprecedented turmoil inside Iran following its controversial June elections, as well as recent revelations of a secret facility at Qom. While conservatives have been using the same old talking points, beating the war drums, calling for regime change, and treating the talks as if anything less than the complete disappearance of Iran’s nuclear program will be a failure, the Obama administration has harbored no such illusions. Negotiations will not be easy. Iran’s internal instability, coupled with its duplicity over the nuclear issue means that the meeting in Geneva will likely be a starting point for hard-nosed diplomacy.
More »
Afghanistan

Getting Afghanistan Strategy Right

Report 29 September 2009
As pressure mounts on the Obama administration to explain its way forward in Afghanistan, the Administration is doing its homework in developing an effective strategy. Unlike previous administrations, the current one is pursuing, as Secretary Gates said yesterday, “the first real strategy we have had for Afghanistan since the early 1980s.” This is not a tidy process, as the uncertainty surrounding the flawed presidential elections last month has demonstrated. But one thing is for certain – getting Afghanistan policy right will require more than a purely military approach. Getting Afghanistan policy right is about much more than a magic bullet number of troops. President Obama explained “we are not going to put the cart before the horse and just think that sending more troops will automatically make America safe.” Hearing all sides in the vibrant political-military debate that is taking place amongst experts will allow the Administration to avoid the “group-think” that has plagued past administrations, especially on Afghanistan. This clear-eyed approach to managing the war stands in stark contrast to the self-assured ideological approach that characterized President Bush’s war-time decision making, which failed to take real facts – even the unwelcome ones – into account. That failed approach has had dire consequences for our national security, and the important debate taking place now is both refreshing and significant. Hypocritically, conservatives have started attacking the President for not rushing to increase troops. Instead, of playing political games with the war, this Administration is focused on getting the strategy right.
More »
Military

Ending a Failed Missile Defense Program

Report 17 September 2009
President Obama announced this morning that he is terminating the Bush administration's failed Eastern European missile defense system: "The best way to responsibly advance our security and the security of our allies is to deploy a missile defense system that best responds to the threats that we face, and that utilizes technology that is both proven and cost effective." Not only do the cancelled missile defense systems have significant technological shortfalls, but they would also fail to protect against Iranian missiles. From a geopolitical perspective, the European missile defense worsened relations with Russia without providing a credible defense against their nuclear arsenal. Because there is no strategic benefit to maintaining the program - either militarily or diplomatically - the Obama administration has wisely has decided to eliminate this program and to develop a more adaptable missile defense system that better protects Europe.
More »
Afghanistan

A Serious Debate Emerges on Afghanistan, but Conservative Opposition Stands on Sidelines

Report 16 September 2009
Afghanistan remains critical to the security of the United States and the region. But after years of neglect by the Bush administration the situation in Afghanistan is dire; regional experts, progressives and foreign policy realists are voicing important questions about whether, how and to what end the situation can be turned around. The Obama administration is engaging skeptics, as it seeks to develop and implement a comprehensive strategy. Unfortunately, largely absent from the debate is a credible voice among the conservative opposition in Congress, now dominated by neoconservative thinking. Their calls for a massive, never-ending military commitment reflect the same misguided thinking and over-militarized approach that we saw over the last eight years. This conflict is not one that will simply be “won” by sending in more troops; instead, a positive outcome is dependent on diplomatic, political, and developmental efforts. The President must unveil realistic goals and expectations for American involvement and advance the implementation of a comprehensive strategy that is in line with America’s broader national security interests.
More »
Afghanistan

Obama lauds Afghan vote, warns of more violence

News Associated Press 22 August 2009