Kayyem: Iran scientist assassinations serve no end
Iranians take part in the funeral of assassinated nuclear scientist Mostafa Ahmadi-Roshan, holding his portraits and a poster bearing US President Barak Obama with the Star of David on his forehead, in Tehran on January 13, 2012, two days after he was killed when men on a motorbike slapped a magnetic bomb on his car while it was stuck in Tehran traffic. (Getty Images)
January 17th, 2012
11:00 AM ET

Kayyem: Iran scientist assassinations serve no end

Editor's Note: Juliette Kayyem is a former Assistant Secretary at the Department of Homeland Security, a lecturer at the Kennedy School of Government and a foreign policy columnist for the Boston Globe. She tweets @JulietteKayyem.

By Juliette Kayyem

The killing of Iranian nuclear scientist Mostafa Ahmadi-Roshan was just another salvo in more aggressive covert war heating up between Iran and the West.  There should be little doubt the U.S. had nothing to do with it; we have condemned the killings, and rightfully so.  Of all the efforts to stop Iran's nuclear program, killing scientists is not only the least productive, it may actually backfire.

“It is difficult to imagine a country having a scientific infrastructure large enough to support a nuclear weapons program, but too small to sustain a viable effort after the loss of even several individuals,’’ William Tobey, a former nuclear expert who has served in senior positions in the U.S. government, recently wrote in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. Even allowing for the fact that atomic scientists have a vested interest in minimizing the significance of atomic scientists to deter assassinations, a few deaths here or there isn’t going to change history. FULL POST

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Topics: Covert Operations • Iran
October 31st, 2011
02:06 PM ET

Kayyem: U.S. veteran dies by suicide every 80 minutes

Editor's Note: Juliette Kayyem is a former Assistant Secretary at the Department of Homeland Security, a lecturer at the Kennedy School of Government and a foreign policy columnist for the Boston Globe. She tweets @JulietteKayyem.

By Juliette Kayyem – Special to CNN

This last week, policymakers and presidential candidates debated the wisdom of President Obama's decision to withdraw all troops from Iraq by the end of this year.  By this weekend, the Pentagon's buildup of resources in the Gulf - a "just in case" strategy - suggested that abandonment (the term used by Obama's critics) was not the right way to describe our efforts.

Whatever the contours of the continuing wars, the real battles still loom in the military.  And it isn't just about the budget and what the debt ceiling commission will do in the next few days.  The real battle is over military and veteran suicides. To put this in perspective: Based on the years between 2005 and 2010, service members take their lives at a rate of one every 36 hours; the Veterans Administration now estimates that a veteran dies by suicide every 80 minutes. FULL POST

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Topics: Culture • Military • United States
October 20th, 2011
09:32 AM ET

Libya: A case study on "leading from behind"

Editor's Note: Juliette Kayyem is a former Assistant Secretary at the Department of Homeland Security, a lecturer at the Kennedy School of Government and a foreign policy columnist for the Boston Globe. She tweets @JulietteKayyem.By Juliette Kayyem – Special to CNN

Even before confirmation of Gadhafi's death, the conventional wisdom had already taken form. First, that this was a success, albeit a delayed one, for the Obama Administration's "leading from behind" strategy.  This was always a NATO effort, with strong French accents, and one which we would support but not manage.  The fact that Obama  was in Brazil when the mission started had symbolic meaning: the U.S. did not own this.

Second, that while Gadhafi's death is an important milestone for closure, the challenges for Libya will endure. It is a nation with almost no civil society to rely on, and rebels who are hardly unified.

But the challenges with conventional wisdom is that it has a tendency to turn into yet another  cliche:  a "best practice."  Libya is a case study of ONE.  Only one.  It had a perfect combination of indigenous uprising so that NATO and other powers would not be the face of the mission; more importantly, though, Gadhafi had no backers, no friends, no country invested in his leadership.  This is not Syria where Iran serves as the silent (or not so silent) partner; this is not Bahrain where Saudi Arabia has drawn a line in the sand.  NATO, the Arabs and the international community could support the Libyan rebels because there was no counterweight.  That is not true anywhere else in the Arab world. This is a case study on leading from behind, but not a new international doctrine.

The views expressed in this article are solely those of Juliette Kayyem.

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Topics: Foreign Policy • Libya
October 16th, 2011
02:00 PM ET

The Egyptian military's 'pseudo coup'

Editor's Note: Juliette Kayyem is a former Assistant Secretary at the Department of Homeland Security, a lecturer at the Kennedy School of Government and a foreign policy columnist for the Boston Globe. She tweets @JulietteKayyem.

By Juliette Kayyem – Special to CNN

Juliette Kayyem

Last Spring, when the world was heralding the events in Egypt, many of us speculated about whether the Egyptian Army's steady hand would mark the beginnings of a pseudo-coup. I never liked the idea that America's interest in supporting the revolutionaries in the street could be so easily placated by the vaguely described Egyptian Army or military.

Now I am troubled by increasing evidence that the military is simply not sticking to its word - delaying timelines and the transition of power. That, coupled with increasing violence, only suggests that Egypt's Arab Spring experience will be much more complicated - more in line with nations like Libya, Syria, Yemen and Bahrain.  Maybe Egypt is just on a slower timeline towards unease. While we were busy giving awards to Egyptian freedom advocates - or focused on the plight of our former ally Hosni Mubarak - we may have missed a coup.

FULL POST

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Topics: Egypt • Military
Good job, law enforcement
Two men are accused of conspiring to murder Saudi Ambassador Adel Al-Jubeir.
October 11th, 2011
04:25 PM ET

Good job, law enforcement

Editor's Note: Juliette Kayyem is a former Assistant Secretary at the Department of Homeland Security, a lecturer at the Kennedy School of Government and a foreign policy columnist for the Boston Globe. She tweets @JulietteKayyem.

By Juliette Kayyem - Special to CNN

The announcement today by Attorney General Eric Holder of the thwarted assassination attempt of the Saudi Ambassador to the United States by suspected Iranian agents is mesmerizing. It does seem like a John Le Carre movie: the drug dealers and informants, the Mexico connection, the money crossing borders and bank accounts, the restaurant where the
Ambassador liked to hang out.

I have been in government long enough to say almost nothing about an unfolding case. I have a lot of confidence in Holder's team but unless or until you know the evidence, better to be quiet. But an irony that cannot be ignored is this: As our strongest law enforcement agency was using investigative techniques, the judicial system and good old fashion rule of law, Congress was at the same exact time considering controversial detainee provisions in the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act that would - yes, the irony is deep - remove civilian courts and law enforcement from most counterterrorism efforts.

FULL POST

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Topics: Iran • Law • Saudi Arabia • Terrorism